The Model 1885 Single Shot rifle was John M. Browning’s first design and patent, and it was first single shot to be built by Winchester. The patent for the Model 1885 rifle was what brought John M. Browning and the Winchester Repeating Arms Company together for beginning of their eventual 19-year association. Nearly 140,000 Model 1885s were manufactured from September 1885 to June of 1920.
The Model 1885 was offered in sizeable number of distinct variations (e.g. the Plain Sporting Rifle, Special Sporting Rifle, Special Single Shot Rifle, Schuetzen Rifle, Musket, Carbine, Shotgun, and Winder Musket). Two basic frame types referred to as “High Wall” and “Low Wall” were made. The frame types refer to the height of the receiver sides, and its relationship to the breech block. With the High Wall version, built for the more powerful cartridges, just the top of the breech block is visible when viewed from the side. The Low Wall, chambered for all of the various rim fire cartridges, and most of the pistol caliber center fire cartridges, exposes the upper 1/3 of the breech block.
Throughout its production history, a total of (91) different cartridges found their way into the 1885′s chamber. Everything from the diminutive .22 CB rim fire, the six-gun cartridges such as the 32 WCF, 38 W.C.F. and 44 W.C.F.; nearly all of the various black powder cartridges (Ballard, Sharps, etc.) made in that era including the buffalo hunting rounds such as 40-70, 40-90, 45-70, 45-90, 45-120, 50-110; and such all time powerful loads as the .405 W.C.F. (Teddy Roosevelt’s Big Medicine cartridge) and the .577 ELEY. In the later production years, all of the early “modern” smokeless rounds such as the 30/40 Krag, 30 W.C.F., 303 British, 32 Winchester Special, 33 W.C.F. and .35 W.C.F. were offered.
The Model 1885 Single Shot as with most Winchesters of the time, was offered with many special order options including; barrel lengths from 14” to 36”; set triggers, fancy wood, special target sights; Telescopes, nickel, silver, and gold plating, checkered and carved stocks, engraving, Take Down rifles, etc.
Original Winchester factory records are available for this model from the Cody Firearms Museum in Cody , Wyoming , from serial number 1 thru 10999, except 74459 thru 75556. Polishing Room serialization records are available through serial number 115308.