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Winchester Special Orders 19th century
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May 5, 2023 - 3:25 pm
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Hi folks, probably everybody knows about Teddy Roosevelt and his picky orders from Winchester 🙂

I was wondering if special orders per se were possible to receive a very carefully made rifle in terms of quality and accuracy – was that available, could you explicitely order a rifle with a very accurate barrel, for example?

Thanks for your help and have a great weekend!! ? 

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May 5, 2023 - 8:41 pm
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F.K. said
Hi folks, probably everybody knows about Teddy Roosevelt and his picky orders from Winchester 🙂

I was wondering if special orders per se were possible to receive a very carefully made rifle in terms of quality and accuracy – was that available, could you explicitely order a rifle with a very accurate barrel, for example?

Thanks for your help and have a great weekend!! ? 

  

Sure, all you had to do was order a “One of One-Thousand” model 1873.  

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May 7, 2023 - 6:42 am
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steve004 said

F.K. said

Hi folks, probably everybody knows about Teddy Roosevelt and his picky orders from Winchester 🙂

I was wondering if special orders per se were possible to receive a very carefully made rifle in terms of quality and accuracy – was that available, could you explicitely order a rifle with a very accurate barrel, for example?

Thanks for your help and have a great weekend!! ? 

  

Sure, all you had to do was order a “One of One-Thousand” model 1873.  

  

Sure – for the 1873. But how about the later models? 

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May 7, 2023 - 7:07 am
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Interesting question. I believe there were some indications early in the manufacturing process that a particular barrel may be more accurate than others and they may have been used for special order rifles with special sights and triggers (much like exceptional wood) but can’t recall seeing a letter that mentioned a request for an accurate barrel. I suppose making that option available would imply that standard barrels were not accurate. I’ve encountered some 100+ year old 1894’s, for example, that seem to be quite accurate considering the less than pristine barrels but it’s impossible to draw a reliable conclusion from these few guns.

 

Mike

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May 7, 2023 - 12:12 pm
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Tha

TXGunNut said
Interesting question. I believe there were some indications early in the manufacturing process that a particular barrel may be more accurate than others and they may have been used for special order rifles with special sights and triggers (much like exceptional wood) but can’t recall seeing a letter that mentioned a request for an accurate barrel. I suppose making that option available would imply that standard barrels were not accurate. I’ve encountered some 100+ year old 1894’s, for example, that seem to be quite accurate considering the less than pristine barrels but it’s impossible to draw a reliable conclusion from these few guns.

 

Mike

  

Mike, never would have thought of that! True, it was like stating “our products are not so good but for some little extra you can get them in a good version, too” 🙂

I just thought that some people like TR would maybe proactively demand rifles with no flaws at all… Asking for hand-picked barrels etc…. I recall having seen a letter by Hickok, I think, to Colt, demanding “a precise shooting barrel”… Just wondering how common orders and Special wishes like that were…. 

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May 7, 2023 - 2:54 pm
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In my research on the 73’s I have seen some notes in the remark columns in the ledgers like this one In the 2010 Spring Winchester Collector. “Nice Shooter” but I don’t know if they are referring to the accuracy or how it feels when shouldered.

https://winchestercollector.org/magazines/201003/18/

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May 7, 2023 - 4:37 pm
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F.K. said
I recall having seen a letter by Hickok, I think, to Colt, demanding “a precise shooting barrel”… Just wondering how common orders and Special wishes like that were…. 
  

Then as now VIPs, or major distributors, or folks with friends in management, might receive special favors & attention not available to every customer.  From reading his books & articles, I’m quite sure Towsnend Whelen, for ex., who promoted Winchester products tirelessly & sometimes rather uncritically, enjoyed such privileges. 

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May 8, 2023 - 1:07 am
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F.K. said
I was wondering if special orders per se were possible to receive a very carefully made rifle in terms of quality and accuracy – was that available, could you explicitely order a rifle with a very accurate barrel, for example?

Customers could explicitely order practically whatever they wanted and apparently did so before agreeing to purchase said special order rifle. Case in point is the colonel’s rifle.

https://winchestercollector.org/magazines/201803/42/

Sincerely,

Maverick

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May 8, 2023 - 1:50 am
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Maverick said

Customers could explicitely order practically whatever they wanted and apparently did so before agreeing to purchase said special order rifle. Case in point is the colonel’s rifle.

That Col. Colby was able to have this done is an unexplained anomaly, by no means the kind of service any ordinary customer could expect.  He was obviously independently wealthy, & had probably proved himself a very good customer,  but even that explanation seems insufficient; I think he must have had “special friends” in the factory to get away with having such a screwball rifle built “on approval.” 

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May 8, 2023 - 4:06 am
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Grant you the Colonel is an extreme example but not the only one. I could only speculate as too Colby’s relationships with WRACo and/or anyone within it.  I don’t know if it was some much the friends he had or merely the money he had. Yes he was considered wealthy. The man had his own gun room practically before having your own gun room was a thing. He was a lawyer, colonel and retired an admiral.

http://www.rhinoresourcecenter.com/pdf_files/131/1310195461.pdf

But majority of these “Special Order” guns were purchased by wealthy upper class type people. Your average Joe wouldn’t have spent the money. For example as quoted from a salesman’s 1897 Highly Finished Catalog a Model 95 in 405wcf with Round Barrel takedown fancy stock shotgun butt carved style “B” engraved and inlaid in gold had a list price of $370.00. With inflation that $370.00 would be over $11,000.00 in todays money. A lot of people in the early 1900s didn’t take home $370.00 in a year. Just like your average guy today isn’t going to spend $11,000.00 on a single brand new rifle.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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May 8, 2023 - 7:46 am
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And here is the link to The Colby Room at the Museum of Science.

https://www.mos.org/exhibits/colby-room

I won’t get political, but it’s probably best to just look at the photographs and move on.  Anything of merit in written form is contained in the previous post by Maverick.

A good example of how museums change over time and maybe one should think twice about donating to a museum.  I sure hope the museum hasn’t already, or doesn’t, in the future, render firearms in their collection inoperable.

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May 12, 2023 - 3:47 am
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I was told that if requested you could have a rifle sighted in at 100yards. I have a model 94 with a letter that says Target along with graduated rear sight, in 25-35wcf

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May 14, 2023 - 2:21 pm
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Can You post a pic of the ’94 and the letter

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