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M1886 .50 EX coming up for auction - no question about the rate of twist on this one
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August 4, 2022 - 10:59 pm
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https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/86/19/smoothbore-winchester-model-1886-rifle-in-50-express

 

Also, has an interesting, “letter of authenticity”.  However, I don’t take exception to anything he states.

 

I’ve been studying various .50-110’s and .50-100-450’s that have come up for auction in recent years.  I also re-read Jim Paul and Tom Adams summer, 2012 article on the .50-100-450.  It sounds like the 50-100-450 had a rate of twist of one turn in 54 inches.  This was (at least for some rifles that were examined) marked on the underside of the barrel.  The .50-110 had a rate of twist of one turn in 60 inches and this apparently is not typically observed to be marked on the underside of the barrel.

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August 5, 2022 - 12:13 am
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steve004 said
https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/86/19/smoothbore-winchester-model-1886-rifle-in-50-express

 

Also, has an interesting, “letter of authenticity”.  However, I don’t take exception to anything he states.

 

I’ve been studying various .50-110’s and .50-100-450’s that have come up for auction in recent years.  I also re-read Jim Paul and Tom Adams summer, 2012 article on the .50-100-450.  It sounds like the 50-100-450 had a rate of twist of one turn in 54 inches.  This was (at least for some rifles that were examined) marked on the underside of the barrel.  The .50-110 had a rate of twist of one turn in 60 inches and this apparently is not typically observed to be marked on the underside of the barrel.

  

Steve – of note from re-reading the article which Tom and Jim wrote, they came to the conclusion that the 50Ex and the 50-110 were the same caliber.

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August 5, 2022 - 12:46 am
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Burt Humphrey said

steve004 said

https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/86/19/smoothbore-winchester-model-1886-rifle-in-50-express

 

Also, has an interesting, “letter of authenticity”.  However, I don’t take exception to anything he states.

 

I’ve been studying various .50-110’s and .50-100-450’s that have come up for auction in recent years.  I also re-read Jim Paul and Tom Adams summer, 2012 article on the .50-100-450.  It sounds like the 50-100-450 had a rate of twist of one turn in 54 inches.  This was (at least for some rifles that were examined) marked on the underside of the barrel.  The .50-110 had a rate of twist of one turn in 60 inches and this apparently is not typically observed to be marked on the underside of the barrel.

  

Steve – of note from re-reading the article which Tom and Jim wrote, they came to the conclusion that the 50Ex and the 50-110 were the same caliber.

  

Burt – exactly!  But this rifle is marked 50 EX yet it letters as a .50-100.  That is why I would love to know if there is a, “54” on the underside of the barrel – which would help prove it really is a .50-100-450.  The other aspect of that would be very helpful would be to measure the rate of twist.  Another thought, it this is indeed the first recorded, “50-100” maybe that hadn’t come up with the new cartridge marking for it yet?  Interestingly, we are discussing on another thread, a rifle that the factory ledger shows it was shipped as a .50-100-450 and then sent back for a .50-110 barrel.  Paradoxically, that letter would match this particular rifle!

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August 5, 2022 - 1:00 am
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Steve and Burt,  I know I can be dense at times, but how can a smooth bore have a rate of twist?  Are you two talking about the RIA offering that Steve started this thread over?  And about the barrel caliber marking–looks rather obvious to me what it is marked like and it isn’t 50-100.  What are you seeing that I am not?  Tim

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August 5, 2022 - 4:01 am
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steve004 said

 

steve004 said

https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/86/19/smoothbore-winchester-model-1886-rifle-in-50-expres

Also, has an interesting, “letter of authenticity”.  However, I don’t take exception to anything he states.

I’ve been studying various .50-110’s and .50-100-450’s that have come up for auction in recent years.  I also re-read Jim Paul and Tom Adams summer, 2012 article on the .50-100-450.  It sounds like the 50-100-450 had a rate of twist of one turn in 54 inches.  This was (at least for some rifles that were examined) marked on the underside of the barrel.  The .50-110 had a rate of twist of one turn in 60 inches and this apparently is not typically observed to be marked on the underside of the barrel.

Burt – exactly!  But this rifle is marked 50 EX yet it letters as a .50-100.  That is why I would love to know if there is a, “54” on the underside of the barrel – which would help prove it really is a .50-100-450.  The other aspect of that would be very helpful would be to measure the rate of twist.  Another thought, it this is indeed the first recorded, “50-100” maybe that hadn’t come up with the new cartridge marking for it yet?  Interestingly, we are discussing on another thread, a rifle that the factory ledger shows it was shipped as a .50-100-450 and then sent back for a .50-110 barrel.  Paradoxically, that letter would match this particular rifle!

Dear Steve,

I’m also just as confused as Tim Tomlinson is on your statements, unless your talking about another gun than what you linked.

The “Rate of Twist” for a smoothbore is none, zero, nadda. That’s what makes it a smooth bore, no rifling to twist!

Also, Where are you seeing how “it letters as a .50-100”, according to whom? I thought the serial is out of the cody letterable range.

LeRoy’s letter doesn’t state its a .50-100, just merely 50 Express. Which would of been a .50-110 Express, as they sold “Shot Cartridges” in that caliber. It would be like shooting a much nicer and larger .410 Shotgun.

 

I’m no defender of LeRoy Merez and/or RIA, but there is creedence to what they’re discussing. As there are 15 letterable 50 Express Model 86s.

Here’s the Cody Research letter that proves it.

codyletter1.jpgImage Enlarger

Back in 2011 a 86 smoothbore #145204 sold at auction. It had this cody research letter, a regular cody letter and a Madis letter. I imagine it to be an authentic rifle, but I never personally examined it either.

It was not marked on the barrel “Smooth Bore”, as the RIA rifle. But that said I’ve seen other 86s marked Smooth Bore on the barrel in 45 Gov with identical marks as the RIA auction rifle.

So I’d say best of luck to you on winning the bid! 

If you get it, its likely to be no different than any other non-letterable rifle, it’ll have to stand on its own merits.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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August 5, 2022 - 2:26 pm
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Sorry, I was discussing too many different rifles in the same thread.

And to start with, my levity on the topic was interpreted as seriousness.  With reference to the rate of twist of the smoothbore rifle, I made that quip because of course, a smoothbore has no rifling and hence there is not rate of twist.

Maverick – thank you for including the Cody letter regarding number of .50 caliber smoothbores they count in their records.  I just printed it out for my records.  I agree the .50 caliber smoothbore would be much nicer than shooting a .410 shotgun.  I’ve had a fascination with .50 caliber rifles for a long time.  I’ve owned one ’86 in .50-110.  It had a 32 inch full octagon barrel and full magazine.  I traded it off long ago and it is extremely high on the list of those I wish I had never let go. My fascination with .50 caliber rifles extend beyond the Model 1886 Winchester.  Colt Express rifles and Whitney-Kennedy rifles in .50-95 and Bullard rifles in both .50-95 and .50-115 have also been an area of interest and study four many decades.  Smoothbore repeating rifles are of interest, particularly so in .50 caliber rifles.  My Standard Arms Camp .50 is an example.  This slide action repeating rifle/shotgun was advertised for use with, “buck or ball” and is a .50 caliber smooth bore.  What cartridge is it chambered for?  Well, this is an area of intense study on my part as NO ONE KNOWS what cartridge it is chambered in.  No one has seen a box of cartridges.  A few references state it was chambered for some sort of .50-70 shot cartridge.  

Years ago, I talked to George Fink, a Standard Arms researcher who owned and studied these rifles.  He has done a chamber cast on his.  I asked him what the result was and he said, “it posed more questions than it answered.”  I haven’t done a chamber cast on mine and don’t feel I need to.  In fact, my study of my rifle lead to me to flip the paradigm and rather than pose the question, “what cartridge is it chambered for?” to, “what cartridge isn’t it chambered for?”

I say that because I have chambered a variety of cartridges in it and they all chamber!  Below are four I tried – .50-110 bulleted cartridge, .50-110 shot cartridge, .50-95 shot cartridge and .50-70 shot cartridge:

VXRkV0j.jpgImage Enlarger

Here’s one with the .50-110 shot cartridge sitting on top of the magazine follower:

w2xzdCb.jpgImage Enlarger

Fully chambered:

ZdosndZ.jpgImage Enlarger

Ready to go in: k04ftmp.jpgImage Enlarger

The only thing I did prove was that the one cartridge that does not work for this gun is the one cartridge that the reference books say it is chambered for.  That is, the .50-70.  Yes, the .50-70 will chamber, but the it is too wide at the rim to clear the ejection port.  The .50-110’s and the .50-95 will clear the ejection port.  I mentioned I felt there was no need for a chamber cast.  Well, if a full .50-110 case will chamber, we know it is not any sort of bottle necked cartridge.  The chamber is just a straight-fall chamber.  This makes me wonder if they planned that most any .50 caliber available could be used?  This whole rifle makes little sense and if I recall correctly, the company as in its death throws when it came out.  I believe around 30 or 40 were made.  It took me a couple decades to find this one.  In the few years following, I had an opportunity to purchase about three or four more.  I passed.  

Well, I certainly fell into a tangent here.  However as I mentioned, this .50 caliber stuff is one of my passions.  Once something trips that trigger, I’m off to the races.  Let me settle my thoughts back down and go back and try to clarify some of my remarks about the 1886 .50’s that were confusing Laugh

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August 5, 2022 - 8:15 pm
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While we’re on the topic of M1886 .50 caliber smoothbores, the records show one .50-100-450 was made as a smoothbore.  What possible difference could there be between a .50-100-450 smoothbore and a .50-110 smoothbore?

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August 6, 2022 - 2:24 am
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I enjoyed the twist jab but I hope I’m not the only one wondering why a smooth bore would be ordered with a 3 leaf folding Lyman rear sight. I understand the “folding” part, but three? If anyone here buys it, can I shoot a round of skeet with it?

 

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August 6, 2022 - 12:31 pm
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I was looking at this big 50 smooth bore and I just noticed it is a take down. I see that there is not a Cody letter with it. I wonder if by chance it was built as a two barrel set. Long shot but would be interesting. 

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August 6, 2022 - 1:53 pm
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oldcrankyyankee said
I was looking at this big 50 smooth bore and I just noticed it is a take down. I see that there is not a Cody letter with it. I wonder if by chance it was built as a two barrel set. Long shot but would be interesting. 

  

Yes, it was made outside of the letterable range – so who knows.  It would be logical that it could have been ordered as a special purpose barrel in a two barrel set.  As always, we yearn to know what the original purchaser had in mind, and what sort of use the rifle actually saw.  I can imagine the original purchaser excitedly talking to his friends about the order he just placed… wow – to be a fly on the wall and listen to those conversations!

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August 7, 2022 - 11:24 am
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Also see RIA has a 1892 smooth bore in 44-wcf. Nice little snake charmer there.

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August 7, 2022 - 2:39 pm
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oldcrankyyankee said
Also see RIA has a 1892 smooth bore in 44-wcf. Nice little snake charmer there.

  

I had noticed that one.  The smoothbores are interesting among collectors.  They are very rare, but a lot of collectors are not interested in them.  I had one once.  A M1886 .45-70 ELW, pistol grip, take-down, checkered (not deluxe wood) with a Lyman No. 21 (or No. 38 – I can’t remember for sure) with no rear sight dovetail.  So, the long range receiver sight – obviously not an add-on given, the rear dovetail – in a smoothbore rifle!  Alas, this was a later rifle outside the letterable range.  I recall the bore measured under .458 – so it had not been bored out to smoothbore. By the way, it was not marked, “smoothbore” anywhere on the barrel.

There were three possibilities:  1) the rifle was all original (and perhaps had been part of a two barrel set), 2) the barrel was from another rifle and not original to the rifle, or 3), someone had a smoothbore liner installed.  Interestingly, the rifle was in very high condition with no refinishing or other alterations.  When I had it, there was little serious interest in it.  It was an oddity – a great conversation piece – but the collector’s didn’t want it.  The formidable, “it doesn’t letter” reared it’s head very strongly.  I recall one collector suggested I have the barrel rifled.  Given the high condition and the desirability of being a .45-70, TD, pistol grip, checkered stocks, Lyman sight (with no rear dovetail) and so on, he thought it would be much more valuable rifled than as it sat.  I ended up trading it off.   Kind of wished I still had it.  Talk about a fun small bird gun!

While I’m thinking about it, I wonder how the rifle would have performed with lead bullets, or lead round balls?  There is no rifling but we send lead slugs down smooth shotgun bores all the time.  I realize velocity and accuracy would be impacted, but a short range deer rifle?  Yeah, I wish I had it back as I might have experimented with it.  It would be no different in concept than my Standard Arms Camp .50 “buck and ball.”  As I ponder this, maybe the .45-70 case loaded with 2 or 3 .45 round balls?  Now I really wish I had it back!  Anyone out there have it?

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August 7, 2022 - 3:11 pm
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Great story and ideas Steve. I just have had to think why would some one want or need a smooth bore rifle. I would love that 50cal on RIA but only because its a 1886.And I find it interesting that of the three 1886 smooth bores I have seen or heard about, yours being the third one , they were all take downs.

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August 7, 2022 - 6:17 pm
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While were on the topic of smoothbores, we know that Winchester made very limited numbers in various Winchester models.  Over the years, I’ve seen examples in the M1873, 1886, 1892, 1894.  Off the top of my head, I can’t remember one in a M1876 (although vaguely I think I do) and I’m thinking I haven’t seen one in Model 1895.  Other than noting in some catalogs that smoothbore barrels were available for some models as an option, what I don’t recall is any Winchester advertising promoting their use or application.  The same would be true for Marlins.  Marlin also offered a smoothbore option for a period.  I think I’ve seen a few in their Model 1894 .44-40, one or two in their Model 1895 and one in their Model 1893.  Again, I don’t recall any promotion for their smoothbores.  Oh, and I think I recall one or two Savage Model 1899 in smoothbore.

The above explains why the Standard Arms Camp .50 smoothbore surprised me.  Standard Arms did promote it (briefly):

Ui5Fz6C.jpgImage Enlarger

vgy2MBW.jpgImage Enlarger

OnoExKA.jpgImage Enlarger

With the Standard Arms promotional materials, there is no shortage of claims for the smoothbore’s capability and applicability.  Example:  “The arm which will be found in every up-to-date deer camp, and used by those ever on the alert for the latest development in firearms.”  Also of impressive verbiage:  “Great penetration and shocking power, with extreme accuracy and light recoil.”  I think even the Winchester ad men were not up to making statements this grand.

Of great interest to me:  

“Shoots shot cartridges or single ball cartridges work equally well, using same shell and powder charge furnished by such standard ammunition manufacturers such as Remington-Arms U.M.C. Co., Winchester Repeating Arms Co., and Peters Cartridges Company.”  My question – what cartridges are they referring to?  This gets back to my speculation earlier – that most any centerfire .50 caliber shot cartridge would work.  In fact, a Standard Arms collector I know (quite the rarity in itself), said when he examined the inside of his barrel, he noted there was no variation for a chamber – in other words, a straight tube from the breech to end of the muzzle.  It’s easy to see how a variety of cartridges would chamber. 

By chance, any Winchester cartridge collectors here aware of a .50 caliber shot (or ball cartridge) made for the Standard Arms Camp .50?  This would be circa about 1912 to 1914.  

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August 8, 2022 - 2:18 am
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August 8, 2022 - 4:14 pm
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Bert – that is a rare and interesting box of cartridges.  I really enjoyed that the cartridges looked like they are in fantastic condition.  The box looked nice too.  It looks like they used their standard box for .50-95 cartridges and added two stickers to make it a box for shot cartridges.  It is interesting that they are marked for single-shot rifles only.  I suspect very few .50-95 Winchester rifles were made in their single-shot rifle.

I believe these cartridges would work in my Standard Arms Camp .50.  I suspect this box was made before the Camp .50 was introduced.  To my knowledge, there is no box of cartridges that specifies uses for the Camp .50.  But I sure would like to find one.

Thanks for posting. Smile

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August 8, 2022 - 7:41 pm
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steve004 said
While we’re on the topic of M1886 .50 caliber smoothbores, the records show one .50-100-450 was made as a smoothbore.  What possible difference could there be between a .50-100-450 smoothbore and a .50-110 smoothbore?

My guess would be the chamber dimensions maybe slightly different between the two calibers, even in “Shot Cartridges”. But I don’t have any 50-100-450 shot cartridges to confirm this theory.

That said, between the two of them, I’d imagine you’d be able to chamber and fire either all day long.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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August 9, 2022 - 1:07 am
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Maverick and others,  I suspect you would find the .50-95 EX would not chamber if the chamber is correct for either the .50-100-450 or the .50-110-300.  Why?  The 50-95 is a bottle necked cartridge with the main body fatter than the neck area.  The other two are slightly tapered but nearly straight cartridge cases only a bit fatter than the bullet.  Give me some time and I will measure the bodies of the cases in question and report in a short while.  Nothing better to do.  Tim

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August 9, 2022 - 1:25 am
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Maverick and others,  I tried chambering the .50-95 in my 50-100-450.  Only went about half way before jamming up on the imperceptible bottlenecked body.  Drawings exaggerate the amount of “shoulder” but it is there somewhat.  Needless to say I can chamber either the 50-100-450 cartridge in my 50-110-300 or the other way around.  But the 50-95 is cartridge all its own.  No real need to try my calipers out and my dropping things for a while.  Tim

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August 9, 2022 - 1:49 am
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Measured them anyway.  Dropped a couple, and Bert can tell you why.  This is a bad shakes day.  First, the 50-95.  Just in front of the rim is 0.562″, at the point it hung up, is 0.555′, and just behind the bullet crimp is 0.530″.  The 50-110 measured in front of the rim is 0.550″, in midpoint about comparable where the 50-95 hung up compared from the rims, is 0.545″ (but totally unscientific in denoting that point).  Just behind the bullet crimp is 0.530″.  Lastly is the 50-100.  At the rim is 0.550″.  At the approximate mid point (again an unscientific side by side comparison from the rims), is 0.548″.  Just behind the crimp is 0.540″.  All three cases are factory original WCF cartridges.  Vintages are varied and I suspect manufacturing variance can creep in.   Add in my totally subjective approximation on the two longer cases where the 50-95 hung up and you see room for error.  Biggest point of difference is the diameter just ahead of the rims, as the 50-95 is 0.012″ larger diameter.  The diameters behind the crimps are at least comparable.  Midpoints is anyone’s best guess.  Hope this helps.  I would indeed like to see the Camp 50 caliber rifle, and also be interested if any cartridges were specified for it.  Tim

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