John Browning’s strong 19th century design rides again with today’s more powerful 21st century ammo.
One of my favorite movies is Arizona with William Holden. The reason I like this film so much is not because of the star or even the storyline but the fact it uses authentic Western firearms. This was filmed long before the arrival of the spaghetti Westerns and their unauthentic “Colts” which assaulted my eyes to the point I simply could not sit and watch them. These guns were normally poorly finished, brass-grip-framed Italian replicas.
However, thanks to such men as Val Forgett and Mike Harvey the replica sixguns and leverguns were continually upgraded until we have excellent reproductions available of virtually every, well almost every, frontier firearm. Most Westerns, probably beginning with Tombstone, made in the last 20 years or so, have paid special attention to the firearms using period correct sixguns and rifles which are faithful replicas of the originals.
When I first encountered Mike Harvey of Cimarron he was working in a bank and started out quite small by purchasing a small importer by the name of Allen Firearms. From that moment on he, along with one of the most beautiful Texas flowers I have ever met, his wife Mary Lou, worked tirelessly with Italian manufacturers to produce authentic replicas. Not only can we now purchase authentic replicas of Colt, Remington, and Smith & Wesson sixguns we also have the full range of Winchester Leverguns available with the latest being the Model 1886 from Cimarron.
It would be good here to look briefly at the history of Winchesters. There were false starts along the road in trying to come up with a workable and dependable lever-action rifle with the first truly successful design being the Henry, or Model 1860. B. Tyler Henry was Oliver Winchester’s shop foreman and his name went on that first Winchester which was chambered in .44 Rimfire. By today’s standards it is terribly underpowered, however it was a huge step forward with its 17-round capacity in the day of muzzleloading rifles. The Henry loaded like most of today’s .22s with tubular magazines, that is from the front. Six years later using King’s Patent, the 1860 was upgraded to the 1866 Winchester which loaded the same as virtually every lever action since, that is, through a loading gate on the right side of the receiver. Then in 1873, further improvement was made in both metallurgy and ammunition with the advance of the .44 WCF, Winchester Centerfire, to replace the .44 Rimfire. This literally became known as “The Gun That Won The West.”
By John Taffin
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