This is a scarce early production Winchester 1892 saddle ring carbine in 44 WCF. Serial number is in the 55000 range which dates it to about the middle of the year 1894. This particular gun is straight out of a family and has never been in a collection before. Standard carbine configuration with 20" round barrel, full magazine, semi-crescent carbine buttplate, saddle ring, and early ladder sights. The original rear sight ladder is graduated from 200 to 900 yards identical to the Model 1873 src. The 1892 carbine is by no means "scarce" in the case of overall production, but within the Pre-1898 serial ranges up to 165,000, rifles far outnumber the carbines, my guess is a 10 to 1 ratio. Couple this to the fact that early carbines tend to have lower survival rates from hard 19th century use unlike many of the 92's you find built in the teens and 20's. These SRC's were built to be used as utility guns primarily on horseback where they were put through severe environments living much of their working lives outdoors or in barns. Many of these guns had working lives that spanned 50 years or more and were completely used up, a true testament to a fantastic design. Given how compact and refined the Model 1892 was designed in comparison the 1873, its little wonder why this Model was such a success and is still being manufactured abroad today.
Overall condition of this carbine is in NRA Antique Good condition....it reminds me a lot of a good condition Model 1873 SRC produced in the late 1800's....this one has that look to it like it was somebody's bread and butter gun and never saw the inside of a closet....it has a great look to it with loads of character. If you collect carbines you will understand this is a blessing: "You won't have to worry about this 1892 showing up your favorite old 73 src"...Don't you just hate it when that happens?...then you have to go out and upgrade your 73 src to match which can get expensive. This one is nice but its not a show-off! The metal has turned to over to a chocolate brown patina. The markings and edges are all good and legible with all the original early markings which include the two-line Winchester barrel address...yes its right on top just like it should be, then there are the early style upper tang markings which include John Browning's October 14th 1884 patent date...read the next paragraph and you'll understand why such an early date. The caliber marking is on top of the barrel between the rear sight and the top of the frame. The wood is in good condition with no cracks and has never been sanded or refinished....better than average for a 19th century carbine. Best of all, its Walnut and not Gumwood! The bore is in surprisingly good condition....its still fairly bright with good rifling...of course there are a few scattered pits typical of 19th century black powder cartridges....if you find one like this without a few...its probably been relined. No rings or bulges either. This is just a good example of an all original early carbine that saw honest use.
You've probably heard this all before but I can't resist telling the story. Winchester approached John Browning around the year 1892 and asked him if he could design a new Model to replace the 1873...and due to market pressures caused by their competition (probably the Marlin Model 1889), they wanted it FAST! Browning asked them how much they would pay him for a new design and how long did he have to produce a working prototype? The Winchester Execs stated they needed a prototype in 3 months and would pay him $10,000 (I may be somewhat off on this number). Browning had already been toying with the idea of condensing his Model 1886 design to a smaller more compact gun for just such a purpose....to such a mechanical Genius, it was probably just a matter of scaling down the 1886 as the concept was already there. This prepared Browning for a very shrewd business manaveur. Browning asked Winchester asked them if they would double their offer if he could produce a prototype in 1 month. Of course the desperate Winchester Execs agreed. I understand that it actually took him only about 3 weeks to build the prototype and get on Ogden, Utah to New Haven Connecticut by train. Browning liked to refer to his relationship with Winchester as "building fences" to keep the company competitive in the face of ever-growing competition...the Model 1892 would once again produce another fence around Winchester and prove to be their 2nd most popular lever action with over 1 million produced over a span of 50 years. The rest is history.