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Whitney Kennedy Rifles
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September 12, 2021 - 2:18 pm
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Not Winchesters, but became part of company’s history when the Whitneyville Armory was bought out by Winchester.  These are really enjoyable rifles to shoot.  Mark

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September 12, 2021 - 3:05 pm
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Mark – your video was quite a treat to find this morning.  I loved it.  I was collecting Winchesters before I collected Whitney-Kennedy’s – but not by much.  I bought a high condition M1878 Burgess .45-70 rifle (you mentioned this rifle) when I was in my very early 20’s.  I recall I beat Sam Maxwell to it by a half hour.  Shortly after that I acquired my first two Whitney-Kennedy’s – a .45-60 and a .44-40.  Just a couple weeks ago, I was at the range shooting my .38-40 Whitney-Kennedy.  It is in identical configuration (e.g. octagon barrel, full mag., rifle butt, loop lever) to the one you were shooting.  By the way, the .38-40 is quite scarce in the W-K.  The .44-40 and .45-60 were the most popular chamberings.  It’s not as scarce as the .50-95.  I think I’ve been aware of four in the past 45 years.  One other point, the chambering range of the W-K is even greater than from .38-40 to .50-95.  The W-K was also chambered in the .32-20.  

Dale Olson has a good paperback book out on the subject.  Here’s a review of it on Forgotten Weapons:

https://www.forgottenweapons.com/book-review-the-burgess-long-range-repeating-rifle-model-1878/

Dale was a great guy.  I met him over ten years ago when a small group (there is no large group) of us put on a display of 50+ very rare Burgess and Whitney-Kennedy rifles at the NRA Trophy Show in Dallas, Texas.  I’m sad to say that Dale passed away earlier this year.

Billy the Kid is reputed to have used a Whitney-Kennedy.  The rifle is on display at the Gene Autry Museum of American West in Las Vegas.  I can’t speak to the veracity of the claim. 

Oh, the other of my W-K’s I was recently shooting is unique in two ways.  First, it is the only reblued rifle I own.  Second, it was rebored from .44-40 to .45 Colt.  The bore is mint of course.  It is a fun and unique shooter.  

Lastly I will say that I do find the long lever throw odd.  In my experience, it takes some getting used to.

Thanks again Mark!  You always have very interesting subjects and I never tire of seeing those beautiful surroundings you live in.

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September 12, 2021 - 4:22 pm
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Steve the Gene Autry Museum is in Los Angeles just north of Dodger Stadium.  I believe that members of the Cody Museum can show their membership card and get in free.  I haven’t been there recently.

https://theautry.org/

 

I think the local gun shop has 1 or 2 of these guns in stock? 

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September 12, 2021 - 4:37 pm
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Chuck said
Steve the Gene Autry Museum is in Los Angeles just north of Dodger Stadium.  I believe that members of the Cody Museum can show their membership card and get in free.  I haven’t been there recently.

https://theautry.org/

 

I think the local gun shop has 1 or 2 of these guns in stock?   

Chuck – 

Next time you in that gunshop, have a peek at what they have.  Whitney-Kennedy’s aren’t as scarce as say, Bullards.  With Bullards we are talking around 2800 (that all small frame, large frame and single-shots).  With W-K, the production number often quoted is 23,500.  Over the years I have encountered far more W-K’s than Bullards.  

Back on the topic of W-K, at the Rock Island auction in December, 2020 Tom Selleck had a wonderful .45-60 SRC.  I know I wasn’t the only one here who drooled over it:

https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/81/1056/whitneykennedy-lever-action-saddle-ring-carbine-in-4560

Another interesting detail is the W-K chambered all standard cartridges (I’m talking off the top of my head – all Winchester?):  .32-20, .38-40, .44-40, .40-60, .45-60, .45-75 and .50-95.  The Bullard lever repeater was chambered in mainly his own proprietary cartridges with some Winchester cartridges (e.g. .45-75 and .50-95).   

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September 12, 2021 - 5:11 pm
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Great video on some interesting rifles, Mark. Awhile back Shrapnel was kind enough to recommend Maxwell’s “Lever Action Repeating  Rifles” when I expressed an interest in learning more about the examples he posted pics of. Very good book about the company history, firearms development and the guns themselves. Very good insight into the firearms and manufacturing business of this era. Pretty cool guns, too! Book is a bit scarce but worth finding. I’m still looking for a Whitney Kennedy Burgess rifle but have yet to find one that I felt could also be a shooter. 

Better luck next time on the yodel dogs.

 

Mike

 

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September 12, 2021 - 5:31 pm
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TXGunNut said
Great video on some interesting rifles, Mark. Awhile back Shrapnel was kind enough to recommend Maxwell’s “Lever Action Repeating  Rifles” when I expressed an interest in learning more about the examples he posted pics of. Very good book about the company history, firearms development and the guns themselves. Very good insight into the firearms and manufacturing business of this era. Pretty cool guns, too! Book is a bit scarce but worth finding. I’m still looking for a Whitney Kennedy Burgess rifle but have yet to find one that I felt could also be a shooter. 

Better luck next time on the yodel dogs.

 

Mike

 

D2870BF6-2E9A-4FC9-9108-EA9340FD635A.jpegImage Enlarger  

Mike – I’ve had Maxwell’s book for several decades.  He sure knew a whole lot about Burgess and Whitney-Kennedy rifles.  I talked to him on the phone shortly before his death.  He is surely missed.  Do you have Dale Olson’s book?  It’s much easier to find.  The title of he book is the exact rifle you are looking for.

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September 12, 2021 - 10:45 pm
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Thanks, Steve. First I’ve heard of Olson’s book. My quest for one of these rifles has cooled off a bit but Mark has managed to fan the flames a bit. Not really sure which model I’m looking for, just want something I can shoot and load for. 

 

Mike

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September 12, 2021 - 11:15 pm
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About three months ago I posted a photo here of a pair of .38-40’s – one Winchester M1892 and one Whitney-Kennedy.  I believe the Winchester is superior to the W-K in all respects, particularly in carrying.  The W-K is fairly ungainly to carry.  The hand does not fit around the receiver well.  I suppose it’s not a fair comparison as the W-K was more in competition with the Winchesters M1873 and M1876.  Even with that, a ’73 Winchester is easy to carry.  The ’76 is more of a challenge.

https://winchestercollector.org/forum/winchester-rifles/a-pair-of-38-40s/

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September 12, 2021 - 11:22 pm
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Mike –

Let me add that Shrapnel presently has a couple up for sale.  Merz has a couple as well.

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September 13, 2021 - 3:05 am
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steve004 said
Mark – your video was quite a treat to find this morning.  I loved it.  I was collecting Winchesters before I collected Whitney-Kennedy’s – but not by much.  I bought a high condition M1878 Burgess .45-70 rifle (you mentioned this rifle) when I was in my very early 20’s.  I recall I beat Sam Maxwell to it by a half hour.  Shortly after that I acquired my first two Whitney-Kennedy’s – a .45-60 and a .44-40.  Just a couple weeks ago, I was at the range shooting my .38-40 Whitney-Kennedy.  It is in identical configuration (e.g. octagon barrel, full mag., rifle butt, loop lever) to the one you were shooting.  By the way, the .38-40 is quite scarce in the W-K.  The .44-40 and .45-60 were the most popular chamberings.  It’s not as scarce as the .50-95.  I think I’ve been aware of four in the past 45 years.  One other point, the chambering range of the W-K is even greater than from .38-40 to .50-95.  The W-K was also chambered in the .32-20.  

Dale Olson has a good paperback book out on the subject.  Here’s a review of it on Forgotten Weapons:

https://www.forgottenweapons.com/book-review-the-burgess-long-range-repeating-rifle-model-1878/

Dale was a great guy.  I met him over ten years ago when a small group (there is no large group) of us put on a display of 50+ very rare Burgess and Whitney-Kennedy rifles at the NRA Trophy Show in Dallas, Texas.  I’m sad to say that Dale passed away earlier this year.

Billy the Kid is reputed to have used a Whitney-Kennedy.  The rifle is on display at the Gene Autry Museum of American West in Las Vegas.  I can’t speak to the veracity of the claim. 

Oh, the other of my W-K’s I was recently shooting is unique in two ways.  First, it is the only reblued rifle I own.  Second, it was rebored from .44-40 to .45 Colt.  The bore is mint of course.  It is a fun and unique shooter.  

Lastly I will say that I do find the long lever throw odd.  In my experience, it takes some getting used to.

Thanks again Mark!  You always have very interesting subjects and I never tire of seeing those beautiful surroundings you live in.  

Steve,

I’m glad you liked it.  That S-lever 44-40 is one of the old ranch rifles that’s been in the family for generations.  I shot it once years ago and it wouldn’t eject, so I put it away because I wasn’t confident enough to tear into it.  

I took it apart to get it working for this episode and found that it was just a gummed up and rusty ejector spring. I was impressed with how relatively simple and stout the action is on these rifles.

I really enjoyed shooting these rifles, even with the long lever throw.  I can see why you collect them. 

I wish I’d known that Billy the Kid reportedly carried one.  My great, great grandfather and Billy were good friends before the Lincoln County Wars.  They chose different paths as my grandfather went on to become Deputy Sheriff of Silver City under Harvey Whitehall.  Of course, we all know the path Billy chose.  I would have worked something into this episode about that.  Mark

  

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September 13, 2021 - 12:37 pm
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Mark,  All I can say is you continue to amaze me!  Great video, again.  You set the bar rather high!  Tim

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September 13, 2021 - 4:21 pm
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steve004 said

Chuck – 

Next time you in that gunshop, have a peek at what they have.

It probably won’t be until I get back from Colorado Springs.

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September 14, 2021 - 1:10 am
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I too have a W-K .44-40, found mabey 3 years ago in a gun shop in Longview Washington. Was still behind the counter, hadnt been put out yet. I jumped on it, had read about them but never expected to see one. Came with a partial box of old ammo, with some old WW2 newspaper wadded up in the empty portion. 

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September 14, 2021 - 4:25 pm
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patdaddy said
I too have a W-K .44-40, found mabey 3 years ago in a gun shop in Longview Washington. Was still behind the counter, hadnt been put out yet. I jumped on it, had read about them but never expected to see one. Came with a partial box of old ammo, with some old WW2 newspaper wadded up in the empty portion.   

Cool.  S-lever or full loop lever?

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September 15, 2021 - 1:27 am
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Mine has the full loop lever. 

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September 16, 2021 - 5:16 pm
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patdaddy said
Mine has the full loop lever.   

I prefer the full loop lever.  I find the S-lever awkard to operate.  However, it does have the cool factor as it is one of the features that sets the W-K apart from other rifles.

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September 20, 2021 - 5:28 pm
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There were over a half dozen of these guns in Colorado Springs.

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