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Winchester 1890 with 18" barrel?
February 14, 2016
5:47 pm

Hi guys/gals. I have what I believe is a model 1890 pump rifle chambered in .22 short. From my online research it seems to be the 2nd generation(?) based on the serial number 271419 and I think manufactured in 1906. The thing I'm having difficulty finding info about is the fact that it has an 18" barrel instead of the standard 24". I have spent a few hours and just can't seem to find anything about it. I'm not an expert but the barrel doesn't appear to have been cut. Front sight is dove-tailed and looks original.

My Dad got this rifle about 40 years ago from a woman he did some work for. Unfortunately it was rather rusty and I remember and I think he had it re-blued. The stock also had a bad crack and is loose (still is). Forearm also has a couple long cracks and is missing one screw.

I know she isn't a cream puff and probably doesn't have much collector value because of condition but can anyone tell me if these were ever manufactured with an 18" shorter barrel? 

Thanks in advance for any info and taking the time to help!

PS- unfortunately it does not look like it is going to let me post pictures even when using an outside source.

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February 15, 2016
4:21 pm
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 25
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March 31, 2015
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In addition to what Bert Hartman added above, I have found a little more in Schwing that may be helpful re your gun at pages 236-7 and in Appendix A, Chart 90-8B at page 313.

At Chart 90-8B, captioned "Model 1890 2nd Model Blued Receiver Special Order Barrel Lengths" (covering  serial numbers 112,000 thru 322,250), Schwing's chart shows that 2 guns were made with 18 inch barrels, 19 with 20 inch barrels, 21 with 21 inch barrels, 3 with 22 inch barrels and 5 with 26 inch barrels.

At pp. 236-7, Schwing provides further detail re these guns. As for the two guns in serial range 112,000-322,250 made with 18 inch barrels he says: "The two 18-inch barrel guns were the same length as the magazine tube, and one of these had the rear sight moved 3 1/4 inches from the breech". Perhaps this will be of further assistance, but Bert's suggestion to contact Cody should provide you with a definitive answer as to whether your gun left the factory with an 18 inch barrel.

I can't figure out how to post photos on this site either and wish I could. I'd really like to see your photos of your 1890 with an 18 inch barrel and if you can't get your photos posted so everyone can see what may be a very rare 1890, I'd appreciate your emailing them to me at richardschreiber@cox.net. Should anyone else want to see the photos I would be glad to send them copies if they send me their email address.

rick schreiber

February 15, 2016
5:58 am
Kingston, WA
Forum Posts: 9978
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April 15, 2005
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Per Table 90-8 in Ned Schwing's superb reference book, there were a small number of Model 1890 rifles made with non-standard barrel lengths as follows;

16" - 3 made

18" - 3 made

19" - 2 made

20" - 25 made

21" - 22 made

22" - 5 made

26" - 10 made

29" - 47 made

My recommendation is that you contact the Cody Firearms Museum records office and order a factory letter.  If your rifle left the factory with an 18" barrel, it will be listed on the letter.


WACA 6571L, Historian & Board of Director Member

February 15, 2016
4:33 am
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 25
Member Since:
March 31, 2015
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To follow up on my earlier reply re your 1890 with an 18 inch barrel that has yet to post because I failed to log in as member and then mistyped my name as rick schreibef rather than rick schreiber:    A more careful look at Schwing at page 238 reflects that special barrel lengths on 1890s were apparently a special option from the factory.

rick schreiber

February 15, 2016
4:12 am
Rick Schreibef

My quick and by no means comprehensive or careful review of Schwing's fine book on 1890s did not find any reference to 1890 barrel lengths other than 24 3/8 inches on First Models and 24 inches thereafter on Second and Third models.

However, back in 2001, Rock Island Auction Company sold a number of 1890s from the Kidd brothers' collection, many of which are pictured in Schwing's book. One of them, lot 2190, s/n 55703, has a 22 inch barrel and is described as a very rare exhibition Winchester Model 1890 boy's rifle made for the 1898 New York Exhibition. This gun had a factory letter confirming its 22 inch barrel. The RIAC description reads in pertinent part: "The features that mark this as a boy's rifle are the stock and barrel, both of which are mentioned in the...[factory]...letter. The actual pull is 12 inches shorter than standard. This is the only 22 inch barreled second model casehardened Model 1890 built. The stock has a one inch shorter length of pull."

Given the Winchester "factory letter" stating that this gun had a 22 inch barrel, it appears that at least one 1890 came from the factory with a barrel significantly and intentionally shorter than the 24 inch barrel that was standard on 2nd and 3rd Model 1890s. You may want to check as to how the measurement of your gun's stock compares with the standard 1890 measurements.

It may also be of interest to you that lot 21 sold for nearly $29,000 in 2001. Aside from having a factory letter verifying its 22 inch barrel, it was also in what RIAC described as "near excellent" condition with brilliant case colors on the receiver and  it was from the well known Kidd brothers' collection.

Hopefully, BERT HARTMAN, or someone else with extensive knowledge and expertise on the model 1890 sees your post and will provide you and the rest of us with the benefit of their knowledge on the issue of whether Winchester made an 1890 with an 18 inch barrel and, if so, your 18 inch barrel appears to be factory original. Also perhaps someone will just read Schwing's book more carefully than i and find an answer to your question in the book.

Good luck.

Rick Schreiber

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