Opinions on 1885 Highwall


January 3, 2009, 10:14 AM
I see these around the net, but not too often and I've never seen one up close or heard anyone speak about them. These can be had in modern (.223)or antique (45/70)rounds. I like old guns, I like single shots so this sounds like a nice solution to me, but is it well made, is it accurate, and can I shoot this out to 300 yards.

They are still made by Winchester, but I can also get an Uberti, Browning, or Cimarron.

Thanks in advance.

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January 3, 2009, 10:55 AM
Me too.:D Yes, Winchester is still making them and they are beautiful guns. The Browning BPCR with the Badger Barrel is also beautiful and seems to be the Gold Standard when it comes to BPCR shooting in caliber like 40-65 etc. I have wanted one for a long time. I don't particularly care for them in the new calibers like you have mentioned (Cowboy at heart and on the weekends:D) The Italian imports like the UBerti, Cimmaron and Persolli etc are nice guns at a little less money. If you really think that you want one of these check out the C Sharps company. That is the way I will go when I can afford it.

January 4, 2009, 12:27 AM
Thanks - Anyone else? I mean this rifle has been made since about 1885 so someone has been buying them.

January 4, 2009, 08:14 AM
C Sharps also makes them. My guess is that they're the best you can buy.

The only downside to them is historical, not mechanical. By 1885, commercial buffalo hunting was over and done.

If you want an authentic buffalo rifle, the 1885 isn't one.

January 4, 2009, 08:20 AM
I'm not looking for a buffalo rifle specifically. I'm looking for a long range single shot rifle that is accurate. But it also has to be cool and I like the overall look function of an 1885. Now I just need to get my hands on one to see how it actually feels, but I'm pretty confident I'll like it.

January 4, 2009, 08:51 AM
I love my B-78! It's the same as an 1885 and chambered in 45-70. I shoot a 300 grain HP loaded with a max (compressed load) charge of IMR-3031, I'm not sure of the velocity but it's in the 2200fps range. The only thing I don't like is the 300 grain Sierra hollow points don't normaly exit due to the fact that they are being pushed so fast, but when most of the deer that get hit with this load fall in their tracks it's hard for me to change. It's also accurate, I have saved targets with three shot groups under an inch with all three touching. CSA357 can tell you, he has one too. I have an 1885 in 7mag. also, I haven't killed very many deer with it, but it shoots very good too. The 1885 is a very strong action and if you get one spend the time to find the load it likes and you'll have a rifle you'll never want to get rid of. This is a deer I killed with my B-78, he was around 100 yards from me when I dropped the hammer on him, he was able to make it 20 or so yards before going on over to the old country.


January 4, 2009, 09:26 AM
I sighted in a Browning version for a friend. I told him to NEVER sell it, or at least give me first dibs. Super accurate, and consistent. :)

January 4, 2009, 09:51 AM
The original design Winchester 1885 has not been manufactured since the early 1900's. The Browning "1885" and B78 are similiar in appearance to the Winchester 1885 but are significantly different on the inside. The Browning B78 and 1885 are fine rifles and have a reputation as accurate rifles. They are not however user friendly if you decide to disassemble the action for a thorough cleaning. I am speaking from experience. I have had the opportunity to rebarrel several B78's and 1885's. In case you are wondering what the difference is between the B78 and 1885 Browning, the 1885 has a tang so a tang sight can be used and the B78 does not. There are also minor differences internally.
If you are interested in a true Winchester 1885, there are several companies making very good replica's. C Sharps, Big Timber, MT (they make the coil spring version)and Cody Rifle Works, Cody, WY (flat spring version) are two that make very good rifles. Cody advertises that parts are interchangeable with original Winchester 1885's.
In my opinion, the Italian Winchester "copies" are not worth the money. I have had the opportunity to work on and/ or rebarrel several. The case hardening of the action is cosmetic, the receivers are soft and internal parts are disappointing (at least to me).
If your heart is set on an Italian copy, I would recommend the Pedersoli Sharps 1874. I have worked on numerous Italian replica's and hold the highest opinion of the Pedersoli.
I own an original Winchester 1885 (38-55) and a Cody Rifle replica (40-65). I have worked on quite a few orginal 1885's (rebarreled, installed barrel liners, built complete rifles around the actions etc.). I have rebarreled the C Sharps 1885. Both the Cody and C Sharps are of the highest quality, however, I still think the orginal Winchester is the best.

Jim Watson
January 4, 2009, 09:58 AM
Well, there is no IT, to start with. There are several different makers of Winchester 1885 Single Shot copies (The company didn't call them "highwalls" or lowwalls".) and there are some differences. Depends on what you want to do and how you want to go about it.

How much are you willing to spend?
List prices start around $1000 for the Uberti repro from Italy. Cimarron and Navy Arms are only importers of Ubert, not separate brands.
Pedersoli uses Uberti actions but installs their own barrels, stocks, and single set triggers. They are proud of that stuff, $1700.

C. Sharps gets you an American made rifle, starting at $1700 but with a lot of options available. Rifles in stock start around $2000 and go up fast.
Ballard Rifle Co. makes 1885s as well as 1875 Ballards, starting at $3300
Meacham Tool & Die makes only 1885s and their silhouette model is $5000. A sporting rifle would likely be less but not much less.

Sound like a lot? There is a new kid on the block. American Gun, LLC is starting up on receiver castings from Shiloh and barrels from their parent company, McGowen. A plain complete rifle is $1550. Prices will surely go up as they find out how much trouble it is to make a Winchester.

The above are all fairly faithful copies of real Winchester 1885s. Ballard will even sell parts for use on original.

In 1973 Browning had Miroku in Japan tool up for a single shot rifle they called the Model B-78 from the original John Browning patent of 1878. It LOOKS like a Winchester, it OPERATES like a Winchester (except for the spring ejector and cute little deflector to keep it from throwing empties in your face), but it is NOT MADE like a Winchester. Internals are all different and non-interchangeable. In 1985 they redesigned it a bit and called it the Model 1885 after the year Winchester got the rifle in production after buying the patent rights from Mr Browning.
These were all modern rifles even though falling block single shots. They had ejectors, scope mounts, and enough strength for magnum rifle rounds. Want to plink at 300 yards with a .30-06 or 7mm Magnum, these are your rifles. Out of production but available on the second hand market.

In 1996 they saw how period styled Sharps, etc. were selling and "de-modernized" the Browning 1885 for BPCR (Black Powder Cartridge Rifle) shooting. Left off the ejector, added a long enough tang for vernier peep sights, and installed an American made Badger barrel in .40-65, .45-70, and .45-90.
Shortly after, they introduced the Traditional Hunter with a tapered Miroku barrel and Marble's sporting tang sight in calibers .38-55 and .45-70.

The BPCR market is kind of small for a big company like FN/Browning and the single shots phased out of production. I just last month got a chance to buy a .40-65 and snapped it up because I wanted more punch on the metallic silhouette rams (46 lbs, 500 metres) than my old Winchester 38-55.

Recently they decided they might want to keep a little in the single shot and BPCR market and brought back some of the models with Winchester trademarks. The same FN conglomerate owns it all, so the guns are the same, just a different name on the barrel and box. The main distributor is Davidsons with list prices from $1500 to $2600.

There is a second hand trade in these guns and you might get lucky like a guy on the SASS Wire who got a nice .45-90 Browning Creedmoor, 312 made, for $1480 from an estate sale. About a $2500 rifle at auction, more if you saw one in a store where they knew what they had.

Which of the many variations you go for depends on what you want to do with it and how you want to go about it.

Shoot at 300 yards, great. Slay critters like Cottonmouth, sure, the design has worked fine for 130 years and it isn't going to quit working as it gets older.

Do you want a period caliber or modern?

As said, you can find Brownings in several different high velocity calibers, hard to beat a .30-06 and a friend of mine has a B78 in 6mm Remington. Even the Ubertis are available in .30-40 Krag which will do very well with a strong action and a long barrel.

If you want to go with big slow lead bullets and black or light smokeless, everybody makes .45-70s. If you want less kick, there is a good selection of .38-55s and the current crop of Winchesters includes .32-40. I found a second hand .40-65.
If you want more range, there are some .45-90s, especially in the Winchester Creedmoor model. While Teddy Roosevelt liked a .405 Winchester 1895 as "Lion Medicine" if you load it with lead it is pretty much a .40-72 Winchester and not far off a .40-70 Sharps Straight.
I see no sense in the .45 x 3 1/4" (.45-120) and cannot see why Winchester is wasting actions on .50-90s. But those may appeal to manly men.

Jim Watson
January 4, 2009, 10:04 AM
Pokyman, tell me more about Cody Rifle Works.
Is this the rump of the old Ballard Rifle Co that changed hands and was taken to Michigan?

I have heard that Steve Garbe would be to some degree associated with Wyoming Armory where some of the old Ballard hands stayed home.

Oh, yeah, Lovesbeer99, you will hear a lot about Sharps rifles, they get the style points and movie roles. But Mr Browning brought out the Single Shot (made maybe 600 of them himself before Winchester bought up the patent) as an improvement over the Sharps. The central hung self cocking hammer is a big advantage. I have gotten used to it and would not want a big side hammer.

January 4, 2009, 10:11 AM
There is a second hand trade in these guns and you might get lucky like a guy on the SASS Wire who got a nice .45-90 Browning Creedmoor, 312 made, for $1480 from an estate sale. About a $2500 rifle at auction, more if you saw one in a store where they knew what they had.

I have one of the Browning Creedmore's in .45-90. Spirit level front sight, vernier tang rear. If you're close, we can pull it out and shoot it. Stuck in the back of my safe right now. I've only shot it maybe five rounds total.

I've got a crap load of ammo loaded up. I have a 1/2" thick 4' x 4' sheet of steel that I'd going to try to get hung up for 300-600 yard shooting.

Jim Watson
January 4, 2009, 10:26 AM
That would be great fun. Paint that plate white with a black circle in the middle, of 5.5 MOA figured for whatever range you use. That is the size of the black on a standard bullseye target and shows up well in peep and globe sights. You can hear the ring and see the bullet splash in the paint with a spotting scope. I was shooting Friday at 385m (Turkey line) on paper and when the light was right you could spot .40 holes in the white but not the black. When the light was wrong, they were invisible. We have an 18" plate at 600 yards which is nice once you are on the steel but it can be tedious to zero.

January 4, 2009, 10:53 AM
I have fondled the Uberti version and it was a true piece of art. Beautifully crafted. According to the owner, it also is very accurate (.45-70).

January 4, 2009, 11:01 AM
I have a Browning 1885 in 45-70 with the tang sight and it is pretty accurate, even with me behind the trigger. They are really well made guns and accurate enough for most any hunting.

January 4, 2009, 11:37 AM
I'd like a modern cartridge like a 30-06 or similar, but I'd be very happy with a 45-70. I already have a 308 and 8x57 so I already load for these.

January 4, 2009, 02:12 PM
1885 had one in 3006 ......sold it last month on the fourm here....still have a (shot 7 times) nib 4570 one, U get about 20 fps out of every extra inch ..up to the 28" barrel length ps; amercain eagle 150 gr fmj were flying out of my 'o6 at 3150 ps

January 4, 2009, 02:42 PM
Jim Watson:
Your querry about Cody rifle works:
My information about them is about 6 months old. I had heard that they had changed hands again, however if they have moved out of state I was not aware of it. As far as Steve Garbe being associated again with the Ballad part of the company, I had not heard of that either.
When first I became aware of the Ballard Rifle Co. quite a few years ago, they were making Marlin Ballard, Phoenix rifles, and obsolete brass for the old time cartridges. The Phoenix never was a big seller (the original never was either). After the company was sold, and renamed the Cody Rifle Co. (or something close to that), they began producing the Winchester High Wall as well as the Marlin Ballard.
As a side note. For quite a few years, the repro Ballards had a lot of trouble with the receivers cracking in the breechblock mortice area. Hopefully this has been corrected. The BPCRS and Creedmore shooters became so soured on them that you don't see many of them in competition. The actions that I personally know about(and saw with my own eyes) that cracked were barreled to the big black powder cartridges- 45-70, 45-90 etc. The Ballard is a superb action, but never had a reputation as being particularly strong. In the smaller calibers, the Ballard is as good as the best single shot action ever developed. In fact the Roland, Pope Ballard still holds the record for the smallest group ever fired with cast bullets. That record was set sometime in the 1930's. The Roland Pope Ballard was sold at auction sometime last summer for ~ $75,000. I saw color pictures of the rifle- it is as beautiful as it is accurate.
I realize this is way of topic from the first post, my apologies to the rest of you- hopefully this was informative.

January 4, 2009, 05:07 PM
Some of my loaded stuff is jacketed. Wondering if it will poke thru at 300.

I also have some lead 500's. Those should be fun. I'd really like to take this on my prairie dog hunt next year....

use enough gun

January 4, 2009, 06:45 PM
I bought the browning 1885 in 3006 from ATVALASKA, I have had it only a short time, but I have enjoyed it very much. Will not be parting with it anytime soon. I would highly recommend this rifle in the 3006 cailber. Thanks ATVALASKA great rifle buddy!

January 4, 2009, 11:31 PM
I worked for a Browning Full Line dealer for a number of years and managed to pick up a highwall 45-70 and a lowwall .223. IMHO they were two of the finest, best shooting guns I have ever owned, and I regret dearly the day I sold them. The .45-70 would shoot 2.5" at 200 with sights and cheap factory ammo. The "friend" who bought them scoped the .45-70 and later took an Alaskan Brown Bear with it.


January 28, 2009, 06:13 PM
I know this is a rather old post but lately I have been thinking very strongly about this rifle in 45-70; which IMHO is the best short-medium range heavy caliber cartridge widely available. I love the look and the feel of the action of the gun. If I can ever afford one I definitely want one that shoots modern nitrocellulose cartridges, most of the replicas do not. I refuse to own a gun that I will not shoot. Blackpowder is great for show but not practical, and per my understanding if it can shoot nitro it can handle the BP. I do want to keep it reasonably authentic, so I plan to add a Leatherwood Malcomb scope.

Ol` Joe
January 28, 2009, 07:55 PM
Winchester anounced at the Shot Show they are reintroducing the 1885.

I`ve a older one in 223 that shoots very well. They are a fun gun to shoot and reek class.

January 29, 2009, 07:04 AM
The link above is to the low wall, but when you do a search you'll see they also have a new 1885 BPCR (Black Powder Cartridge Rifle) in 45-70.
So do you know if I can also shoot smokless powder from this?
I really like the half octoganle half round barrel.

highlander 5
January 29, 2009, 08:01 AM
I have 2 1885s modern run from the 80's I believe. one in 45/70 the other rebarreled to 40/65 Win.My only complaint is the recoil pad is the next best thing to useless. My buddy has a
B 78 loves the thing 45/70 cal but I won't fire the thing ,the curved butt plate just beats me too badly. Seen the Browning "Low Walls" in pistol calibers 45 Colt and 357Mag for the most part. Modern 1885s will take smokeless and BP loads with no problem. I've pushed 500 grain cast bullets at 1700-1800fps wiith no problems except for recoil. Such loads will beat you into the ground like a tent peg

January 29, 2009, 10:34 AM
Yes, my understanding is that the Winchester and Browning (which I am leaning towards) both can use nitrocellulose (smokeless) cartridges. I believe that the copies (e.g. uberti, pedersoli, Cimmaron, C Sharps, etc...) are only for blackpowder use as the modern NC cartridges are much higher pressure. Can anyone confirm this?

Jim Watson
January 29, 2009, 11:20 AM
I can confirm that you are entirely wrong.

Any currently manufactured reproduction Highwall (or other quality repro of a 19th century single shot) is plenty strong for standard smokeless loads of the caliber chambered. The Italian imports are proof tested for the currently manufactured smokeless ammo. That is 28,000 psi for .45-70, which will get you a 400 grain bullet to 1800 fps. If you want more, the Uberti is made in .30-40 Krag and .405 Winchester, as is C Sharps plus .444 Marlin.

My Browning BPCR .40-65 says "black powder loads only" not because the action is weak but because there is no SAAMI pressure standard for the caliber and their lawyers were not willing to take on the liability of letting you pick for yourself. Since it is the same gun throughout as the .45-70 you can see that it would take any sensible load just fine.

January 30, 2009, 09:38 AM
I have a Uberti 1885 Highwall,the deluxe sporting version.It is awesome.
Not only is it beautiful it shoots very well.I went with the highwall because
I had lusted after a Sharps for years until I actually got to handle one and
boy it just didn't fit.I handled the highwall and fell in love.Their big,heavy and pleasing to the eye.Just love 'em.:D

January 30, 2009, 04:41 PM
Hi All-
I have a 1885 in 405 Win. I put a Malcolm 6X on it and love it !!

February 1, 2009, 12:52 PM
I can confirm that you are entirely wrong....great glad to hear a confirmation. Unfortunately I believe that I have changed my mind and now favor the CZ 550 in .458 Lott. I like big guns :D

February 1, 2009, 01:05 PM

1885's are pretty much "the" classic single shot American action.
Very strong, accurate, and most have decent triggers. They
are of excellent build quality.

I have a few of them. These are a couple of my favorites --

Winchester "Trapper" Carbine in 30/40 Krag


Browning Traditional Hunter in 30/30 Winchester


February 1, 2009, 10:10 PM
Doctorxring - or anyone else with experiance with teh 1885, which gun do you like better and why? The browning or the Winchester? I'm sure they both have their pro and cons, but which one has a better trigger, action, accuracy, sights, feel?

I understand in advance, that your reply is just opinion, but since you have 1 of each and I have never even seen one up close, I'd appreciate your opinion.

They just seam like a great piece to me. Kind of like a model 94 in the fit and balance arena ,but in single shot. Nice.

February 1, 2009, 11:22 PM
I have a B78 6mm, beautiful rifle.

Jim Watson
February 1, 2009, 11:41 PM
1885, which gun do you like better and why? The browning or the Winchester?

The recent (past ten+ years) guns are the same, both made by Miroku in Japan. Just that FN owns Winchester and is able to use the trademark the guns were sold under instead of the designer's name as they used to.

tx gun runner
February 2, 2009, 01:06 AM
I have been think of selling this . I is know as a 40-60 maynard , 40-70 sharps or 40 krag . will come with 400 gr custom bullet mold , RCBS loading dies and brass . Douglas barrel and double set trigger $1000 shipped less scope . NO FFL needed $1700 with 12x scope .



August 29, 2011, 07:43 PM
I have the Tradition Browning in 45-70. It will shoot anything accuratly. The 305 Win softpoint is a real screamer when properly loaded. My favorite is a Lyman 405 cast with w/w. Once dialed in, twenty inch plates at 200 to even out to 400 yards is possible. The visual to sound delay is impressive and something to experiance. This rifle accepts nitro powder, 5744,2400,4759,
4895,and even faster powders like Uniique and Trailboss. There is lots of data out there for loads. I wouldn't mind having one in 40-65,which is easy to form from 45-70 brass. I have an original W. 1886 which is limited to 245 grainers.

Good Luck,

August 29, 2011, 07:55 PM
Hey Swede,

Read you on many threads ans thought you were interesting. I never shot that 405, heard it was a real thumper and was wondering if it could be downloaded to maybe 40-65 recoil levels? That crecent butplate on the 1885 Browning does bite especially B/R shooting. I had it scoped once and it was futule due to the variances in in trajectory. It was quicker and more traditional to use the marble tang site


Jim Watson
August 29, 2011, 08:08 PM
I never shot that 405, heard it was a real thumper and was wondering if it could be downloaded to maybe 40-65 recoil levels?

Sure. Some of the BPCR shooters are trimming .405 brass a little for use as .40-70 Sharps Straight and there is now a trend to just using it full length with lead bullets and black powder which makes it a .40-72.
So just downloading a straight .405 would give you about the same results.
Lyman has smokeless loads for .40-65 and .40-70 that will work.

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