Winchester rifle is an umbrella term used to refer to a number of lever-action repeating rifles manufactured by the American Winchester Repeating Arms Company since 1866. A refinement of the Henry rifle, the Winchester rifle was manufactured by Oliver Winchester's repeating arms company since 1866, being particularly successful even up to this day.
The Winchester rifle was a refinement of the 1860 Henry rifle manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company and designed by Benjamin Henry. The weapon was designed in 1866 and refined by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, with the first iteration becoming the Winchester Model 1866. The rifle has been manufactured in many variations since, with various calibers, receivers and frames, with John Browning later being employed by Winchester to further refine the design.
Winchester still markets the rifles up to this day as they have proven popular (although they no longer produce the rifles themselves), with a number of companies such as Uberti, Rossi and Miroku Corp. producing replicas of the rifle.
All Winchester rifles in gross terms are lever-action rifles with internal magazines; most Winchester rifles fed from fifteen-round internal magazines, with rounds fed singly into the rifle through a trapdoor on the left side of the gun. The Winchester Model 1895 was an exception, in that it used an internal box magazine with rounds loaded into the weapon nose down through the chamber à la most bolt-action rifles of the time.
First variant of the Winchester rifle designed in 1866. Nicknamed the Yellowboy due to its distinctively golden-colored receiver due to the use of gunmetal in its construction, the Model 1866 was adopted and used by a number of countries worldwide. The weapon was produced from 1866 to 1899 mainly due to public demand and the lower cost of production when compared to other variants of the rifle.
More commonly known as "The Gun that Won the West", the 1873 was unarguably the most popular variation of the classic rifle, with over 720,000 produced from 1873 to 1919 in many fits, finishes and trim levels. Despite being long out of production, the Model 1873 remains an icon even today, with companies such as Uberti and Rossi producing replicas of the rifle.
Known as the Centennial Model, the Model 1876 was a heavier-framed version of the Model 1873 chambered for full-powered centerfire rifle cartridges. While outwardly similar to the Model 1873 in terms of appearance, the Model 1876 was actually based on a prototype rifle designed by the company in 1868 that never entered full production. The Model 1876 never really enjoyed as much success as other Winchester rifles received, resulting in a rather short lifespan and cessation of production in 1897 as most people preferred the later Model 1886.
Essentially a refinement of the Model 1876, the Model 1886 continued Winchester's trend of chambering heavier and more powerful rounds for their weapons. Unlike the Model 1876 which the weapon technically replaced, the Model 1886 was able to chamber far more powerful rounds due to its use of a much stronger action when compared to the Model 1876.
One of the most common variations of the Winchester rifle, the Model 1892 was introduced in 1892 in an attempt to compete against the Marlin Firearms Company's latest offerings. The weapon was introduced in 1892 and produced until 1945, with over a million produced over its long production run. The weapon was commonly used in old Wild West films, helping it to gain some notoriety of sorts. Copies of the weapon remain in production today.
Easily the most common Winchester rifle and the most popular lever-action rifle, the Model 1894 (later simply the Model 94) was marketed mainly as a sporting rifle to the civilian market. With a production run spanning over a hundred years, the rifle was produced from 1894 to 2006, at which point all American production ceased, with over 7.5 million produced over its lifespan. Reproductions are currently being produced by the Miroku Corporation of Japan as of 2010, although Winchester has returned the rifle to the catalog on special occasions.
The first Winchester rifle with an internal box magazine as opposed to a tube magazine, the Model 1895 was the first Winchester rifle that could chamber spitzer projectiles; the rifle was used by a number of armed forces by a number of nations. The Model 1895 was the last lever-action design John Browning worked on, with the rifle regarded as having the strongest action for a Winchester rifle.
Introduced in 1955, the Model 88 was Winchester's first all-new lever action design in 60 years after the Model 1895. Using a short-throw lever and feeding from a detachable box magazine, the Model 88 was the third best-selling lever action rifle in its production run from 1955 to 1973, behind the Model 1892 and 1894. Early versions of the weapon had smoothbore barrels.
Essentially a shotgun Model 94, the 9410 was chambered for .410 bore shotgun shells and very much resembled the Model 94 in appearance. The weapon has since been discontinued and has not been put back into production since.
Main article: Winchester Model 9422
A small-caliber version of the Model 94 in essence, the Model 9422 was chambered in small-caliber rimfire rounds and catered to the sport shooter. The rifle was introduced in 1972 and used an all-new action. The weapon was also grooved for scope mounts. Production began in 1972 and ended in 2005.