If a rifle can be nostalgic, it’s hard to argue against the Winchester 1873 lever-action rifle being crowned king of the sentimental hill. Often known as “the gun that won the west,” handling and beholding the 1873 Short Rifle conjures images of cowboys, campfires, cattle drives on horseback, and good guys saving the day.
While not the first successful lever-action rifle, the 1873 was an evolutionary descendent of the famous Henry rifle, which arguably made the lever-action design commercially viable.
In one of those historical twists, one of the primary Henry investors was a shirt manufacturer named Oliver Winchester. One thing led to another, and before too long the name on the door read Winchester Repeating Arms Company. If you want to learn a bit more about the greatest lever action rifles of all time, check out Bryce Towsley's article right here on Range365
One of the nifty features of many lever-action rifles like this one was the ability to share ammo between the revolver on the hip and the rifle socked away in a horse-mounted scabbard. In fact, the legendary Buffalo Bill Cody did exactly that with a pair of Colt Peacemaker single-action revolvers and an 1873 Winchester rifle while working as an Army Scout.
Choosing a Lever Gun
While the Winchester 1873 was originally chambered in .44-40 / .44 WCF like Bill’s, we chose to get our hands on one chambered in the more readily available .45 Colt caliber. Besides, that’s the same caliber as the Uberti 1873 Cattleman El Patron revolver we looked at recently.
Since it’s a bit challenging and even more expensive to buy 150-year-old rifles, we’re looking to classic gun maker Uberti to provide the solution. Located near Gardone Val Trompia in the Italian Alps, the company has been manufacturing reproduction revolvers and lever-action rifles for nearly 70 years. Yes, they’re passionate about preserving and celebrating history by creating replica versions of classic firearms.