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Making sense of why Winchester did what they did - changing configurations before they left the factory
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April 8, 2023 - 4:11 pm
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Through reading factory letters over the years, I’ve seen many examples where Winchester will tear a rifle or carbine down and change it to something else before it is shipped out.  I’m not talking about pieces that have been returned to Winchester.  These are pieces that never left the factory.  I can recall a Winchester M1886 was originally made up in .38-70 and was changed to a different chambering.  I can make sense of this.  The .38-70 was a slow seller.  They had one on hand that probably sat around a while and when an order came in for something else, they switched it out.  They may not have had optimism that an order would come in soon for a .38-70 in that configuration.

Here’s one that doesn’t make sense to me:

https://www.merzantiques.com/product/w259-winchester-1866-octagon-barrel-rifle/

This was a standard Model 1866 made up as a carbine and they switched it to a rifle.  Doing this takes some effort.  In the case here, not only is there the switching out of parts, but they needed to fill the two sling ring stud holes.  Why?  Did they really not expect an order for a standard M1866 carbine would come in?  Did they have no M1866 rifles on hand, and no parts on hand to assemble a M1866 rifle, hence they needed to tear down a carbine?

I realize this is a later manufactured M1866 and the M1873 was a good seller at the time, but still, they made about 7500 Model 1866’s after they made this one.

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April 8, 2023 - 4:33 pm
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steve004 said Did they have no M1866 rifles on hand, and no parts on hand to assemble a M1866 rifle, hence they needed to tear down a carbine?
  

Seems plausible to me, as by this time, I’d think most ’66 orders were for the carbine, & the stock of rifles had been exhausted.  Why would anyone prefer a new ’66 after ’73s were introduced?  Cheaper ammo?

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April 8, 2023 - 6:20 pm
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clarence said

steve004 said Did they have no M1866 rifles on hand, and no parts on hand to assemble a M1866 rifle, hence they needed to tear down a carbine?

  

Seems plausible to me, as by this time, I’d think most ’66 orders were for the carbine, & the stock of rifles had been exhausted.  Why would anyone prefer a new ’66 after ’73s were introduced?  Cheaper ammo?

  

Ok… but why would anyone prefer a ’66 carbine over a ’73 carbine?

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April 8, 2023 - 6:25 pm
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steve004 said

Ok… but why would anyone prefer a ’66 carbine over a ’73 carbine?

Like I said, RF is cheaper than CF, if you don’t care about performance.

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April 8, 2023 - 9:20 pm
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Changing a 1866 carbine to a rifle was not that uncommon.  Winchester did this when receivers were not readily available.  These guns will be plugged where the swivel was attached.  I have seen a few over the years that letter this way. 

See page 194 and 195 of Jim Gordon’s book.  He shows pictures of 1873 rifles that were manufactured from a carbine receiver.

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April 8, 2023 - 11:04 pm
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That was quite common in the 73’s to have carbine receivers used on rifles. I would guess they didn’t make runs of receivers all the time so if they came up short for a order they pulled one in from the warehouse and changed it.

Bob

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April 8, 2023 - 11:10 pm
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1873man said
That was quite common in the 73’s to have carbine receivers used on rifles. I would guess they didn’t make runs of receivers all the time so if they came up short for a order they pulled one in from the warehouse and changed it.

Bob

  

I would love to be able to go back in time and watch all aspects of the plant operation and production.  It would be nice to know for sure, the answers to the many things we puzzle about.  And there may be things we’ve never puzzled about, that would be surprising to know.  I enjoy mystery and detective shows where there are random pieces (and red herrings) that get pulled together to reconstruct what happened.  For example, some factory letters are solid clues and some (e.g. when a mistake was made by the recorder) are red herrings.  

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April 9, 2023 - 2:24 am
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1873man said
That was quite common in the 73’s to have carbine receivers used on rifles. I would guess they didn’t make runs of receivers all the time so if they came up short for a order they pulled one in from the warehouse and changed it.

Bob

  

That makes sense, may not have had many 1866 receivers lying around or scheduled for production at the time. 

 

Mike

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April 9, 2023 - 10:55 am
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This fact helps explain why Winchesters with shorter barrels are found with long fore-ends. The factory could just cut down a rifle in stock rather than build it from scratch. 

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April 9, 2023 - 11:40 pm
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I received my 44th Blue Book of Gun Values in the mail yesterday.  I noticed in their color photo section where they demonstrate their percentage grading system, on page 110, they show a Model 1866 rifle.  Like the one from Merz, it was made in 1879 (the serial is about 1800 earlier than Mertz’s rifle).  I noted it has the filled sling ring stud holes.  This is something I’ll be paying more attention to, as I find it interesting.

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