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Sporting front and rear sights - Stirring the pot
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March 21, 2022 - 4:56 pm
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I decided to start a new thread on the subject of sporting front and rear sights.  More specifically, when the did the little screw get added to the front sights.  

Regarding, the sporting rear sights, the January 1887 catalog shows it with a fixed slot.  See photo below.

sporting12.jpgImage Enlarger

In the November 1887 catalog the picture shows the sight with the moveable elevation slot and little adjustment screw.  See photo below.

sporting01.jpgImage Enlarger

Now for some speculation.  Speculation mode on…

I think it’s probable that Winchester started adding the little screw to the sporting front sight about this same time.  They only show a front view of the sporting front sight in all those early catalogs so there is not way to know for sure.  However, I have seen late 1880’s and 1890’s rifles that either have or don’t have the little screw on the sporting front sight.  Some of them do not have the patent date.  We know Winchester didn’t like to waste parts, so it makes sense they would use up the earlier sights.  It’s also possible that new sights got dumped into the bin on top of earlier ones. 

Speculation mode off…

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I call myself a collector as it sounds better than hoarder

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March 21, 2022 - 7:44 pm
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  Bill,

 Going with the speculation mode; I think in 1886, about the same time barrel address changed from CT. to USA the rear sights got the movable aperture. I have an 1887 gun with an original non-aperture sight.

 It was a factory with inventory, how fast they got to the bottom of a bin depends where you add the new inventory. The older model could have showed up for quite some time. T/R

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March 22, 2022 - 10:52 pm
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And the plot thickens. So my 86 from 1887 shown in the pictures has a set screw on the front sight. It does not have an adjustable rear. Although this is where the plot thickens, the other one in the pic’s from1896 has a set screw rear sight as does another 86 made about 1891,BUT neither have a set screw in the front sight. Just casting a line here.

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March 23, 2022 - 12:02 am
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oldcrankyyankee said
And the plot thickens. So my 86 from 1887 shown in the pictures has a set screw on the front sight. It does not have an adjustable rear. Although this is where the plot thickens, the other one in the pic’s from1896 has a set screw rear sight as does another 86 made about 1891,BUT neither have a set screw in the front sight. Just casting a line here.  

My assumption would be that the front sight on your 1887 production M1886 has been replaced with a newer sight.

Bert

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March 23, 2022 - 12:48 am
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 Burt’s right,. unless it states something different on a factory letter. The 1887 gun would have a front sight without a screw. The rear sight is in the transition period from the solid rear sight to the aperture sight so either sight is possible. The other two guns made in 1891 and 96 would have front sights without a screw because they were made before the screw was standard. 1902? The rear sights on those two guns were made well after the transition to the aperture screw. 1887?

 Makes sense to me. T/R

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March 23, 2022 - 5:20 pm
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I still believe that the screw to the rear sight was added in 1887.  The screw to the front sight was added in about 1914.  We need to see examples of guns made after 1900 to see when the front sporting sight had the screw added.

The 1914 Winchester catalog on page 103 shows this addition.  No earlier catalogs show this.  We know that some things show up in the catalogs before and others after actual manufacturing.

I have a handful of pre 1900 rifles with the sporting front sight and none of them have the screw.

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March 23, 2022 - 6:54 pm
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Chuck said
  We need to see examples of guns made after 1900 to see when the front sporting sight had the screw added.

  

 I agree with Chuck, the guns will tell us. More examples of 92’s and 94’s are out there than 86’s during the post 1900 period, it should be easier to find the switch date looking at those. T/R

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March 24, 2022 - 4:50 pm
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We’ve had a thread about this before but it’s been a while.  Front sights have screws before 1900.  In my experience looking at 1894s and 1895s, there is a transition to the screw for rifles in 1894-1896.  Most First Model 1894s that I’ve recorded information about don’t have the front screw.  These two are in the 1600 s/n range and it would seem Winchester may have tried a larger screwhead for a short time.  

DSCN1474a.jpgImage Enlarger

Here are the rear sights on those two rifles and they also have the adjustment screw for the leaf, if you were wondering.  It’s not apparent to me that these to rifles have been messed with.

DSCN1476a.jpgImage Enlarger

There are some early 1895 rifles in 38/72 and 40/72 that don’t have the front screw.  However, most have them from what I’ve seen and recorded.  This one is on a 38/72 in the 3400 s/n range.  I brightened it way up so that you can see in the shadows well.  

003481-38-72-OB-9-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

A lot of the ramp front sighted rifles don’t have the screw.  Maybe this had something to do with the narrow base or narrow ramp surface, I’m not sure.  If you have the Model 1895 book, there are some factory drawings of front sights with and without screws on page 200.  You can cross reference those with the information published in the Madis Sight Book and see that those without screws have applications including the ramped front 1895s and extra lightweight 1894s.

This is what I’ve noticed and recorded anyway.  If Michael is around, he may have info on 1892s.  I think he also replied to the old thread I mentioned. 

I’m sure there are exceptions and sights that appear to have been on rifles from the beginning that don’t exactly match what’s in the books.  I’m also sure that there are a lot of front sights that have been changed over the years.  This is especially apparent to me on 1895s and it might have had something to do with the large variety of bullet loads over the years for cartridges like the 30-40 and 30-06.

I hope this helps.

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Brad Dunbar

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March 24, 2022 - 6:06 pm
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Brad, I went and checked my 1894 manufactured in 1898 and it does have a small screw on the front sight.   I truly believe this is original to the gun.

???

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