Peculiar Pistol: The Winchester Bolt-Action Pistol

Peculiar Pistol: The Winchester Bolt-Action Pistol
One of Winchester's biggest oddities, this experimental Model 1902 has a tapered barrel with integral front sight and a target stock that looks almost homemade. It is cocked by pulling the firing pin head in the back rearward. Screw on bottom is for take down.

I know what you're thinking and it's wrong — Winchester never made any pistols. Not true. You've probably also heard over the years that Sam Colt and Oliver Winchester had a gentlemen's agreement that Colt would make handguns and Winchester would stick to long guns. Wrong again. Colt did manufacture slide action rifles and SxS shotguns, even though they didn't develop legendary reputations like Oliver Winchester's repeating rifles and shotguns.

Winchester DID make a few pistols and even some revolver prototypes. This particular pistol was based on the Model 1902 single-shot rifle that was produced in .22 cal from 1902-1931. Over 640,000 of these rifles were manufactured during this time period, and it was Winchester's entry .22-caliber rifle that had a retail price of $5 in 1902. More importantly, why did Winchester bother with a pistol, and what were their marketing plans for potential sales? There isn't a lot of information on these pistols that never made it into the production stage, and it seems all were prototypes, since no two have the same features. There's also a theory that these were "lunch bucket guns" made by Winchester employees.

LeRoy Merz, well-known and long time Winchester dealer from Minnesota, provides the following information on this weirdo:


"Over the last 30-35 years, I've probably had a total of 12 or 13 of these Winchester pistols. Every one I have had or examined has been different. The taper of the barrel, the sight, notches or grooves, the handles-whether it be walnut, brass or pot metal. The complete designs vary from heavy barrels to pencils barrels. Every one I have examined has been under serial #20. I understand that at one time, these were offered for sale to the public in both Australia and New Zealand -- I have not been able to confirm that, but 3 of these guns came from New Zealand. The sides of the walnut stocks are marked: one is marked '102', one is '103' and one is '104'. I'm not sure if this is Winchester's marking or the marking of an importer. These pistols are very unusual and quite collectible -- I wish I had kept all the ones I've had over the years. Some range from VG quality to a strange, very crude, poor quality for Winchester. I don't know just what they were trying to do."


In terms of value, they're actually somewhat of a novelty item. Winchester lever-action collectors don't need to buy one — neither do Winchester shotgun aficionados. This is a good example where rarity is not the trump card in determining a firearm's value. While undoubtedly these pistols are rare, they're not that desirable for most collectors. After all, how many Winchester handgun collectors are out there? This can also be determined by the value, since they're a lot less expensive than mainstream Winchester rifles and shotguns.

So what's this Winchester pistol really worth? $3,500-4,000. The bottom line is that we'll probably never know exactly why these pistols were made. Even if we did, it most likely wouldn't make much difference in their value or collector status with Winchester dealers and collectors.

Images and some information courtesy of Rock Island Auctions. Information also courtesy LeRoy Merz. For more from S.P. Fjestad, check out his blog at BlueBookOfGunValues.com.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Armscor Semi-Auto Shotguns

Armscor Semi-Auto Shotguns

We look at the new shotguns from Armscor - the VR80 and the brand new bullpup VRBP100.

Century Arms Introduces a Heavy-Duty AK Rifle

Century Arms Introduces a Heavy-Duty AK Rifle

Chambered in 7.62x39mm with components machined from extremely durable S7 tool steel, a chrome-moly 4150 barrel and a carburized 4140 steel bolt.

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an engineering degree to tinker with; here's a look at some upgrade options to take your Ruger American to the next level, and make it something a bit different. Accessories

Top Ruger American Rifle Upgrades

Philip Massaro - March 15, 2018

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an...

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle. Historical

The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle

Kyle Lamb - January 12, 2018

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other. Reviews

Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review

Eric Poole - May 23, 2019

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.

Reminiscing on another great American lever action. Rifles

Review: Savage Model 99

Craig Boddington - February 11, 2019

Reminiscing on another great American lever action.

See More Trending Articles

More News

Smith & Wesson has re-purposed a portion of its manufacturing capabilities to help alleviate a nationwide shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) and help keep front line personnel safe. News

Smith & Wesson Takes Action to Support Local Hospitals, First Responders

Guns & Ammo Digital Staff - April 29, 2020

Smith & Wesson has re-purposed a portion of its manufacturing capabilities to help alleviate a...

Biden is more than simply an anti-gun candidate, though, he also has what might be described as a loose relationship with the truth. Whether due to what some has described as “senility” or a consistent lack of attention to detail, Biden is one of the most gaffe-prone politicians in recent memory. 2nd Amendment

Joe Biden's Top 5 Gun-Control Gaffes

Guns & Ammo Staff - May 19, 2020

Biden is more than simply an anti-gun candidate, though, he also has what might be described...

After prioritizing the health and safety of SIG Sauer's employees, the company turned its efforts to support PPE to help meet the nationwide shortage. News

SIG Sauer's War on Covid-19

Eric R. Poole - April 23, 2020

After prioritizing the health and safety of SIG Sauer's employees, the company turned its...

Due to COVID-19, the 54th Annual Daisy National BB Gun & Air Rifle Championship Match scheduled for July 2-6 is cancelled. News

Daisy National Championship Match Cancelled

Guns & Ammo Staff - May 11, 2020

Due to COVID-19, the 54th Annual Daisy National BB Gun & Air Rifle Championship Match...

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now