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October 20, 2021 - 9:37 pm
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Hi all, I’ve been gleaning information from this sight for some time and finally decided to join. I have a few Winchester gallery guns but just got my first 1885 low wall. This rifle is a mess but I took a chance on it because the price was lower than the sum of parts in it. First, what I know about this rifle. Low wall, #2 barrel, regular trigger, extractor stamped 32 rim fire, flat main spring. Someone over it’s life decided to drill a hole through the serial# (5?526). Is there any other place where the full serial number might appear? It looks to be 22 caliber but is center fire but I think they converted the firing pin to center fire but the block looks like a center fire block. How do I tell the difference in a rim fire block with a vent hole drilled and a true center fire block? Also there is no half cock notch just a somewhat freshly filed surface where it used to be. I’m really against parting out any old rifle. After a chamber cast and barrel slug what direction do I head? Thanks in advance 

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October 20, 2021 - 10:19 pm
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While this is waiting to post, I slugged the bore. A .22 lead fell right through so I bumped it up with a hammer and drove it through. My rough measurement (with calipers) reads .256. It has about a 1 in 14 twist. 25 single shot? 25 WCF? I need my cerosafe for a chamber cast and that’s a couple days out.

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October 21, 2021 - 1:18 am
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Send me some clear pictures of the barrel to include all markings found on the top and the bottom of the barrel (under the forend stock and flat-spring).

I sincerely doubt that somebody would have drilled a vent hole in a rim fire breech block. The serial number was only stamped on the lower tang.

Bert – [email protected]

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October 21, 2021 - 1:37 am
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Welcome! Sounds like you’re on the right track identifying this rifle. It’s like a good news bad news joke; Good news is that 1885’s make great projects for gunsmiths and tinkerers. Bad news is that 1885’s make great projects for gunsmiths and tinkerers. In your situation it’s both; the collector value is likely negligible but you have the opportunity to learn from tinkering with it, shooting it, or maybe using it for a parts source. I’m not a fan of parting out firearms but I prefer used parts over reproductions and most used parts come from parted out guns. A gun that’s parted out or extensively modified increases the value and rarity of unmolested examples. These guns were built to be used. Most were used, some abused. Some wore out, some broke. As collectors and custodians we play the hands we’re dealt and as much as possible preserve these old Winchesters as best we can. 

 

Mike

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October 21, 2021 - 2:11 am
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I’ll get some pics soon. About the barrel, where to start… it’s been cut down, flipped top to bottom and new dovetails cut. I found the Winchester roll markings hiding under the home made forearm. I did say it was a basket case. I knew there was no collectors value when I bought it at a local consignment auction. I’ve been saving old firearms like this for years but this one is the worst I’ve encountered. 

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October 21, 2021 - 2:28 am
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I tried sending pics from my phone if they don’t make it let me know.

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October 21, 2021 - 2:45 am
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The barrel measures 22 1/2″ there is a 0 remaining on the original top (now the bottom) of the barrel. Could this be part of a remaining caliber roll stamp such as 25-20? Weren’t 1885 stamped for caliber at the 11 o’clock position? I ‘m pretty certain all of the missing barrel was taken from the breech end. Again thanks to all.

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October 21, 2021 - 2:49 am
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Northwoodneil said
The barrel measures 22 1/2″ there is a 0 remaining on the original top (now the bottom) of the barrel. Could this be part of a remaining caliber roll stamp such as 25-20? Weren’t 1885 stamped for caliber at the 11 o’clock position? I ‘m pretty certain all of the missing barrel was taken from the breech end. Again thanks to all.  

Winchester stamped the caliber/cartridge marking on the top flat of the barrel until 1907 when it was moved to the 10 o’clock location on the barrel.  I highly suspect that the barrel was originally chambered for the 25-20 S.S. cartridge, but it has been set back and rechambered for the 25-20 WCF (repeater) cartridge.

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October 21, 2021 - 3:04 am
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Well with only one digit of the serial # missing and it starting with a 5 that would put me in the 1891 to 1893 range. I say your spot on.

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October 21, 2021 - 8:26 am
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TXGunNut said
Welcome! Sounds like you’re on the right track identifying this rifle. It’s like a good news bad news joke; Good news is that 1885’s make great projects for gunsmiths and tinkerers. Bad news is that 1885’s make great projects for gunsmiths and tinkerers. In your situation it’s both; the collector value is likely negligible but you have the opportunity to learn from tinkering with it, shooting it, or maybe using it for a parts source. I’m not a fan of parting out firearms but I prefer used parts over reproductions and most used parts come from parted out guns. A gun that’s parted out or extensively modified increases the value and rarity of unmolested examples. These guns were built to be used. Most were used, some abused. Some wore out, some broke. As collectors and custodians we play the hands we’re dealt and as much as possible preserve these old Winchesters as best we can. 

 

Mike  

Couldn’t have been said any better Mike. Total agreement!!

RickC

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October 21, 2021 - 1:24 pm
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Bert H. said

  I highly suspect that the barrel was originally chambered for the 25-20 S.S. cartridge, but it has been set back and rechambered for the 25-20 WCF (repeater) cartridge.  

If this was done, two extra dovetails would have had to be cut for the mainspring & forearm hangers, so your brl should have four total.

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October 21, 2021 - 10:08 pm
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Yup, this barrel has at least 2 more dovetailsConfused. This rifle was driving me nuts all day at work so I came home and did some more detective work. If it’s chambered for 25 wcf then a 32-20 brass should drop in up to the shoulder. I tried it, nope 32-20 case mouth won’t even fit in the chamber. I rough measured the chamber just ahead of the rim .299. Next I measured as deep as my calipers would allow .289. Definitely not 25 wcf and a really loose fit for 25 SS. Did I mention the bore on this rifle is very good+? So until I get my chamber cast done I’m changing my guess to 25 Hornet. Is there any other wildcat cartridges I should be looking at? 

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October 21, 2021 - 10:20 pm
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Northwoodneil said
So until I get my chamber cast done I’m changing my guess to 25 Hornet. Is there any other wildcat cartridges I should be looking at?   

Try a Hornet case for fit–that’s the quickest test.  Other wildcats would still be derived from the standard case.

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October 21, 2021 - 10:31 pm
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Txgunnut, I will do my best to conserve as much of this rifle as I can. This one might have to live with a wildcatted barrel until the fun money fund fills again. I’m a sucker for basket case rifles, the collectors value gone, barrels like sewer pipes, parts missing ect. I’ve got quite a few. Most folks will never get to shoot a pristine 1885, with all the case colors and blue in place, but they will be welcome to shoot my wildcatted, upside down barreled, faded colored 1885 just to see what it’s like to hold a piece of history. Wink

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October 21, 2021 - 10:44 pm
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Clarence, I would if I had one but prairie dogs don’t care for Wisconsin winters and I can’t think of anyone around me who has a hornet. My chamber cast ingot should be soon.

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October 22, 2021 - 5:44 pm
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Northwoodneil said
Yup, this barrel has at least 2 more dovetailsConfused. This rifle was driving me nuts all day at work so I came home and did some more detective work. If it’s chambered for 25 wcf then a 32-20 brass should drop in up to the shoulder. I tried it, nope 32-20 case mouth won’t even fit in the chamber. I rough measured the chamber just ahead of the rim .299. Next I measured as deep as my calipers would allow .289. Definitely not 25 wcf and a really loose fit for 25 SS. Did I mention the bore on this rifle is very good+? So until I get my chamber cast done I’m changing my guess to 25 Hornet. Is there any other wildcat cartridges I should be looking at?   

A .30″ case will never fit in a .22″ or .25″ hole.  If this gun was a 22 WCF the hornet case should go in.  The 22 WCF round used a .228″ bullet.

Is the chamber cut for a straight wall or bottleneck.  The 22 WCF, 22 Hornet and 25-20 SS are bottlenecks. The 25-20 SS uses a .257″ bullet.  The 25 Hornet is straight wall and uses a .257″ bullet.  The 25 WCF is a bottleneck and uses a .257″ bullet.

There are a lot of cartridges in .25 cal.  Some rimmed and some non rimmed.  Many of these are about 2″ long or so and probably too long.

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October 22, 2021 - 10:05 pm
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My thinking is a 25-20 wcf has the same case diameter from the rim to the shoulder as a 32-20 wcf. It is the parent case of the 25-20 right? So a 32-20 case should drop in up to the shoulder. It won’t so this rifle is not chambered for 25-20 wcf. The .299 diameter below the rim is to small (by .016) for a 25-20 SS to chamber so it can’t be that either. The .299 chamber only matches a hornet round as far as I can find out. Hence my guess of 25 Hornet. Fed-ex didn’t make it today but my cerosafe should be here when I get back from a little deer hunting.

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October 22, 2021 - 10:19 pm
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Chuck, the chamber is rimmed, straight walled with the rifling starting about 2.05 inches from the breech block. Almost like the gent who trimmed the barrel started with a 25-20ss and didn’t shorten quite enough. It leaves a lot of free bore bullet jump in a hornet chamber if my math is right. I’m just guessing at all this, when I get good chamber cast measurements maybe someone out there will be able to help me ID what it is. If it’s unusable it will probably end up chambered in 44-40. 

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October 22, 2021 - 10:59 pm
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While this rifle would not be my cup of tea, I’m enjoying your enthusiasm about it.  The fact that you’re excited about it is all that really matters.

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October 23, 2021 - 10:47 am
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Just a project to help pass the winter nights. Winters are long up here.

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