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1876 Sporting Rifle Questions
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June 6, 2022 - 10:06 pm
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A-1.jpgImage EnlargerC.jpgImage EnlargerD-1.jpgImage EnlargerE-2.jpgImage EnlargerI purchased this 3rd model 1876 sporting rifle over 20 years ago.  It had been really abused. The lower tang including the serial number had been broken off at the set trigger and replaced with a piece of steel resembling a tang threaded for the tang screw. I made and replaced the tang machining the set trigger area using dimensions from another 76. This rifle has a 30-inch barrel, set trigger, 1x fancy wood, pistol grip, checkered stock, and a German silver knife front sight. I contacted the Buffalo Bill Historical society years ago to try and do a reverse lookup, and they refused. According to the 76 Winchester book by Houze, there was only one manufactured with a knife blade front sight in 40/60.  There is no original finish left on the rifle.  Any help on where I need to look, or who I need to talk to would be greatly appreciated.

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June 6, 2022 - 10:30 pm
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  James,

 You said your gun has been abused, so the knife blade sight might be a replacement. Assembly numbers on the gun have nothing to do with the serial numbers except any numbers on the inside of the side plates. If there they would only be the last two numbers of the serial number and even then the factory mixed plates for fit. The barrel address would tell you if the gun was made before or after 1886. You might never know the serial number. T/R 

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June 7, 2022 - 11:34 am
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In response to TR . I appreciate your information . In reference to the front sight . It shows no evidence of being changed , but you never know.

Thanks again 

Jim

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June 7, 2022 - 2:52 pm
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Just brainstorming here…I wonder if the Winchester records at Cody are in database form.  In other words, would they be able to do a search of the Model 1876 records for rifles with the features you know that letter?  All .40-60 rifles with chequered stock with pistol grip (only 268), 30 inch octagon barrel (only 67), set trigger (only 1436).   It probably was case hardened too (only 597) so that might be added to the search too.  My guess is that would result in less than 10 rifles.  It might be possible to narrow the list down and figure it out.  Some of those rifles with similar features probably survive in collections today.  That would eliminate them as your rifle.

Otherwise, I would probably make a wall hangar out of it.  It’s a shame the abuse it suffered.

I hope Win4575 will comment on this thread.  

Here is a .40-60 with 26 inch barrel and some special order features.  SN 47,388

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I call myself a collector as it sounds better than hoarder

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June 7, 2022 - 4:06 pm
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Bill,

The records are a digitized copy of the ledger pages. You have to read the hand writing and interpret the abbreviations.

Bob

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June 7, 2022 - 4:32 pm
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For all, I understand they will do a research project of the records.  But it costs the requestor so much per hour.  Last I knew some years back it was $40 per hour and a minimum of two hours (IF I recall correctly).  Bottom line, it would be possible to get a listing of candidate rifles of the similar or same configuration with leeway for those that did not have ALL features annotated (the human factor by the warehouse).  But at what cost?  No idea.  It could run to several hundreds of dollars and produce a list of questionable use in isolating a likely few numbers.  My take based on my limited understanding.  Note, please, that many of the lists of numbers of a set feature are courtesy of VOLUNTEERS with access to the records who went through them one at a time and then summarized their findings.  Think of Herb Houze, John Hawke, etc.  Tim

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June 7, 2022 - 8:31 pm
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Last I heard its was $50 an hour for research. they would have to search 679 ledger pages of third models looking for a mention of a knife blade and they didn’t always put sights in the same column so they would have to scan each page carefully so figure 6 hours at least. If the 76’s are like the 73’s less than 5% of the guns will letter with sights. With the 73’s I see guns with some nice special order sights but no mention on the letter. It would be a very long shot and you would never know for sure if you found one with a knife blade if it really was yours. Like others have said, sights get swapped all the time.

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June 8, 2022 - 1:23 pm
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I want to thank everyone for their responses . I really appreciate the help.

Jim 

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