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1895 short rifle
April 22, 2021
3:47 pm
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I’m not recalling if you mentioned the serial number range of this rifle?  I am curious what year it was made and if it is in the range that Cody Museum would have a ledger entry for it.

April 22, 2021
8:26 pm
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Mark Douglas said
Brooksy,

For perspective, I’ve been collecting 1895’s for a very long time and am missing only two barrel lengths from my collection.  One is a 34″, of which there are only four in the factory record, and to my knowledge, none have surfaced.  The other is a 20″.  You’re quite fortunate to have had the opportunity to acquire that rifle. Congrats on owning a great rifle!  Mark   

Thanks, that does indeed give me better perspective. I knew what this was (more or less) when I bought it, but had no idea what it was worth, and  still don’t, it’s such an oddball. I keep a “book” in one of the safes with serial numbers and guns listed and what they are worth so when I croak my wife doesn’t get burned by giving anything away to a bunch of buzzards circling my dead body.Wink

So, a 22″ gun just sold on gunbroken for 3K+ which is not as rare as gun as mine is. So, I would assume that would make mine more valuable? Anybody willing to give me some guidance as to what I should write in my book on the value of my 20″ gun? I’m comfortable with assigning values on all my other stuff, but I’m stumped on this one, I’m sure some of you understand the dilemma.

April 22, 2021
8:31 pm
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steve004 said
I’m not recalling if you mentioned the serial number range of this rifle?  I am curious what year it was made and if it is in the range that Cody Museum would have a ledger entry for it.  

It’s something like 72,000 and made in 1911, which is I believe past what the ledger records show. If you want the exact serial # I’ll go dig it out of the safe and report back.

April 22, 2021
8:31 pm
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Brooksy does this gun letter?

April 22, 2021
8:33 pm
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RickC said
Brooksy does this gun letter?  

I understand it’s past the recorded information that’s available, unless I’m misunderstanding what others have told me.

April 22, 2021
9:17 pm
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Brooksy said

It’s something like 72,000 and made in 1911, which is I believe past what the ledger records show. If you want the exact serial # I’ll go dig it out of the safe and report back.  

Brooksy – 

You are correct – that serial number range would not have records which would provide details such as barrel length.  For that type information, the ledgers at Cody on the M1895 run from serial #1 to 59,999.

This does impact the value.  For something that may well be, “one of a kind” many collectors want authentication.  This is particularly true for short rifles.  Simply, because they may have been shortened.  At the other end, barrels longer than original length are less suspect.  

April 22, 2021
9:43 pm
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steve004 said

Brooksy – 

You are correct – that serial number range would not have records which would provide details such as barrel length.  For that type information, the ledgers at Cody on the M1895 run from serial #1 to 59,999.

This does impact the value.  For something that may well be, “one of a kind” many collectors want authentication.  This is particularly true for short rifles.  Simply, because they may have been shortened.  At the other end, barrels longer than original length are less suspect.    

Steve,

From the pictures, this rifle appears to be correct with the correct from sight base.  Almost always, the 1895’s in calibers with this type of front sight (30-03, 30-06, 35 WCF and 405WCF) will have front sights incorrectly dovetailed in when the barrel has been shortened.  Of course, this rifle would need to find its way into the hands of an expert to inspect the muzzle and front sight in order to authenticate it. 

Sadly, collectors must rely upon experts to authenticate the vast majority of Winchesters for which the factory records no longer exist.  I wouldn’t hesitate to pay full value for a rifle like this one if I were to be able to inspect it in person first, even without factory documentation.  Mark  

April 22, 2021
9:55 pm
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It appears to be legit to me, although I’m no expert. If it is cut down , who ever did it went through great pains to make it look factory, then sell it cheap. All the patina you would expect to see on a 100 year old gun is there. 

I had the seller email me pics of the muzzle of that barrel before I bought it, as I suspected it was a probable cut down. It looked right in the pics and looks right in person. No hint of hocus pocus.

April 22, 2021
11:20 pm
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I agree, based on the photos I have seen, it looks correct.  I was just referring to the general phenomenon of many collectors being, “letter focused.”  It also can pivot on who you are collecting for.  Many buyer’s have resale in mind.  If not short-term, they are thinking about what happens when it comes time to sell.  If I buy something and think it is right as rain, my opinion may not be enough authentication for a prospective buyer.  And often, the prospective buyer is thinking about the next buyer.  A museum letter can take a lot of anxiety and doubt out of the equation – which helps many collectors feel better about reaching deeper in their pockets. 

April 23, 2021
2:56 am
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steve004 said
I agree, based on the photos I have seen, it looks correct.  I was just referring to the general phenomenon of many collectors being, “letter focused.”  It also can pivot on who you are collecting for.  Many buyer’s have resale in mind.  If not short-term, they are thinking about what happens when it comes time to sell.  If I buy something and think it is right as rain, my opinion may not be enough authentication for a prospective buyer.  And often, the prospective buyer is thinking about the next buyer.  A museum letter can take a lot of anxiety and doubt out of the equation – which helps many collectors feel better about reaching deeper in their pockets.   

Very true Steve.  Especially for those collectors for whom resale value is a primary focus, a lack of ironclad documentation will influence the price they’re willing to pay.    

April 23, 2021
3:30 am
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Mark & Steve have expressed why I was asking if it lettered. With something so rare, the value of a letter is very important to me as a buyer. If I owned it, I would somehow have Bert Hartman, Brad Dunbar or Rob Kassab inspect this rifle & get their expert opinion in it.
That would be my direction where’s it’s a 95 and a letter isn’t available.
From Marks precious replies, you may have something really special there & any documentation from those gentlemen would certainly help confirming its originality.

RickC

April 23, 2021
12:13 pm
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Brooksy said
If it is cut down , who ever did it went through great pains to make it look factory, then sell it cheap. All the patina you would expect to see on a 100 year old gun is there. 

 

Brooksy,

I believe that the barrel is probably correct and original and that it wasn’t modified in recent times with the intent to deceive.  No offense, but if it’s modified, the more likely scenario is that it was done correctly by a professional gunsmith 100 years ago who would have properly cut down the barrel, removed the front sight base and properly soldered it back on in the correct position.  Correctly removing and resoldering a sight base is a delicate, but not particularly difficult process that I’ve done myself.  Although it usually requires refinishing the barrel, a gunsmith can do the job with no damage to the finish if the proper precautions are followed.  Even if this were done and the barrel properly refinished 100 years ago, the patina would likely still look correct today.

Thus, the need for authentication by an expert familiar with this process who can also identify if the machining of the muzzle is consistent with Winchester’s work.  The average collector isn’t equipped to evaluate these issues with a degree of certainty required by most serious buyers.

The most telling sign on your rifle may be the barrel profile itself.  I have owned many 1895 short rifles (and still own a few) in 30-40 Krag.  The short rifles in this caliber have subtle differences in the barrel profile from a standard 28″ barrel that has simply been cut down.  I haven’t had the opportunity to compare the barrel profile of one of the larger caliber 1895 short rifles with a standard 24″ barrel of the same caliber, but I would expect them to have a slightly different profile as well.

While I believe your rifle is likely correct, I too would want to be able to personally evaluate any firearms with rare options or know that it had passed an in-person evaluation by a trusted expert.  On the flip side, I think many people trust the authenticity of guns with factory letters far too much.  There are more than a few “high end” guns out there that have been altered at some point and then modified again to match the letter.  And then there are the actual fakes that have both bogus serial numbers and options specifically built to match the factory records of a rare or highly optioned firearm.  Factory letters are by no means the “final word” in the authentication of a rare firearm.  There’s no substitute for due diligence, a lesson I learned the hard way in my early days of collecting.

The safest course of action is to have any rare firearm authenticated by a highly trusted expert whenever possible, whether it has a factory letter or not. Mark

April 23, 2021
12:33 pm
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Excellent advice Mark. And Brooksy I forgot to add Marks name & expertise as well on this. I don’t know if you will ever have the opportunity to meet up with any of the members I mentioned but that would certainly help imo.

RickC

April 23, 2021
1:28 pm
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Mark Douglas said

Brooksy said
If it is cut down , who ever did it went through great pains to make it look factory, then sell it cheap. All the patina you would expect to see on a 100 year old gun is there. 

 

Brooksy,

I believe that the barrel is probably correct and original and that it wasn’t modified in recent times with the intent to deceive.  No offense, but if it’s modified, the more likely scenario is that it was done correctly by a professional gunsmith 100 years ago who would have properly cut down the barrel, removed the front sight base and properly soldered it back on in the correct position.  Correctly removing and resoldering a sight base is a delicate, but not particularly difficult process that I’ve done myself.  Although it usually requires refinishing the barrel, a gunsmith can do the job with no damage to the finish if the proper precautions are followed.  Even if this were done and the barrel properly refinished 100 years ago, the patina would likely still look correct today.

Thus, the need for authentication by an expert familiar with this process who can also identify if the machining of the muzzle is consistent with Winchester’s work.  The average collector isn’t equipped to evaluate these issues with a degree of certainty required by most serious buyers.

The most telling sign on your rifle may be the barrel profile itself.  I have owned many 1895 short rifles (and still own a few) in 30-40 Krag.  The short rifles in this caliber have subtle differences in the barrel profile from a standard 28″ barrel that has simply been cut down.  I haven’t had the opportunity to compare the barrel profile of one of the larger caliber 1895 short rifles with a standard 24″ barrel of the same caliber, but I would expect them to have a slightly different profile as well.

While I believe your rifle is likely correct, I too would want to be able to personally evaluate any firearms with rare options or know that it had passed an in-person evaluation by a trusted expert.  On the flip side, I think many people trust the authenticity of guns with factory letters far too much.  There are more than a few “high end” guns out there that have been altered at some point and then modified again to match the letter.  And then there are the actual fakes that have both bogus serial numbers and options specifically built to match the factory records of a rare or highly optioned firearm.  Factory letters are by no means the “final word” in the authentication of a rare firearm.  There’s no substitute for due diligence, a lesson I learned the hard way in my early days of collecting.

The safest course of action is to have any rare firearm authenticated by a highly trusted expert whenever possible, whether it has a factory letter or not. Mark  

This continues to be an illuminating discussion.  I’ve reflected on it quite a bit.  I think we are so cautious because deception has been, and is, rampant in our field.  And many other field as well.  Basically, wherever there is money to be made.  Mark makes a great point – even factory letters are not the final word.  A faked up rifle made from a restamped donor receiver can, “letter” 100%.  Museum letters can be faked as well. 

For some collectors, establishing the authenticity of a rifle to their satisfaction is enough.  Some collectors never intend to sell their rifle and figure their heirs can sort it out however they want.  Conversely, as I stated earlier, many collectors have ultimate resale in mind.  

I think having known experts provide an opinion on a piece works well for the scenario where the buyer is trying to establish authenticity to meet their satisfaction.  Because of pragmatics, it works far less well to establish the value for future buyers.  In fact, I have often seen guns advertised where they mentioned they showed it to this person or that person and they said it was correct.  Sometimes I know who they are referring to and sometimes I don’t.  Rarely is there any sort of letter involved.  This is because usually the person rendering the opinion is not in the business of doing so.  An example is John Kopec with Colt revolvers.  He has an authentication business and will provide you with a letter outlining his opinion.  And, I assume he keeps a record of guns he has had evaluated so a letter from him could be verified.  

It’s interesting to me what the, “final word” means to different people.  I have been amused over the years to have encountered many collectors (or at least buyers) of Winchesters who have believed that any rifle pictured in one of George Madis’ books is authentic – simply by virtue appearing in his book.

April 23, 2021
1:41 pm
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Ok, thanks all for the help. I’m surprised but not offended by the controversy over the 20″ barrel. I really had no idea that there would be so much doubt about the configuration.  With the sight set up it really makes it the ideal hotrod hunting rifle for saddle carry out west. I’ll try and get some better pictures than I have, I have a new camera now if I can figure out how it works.

Btw, I know you guys don’t know me. I have made a full time living stocking custom flintlock muzzleloading rifles since 1996, nearly 400 of them at this point. Google Mike Brooks flintlocks and you’ll see my stuff all over the webs. You’ll see my work in the movie “The Patriot” and PBS came out and filmed a 1/2 hour segment for their series “A Craftsman’s Legacy”. I also am close to RIACO and get to handle all the Winchesters that come through there which does give me some experience. I even worked there as a description writer in a time long ago. So, I do have some idea what I’m looking at when it comes to assessing antique guns. But, first and foremost I’m am not offended by by everyone’s expertise and comments and willingness to share information, I have learned quite a bit.

Mike

April 23, 2021
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Brooksy said
Ok, thanks all for the help. I’m surprised but not offended by the controversy over the 20″ barrel. I really had no idea that there would be so much doubt about the configuration.  With the sight set up it really makes it the ideal hotrod hunting rifle for saddle carry out west. I’ll try and get some better pictures than I have, I have a new camera now if I can figure out how it works.

Btw, I know you guys don’t know me. I have made a full time living stocking custom flintlock muzzleloading rifles since 1996, nearly 400 of them at this point. Google Mike Brooks flintlocks and you’ll see my stuff all over the webs. You’ll see my work in the movie “The Patriot” and PBS came out and filmed a 1/2 hour segment for their series “A Craftsman’s Legacy”. I also am close to RIACO and get to handle all the Winchesters that come through there which does give me some experience. I even worked there as a description writer in a time long ago. So, I do have some idea what I’m looking at when it comes to assessing antique guns. But, first and foremost I’m am not offended by by everyone’s expertise and comments and willingness to share information, I have learned quite a bit.

Mike  

Mike –

It’s good to hear you are not offended by the raw analysis we generally provide.  I enjoyed hearing more about your history with firearms. It’s sounds like an interesting life you have had.

The good news is most of us, based on the photos and history you have provided, have the impression that your rifle is correct.  For me, I think what would lock in my opinion would be pursuing Mark’s suggestion – more investigation of the barrel profile.  It would be illuminating to lay a standard 24-inch barreled .35 WCF next to yours and compare he barrel profile.  Another possibility – maybe someone here has a 24 inch barreled .35 and they could take barrel diameter measurements at several points – such as immediately forward of receiver, 4 inches forward, 10 inches, etc.  As Mark suggests, I would not expect the measurements to be identical.

April 23, 2021
3:21 pm
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A barrel comparison is an interesting concept. I took the gun out of the safe this morning and had thoughts along those lines. It sure would be nice if there was another 20″ .35 gun out there to compare with.  Just wondering here: would the factory have just cut 4″ off at the muzzle? Or, would they have used a completely different barrel profile?  Especially if there were only so few  made. It seems lopping off 4″ would have been far easier. Maybe I’m simplifying the process too much.

 I gotta get out in the shop and make some more winchester funds!Laugh

April 23, 2021
5:04 pm
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Brooksy said
Ok, thanks all for the help. I’m surprised but not offended by the controversy over the 20″ barrel. I really had no idea that there would be so much doubt about the configuration.  With the sight set up it really makes it the ideal hotrod hunting rifle for saddle carry out west. I’ll try and get some better pictures than I have, I have a new camera now if I can figure out how it works.

Btw, I know you guys don’t know me. I have made a full time living stocking custom flintlock muzzleloading rifles since 1996, nearly 400 of them at this point. Google Mike Brooks flintlocks and you’ll see my stuff all over the webs. You’ll see my work in the movie “The Patriot” and PBS came out and filmed a 1/2 hour segment for their series “A Craftsman’s Legacy”. I also am close to RIACO and get to handle all the Winchesters that come through there which does give me some experience. I even worked there as a description writer in a time long ago. So, I do have some idea what I’m looking at when it comes to assessing antique guns. But, first and foremost I’m am not offended by by everyone’s expertise and comments and willingness to share information, I have learned quite a bit.

Mike  

Nothing to add to the immediate discussion, but just wanted to say I recently watched that episode of “A Craftsman’s Legacy” and enjoyed it very much. A TV Star in our midst!

 

Steve

WACA Member. CFM Member. NRA Lifer.

April 24, 2021
6:41 am
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Sorry for the sporadic responses. Out of retirement & back to work has me logging in & out here repeatedly. Anyway without reading back thru all the responses again, being a short rifle, has the rear sight dovetail location been discussed & forestock length on this short rifle?

April 24, 2021
12:32 pm
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RickC said
Sorry for the sporadic responses. Out of retirement & back to work has me logging in & out here repeatedly. Anyway without reading back thru all the responses again, being a short rifle, has the rear sight dovetail location been discussed & forestock length on this short rifle?  

Forestock length is standard. The rear sight is a folder. The center of the dovetail is at 7 1/4″ from the barrel breech, the same as my other ’95’s.

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