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Cholla

Old West Photos - How to tell the difference a 1873 and 1876 Winchester?

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I am doing research for an upcoming article. I have seen a photo from the late 1880s of a railroad detective holder a lever-action Winchester. It looks like a 1873 but the 1876 looks identical in photos and Flayderman notes that many misidentify a 1876 for a 1873. Is there any proof positive way to determine what type of rifle it is?

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32 minutes ago, Cholla said:

I am doing research for an upcoming article. I have seen a photo from the late 1880s of a railroad detective holder a lever-action Winchester. It looks like a 1873 but the 1876 looks identical in photos and Flayderman notes that many misidentify a 1876 for a 1873. Is there any proof positive way to determine what type of rifle it is?

 

The carrier on the 76 is a lot longer than the 73 so the frame proportions are different. Maybe use a graphical editor to compare the ratio of the finger opening of the lever to the length of the frame. 

 

 

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 Error 

Edited by J-BAR #18287

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The 86 is a totally different gun design. The question was about the 76, which is a super-sized 73.

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Thanks, my error, apologies.

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Here's a comparison picture.

 

51bDCgWJhnL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

I think the easiest thing is the 76's trigger is even with the wood, while the 73 has about an inch and a half of receiver between the trigger and the butt.

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Alpo is onto something. Also look at where the trigger guard is in relation to the wood.

 

1873

2015.jpg

 

1876

9-1.jpg

 

Edited by Sedalia Dave
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Way to go Alpo!

Here's my problem: The railroad detective is covering his trigger area.

Using the observation from Alpo, it appears his companions are carrying 1876s and a 1886. The rifle cartridge belt by the guy on the right backs that up. When I compare the receivers it appears the rifle receiver carried by railroad detective Carl Holton (far left) is shorter than the other obvious 1876s, so my guess is that it's a 1873.

Edit: It also looks like the 1873 trigger guard/lever juts out from the receiver at a more abrupt angle than the 1876. Carl's gun seems to have that same abrupt angle seen on the 1873.

What do you guys think?

1-1700.1116.0000_WEB_t715.jpg

Edited by Cholla

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Another cool thing is that all but one seem to be carrying Colt SAA. The guy on the right has what looks like a Colt M1878 in his waist band. I think this photo was taken on the late 1880s.

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Far right:  ‘76

 

Second from right: ‘92, which places the photo in the 1890s. (No side plate, shorter tapered receiver)

 

Second from left:  ‘76

Far left: ‘73

 

 

Edited by J-BAR #18287
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On the '73, the distance from the front of the side plate to the forearm wood is roughly 1.5 time the height of the side plate, on the '76 the ratio is almost 2:1.

 

On the '73 receiver, the sharp edge of the top of the receiver is rounded before it reaches the forearm, on the '76 the sharp edge continues all the way to the forearm.

 

These two details have me thinking Carl's rifle is a '73.

 

 

Edited by Ozark Huckleberry
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1 hour ago, J-BAR #18287 said:

Far right:  ‘76

 

Second from right: ‘92, which places the photo in the 1890s. (No side plate, shorter tapered receiver)

 

Second from left:  ‘76

Far left: ‘73

 

 

According to the book I have, this photo was taken in March 1889 during a chase after four railroad bandits at Canyon Diablo. 

From left to right they are Railroad Detective Carl Holton, Special Deputy Ed St. Clair, the famous Sheriff Bucky O'Neil, and his deputy Jim Black.

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  • J-Bar's response brings up the next question; what are the major/minor differences 'twixt an '86 and a '92?  Never having handled an '86, I'd guess it is bigger, but the outline is the same as a '92.
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From the right side the difference jumps at you. The massively larger loading gate.

 

IMG_20191024_083332.thumb.jpg.02525494ce9db6545e49a3b4898d5083.jpg

 

From the left side, the only difference I see is there are three screws in the 92 while there is only one in the 86. Ignoring the one by the buttstock, which is in both of them.

 

IMG_20191024_084224.thumb.jpg.56398ea2860d0bf07dd1fa7ecfa0e6c5.jpg

 

 

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In that picture, there appears to be two.

 

Hmmmm.

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11 hours ago, Alpo said:

Here's a comparison picture.

 

51bDCgWJhnL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

I think the easiest thing is the 76's trigger is even with the wood, while the 73 has about an inch and a half of receiver between the trigger and the butt.

Those levers look a little odd for a 73 and a 76.

kR

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Thanks to Alpo for the side by side photos.    The ‘86s receiver just in front of the lever breaks downward more sharply than the ‘92; the ‘92 has a bit smoother profile in that region.  The rifle in question breaks sharply, so I now think it’s an ‘86.  The photo caption is probably correct.

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1 hour ago, Alpo said:

In that picture, there appears to be two.

 

Hmmmm.

I'm going to guess the second screw is actually a flaw in the  130 year-old photograph.

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1 hour ago, Alpo said:

From the right side the difference jumps at you. The massively larger loading gate.

 

 

 

From the left side, the only difference I see is there are three screws in the 92 while there is only one in the 86. Ignoring the one by the buttstock, which is in both of them.

 

 

 

 

I have been checking the photo every so often. I figure those guys would get tired and change positions by now!

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PLUS ONE to J-BAR (Both) though my original thought was for an 86.

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The guy on the right has a 1876 and long rifle ammo in his belt.

The guy on the left has only short ammo in his belt.  My bet is on the 1873.

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I believe that is an '86.  No screw just ahead of the front edge of the locking lug positions toward the lower edge of the receiver.  . 

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Can you get the boys in the lab to zoom in and enhance? 

 

The rifle on the left looks shorter than the rest which would make it more likely a 73, wouldn't it?  If it was a 76 we'd be able to see wood between his thumb and forefinger.  I can't make out any outline that might be a transition between wood and metal.  But I'd need it zoomed and enhanced to be sure.  Maybe we can check and see if we had a satellite overhead when this picture was being taken. 

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The general consensus is that the rifles from left to right are 1873, 1876, 1886, and 1876.

Top is the rifle on the left. Bottom is the rifle on the right.

 

Winchester Comparison.png

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