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Special order Winchester’s.
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May 6, 2021 - 1:06 pm
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So were they something the little gnomes at New Haven cobbled together on a whim or did someone order say an 86 with this, this and this special feature?
thanks.

Tom

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May 6, 2021 - 1:15 pm
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Your going to have to post pictures of the special features or get a factory letter.

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May 6, 2021 - 1:27 pm
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Bob I have a second year production’94 in 38-55 with 1X wood and DST’s. Did someone order a rifle to these specifications or did Winchester just decide to build a rifle with these features? Thanks.

Tom

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May 6, 2021 - 1:35 pm
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The factory letter will give you a answer to that question. If the gun entered and left the warehouse the same day or the next it was special order but if it stayed in the warehouse for a while it would point to it being made up for inventory. Also if there were other guns shipped in the same order would be a clue.

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May 6, 2021 - 1:37 pm
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Bob if it was ordered by an individual I don’t suppose the letter will give his name?

Tom

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May 6, 2021 - 1:40 pm
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Tom Black said
Bob I have a second year production’94 in 38-55 with 1X wood and DST’s. Did someone order a rifle to these specifications or did Winchester just decide to build a rifle with these features? Thanks.

Tom  

A long range target rifle, the ’94 was surely not.  DSTs are so inappropriate that it had to be a customer’s idea.

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May 6, 2021 - 1:41 pm
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Tom Black said
Bob if it was ordered by an individual I don’t suppose the letter will give his name?

Tom  

Unfortunately, No, it will not.  It is very rare when a name or specific shipping location was recorded in the warehouse ledger records.

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May 6, 2021 - 1:44 pm
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Sorry for all the questions. So if this rifle was made up for “inventory” did Winchester build several like it? And thank you guys for answering my questions.

Tom

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May 6, 2021 - 1:53 pm
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Tom Black said
Sorry for all the questions. So if this rifle was made up for “inventory” did Winchester build several like it? And thank you guys for answering my questions.

Tom  

Possibly, but the only way to know is to check the factory ledger records.  If you are trying to determine if it is a “one-of-a-kind”, the odds are strongly against that being the case.

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39930-Letter.jpgImage Enlarger

Here is an example of a special order rifle, in this case a Model 1876 Express, SN 39,930.  SN 39,929 was the other rifle in this order and it had identical features except for the 24 inch round barrel.  All other features were the same with 39,930.  I have anecdotal evidence these two rifles were shipped to Canada.  These two rifles have lots of extra features.  One can speculate why two rifles were sent to the same order with nearly identical features.  Possibly a rifle club, gifts for dignitaries, or relatives?  

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May 7, 2021 - 2:51 pm
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Bill Hockett said
39930-Letter.jpgImage EnlargerHere is an example of a special order rifle, in this case a Model 1876 Express.  

A rifleman of superior intelligence ordered that gun:  shotgun butt.

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May 7, 2021 - 4:28 pm
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tom black said
Sorry for all the questions. So if this rifle was made up for “inventory” did Winchester build several like it? And thank you guys for answering my questions.

Tom  

That’s what I find fascinating about the early days at Winchester. They would build almost anything a customer requested, within reason. Also, many features that would seem to indicate a special order were actually regular production options. I enjoy collecting what I consider unusual specimens but quite honestly most are not special order guns. Sometimes a letter or a look at the ledger will shed some light on the answer to your question.

 

Mike

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May 7, 2021 - 5:06 pm
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I don’t think Winchester built non standard guns for inventory or at least not many.  A gun with special features most likely was ordered by someone either an individual or a gun shop/hardware store.  I think the information for the build and the subsequent owner was kept on a separate card.  Most all of these were lost or destroyed.  I know that a few build cards exist but I am not sure if they list the person that made the order?

Someone out there have one of the cards?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Cody has some records that haven’t been digitized that could relate shipping orders to the eventual owner??

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May 7, 2021 - 5:38 pm
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TXGunNut said

Also, many features that would seem to indicate a special order were actually regular production options.

Yes, but to get such options, the customer or the dealer had to ask for it, that is, make a special request; what’s the diff between that & a “special order,” except that the “special order” cost extra.  Even getting a round brl on a rifle would normally be something that had to be specially requested, though it was a stock option, & cost less than the oct.

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May 7, 2021 - 6:43 pm
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Chuck said
I don’t think Winchester built non standard guns for inventory or at least not many.  A gun with special features most likely was ordered by someone either an individual or a gun shop/hardware store.  I think the information for the build and the subsequent owner was kept on a separate card.  Most all of these were lost or destroyed.  I know that a few build cards exist but I am not sure if they list the person that made the order?

Someone out there have one of the cards?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Cody has some records that haven’t been digitized that could relate shipping orders to the eventual owner??  

You might be surprised by what Winchester actually manufactured for stock that many people mistakenly assume was “special order”.  I have encountered hundreds of ledger records entries for Single Shot rifles with “non-standard” features that spent many months and sometimes years in the warehouse before  being shipped or returned to the assembly room and reworked.

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May 7, 2021 - 9:10 pm
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Bert H. said

You might be surprised by what Winchester actually manufactured for stock that many people mistakenly assume was “special order”.  I have encountered hundreds of ledger records entries for Single Shot rifles with “non-standard” features that spent many months and sometimes years in the warehouse before  being shipped or returned to the assembly room and reworked.  

Bert –

I am both surprised and intrigued by this.  It seems odd that Winchester would make up rifles with non-standard features just on the chance that someone would order that particular rifle, in the particular chambering with those features. With the single-shot model, there were thousands of possible combinations.  This does perplex me.  Did Winchester send out lists to dealers, describing such rifles, perhaps with the heading:  “these rifles available for immediate shipment”?

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May 7, 2021 - 9:25 pm
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steve004 said

Bert –

This does perplex me.  Did Winchester send out lists to dealers, describing such rifles, perhaps with the heading:  “these rifles available for immediate shipment”?  

I have no idea if they did, but have not yet found any evidence to support that theory.

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 bert, would a 1892 winchester rifle in 38-40 takedown with 24″ half round barrel and with a short magizine tube(not butten) be a special order,(# 777061) thanks.

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May 8, 2021 - 5:16 pm
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eastbank said
 bert, would a 1892 winchester rifle in 38-40 takedown with 24″ half round barrel and with a short magizine tube(not butten) be a special order,(# 777061) thanks.  

The 24-inch half-octagon barrel was an “optional” feature (not special order), and a 1/2 or 2/3 length magazine was also an optional order length.  The Take Down was a cataloged variation, and it was very common with a 1/2 magazine.  In summary, No, the rifle you describe was not a “special order”.

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This has turned into an interesting topic for me.  Perhaps some of this is semantics – but that will depend upon your perspective and how precise you choose your language to be.  Collectors and sellers have used the term, “special order” for a long time to describe a variety of difference aspects of a rifle.  Many have assumed, “special order” means anything ordered with a feature different from what is considered the standard model.  For example, if it’s 1916 and you order a Model 1894 carbine, they will ship you a carbine with a full magazine.  You can order it with half magazine, and if you do, they will charge you the same.  That’s because they don’t consider that an, “extra.”  Likewise, if you ordered your carbine with hard rubber buttplate – same thing – no extra charge as that is not an extra.  We all know that most (i.e. but not every member here) would consider a M1894 carbine with half magazine and shotgun butt a “special order carbine.”  In a way it is, as it had to be ordered in that configuration; yet, it has nothing changed that Winchester would consider an, “extra.”  Now if that same carbine ordered nickel plated, the buyer paid $4.00 additional for that extra.  

In the 1916 Winchester catalog, their preface statement to the list of, “Extras” states:  “All deviations from standard styles and sizes involve a large proportional outlay for hand labor, and, when ordered, will to subject to the following charges, which should be added to the list prices of a rifle.”  So, they did not perceive specifying a half magazine and hard rubber shotgun butt as a, “deviation” from a standard style.  

I’ve heard some say that an octagon barrel is a special order feature on a M1886 as the round barrel version is the, “standard model.” They point out, the buyer had to pay, “extra” for the octagon barrel.  I suppose you could claim the round barrel version was the, “base model.”  In my 1916 catalog the 26 inch round barrel version was $19.50 and the 26 inch octagon version was $21.00.  They are of course both, “standard” models, it’s happens that both are not the same price.  So, if it’s 1916 and you send a letter to Winchester asking that they ship you a Model 1886 rifle in .45-70 – and include a check for $19.50 – they will ship you a round barrel rifle.  If you send the same letter, but your check is for $21.00 – they will ship you an octagon barreled rifle.  You really didn’t, “special order” anything.  You didn’t even specify what you wanted, you just simply selected something from a price list in a catalog.

In reflecting on this topic and thinking through what I wrote above, I can very much see how the term, “special order” has been used to apply to a lot of rifle – that it really doesn’t.  I also know that’s not going to change.

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