March 13, 2019
By G&A Editors
This is the gun that won the West. The Winchester 1873 rifle was ubiquitous during America's westward expansion. And whether in the hands of Buffalo Bill Cody, the Texas Rangers, or Billy the Kid, it left an indelible mark on the western frontier.
The ‘73 was a massive commercial success for Winchester. The company continued to produce the ‘73s years until 1924 - one of the longest production runs in Winchester's history.
“To seven people this gun was a magnet, a treasure, a weapon that promised life and dealt out death.”
The Winchester ‘73 was so popular, that in 1950 it got its own movie, appropriately titled, Winchester ’73, with Jimmy Stewart. Considered one of the all-time great westerns, Winchester ‘73 features a heavily engraved "One of One Thousand" model 1873.
The classic lever gun might have disappeared into collectors’ closets, but for two unlikely events. The first was Italian gun maker Aldo Uberti’s love of antique American Firearms. In 1959 Uberti began making copies of Civil War cap and ball revolvers. Each year he added more and more of America's classic guns. The second unlikely event in the life of the Winchester ’73, was the birth and spectacular growth of Cowboy Action Shooting - a sport that requires the use of pre-nineteen hundred firearms or replicas, not to mention costumes and cowboy hats.
Gun smiths discovered that the Italian copies of the Winchester ‘73 could be souped up to run faster than any other lever-action rifle. ‘73 clones in .38 Special now dominate the sport. In 2013, Winchester announced their newest rifle - you guessed it - a new version of the 1873 Winchester. This high-quality Winchester is made by Miroku in Japan, one of the finest arms makers in the world.
This lever-action Winchester ‘73 is most assuredly a part of our national consciousness. The very sight of these classic lines brings back scenes from hundreds of Westerns. And for just a few moments, we're all kids again.
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