Winchester Guns

30 August 2012   |   by Colin Smith   |   Library

Winchester Guns


Winchester guns refers to firearms that were made and manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, which was located in New Haven, Connecticut. Winchester holds a significant place of respect in the history of American-made firearms and was an early leader in the industry. The company was in existence from 1866 to 1945 and is now under the ownership of the Olin Corporation, with the name being licensed to both the Browning Arms Company (Utah), and the Herstal Group of Belgium.

This is an old 1969 Winchester .30-30 that rode in a gun rack in the back window of a pick-up truck here in the south so long that the wood is a lighter bleached-out color on one side. I bought it from a friend for $300 back around 2001. Every gun collector needs a Winchester in the gun rack if for no other reason than it is just so American.

1969 Winchester

Greg with a 1969 Winchester .30-30


The Winchester Repeating Arms Company and the Winchester brand in general are associated with some of the most iconic shotguns and rifles in all of history. Any gun history lover or aficionado owes it to themselves to study up on this legendary history, which informed so much of what came after it in terms of both innovative designs and game-changing firearms. Here are examples of Winchester guns that will forever live in the annals of history:

  • - Winchester Model 1866- The legendary Winchester innovation that included the essential design of the Henry rifle, with improved features, including the ability to fire .44 caliber cartridges with greater efficiency because of an improved magazine
  • - Winchester Model 1873- Often referred to as “the gun that won the west,” and popularized in pop culture by the likes of Wild Bill Cody and Butch Cassidy.
  • - Winchester Model 1887- John Browning lever-action design that was the first repeating action shotgun to enjoy commercial success.
  • - Winchester Model 1894- Perhaps the most popular of the entire Winchester line over the years, with sales far exceeding seven million units
  • - Winchester Model 1895- The last lever-action rifle made by Winchester and designed by John Browning.
  • - Winchester Model 1897- Informed by the design of the 1893 pump-action, with a larger frame and exposed hammer.

Before the Winchester Repeating Arms Company ever came into official existence, it was just two men by the names of Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson, who got together in partnership in Norwich, Connecticut to collectively advance their forward-thinking visions for more effective and pragmatic firearms. Although these were the same two men who would ultimately form the Smith & Wesson Revolver Company, that would not be for some time.

It was Smith and Wesson who were critically able to acquire the rights to Lewis Jennings' new and improved version of the "Volition Repeating Rifle," invented by Walter Hunt in 1848. They were also able to acquire the rights to the caseless rocket ball ammunition that went with the Volition Repeating Rifle. History would have it that Lewis Jennings’ designs were not commercially successful, giving Smith and Wesson the opportunity to swoop in with production of two drastically improved firearms- the “Volcanic” lever-action rifle and pistol. It wasn’t until 1855 that Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson made their partnership official. They would begin to manufacture the "Volcanic" lever-action rifles and pistols in increasing numbers upon securing the investments they needed.

The first entity was known by the name- the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company. The single largest shareholder in the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company was none other than Mr. Oliver Winchester. Ultimately, Winchester would purchase the company outright along with his partner, John M. Davies, and the company would become known as the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.

signature Colin Smith GUNCC Guest Writer
winchester .30-30