From all appearances this looks like an ordinary standard 1873 rifle but back when it was new, it sported a special order color case colored receiver...one of the most eye-appealing special order features Winchester offered. Some collectors like to call these semi-deluxe rifles as they tended to only have case colored frames but they often have wood that is a little nicer than standard grade guns as well. I think Winchester saved some of their better wood that wasn't good enough for deluxe grade guns for guns with these types of special order features.. In comparison, typically deluxe grade rifles had fancy 1X to 4X grade checkered burl walnut, usually pistol grip stocks, and case colored receivers.
This particular rifle was made in 1889 with the serial number in the 305,000 range. It will letter with the Cody Museum as entering the warehouse on 9/11/1889 and is listed as a Rifle, 38 Caliber (38-40), octagon barrel, plain trigger, and case colored frame. It was shipped on the same day to work order number 1645. The barrel is the standard 24" length. The frame and forend cap show only traces of what were once brilliant original case colors. There remain only faded out patches of colors that have turned to an almost nickel-silver appearance in the protected areas. Inside the action are more brilliant colors that gives us an indication of what this rifle once looked like. The metal overall is mostly a silvery gray patina that is beginning to haze over to a light brown patina. Hammer shows some stronger traces of the original case colors. Nice edges, crisp markings, and good screws overall. The loading block has a nice even mellow patina with a clear script style "38 CAL" marking.
The action works quite nicely, well above average for most 73's with the lever still snapping shut when the action closed and the firing pin still indexing properly. The bore is in good condition, not dark, with good rifling with some of the typical light scattered pits one finds on black powder era rifles. The bore has NO rings or bulges. Mechanically, this rifle is quite respectable although this should in no way be construed as an endorsement this rifle is safe to fire as I am not a gunsmith. It is being sold as an antique collectible only.
As customary on most semi-deluxe grade Winchesters, the wood has a little extra figure to it than standard with layers growth rings spiraling up the entire length of the stock and forewood. Much of the original varnish remains on the wood having turned a deep darkened reddish tones while the areas where this gun were carried, mainly the wrist and forewood have taken on a darker appearance obscuring the fancier grain in this wood. There is a small flaked chip of wood in forend by the receiver. The wood overall is in fine condition with 80% original varnish on the buttstock and approx. 50% on the forewood. The wood to metal fit is perfect and has never been sanded or cleaned in any way.
This rifle was originally set up with a tang sight as the original screws for securing the sight are in place....it doesn't appear this sight was removed intentionally by a collector in modern times as they never would have left the screws in place...perhaps the original owner preferred to use this sight only for target shooting so he stored his sight separately during hunting season. The rifle still retains its Lyman front sight with Ivory bead quite amazingly still intact (these are almost always missing)...this worked in conjunction with the tang sight as part of a set although it works fine on its own and was considered an improvement over the standard Winchester front sight. It also retains its original semi-buckhorn Winchester rear sight.
All in all, this is just a good solid example of Winchester semi-deluxe 1873 with a very desirable special order feature for a price under what many standard grade 73's are now selling for.