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Collection Holy Grail
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August 9, 2020 - 5:22 am
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Inspired by responses to Bill Hanzel’s excellent “Essential” thread. 

What is YOUR “Holy Grail” of Winchester products that you seek and would possibly pay several years’ salary to obtain? Price is not a consideration in this rhetorical question. A loading tool or mould costing less than $100 qualifies as well. If a Winchester compass, watch or flashlight would fill that bill for you, I understand. If a “One of One Hundred” 1873 is your goal, I understand. 

What I’m looking for is what keeps you scanning the online auctions, expending shoe leather (and gasoline) going to shows and trolling gun shops and big box stores. Is it the front sight or sling swivel that makes your 1885 “correct”? Is it the 1873 used by a civilian or Sioux warrior at Greasy Grass? Is it a Deluxe 1894 or a nice 1885? 

Maybe you already have this item in your collection. I’d like to hear about that as well.

 

Mike

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August 9, 2020 - 1:43 pm
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Well Mike the holy grail for Me would be one of the mod. ’94 12″ trappers that is rumored to exist, of course it would have to be in like new condition. I have had several “holy grails” over the years that I thought I couldn’t live without, then someone comes along with more money than I have the power to say no to , and away it goes. The only gun I’ve regretted parting with is a mod.’94 15″ trapper in 95%+ condition. I’ve tried to buy it back but He’s more attached to it than I was. They talk about a 1 of 1000 or 1 of100 being the “holy grail”, well I have the 1 of 7,500,000 mod. ’94;s with a xtra heavy oct. bbl., now that’s got to be pretty special. I have some nice Winchester things, bicycle, watch, compass, ref’s whistle, etc. that I searched long and hard for, I guess what I’m telling Myself they’re all “holy grails” when I don’t have one.

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August 9, 2020 - 3:50 pm
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Mike-

I can’t resist replying, even though the pre-64 M70s are not going to qualify as most people’s Winchester “Holy Grail”.  My current #1 goal would be get one of these:

3374-1.jpegImage Enlarger3374-3.jpegImage Enlarger3374-6.jpegImage Enlarger

Pre-war 1st variation target rifle in 220 SWIFT (26″ ramped target barrel).  Of the 29 cataloged “configurations” of pre-64 M70 as Rule classifies them, I still need two.  Of those, this one would be the hardest to find.  I know where a couple “live” and they’re in very good hands.  But there isn’t one living at my house… Cry

Best,

Lou

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August 9, 2020 - 4:27 pm
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Louis Luttrell said
Mike-

I can’t resist replying, even though the pre-64 M70s are not going to qualify as most people’s Winchester “Holy Grail”.  My current #1 goal would be get one of these:

3374-1.jpegImage Enlarger3374-3.jpegImage Enlarger3374-6.jpegImage Enlarger

Pre-war 1st variation target rifle in 220 SWIFT (26″ ramped target barrel).  Of the 29 cataloged “configurations” of pre-64 M70 as Rule classifies them, I still need two.  Of those, this one would be the hardest to find.  I know where a couple “live” and they’re in very good hands.  But there isn’t one living at my house… Cry

Best,

Lou  

Lou,

Are you telling me that Doug is being stingy, and he won’t share with you??

Bert

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August 9, 2020 - 4:41 pm
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I am fortunate to have found my “HOLY GRAIL”. 

When I bought my first Madis Book, about 1990, I found two Model ’92s that became my “Holy Grail”.  One was a Model ’92 carbine with a ramp front sight.  The other was a Model ’92 in 218 BEE caliber.  As it happened, GOD smiled on me and in 1992 at the Santa Clara Western Collectible Show, I found that same Model ’92 25-20 ramp front sight carbine.  I purchased it from David Bichrest.  Then in 2014 Rock Island Auction Co. listed a Model ’92 in 218 BEE and I was able to win that auction.  It wasn’t the one pictured in the Madis Book, but was close enough.  The 218 BEE pictured in the Madis Book sold for over $20,000 when it was auctioned off.  That particular gun stirred quite a Forum discussion when it was reoffered for sale. The rest of my 150 mixed Winchesters are just “icing on the cake”.  Thanks for allowing me to share some fond memories.  Roger B.

Note: Neither of these rifles are considered to be “production” guns.  I have been told the 25-20 is just a “re-barreled and refinished” older receiver.  The 218 BEE is most likely a “parts clean-up” gun.  ‘Collector Value’ is therefore greatly diminished.  To me they were and are my “Holy Grail”.

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August 9, 2020 - 11:39 pm
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As a 73 collector the 1 of 1000 was always considered the “One gun Collection” and is the Holy Grail of the 73 collector. I was able to buy one many years ago at the Tulsa show and I was content to have it in my collection until you see another gun that you can’t live without. Its not like you were actively looking for it since like most of the truly rare guns, you didn’t know they existed until you saw them. When I saw the 73 in 22 extra long with a extra heavy barrel I knew that fell into the category and is probably a one of gun and had to have it in my collection. I was able to make the deal and now it has a home. I still consider the 1 of 1000 as the Holy Grail since I know other collectors consider it as such and will pay up to own it, were as the extra heavy 22 is more rare but it may not have the value to other collectors as I do.

Bob

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August 10, 2020 - 12:15 am
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I find this topic to be very interesting.  Everyone has their own idea of a “Holy Grail” firearm and it may not necessarily be a Winchester.  But, for the sake of argument, in my case it IS a Winchester.  I’ve  been in love with these guns since I  was a small boy.  I was destined to become a Winchester collector.  In the 50 plus years of collecting, many “Holy Grail” guns have come and gone.  Now, a large portion of my collection has been disposed of, but of the few that remain, I  still have a few special pieces.  One is an 1866 SRC made in 1888.  It is a very nice .44 Center Fire that my folks gave me as a high school graduation gift.  I have a very high condition 1866 rifle that I  purchased off a ranch near Circle, Montana many years ago.  Beautiful rifle, lots of original finish made in 1869.  Another one is an 1873 model made in 1887.  Small ranch brand on the butt stock indicates ownership by the Grant Kohrs ranch in Deer Lodge, Montana.  A high condition 1st model ’73 carbine with low serial number and a ’76 .50 Express ,  26 ” octagon, full mag in exceptional condition.  All of these and a few others, are part of my “Holy Grail” collection, as it sits today.  I’ve  been very fortunate and have fond memories of all the antique guns I’ve owned.

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August 10, 2020 - 12:43 am
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It’s occurred to me that I already have what I consider my “Holy Grail” Winchester. It’s the 1885 I stumbled across several months ago after a couple of years of casually looking. I knew I wanted an 1885 before I finished reading a biography of John Moses Browning and the conversations I’ve had with Bert on the subject certainly kept fuel on the fire. I was actually hoping for a 32-20 but I’ve come to appreciate the 32-40. This 1885 is somewhat unusual and in quite good original condition. I sought the 1885 because of it’s place in Winchester’s and JMB’s history, I don’t feel you can tell the story of Winchester without one. I was fortunate to find one this nice after a relatively short time but it seems I had a very good (but expensive!) run of luck finding exceptional Winchesters for a little over a year. I know that most shooters have no idea what an 1885 is and not many collectors find room for one in their hearts (or safes) but I’m OK with that. Will there be another “Holy Grail” gun for me? I don’t know. I’ve only been a serious collector for a relatively short time so anything’s possible. I’d have to sell a few to free up some investment capital so it probably won’t happen any time soon. 

 

Mike

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August 10, 2020 - 1:28 am
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As a Canadian, the Winchester “holy grail” for me would be an honest, original Winchester Model 1876 45-75 NWMP carbine with the original “NWMP” still visible on the buttstock.

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August 10, 2020 - 3:28 am
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Kirk Durston said
As a Canadian, the Winchester “holy grail” for me would be an honest, original Winchester Model 1876 45-75 NWMP carbine with the original “NWMP” still visible on the buttstock.  

I would agree with that. I have longed to have an NWMP 1876 also. I did have an 1876 Rifle in .45-75 but sold it. I do have one .45-75 cartridge with the “00” headstamp but that’s as close as I have got to a NWMP carbine.

In the years 1899 and 1900 Dominion Cartridge Co. did a contract for boxes of 45-75 WCF ammo specifially for the NWMP. They headstamped them with either a “99” for the 1899 year or the “00” for the 1900 year.

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August 10, 2020 - 1:43 pm
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Way back in 1973 I saw a Winchester model 1873 on consignment at Jensen’s Sporting Goods in Tucson.  I was newly on active duty, could hardly afford it on my 2LT pay, but paid the $200 for it and started my love affair for lever actions.  This attraction goes back to the movies and TV shows of my childhood of course, as we in Illinois did not have such for general use, and I can say I never had seen one for real up close and personal previously.  I still favor the model 1873 above all others, and fully agree with Bob that the “Holy Grail” was, is and will be, a 1 of 1000 or possibly a 1 of 100.  That will not happen for me, as I absolutely refuse to pay more for a rifle than the house it will be stored in!  Thus much like the true “Holy Grail”, it will remain out of reach.  I have had the pleasure of looking at a few, and even was allowed to handle one.  The owner at that time understood I would not be a buyer, but he and I had a great time handling, looking and discussing his rifle.  TimLaugh

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August 10, 2020 - 10:58 pm
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Well Mike, you have certainly caused me to think. I have narrowed it down to a schuetzen, 1895 us musket, and have to leave a spot open for either a 73 or an 86-as I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on learning about those, so with respect to them I don’t think I can rule them out. 

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August 11, 2020 - 12:45 pm
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The first Winchester lever action I fell for was a Model 71. Since then I’ve picked up quite a few including deluxe and standard carbines. I was fortunate to land a 1936 “Deluxe” 71 with factory matted barrel a few years back (after several years of trying to purchase it). That was and is my “grail gun”. But I’ve been searching for a 71 in 33 WCF or 45/70 for longer and would consider that to be the rifle I yearn for the most. 

I had a spell where I got into 1890 Deluxe and Semi-Deluxe rifles and picked up a few of those but I always circle back to the 71. Searching more times than I’ll admit to throughout the day. 

So if any of you folks have a 71 in 33 WCF or 45/70 – shoot me a message ?

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August 11, 2020 - 2:45 pm
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Hello Joel,

There are a few of them out there, but they are indeed a scarce find!  Thus far, I have verified the existence of a small number of each caliber (see the table below).

Caliber Marking Qty. in Survey % of Total Extrap. Qty.
348 W.C.F. 2,082 89.896% 42,480
348 WIN. 217 9.370% 4,428
348 ? (unknown if “WCF” or “WIN”) 7 0.302% 143
33 W.C.F. 4 0.173% 82
45-70 3 0.130% 61
308 W.C.F. (experimental rimmed 308) 2 0.086% 2
None (receiver only) 1 0.043% 1
Total 2,316    

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August 11, 2020 - 2:49 pm
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I forgot to mention… I have a revised/updated Model 71 article ready for publishing in the Winchester Collector magazine (to follow my article detailing the Model 1885 caliber production numbers).

Bert

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August 11, 2020 - 6:38 pm
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Bert, 

it’s been a year or so since I’ve seen the updated 71 survey – thank you for posting the extrapolated caliber data. I hadn’t yet heard of the experimental 308! Are those at Cody?

I’ve been told a fellow two states to the East has a 45/70 and 33 WCF but he doesn’t need my money!

 

Thanks ,

Joel

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August 11, 2020 - 8:42 pm
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Bert – any idea how many of those matted barrel 71’s are out there? This the first time I have ever heard of one of these – I went thru your Fall 2013 article in the Collector but did not see anything. The Model 71 is still very popular here in Alaska as many see it as the perfect gun for moose.

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August 11, 2020 - 11:27 pm
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 Well I guess my Holy Grail Winchesters would be, for  a rifle a Winchester Model 64 Deer Rifle in .38-55 or.32-40 or for a shotgun a Winchester Model 21 in 28 gauge

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August 11, 2020 - 11:50 pm
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Joel Goodrich said
Bert, 

it’s been a year or so since I’ve seen the updated 71 survey – thank you for posting the extrapolated caliber data. I hadn’t yet heard of the experimental 308! Are those at Cody?

I’ve been told a fellow two states to the East has a 45/70 and 33 WCF but he doesn’t need my money!

 

Thanks ,

Joel  

Yes, they are.  One is listed as a “308 Mag”, the other as “308 WCF.  Dan Shuey wrote an article that appeared in the Winter 2018 Magazine with a lot of details about serial number 16572, 308 WCF.  It was essentially a .348 case necked down to .308 caliber.  I discovered the second 308 (serial number 36640) in the published book that lists entire contents of the original Winchester Museum when it was still in New Haven.  I have not actually seen either rifle in the flesh, but they are supposedly in the vaults at the CFM.  Serial number 16572 was collection item #1426, and serial number 36640 was collection item #2626.

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August 11, 2020 - 11:53 pm
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Burt Humphrey said
Bert – any idea how many of those matted barrel 71’s are out there? This the first time I have ever heard of one of these – I went thru your Fall 2013 article in the Collector but did not see anything. The Model 71 is still very popular here in Alaska as many see it as the perfect gun for moose.  

Hello Burt,

The only matted barrel Model 71 that I am aware of is the one Joel owns.  As of today, I have 2,316 Model 71 rifles in the survey, and only Joel’s rifle has a matted barrel.

Bert

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