This is a good solid example of a mid-1880's vintage Winchester 1873 Saddle Ring Carbine. 3rd Model. Caliber 44-40 a.k.a. .44 WCF. Standard 20" round barrel, full magazine, carbine buttplate w/ sliding trap, carbine ladder sight, saddle ring, and dust cover are all intact. The serial number is in the 178,000 range. Made in early 1885 which makes it a pre-1898 antique.
If I could own only one Winchester, it would be a Winchester Model 1873 carbine like this one. In my opinion, the carbine has the perfect blend of 19th century technology, rugged aesthetics, and a strong historical association with the American West. The caliber was also history-making because the .44 caliber Winchester Central Fire was one of the first cartridges on the civilian market that allowed the owner to reload his own ammunition with a pair of simple hand tools. This was an absolute necessity on the the frontier and soon Colt began offering this caliber in the Colt Single Action Army and Model 1878 DA Revolvers to pair with the Winchester 1873. Most 1873's we find today are in the sporting rifle configuration compared to 36% in the carbine configuration. With fewer made plus the fact that survival rates were likely lower, finding a good example can be a bit of a challenge.. Most surviving examples show significant wear due to years of hard use and from being carried on horseback. In its zenith years during the 1870's and 1880's, this was considered by many to be the best repeating rifle in the world. It's little wonder this gun ended up in the hands of so many legendary figures throughout the West such as the Texas Rangers, Billy the Kid, Jesse James, the Indian Police who tried to arrest Sitting Bull, and even Geronimo's band of Apaches. 73 carbines were used all over the world as well....from South America to the King's Army in Siam...they guarded prisoners at the Pentridge Prison in Melbourne, Australia, were given as gifts to Indian rajah's by the Prince of Wales in 1875, and carried by the Australian Ambulance Corps in the Sudan War in 1885. Still many more went to Canada or ended up south of the border in Mexico. This gun won a lot more than just the West.
Overall, this little carbine is in NRA Antique Good Plus condition with the metal mostly turned to a smooth gray patina that is turning brown with traces of original blue protected by the saddle ring with a decent ring shadow. All markings are legible throughout with "44 CAL" marking on the brass loading block that's a little light but visible. Same "44 CAL" marking located at 12 o'clock position between the receiver and the rear sight. The rear ladder sight is graduated from 200 to 900 yards with the "1873" marking on the top of the ladder. Hammer has the 1880's era checkering pattern with plain rectangular border. Nice Winchester address and patent dates on the barrel. The wood is in very good condition that has never been sanded or refinished and isn't undersized. Nice grain with no chips, cracks, or repairs. The wood still retains its original swell over the metal surfaces. You'll have a hard time finding an 1873 with better original wood in this price range...it is exceptionally good for a carbine. The buttplate has the sliding brass trap door, correct for a .44 caliber. Action is very smooth. Bore has strong rifling with a slight sheen and a tad frosty. No rings or bulges and no significant pits. Very respectable for a black powder era Winchester Carbine. Overall, just a very decent and solid 1873 SRC.