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early special orders
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Illinois
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October 16, 2023 - 11:48 pm
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When did Winchester begin taking special orders on their rifles and carbines, for example, a longer or shorter barrel or magazine?

I’ve seen reprints of early Winchester catalogs, and I saw options with the 1873 in the 1875 catalog. The earlier catalogs didn’t show options, but Madis shows a (handsome) half magazine 1866 rifle from 1873, so they must have been accepting special orders by then.

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October 16, 2023 - 11:53 pm
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I do not believe that a definitive answer to your question is possible.  That stated, I suspect that Winchester began accepting “special order” requests the same day that they opened their doors for business.  

Bert

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October 17, 2023 - 12:16 am
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I define a special order Winchester as one that is not standard and ships the same day or the next day it entered the Warehouse so the very first special order 73 would of been serial #2 which actually is the first gun that entered the warehouse which was a 30″ blued rifle in a one gun order.

Bob

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October 20, 2023 - 5:05 am
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While I don’t own a copy, I’d taken some notes from Madis’ book. I looked through those today and found a comment that special length barrels are not found until after 1866 serial number 100,000. A file I copied a while back from the Winchester site has serial numbers by year, and that would indicate the latter half of 1871. (That rifle I mentioned in the original post would, according to this file, have been made in 1872 instead of the 1873 I recalled.) So it seems likely Winchester was accepting special orders a year or two before the 1873 was introduced. They may, of course, have accepted specials for wood and engraving even before that.

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