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86 front sight question
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March 20, 2022 - 2:42 pm
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Rookie question. I have some 1886 rifles with German silver front sights. Some have a small screw one the right others don’t. Are these made by different manufacturers, if so by whom and what are the model numbers of them.

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March 20, 2022 - 3:49 pm
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 The sight without the set screw is earlier. At some point they added the set screw, maybe product improvement. Some pre-1900 guns have notes in the ledger indicating a screw. I don’t have any source as to the exact date of the switch. As far as I know they are Winchester sights and standard to the 86 model. T/R

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March 20, 2022 - 4:47 pm
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The 2 86’s that I currently own were built in 89 and 91.  Neither of these have the screw.  If others will look at their guns maybe we can figure this out?

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March 20, 2022 - 5:20 pm
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It is not just the Model 1886 that this question applies to… the Single Shot and Models 1873, 1892, and 1894 all went through the same change to what eventually was listed as the No. 21 Sporting front sight.

I was under the impression (which means unverified information) that the set screw was added to the sight in January 1901. Again, this is just my unverified time reference.

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March 20, 2022 - 5:30 pm
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I looked at John Madl’s book and 2 Stroebel books.  Stroebel just says the early ones don’t have the screw but the later ones do.

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March 20, 2022 - 6:17 pm
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And if we get this narrowed down, I’d also like to know when the screw went away again. Seems like late teens, twenties sights don’t have it. 

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March 20, 2022 - 6:23 pm
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My 86 SN 78682 made I believe in 1893 does not have set screw in front sight. Don

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March 20, 2022 - 6:29 pm
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I pulled out Gordon’s Vol I and on page 302 he shows a Winchester 1918 catalog picture of a Sporting front sight with a screw.  On page 304 he show this sight on an 1882 manufactured 1873.  I do not believe this sight to be original to this early gun…

The Winchester 1914 catalog page 103 shows the sight with a screw.  I don’t see it in the catalogs before this.

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March 20, 2022 - 6:35 pm
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The only later catalog I have is a 1933.  It only has Lyman and Marbles sights.  No Winchesters.

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March 20, 2022 - 6:45 pm
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If you guys are talking about the #21 front sight, here are the change notes from the back of the drawing.  It does not list the changes prior to about 1905 but it does show the screw being discontinued in 1926.

Best Regards,

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March 20, 2022 - 7:17 pm
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Stroebel’s info is from 1926.  So we don’t have any earlier data.  I believe it is an earlier 21?  As of 1926 the 21 was made as an A through J.   5 of these had a set screw and 3 did not.  We are trying to find out when the first ones came out with a set screw.

Your document shows that in 1926 the screw was omitted.

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March 20, 2022 - 7:45 pm
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 In the Madis book on page 576 with regard to the 21 series he states “A small set screw is found on some of the front rifle sights; many of the sights which have the set screw are marked: PAT. NOV. 4 02.” T/R 

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March 20, 2022 - 8:49 pm
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TR said
 In the Madis book on page 576 with regard to the 21 series he states “A small set screw is found on some of the front rifle sights; many of the sights which have the set screw are marked: PAT. NOV. 4 02.” T/R   

Same marking used on WRA’s copy of the Beach sight, produced after Beach’s pat. expired.  Pat. # 712863, & pertains only to the method of affixing the tin (I think) bead. 

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March 20, 2022 - 9:03 pm
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I’ve got a 21 series all steel sight with the Nov 4 02 pat date, a set screw, the tinned tip, and an A stamped on the bottom. After reading  JWA post I’m thinking the 02 patent might be for the tinned tip. Just guessing? According to the Madis sight book my sight is a 21K, but it’s marked A. I have more  questions than answers. T/R 

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March 20, 2022 - 9:40 pm
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clarence said

TR said
 In the Madis book on page 576 with regard to the 21 series he states “A small set screw is found on some of the front rifle sights; many of the sights which have the set screw are marked: PAT. NOV. 4 02.” T/R   

Same marking used on WRA’s copy of the Beach sight, produced after Beach’s pat. expired.  Pat. # 712863, & pertains only to the method of affixing the tin (I think) bead.   

 That makes sense Clarence. The pat. is for the tinned tip. When I look at the tinned tip, it is just that, not a bead. They solder a thin layer over the steel 1/8″ long the width of the blade. Thanks T/R

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March 20, 2022 - 10:08 pm
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WOW, this is information overload. 1 of my 86;s that i photographed was a deluxe from  1887. the other was a standard catalogue gun from 1896. so date of install doesn’t really work. as all were made before 1899 .

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March 20, 2022 - 10:22 pm
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TR said
I’ve got a 21 series all steel sight with the Nov 4 02 pat date, a set screw, the tinned tip, and an A stamped on the bottom. After reading  JWA post I’m thinking the 02 patent might be for the tinned tip. Just guessing? According to the Madis sight book my sight is a 21K, but it’s marked A. I have more  questions than answers. T/R   

 TR,

On the blueprints it says that the 21K was created in 1/16/17 per Change of Manufacturing notice 5880 and is identical to the 21A except that it has the patent date and tinned tip.  They are both .358″ in height.  So according to that you and Madis are correct in that it is a 21K if it was made after 1917 but it was still called a 21A prior to that.

The patent date of “Nov. 4, ’02” was added to the 21 sights per Change of Product notice C/P 883 but I am still looking for a copy of that notice to establish the date.  Even other notices around that number would be helpful in narrowing the date range but haven’t had time to focus on it yet.

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March 21, 2022 - 1:01 am
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I should clarify my post. The picture with screw is a deluxe from 1887. The one without screw is 1894. But I have one from 1896 with the screw and varies in between from there. so the 02 patent date doesn’t work with these guns. Plus I cant find any patent date cast in to them and ive checked seven different rifles i have.  

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March 21, 2022 - 2:18 am
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oldcrankyyankee said
I should clarify my post. The picture with screw is a deluxe from 1887. The one without screw is 1894. But I have one from 1896 with the screw and varies in between from there. so the 02 patent date doesn’t work with these guns. Plus I cant find any patent date cast in to them and ive checked seven different rifles i have.    

  Sorry, I got off subject. The patent date thing has nothing to do with your guns.

  For years  my opinion was pre-1902 no set screw, after 1902 set screw until late 1920’s. If the sight looked like it was born on the gun don’t change it, no big deal. That said my experience is black powder Winchesters of the 1800’s. Once you get into the 1900’s and smokeless powder you see exceptions that I do not at this point in time know. One thing I know for sure, there is always an exception when it comes to Winchesters. T/R

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March 21, 2022 - 2:41 pm
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This is an very interesting discussion.  Like many of you, the subject of Winchester sights is still a mystery to me.  I don’t think we have the definitive source on them yet.  

The early catalogs don’t make references to sight for specific models.  Almost any of the the sights could be ordered or put on any model, with a few exceptions.   The 62 adjustable tang sight is an exception as the catalog notes for Model 1873.

I have seen Model 1876 rifles with the set screw front sight.  Those sights are most likely not original to those rifles.  But as TR said, if it looks as if it belongs there, leave it alone.  I have an 1873 in my collection, SN 352,815 (1890) that has a sporting front sight with the screw but no patent date.  I don’t know if the sight is original but certainly looks like it’s been on there for a while.

I call myself a collector as it sounds better than hoarder

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