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1873 Rifle Magazine Tube Capacity - Possible 1892 Replacement?
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Narrow Gauge Kid
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January 31, 2017 - 4:44 am
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Hello,

I recently fulfilled one of my life long dreams and purchased a Model 1873.  The serial number puts the manufacture in 1886 as it’s just over 209xxx and it is a standard model configuration with an octagonal barrel in 44 WCF caliber.  The gun has virtually no blue left as it appeared at some point someone thoroughly cleaned the metal as there isn’t even any patina to speak of, but the overall condition and even moreso, the bore condition, MORE than made up for that as I was looking for a good shooter with character and it certainly has that.

After having the gun inspected by a gunsmith, I took it out to the range to see if the bore was as good as I thought and again, I was very pleased.  The only thing that surprised me is that I could only load 14 rounds in the magazine (The 15th wouldn’t even get started past the loading gate).  I had always seen 15 rounds as being the capacity in every book.  After reading through the Pirkle books, I didn’t see any notation that would indicate any timeframe of manufacture would have reduced the magazine capacity, but in reading the book on the model 1892, it sounds like the magazine tubes are interchangable on a 3rd model 1873 and an 1892, but the 1892 magazine capacity is only 14 rounds.

I bought the gun from a reputable source and there was no indication that any part of the gun was not original from their listing or my inspection (The mag tube looks to be similar aging as the rest of the metal on the gun), but I am now wondering if there is any way to identify if the magazine tube is not an original and/or a Model 1892 tube, or, is there some other reason that I end up one round short that may or may be able to be adjusted (magazine spring, etc?).

Thank you for any information.

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January 31, 2017 - 11:55 pm
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Nothing wrong with your gun. 14 in the tube and 1 in the chamber = 15.

Bob

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February 1, 2017 - 6:41 pm
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The length of the magazine spring could also affect the capacity.  The standard 24″ magazine tube spring should extend about 6″ past the end of the magazine when distended.  If a longer magazine spring is substituted for the original it could reduce the capacity by one round.  The normal capacity for Model 1873 24″ tubes is 14 rounds.

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Narrow Gauge Kid
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February 2, 2017 - 2:02 am
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Bob/Wincacher,

Thank you both for the replies and information.  I wasn’t aware that it was standard to count the round in the chamber as part of the total.  Makes me wonder where/why that came about as I also have a Winchester Model 74 that holds 14 rounds in the buttstock and everywhere I only see it listed as 14 round capcity (granted, completely different loading procedure and location).

In any case, that’s reassuring that I likely still have the original tube and magazine spring on the gun.

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February 2, 2017 - 3:57 am
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Could be a different bullet profile as well. The bullets I cast for my 38WCF have a bit longer noses than some of the traditional bullets. A fraction of an inch X 14 could make a difference of one round of magazine capacity.

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February 2, 2017 - 4:33 am
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There is no problem with his mag tube or bullets, its designed to hold 14. I tried to load a open top first model and only could get 14 in the tube and the 15th had a long ways to go to fit.

Bob

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February 3, 2017 - 2:46 am
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I was using some standard ultramax ammunition with 200 G RN lead bullets when shooting.  I have all the reloading supplies, but couldn’t wait to get it out and shoot, but at .60c+ a round for loaded ammo, reloading was a no brainer for the long haul.

I also realized after doing some basic math, I should have realized 15 rounds wouldn’t fit.  Cartridge OAL of 1.6 inches for a loaded round * 15 = 24 inches = no room for spring.

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February 4, 2017 - 4:51 am
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60 cents a round? Not too bad, I guess. I paid about that much for brass. Quite honestly I had no idea what the mag capacity of an 1873 rifle was, glad Bob was here to keep us straight. I think I loaded three once. Wink

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Smokeless powder is a passing fad! -Steve Garbe
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