The Winchester 73

Winchester Model 73 Lever-Action Rifle

Q: I just watched the movie called “Winchester 73” on a DVD which was about a “One of One Thousand” rifle. If it isn’t just another hollywood furphy, what can you tell me about the history of these rifles?
Bob Ryan

A: Of the 720,610 Model 1873 rifles made, only 135 were marked with the magic lettering. Each one of the “One of One Thousand” rifles was the most accurate of every thousand ’73’s made. The rifles usually had set triggers and were engraved on top of the barrel just ahead of the receiver with the distinguishing sobriquet. The ’73 was manufactured from 1874 through 1881 except for three guns. The exact dates these were made is not known but two left the factory in 1893 and one as late as 1900. These three bear serial numbers in the 450,000 series. All the other 132 rifles have serial numbers many thousands lower. Despite being sought after and the intensity of the search, only 33 of these rifles have ever been found. In 1876 a “One of One Thousand” was specially made for King Alfonso XII of Spain. It was No, 19,005. This rifle was lavishly engraved as befitted a gun for kingly use, but a search of the military museum in Madrid failed to turn up this rifle. It is generally credited with being the most valuable of those that were made. By the Way, I also enjoyed that Winchester ’73 movie.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.


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