Winchester 1886 advice?


March 26, 2010, 07:59 PM
Not sure whether this is more appropriate here or in the blackpowder forum, but I'll post it here anyways.

Anyway, an 1886 will be going up on the auction block locally in a few weeks and I've been looking for information on these rifles, as I'm potentially interested. The condition is described as being "excellent" and it is chambered in the .40-82 cartridge. I looked up the serial number (in the 30,000 range) and think it was manufactured in 1889. There is only one picture of it available online and it does look pretty good to me, but it is hard to tell for sure whether or not it has been refinished. It has a straight grip stock with no checkering.

For those of you more experienced with these rifles, what should I look for in evaluating it? What kind of $$$ do they typically bring? I imagine there are probably a lot of variables involved in determining valuation but what is a ballpark range between shooter and collectible? I know Winchesters, especially from this era, are incredibly popular so I'd be surprised if I go home with this one, but I'd at least like to be prepared.

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Art Eatman
March 26, 2010, 09:38 PM
Find a gun shop with reference books for sale and take a quick look. A copy of Fjestad's Blue Book will have ballpark information. SFAIK, that's a lesser cartridge insofar as collectability--but don't take that as gospel.

March 27, 2010, 01:30 AM
Understood. I'll see if I can't find valuation that way. Looking around the internet, pricing on these seem to be all over the place, so I'm a bit bamboozled as to what would be a good deal and what wouldn't.

March 27, 2010, 05:29 AM
If you're not into collecting per se and are just looking for an 1886 rifle to hunt or shoot with, I'd suggest you try to find one of the fine repos out there. Better metallurgy, probably more accurate and certainly much cheaper. Of course, you can rule out any chance that one of Japan's finest ever accompanied Teddy on one of his big game jaunts...

Old Time Hunter
March 27, 2010, 12:00 PM
Go to, they have the experts over there. The .40-82 is and excellent cartridge especially for BP loads. Can't give you a dollar value, but check out the throat and bore if you plan on using it for a shooter, if it is more of a collective bent, make sure it has not been "redone".

Jim Watson
March 27, 2010, 12:25 PM
Just for fun, let's assume that it really is in NRA Excellent conditon as defined.
Also that the auction is well enough publicized that it draws some Winchester people.
The only question is how many thousands of dollars it will sell for.

Of course if it is The Colonel's Farm Implement Auction Co., and they consider excellent to mean "It's all there, mostly, and you can even read the caliber through the rust."
Then it might come a little cheaper if the auction fever did not catch hold.

March 27, 2010, 02:15 PM
Yeah, that's the question. They don't strike me as knowing much about guns, so I'm a little leery of their "excellent" descriptor. I'd be buying the gun primarily as a collectible and occasional shooter. Still, being refinished wouldn't necessarily be the death knell for me as long as the price was right and it wasn't a total hack job.

If it does appear to be a gun I want, I'm pretty much at the mercy of whoever else is there because if it turns out to be a multi-$1000 gun, I'll be out of the running even if it was worth that. It just seems like this could be an opportunity to potentially get a desirable gun for a good price. I just don't know what that good price is.

Here's the only pic I have:

To me, the metal looks like it might be okay, but the shine of the stock concerns me a little though it doesn't look to be a total disaster. I can't tell if the (round, not octagonal?) barrel is missing bluing or if that is just a glare I'm seeing.

Jim Watson
March 27, 2010, 02:26 PM
The receiver looks like what is called "flaking blue" and the stock looks like it has some of the factory varnish or lacquer. I can't tell about the barrel and magazine, either.

But it looks to be in NRA Good or Very Good Antique condition and will draw a high price if there are two or more Winchester enthusasts at the auction.

What do you want it FOR?
.40-82 is certainly shootable if you handload or have a large ammunition budget, in which case bore condition really matters.
If not refinished, the rifle is a decent showpiece in today's market where all the really pristine stuff has retreated to museums and high end collections.

March 27, 2010, 06:01 PM
Well for me it would be a historically significant collectible and occasional shooter. It's good to hear than you think the varnish might be factory. Is flaking blue just what it sounds like (flaking off) or is just an aged blue patina?

March 27, 2010, 06:34 PM
Is flaking blue just what it sounds like (flaking off) or is just an aged blue patina?Just what it sounds like. WRT the end of the bbl looking worn...just look at the light on the table, it is light coming in from the window (or skylight) casting a glare. ;)

March 27, 2010, 07:29 PM
Ah, I think you're right! I thought that was an odd wear pattern if that were the case...

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