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The significance of bore condition
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October 3, 2023 - 10:29 am
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When it comes to collectible Winchesters, why?

Obviously, a Winchester with a better bore is more desirable than one with a lesser bore, but many will knock severely an otherwise very nice Winchester rifle because of bore condition—this being a rifle that rarely, if ever, shall be fired.

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October 3, 2023 - 12:40 pm
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There are collectors that look at the bore condition just like the external condition. The better its original condition the more anything is worth.

Bob

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October 3, 2023 - 1:13 pm
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Bore cond is always a major consideration among SS collectors, but that’s because it’s assumed the gun will be shot, seriously, not just a few rounds to hear it go “bang,” EVEN if in near-mint cond.  But I doubt many high-cond lever-guns would be used in the same way. When I was interested in those kinds of guns, bore cond was at the bottom of my concerns. A model like an 1890 or 1906 I’d look at differently, because I wouldn’t want one I didn’t think would make a fair shooter; however, it would not make good sense to pay 5 Gs for one of those if you intended to spend a lot of time shooting it, unless of course you were so rich you didn’t worry about spoiling the finish.

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October 3, 2023 - 4:46 pm
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clarence said
Bore cond is always a major consideration among SS collectors, but that’s because it’s assumed the gun will be shot, seriously, not just a few rounds to hear it go “bang,” EVEN if in near-mint cond.  But I doubt many high-cond lever-guns would be used in the same way. When I was interested in those kinds of guns, bore cond was at the bottom of my concerns. A model like an 1890 or 1906 I’d look at differently, because I wouldn’t want one I didn’t think would make a fair shooter; however, it would not make good sense to pay 5 Gs for one of those if you intended to spend a lot of time shooting it, unless of course you were so rich you didn’t worry about spoiling the finish.

  

Part of the appeal/allure of the old lever rifles is having something that is available for you to use, as it was originally intended.  Even if there is a low probability you will use it, it is psychologically important to many.  Another factor is many collectors are reluctant to purchase a piece where, “excuses” need to be made.  For super-rare pieces, this becomes less relevant.  For many rifles, it’s a case of, “lots of fish in the ocean.”  Not so true for some very special pieces.  

Paradoxically, many of us have found that many of these old rifles with questionable bores – can still be made to shoot as intended.

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October 3, 2023 - 6:03 pm
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Collector value aside, I have found that if a barrel still has visible rifling, it will generally shoot pretty well. 

Mike 

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October 3, 2023 - 6:38 pm
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[email protected] said
Collector value aside, I have found that if a barrel still has visible rifling, it will generally shoot pretty well. 

Mike 

  

Often even with deep pitting!

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October 3, 2023 - 7:54 pm
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Hi Guys,

I generally agree with Steve, a lot of the appeal of old lever guns is the possibility of use. I shoot what I own and generally own what I like to refer to “field grade”. That is it is a vintage firearm, I can use it, it can get wet, muddy, brought though the brush and after I can clean it off with the idea I won’t feel guilty about using it. I have a Winchester 1886 take down, full octagonal barrel that I shoot and would hunt with that has a bore about a 7-8. Because of it being a take down, 45-70, octagonal barrel, and in very good shape with some original finish on it, it might be considered collectible. But I don’t feel guilty about getting weather on it I bought it to use. I have an 1892 Winchester in 38-40 full octagonal barrel with a bore around 8 that is my “farm gun” and I have put a lot of rounds through it over the 30 or so years I have owned it. I bought it to use I carry it in all weather sometimes in our side by side, pickup trucks, or in a saddle scabbard on horseback. The rifle was made in 1896 and is basically smooth brown in finish with no pitting. Whoever owned it took care of it but used it and it was never abused. I have had it for years its my go to rifle and it fits me that’s very important to me. I like it so much I have companion handguns for it; a Ruger Blackhawk single action and a Colt New Service double action both in 38-40. I have no guilt using any of those when I want or need to. I have another Winchester 92 which in 32-20 which is in what I would call above “field grade” condition with a lot of original finish on it and although I still shoot this one too I am much more careful about when I use it and what the weather is.

I have some clone copies of 92’s in both .357 and .44 mag one a carbine and the other a rifle made by Rossi. I suppose I could use either the same way as I do that vintage 92 they didn’t cost much and I have worked over the actions to smooth them out. Although using that vintage 92 as I do I feel I am using much as it was probably used originally. And, as Steve said, there is a psychological importance to me to still be using something the same way it was meant to be used made in the same  year my grandmother was born…….besides its a Winchester!   

Rob

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October 4, 2023 - 1:43 am
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I come down rather precariously on the fence on this one. I’m finally learning to buy higher condition specimens and that generally means the bore needs to be a very strong 8 and preferably 9 on the popular 1-10 scale. As we all know a 95% gun with a bore graded 6 or 7 is cause for caution, where a 9 or 10 bore in an honest 70% gun will certainly tempt me when I’m trying to buy 80% or better examples. I’ve also gotten reasonable accuracy and good entertainment out of rifles with “sewer pipe” bores so I know all is not lost if a gun with an ugly bore follows me home. I’ve finally come to the realization that I’m not going to shoot every Winchester I own but someday every one of them WILL be sold and a shiny bore is always helpful at that time. I hate making excuses for guns because I like every one of them, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought them. 

 

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October 4, 2023 - 1:58 am
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TXGunNut said I hate making excuses for guns because I like every one of them, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought them.  

I’ve NEVER made an “excuse” for any gun I sold.  If it’s not perfect, don’t blame me; it is what it is.  An “excuse” is an apology, & as my hero (or one of them) John Wayne said, “never apologize.”  It only earns you scorn, as countless big shots like Dan Rather & Bill O’Reilly, who groveled before their accusers but still lost their jobs, found out.

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October 4, 2023 - 1:01 pm
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clarence said

TXGunNut said I hate making excuses for guns because I like every one of them, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought them.  

I’ve NEVER made an “excuse” for any gun I sold.  If it’s not perfect, don’t blame me; it is what it is.  An “excuse” is an apology, & as my hero (or one of them) John Wayne said, “never apologize.”  It only earns you scorn, as countless big shots like Dan Rather & Bill O’Reilly, who groveled before their accusers but still lost their jobs, found out.

  

If I’m aware of a problem with a gun, I’ll disclose it to a potential buyer. That policy has probably cost me money but I don’t believe it has earned the scorn of other honest collectors. In most cases I wasn’t aware of the issue when I purchased it but I often buy from sellers who know little about the gun. 

Mike

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October 4, 2023 - 1:10 pm
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1873man said
There are collectors that look at the bore condition just like the external condition. The better its original condition the more anything is worth.

Bob

  

 Well said. I would add the word “most” in front of the word collectors. T/R

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October 4, 2023 - 2:54 pm
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If the bore to me or imo is less than 7/10 , I pass. That’s just my preference. I agree 90% of these collector condition guns never get shot, so some collectors don’t care as much about the bore. Like 1873man said, some collectors look at the bore condition just like the external condition. The better its original condition, the more it’s worth to them. I fall into this category. 

RickC 

 Rick C 

   

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October 4, 2023 - 2:59 pm
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TXGunNut said

If I’m aware of a problem with a gun, I’ll disclose it to a potential buyer. That policy has probably cost me money but I don’t believe it has earned the scorn of other honest collectors. In most cases I wasn’t aware of the issue when I purchased it but I often buy from sellers who know little about the gun. 

I believe you’re talking about something “hidden,” like a broken firing pin, that only use of the gun would disclose. Bore cond,or any other visible defect, cracked wood, etc, isn’t hidden, so why apologize for something you didn’t cause? “It is what it is.”

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October 4, 2023 - 4:13 pm
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clarence said

TXGunNut said

If I’m aware of a problem with a gun, I’ll disclose it to a potential buyer. That policy has probably cost me money but I don’t believe it has earned the scorn of other honest collectors. In most cases I wasn’t aware of the issue when I purchased it but I often buy from sellers who know little about the gun. 

I believe you’re talking about something “hidden,” like a broken firing pin, that only use of the gun would disclose. Bore cond,or any other visible defect, cracked wood, etc, isn’t hidden, so why apologize for something you didn’t cause? “It is what it is.”

  

That’s my preference, Clarence. It’s not so much an apology as being up front with a buyer. I may not be aware of all the issues of a 100+ year old gun but will disclose what I know. 

 

Mike

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October 4, 2023 - 5:24 pm
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I don’t buy guns with any kind of corrosion in the bore. It has to be bright and shiny with sharp rifling. Of course, I’m not buying high dollar guns like many of you. All of mine get shot on a regular basis. Most of my older guns would be considered “brown guns” by you guys, but they have excellent bores through some stroke of luck. Carried a lot, shot little and properly cleaned. What are the chances of that?  

I don’t buy guns anymore with out looking down the bore personally. I’ve been burnt a couple times with the phrase ” Excellent bore for its age”.  What the hell does that even mean?

Pitted bores may shoot well, but it brings cleaning nightmares with it. I’ll just wait for the right gun to come along, they always do.

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October 5, 2023 - 1:47 pm
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BTW, I meant no offence with my above post. We all buy old guns for different reasons, and they are all good. Both the reasons and the guns!

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October 5, 2023 - 4:26 pm
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I value your opinion and viewpoint, Brooksy. If we agreed on everything it would be useless to me. Good point about cleaning issues, rough bores get fouled quicker and take more to get clean. 

 

Mike

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October 12, 2023 - 7:40 pm
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Ive had an obsession with clean guns and barrels all my shooting days. Recently picked up a 1892 44-40 made in 1903. Not a speck of bluing on it from wear over its life. Stock shows honest wear as well. Didn’t check the bore till I got home, it was filthy! After an extensive cleaning session I see a shiny bore with good rifling in the business end but some pitting near the chamber. Ive shot it now for a few months with 300 + rounds and have been surprised by the excellent accuracy. 25, 50, 100 and 150 yards groups are good with the old open sights. I still want guns very clean but have found my exception, the bore can show wear and still shoot fine. 

                            IOWA GUY

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October 12, 2023 - 8:36 pm
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I too, buy primarily on bore condition.  If I’m lucky, the blueing will be decent, I don’t mind brown, and the wood will be presentable.  

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