This is a good solid example of a correct and original First Model Winchester 1873 Saddle Ring Carbine. The carbine version of the 1873 was designed to be specifically used as a utility gun that was short, handy, and could easily be carried on horseback. Most surviving examples tend to show tremendous wear and tear. While it has no finish remaining, this one is exceptional in terms of its originality and mechanical and bore condition. It may have served in some type of law enforcement capacity as there is an unknown symbol stamped on the right side of the stock. See photo. These 1st Models were quite popular with the Texas Rangers, cowboys, outlaws, and Native Americans in the American West. In addition, they shipped all over the world and were especially popular in Mexico, Central, and South America. Given its unprecedented firepower and newly introduced reloadable central fire primed cartridges, the 1873 was regarded as the world's best repeating rifle during the 1870's. The serial number of this one is in the 24,000 range which dates its manufacture to the year 1878. Interestingly, this one is listed by serial number in Collector and Author, Jim Gordon's survey of the Model 1873. Gordon tabulated serial numbers for the Model 1873 for many years prior to writing, Winchester's New Model of 1873, A Tribute Volumes I and II. He has this one listed by serial number with the notation "C" indicating that it was a carbine. See photos.
The following is a check-list of this carbine's originality:
Matching assembly numbers located on the stock (upper tang channel), lower tang, and buttplate
-Original Early Frame with exposed hammer screw, tang screw beneath hammer screw, and mortised dust cover rails
-Original Early Side Plates with small head side plate screw and exposed loading port screw (which was peened down during its frontier days).
-Original Mortise Dust Cover with Long Oval Checkering Pattern
-Original Short Leaf Rear Sight with "3" and "5" graduations
-Original Barrel with correct rear sight slot, no front sight (it's on the barrel band), no caliber marking (correct until 1884 for 44-40), and two-line Barrel Address at 12' o'clock
-Original Thin Slotted Screws
-Original Rear band Screw with exposed head
-Original Front Band with pinched front sight
-Original Magazine Tube with Early Screw-In Plug
-Original Early Bolt with Bushing that goes around the firing Pin
-Original Brass Loading Block with no Caliber Designation (correct on all early .44 Caliber 1873's until 1884)
-Original lever with rounded loop (pre-trigger block)
-Original early style screw-in lever latch
-Original early solid Saddle Ring with no seam
Overall Condition Grades to NRA Antique Good Plus also known as "Mexican Mint Condition" on the Frontier Scale! The metal has worn to a silvery grey from being carried for many years. I would describe it as mostly smooth but a little frosty in places. The wood is Good overall with numerous handling marks. It is remarkably solid for a carbine with no cracks in the stock. The forend shows some scabbard wear and has one small chip on the right side next to the frame that was glued back. We cannot stress how difficult it is to find a frontier 1870's era carbine with original wood that is intact like this one. The action is smooth and cycles correctly. The lever stays up and the bolt still slides the dust cover out of the way with no hang-ups. The bore is Fine with strong early rifling with the thick lands that still has a bit of shine. No rings or bulges. The bore may improve to Excellent with a little cleaning. If you're looking for a good First Model Carbine that shows honest frontier use, this would make a great display with some Western art or over the mantle of your fireplace.