Very nice example of the Winchester single shot Model 1885 Rifle. This one is a full deluxe configuration with special order 3x burl walnut stocks with checkering and an extra length 36" heavy number four barrel. It also sports an adjustable single set trigger. Caliber is 38-55 which was one of the last great black powder cartridges as it was versatile for both target shooting and hunting. The sights on this rifle are all business; a mid-range vernier peep tang sight, original standard sporting rear sight, and a windage adjustable combination globe/bead on the front. Antique pre-1898 serial number is in the 35,000 range. Comes with a factory letter indicating shipment from Winchester factory in 1889 as well as confirmation of configuration and the deluxe special order features.
While the Model 1885 Hiwall is highly respected among many in the single shot community, it is often overlooked by Winchester collectors who tend to focus on lever action repeating rifles. All I can say is that no true Winchester collection should be without a Model 1885 The story in itself, of how this model came into the Winchester product line, is so extraordinary that eclipses fiction...at least in my opinion. It was the first design of the world's greatest firearms inventor, John Browning, which he received a patent for when he was twenty-four years old. Living a world away from the New England-based gunmakers in Ogden, Utah, Browning had no idea the impact his design would have on the outside world. He and his brothers who were all in their teens and twenties began building and selling them out of a small store they built from old bricks. For power, they salvaged a freight-damaged steam engine and ran belts and pulleys through their shop so they could operate various machines. After building several hundred of their rifles which Browning designated the Model 1879, a traveling Winchester salesman stumbled across one and sent it back to New Haven with a note attached that it might be of interest. This caused quite a stir at Winchester and prompted no less than a meeting of top management. Here was a patented design by a maker nobody back East had ever heard of. At the time, which was around 1883, Winchester had no single shot rifles in its product line. My guess is their main two guns were the lever action Models 1873 and 1876, perhaps the slow-selling Hotchkiss Bolt Action, and the Model 1866 which at this point had been nearly phased out of production. Meanwhile, a new competitor across town named Marlin had a brand new lever action rifle called the Model 1881 that could chamber the Government 45-70 cartridge; something their Model 1876 action wasn't long enough to handle. Marlin was not only taking a chunk of Winchester's market share of lever action sales but they also built the Ballard single shot rifle. Perhaps upon seeing this Browning rifle, they saw not just an expansion of their product line but a chance to give Marlin some competition with their Ballard rifles. Whatever the case, TG Bennett, vice president of Winchester boarded a train and traveled 2,000 miles to Ogden. If I'm not mistaken, Ogden was one of the last stops on the railroad in that part of the country. Upon finding Browning's small shop, he asked Browning's brother Matt who the owner was, only to be pointed to John who was still in his twenties. Bennett told the brothers he was from Winchester and wanted to buy the exclusive rights to their patent. The offer was $10,000 but Bennett gave Browning an even better secondary offer. If Bennett could buy their patent for $8,000, he would make Browning a Winchester dealer. Browning was now out of the manufacturing business but now a Winchester dealer with plenty of time to focus on what he enjoyed best, inventing. For the next nineteen years, Winchester purchased every design Browning came up with which led to an incredible line of lever actions and pump action rifles/shotguns which are still being produced today. The impact Browning had upon Winchester's success is immeasurable and it started with this single shot design which Winchester introduced in the mid-1880's as their Model 1885 Hiwall and Lowall rifles.
Overall Condition grades to NRA Antique Fine Plus. The frame shows 75% original case colors which are light but discernable with blues, aqua greens, and purples; not silvered out or mottled shadows. Unfortunately, our camera did a poor job of capturing them in two-dimensional photos. They simply do this rifle no justice as less than half of the case colors are showing up. Whoever gets this rifle is going to say "wow" when they see it in person for the first time. The octagon barrel retains 75% original blue. There are no extra holes or dovetails anywhere on this rifle. To be thorough, we checked under the tang sight and found only bright original case colors indicating that the mid-range has probably been on this rifle since new. Stocks are in excellent condition with nice original checkering and great wood to metal fit. Both the forend and pistol grip of the stock have their original ebony inlays. One small chip on left side of forend at frame junction which has been re-attached. It doesn't distract and in fact, we never saw it until studying the photos for this ad. Stock, lower tang, and buttplate have matching assembly numbers. See photos. Also note the "XXX" on the lower tang next to the assembly number indicating that the wood is the highest grade 3x burl walnut offered. Nice markings throughout including John Browning's 1879 patent date behind the trigger on the lower tang. Action is crisp and tight. Bore is Excellent Overall; bright and shiny with strong lands and grooves with just a couple very minor spots of light corrosion.
$11,500 ON HOLD