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SN 22531. Cal. 44 Russian. Standard carbine with 20″ bbl, full magazine, front sight integral with the front band and 2-leaf 2-position rear sight, graduated 100-300-500 yards. Magazine tube is correct type with threaded plug in the muzzle end. Bbl address is in 2-lines “HENRY’S PATENT – OCT. 16 1860 / KING’S PATENT – MARCH 29. 1866”. Chamber area of the bbl, between rear sight and frame reads “44 RUSS.”. Mounted with uncheckered, nicely figured, slab sawed American walnut with straight stock and rifle buttplate with trap. Receiver, side plates & buttplate are made of “gun metal” (bronze or brass). Buttstock has early feature of a perch belly. SN was noted on the bottom tang between trigger & hammer spring tension screw. Top tang channel of buttstock is marked “X22531” and inside toe of buttplate is marked “2531”. This carbine is chambered in 44 Russian and a chamber cast confirms the dimensions of a 44 Russian cartridge case. The casting shows that the bbl chamber has a rim diameter of .520″, a base diameter of .460″ and an overall case length of .960″ which conform to the dimensions of the 44 Russian case. A 44 Russian cartridge functions through the actions and chambers without binding. A 44 American cartridge will not chamber or eject through the ejection port. The bolt & bolt face are blued as has been observed on other, later center fire 1866 bolts. Accompanied by a 2-page letter over the signature of well known Winchester collector and authority, the late Lewis E. Yearout, wherein he states that after having examined this carbine that he finds it completely orig and authentic. He justifies the finding with the information that this serial numbered receiver would have been produced around 1869-1870 and that the development of the 44 Russian cartridge by Smith & Wesson was around 1870, which is substantiated in several books on cartridges. Smith & Wesson developed the 44 Russian cartridge to facilitate a contract with the Russian government for their large frame No. 3 revolvers. It stands to reason that this information would have come to the attention of Winchester who would have wanted to pursue a contract with the Russians for rifles & carbines of the same caliber. In the same year of 1870 Winchester filled a contract with the Turkish Ottoman Empire for 15,000 1866 muskets & 5000 1866 carbines. With that success Winchester would have been eager to follow up with a Russian contract for a companion rifle, musket or carbine to the Smith & Wesson No. 3 revolver. Such a contract apparently never materialized, probably something the Russians would live to regret because in 1877, at the Battle of Plevna, the Turks decimated the Russian Army using their 1866 muskets & carbines. The likelihood is that this carbine is one produced as a sample or test piece for the Russians. It is also possible that this carbine was intended as an ammunition test bed for the development of the 44 Russian cartridge. Regardless this is a very special and most unusual 1866 carbine. CONDITION: Extremely fine, all matching. Bbl, magazine tube, bbl bands, rear sight, bolt, trigger & lever lock along with the loading gate retain about 99% plus bright, high polish blue. Receiver, side plates & buttplate have sharp edges with a beautiful medium mustard patina with no evidence of having been cleaned or filed. Screws also retain bright blue. Lever & hammer retain most of their strong, bright case colors. Wood is sound with a few light handling & storage marks and retains virtually all of its fine oil finish. Mechanics are crisp, brilliant shiny bore, shows little if any use. 52467-1 JRL (15,000-25,000) – Lot 1018

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Auction: Firearms - October 2017
Please Note: All prices include the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium, which is paid by the buyer as part of the purchase price. The prices noted here after the auction are considered unofficial and do not become official until after the 46th day.