Who here has one or more cowboy gun originals in minty condition?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by BringHomeTheBacon, Apr 16, 2022.

  1. BringHomeTheBacon

    BringHomeTheBacon member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2022
    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    Lawton, Ok
    This is my ideal collection of cowboy guns. The top five for me. All American-made museum-quality originals from the Old West Era.
    I think these are the five-most quintessential cowboy guns ever.

    Cowboy Gun Originals _ Top Five.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2022
    WisBorn and dcloco like this.
  2. sequins

    sequins Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2014
    Messages:
    1,465
    45 lc over 30-30? 45 colt SAA, 12ga sxs with short barrels, and a "winchester" 30-30 would be the trifecta I think.
     
  3. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    Messages:
    8,894
    Location:
    SE GA
    @Driftwood Johnson may break the internet with all the pictures of his originals.
     
    czhen, Demi-human, twarr1 and 5 others like this.
  4. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2008
    Messages:
    9,232
    Location:
    Flatlandistan
    You say "originals", but the original 1873 Winchester was never made in .45 Colt, and the original Sharps was made by Sharps, not Taylor, who actually doesn't make any guns, they just import reproductions.

    Other than that, I like your selection as representative, although I'm not familiar with that particular shotgun manufacturer. Colt made double barrels back then, though.

    I had an original '73 Winchester in .38-40 until recently, but I wouldn't say it was minty, actually, far from it. But it did operate and shoot well. Same for another gun I had from that era, a Trapdoor Springfield in .45-70.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2022
  5. BringHomeTheBacon

    BringHomeTheBacon member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2022
    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    Lawton, Ok
    I'm not familiar with all the American gun manufacturers of the Old West Era. Were there any Winchester Saddle Ring Carbines made in .45 Colt during the actual Old West times? I think the Old West officially spans from 1865 through 1895. I think some old-time cowboys wanted a rifle in .45 Colt as a companion to their 6-shooter which shoots the same ammo. Were Colt coach guns common on stagecoaches? I read that a William Moore double-barrel shotgun was used by Doc Holliday in the Battle at OK Corral. I once had the notion that Colt Peacemakers were carried by the good guys while Remington 6-shooters were the guns of the bad guys. White Hats = Colts, Black Hats = Remingtons. I think of "original" cowboy guns as ones actually made during the Old West. I think most cowboy action shooters these days use cheap import reproductions for their sport. What do American cowboys usually carry for guns this day and age?

    . Doc-Holliday-wielding-his-shotgun-at-the-O.K.-Corral-in-Tombstone-the-Town-Too-Tough-to-Die-1942.jpg
     
    dcloco likes this.
  6. Bob Willman

    Bob Willman Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2018
    Messages:
    110
    DSC00027.JPG Remington 1875 revolver. I am the 6th owner. The 1st two were the father & son who owned the gun store in Sandusky, OH. The 3rd owner bought it sometime in the 1930s still in the original box. It went to the 4th owner in the late 30s or early 40s. My father-in-law traded a stock that he made for the 4th owner's shotgun in the middle 1940s. I bought it from my father-in-law in the late 1980s. It has been handled a lot, but the fellow my father-in-law got it from said it only had been fired on New Years and July 4th a few times. From what I have been able to determine, it is a later model because of firing pin and hammer style. Other than the top of the barrel - E Remington & Sons, Illion, N.Y. USA, there are no external markings. Under the left wood grip is hand stamped 574. I first thought it was in 44 Remington caliber since there are no external caliber markings, but since it appears to be a later style, it might be 44-40 caliber. A 44-40 cartridge will drop into the cylinder. Some late models were chambered in 45 Colt.
    About 25,000 were made from 1875 to 1886 with somewhere around 10,000 ordered by the Egyptian Government. I have taken it to several gun shows and received very favorable comments except for one gentleman who immediately and loudly proclaims that it has been refinished and then briskly walks away.

    NRA Benefactor Golden Eagle
     
    czhen, Roverguy, .45Coltguy and 10 others like this.
  7. jeepnik

    jeepnik Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2011
    Messages:
    2,373
    Location:
    SoCal
    Well, it mostly depends on what you consider the cowboy era. Movie wise the Wild Bunch is a western. They used 1911's and 1903 rifles and 1917 machineguns.
     
    theotherwaldo likes this.
  8. Roverguy

    Roverguy Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2021
    Messages:
    329
    No lever guns were ever chambered in 45 Colt prior to the 1980s. The rim on the original Colt rounds was insufficient to work well with extractors. If one wanted a revolver / carbine combo in the same cartridge the hugely popular 44/40 was the way to go. And many did.

    While Winchester effectively created the myth that the 1873 was “the gun that won the West”, it was more likely the side by side shotgun, many of them lower cost trade guns from Europe and CT, quite a few of them Remingtons.
     
  9. BringHomeTheBacon

    BringHomeTheBacon member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2022
    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    Lawton, Ok
    What is the quintessential caliber for an original Winchester 1873? What chambering would mounted cowboys have commonly in the scabbard carried from 1865 to 1895 in these guns?
     
  10. Coyote3855
    • Contributing Member

    Coyote3855 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Messages:
    2,778
    Location:
    Wyoming
    Not sure about the Colt Remington thing or the hats for that matter. If you think most cowboy action shooters use "cheap" imports, you should price a few reproductions especially those with action jobs for competition used by the top shooters. Don't know about "this day and age." My dad was born in 1915 and a rancher all his life. His main guns were a Colt Woodsman and a Winchester 1894 in .25-35. Later on, he acquired a Smith and Wesson Model 28.

    Just for the record, my pick for the gun that won the west is the Northwest Trade Gun, a muzzle loading musket in use from the mid 1600s to the early days of the 20th Century across the American continent.
     
    Demi-human and theotherwaldo like this.
  11. forward observer

    forward observer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2013
    Messages:
    481
    Location:
    Arkansas
    I only own an original 1873 Sporting rifle chambered in 38-40 in good shooting condition but I have reproductions of all the rest.

    The Colt SAA pictured by the OP is actually a Umarex CO2 pellet gun--specifically the "Duke" version to commemorate John Wayne as indicated by the stock medallion.

    Instead of the Remington revolver which didn't sell very well, I would have listed the top break S&W model 3 which beat Colt to the marketplace by at least 3 years and sold in several configurations from the 1st model American to the Schofield to the Russian. Historians now believe that the S&W model 3 is what Wyatt Earp used for the gunfight at the OK corral. Virgil Earl famously carried one for the rest of his lawman career due to losing the use of one arm after he was ambushed on the streets of Tombstone. The top break and automatic ejection features make the gun handier to load for someone thus disabled.

    I have one of the Italian Schofield models and find it to be more accurate and easier to aim than any of my SAAs. Unfortunately, an original American like the one shown below is usually way above my paygrade.

    AnticStore-Large-Ref-92054.jpg
     
  12. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2005
    Messages:
    4,320
    Location:
    Colorado Front Range
    My end of production Trapdoor is pretty minty.
     
    czhen and Shanghai McCoy like this.
  13. BringHomeTheBacon

    BringHomeTheBacon member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2022
    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    Lawton, Ok
    .38-40, is that what cowboys had mainly in lever guns prior to 1895? I have never associated Smith & Wesson with The Old West.

    Then there were Marlin and Henry lever guns. The Savage lever gun didn't come along until just after the Old West.

    Were there any true companion guns of the Old West era that cowboys could shoot the same ammo from both a six-shooter and a lever gun?
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2022
  14. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    5,702
    Location:
    Land of the Pilgrims
    Howdy

    1st Gen Bisley Colt, 38-40, shipped 1909.

    posWhShLj.jpg




    1st Gen Bisley Colt, 38-40, shipped 1907.

    pnlSkZw6j.jpg




    Colt Richards Conversion, 44 Colt. Not sure exactly when it shipped, I have not lettered it yet. Probably sometime around 1871.

    pmwIqzDpj.jpg




    Remington Model 1875, 44-40. Not sure exactly when it shipped, probably somewhere around 1875.

    poxP0hsqj.jpg




    Remington Model 1890, 44-40. Probably shipped sometime around 1890.

    poXMaSCVj.jpg




    Merwin Hulbert Pocket Army, 2nd Model. 44-40. Still sooty after a CAS match. Shipped sometime between 1881-1883. No factory records exist anymore, the factory burned down at some point.

    pndnxeV3j.jpg




    Smith and Wesson Tip Ups. Top to bottom, No 2 Old Army, 32 Rimfire, shipped 1863; No. 1 1/2 First Issue, 32 Rimfire, shipped 1865; No 1, 2nd Issue, 22 Short, shipping date unknown.

    pmaUcEc5j.jpg




    Smith and Wesson 1st Model Russian. Shipped in 1873. Identical in appearance to the American Model except chambered for the 44 Russian cartridge. Not in original condition, the barrel has been shortened, an old coin substituted for the front sight, and nickel plated after being aggressively polished. I bought it because, 1, it was affordable, and 2, it rounded out my collection of Top Break #3 S&W revolvers.

    pne7YNc8j.jpg




    Smith and Wesson 2nd Model Russian, 44 Russian, shipped 1875.

    poZxQVGxj.jpg




    Smith and Wesson 1st Model Schofield, 45 Schofield, shipped 1875.

    plQNWEnoj.jpg




    Smith and Wesson New Model Number Threes, 44 Russian. The blued one shipped to Japan in 1896, the nickel plated one shipped in 1882, refinished at the factory in 1965.

    pnIVU3B0j.jpg




    Smith and Wesson 44 Double Actions. Both chambered for 44 Russian. The one at the top is a target model, it shipped in 1895, the one at the bottom shipped in 1881 and was reblued at some point and an old coin substituted for the front sight.

    pl8SNg6Kj.jpg




    Stevens SXS Hammered Shotgun, 12 Gauge, shipped around 1908.

    pnJItA1sj.jpg




    Winchester Model 1897 pump shotgun, 12 Gauge, shipped 1909.

    poEIL4fEj.jpg




    Springfield Trapdoor. 45-70. Shipped 1883.

    poiGjuc6j.jpg




    Marlin Model 1894, 44-40. Shipped 1895.

    pnWyGV0uj.jpg




    Winchester Model 1873, 38-40. Shipped 1887. "The Gun That Won The West", an advertising slogan made up by Winchester about the Model 1873 rifle.

    plkO8zklj.jpg




    Winchester Model 1892, 44-40. Shipped 1897.

    poPDcamXj.jpg




    Winchester Model 1886, 45-70. Shipped in 1886.

    potfEgY3j.jpg




    Winchester Model 1894, 30-30. Shipped in 1895.

    pmgkSzbhj.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2022
  15. BringHomeTheBacon

    BringHomeTheBacon member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2022
    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    Lawton, Ok
    Hickok45 has a great video series on Old Cowboy Guns

    (24) Guns of the West - YouTube

    It seems that pistols and levers chambered for .44-40 or .38-40 would have been good companions for a pre-1895 cowboy on his horse during a cattle drive. I don't think pre-1895 Colt Peacemakers were ever made in either caliber, just .45 Colt??

    How about an 1875 Remington in .44-40 to go with that Winchester 1873 Saddle Ring Carbine in the same chambering for a trail-drive companion duo?
     
  16. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    5,702
    Location:
    Land of the Pilgrims
    It depends on your definition of The Old West. Most historians consider the time frame of the Old West to be the end of the Civil War (1865) until 1900 when the Census Bureau officially declared the Frontier to be closed.

    No, the 38-40 cartridge was not developed by Winchester until 1879. The original chambering of the Model 1873 Winchester in 1873 was 44-40. 38-40 is simply the 44-40 case necked down to .401 diameter. Don't ask why it was called 38-40, that would require a longer explanation. Winchester developed the 38-40 cartridge because they felt they had already saturated the market for the 44-40. The 1860 Henry rifle, the immediate predecessor of the Winchester rifles was chambered for the 44 Henry Rimfire cartridge, as was the Model 1866 Winchester, the first rifle to actually carry the Winchester name.

    Rifles were never chambered for 45 Colt until sometime in the 1980s. Yes, 1980s. There were several reasons, one reason was the rim of the old 45 Colts were very narrow and would not give the extractor claw of a rifle much to grab. This is because ejection with the old Colts was done with an ejector rod that poked the empties out from the inside, A large rim was not necessary to poke empties out of a revolver. All the old Winchester Centerfire Cartridges, such as 44-40, 38-40, 32-20, and 25-20 were originally developed for rifles, so they had rims large enough for a rifle extractor to grab.

    This photo of old 45 Colt cartridge in my collection shows how narrow the rims were on most of them. A modern 45 Colt, with a larger rim is all the way on the right. The round next to it with the massive rim was developed for a Colt double action revolver that extracted the empties with a modern style extractor.

    potTLQBej.jpg




    Left to right in this photo are a 44 Henry Rimfire, 44-40, 38-40, and 32-20. These were all Black Powder cartridges. A cartridge loaded with Black Powder, unlike modern cartridges loaded with Smokeless powder, was completely filled with powder. So the overall size of the cartridge is a good indicator of its power. The little 44 Henry cartridge only contained about 26 grains of powder. This was OK for the bronze frames of the Henry and 1866 Winchester rifles, but as can be seen, the 44-40 had a much greater powder capacity, about 40 grains. The Model 1873 Winchester at first had an iron frame, later a steel frame to be able to safely handle the more powerful cartridge. As can be seen in this photo, the 38-40 was really nothing more than the 44-40 necked down to 40 caliber.

    pnouBxL9j.jpg




    Smith and Wesson had a huge impact on the Old West, as you can see from some of my photos. Colt had a strong foot hold with the Army ordering thousands of Single Action Army revolvers starting in 1873, but Smith and Wesson sold the first cartridge revolvers to the Army in 1869, if memory serves. An order of 1000 revolvers. This was the American Model, which looked just like that 1st Model Russian that I posted above. Not wanting to be left out of the lucrative Army contracts, S&W sold something like 9,000 Schofield revolvers to the Army, starting in 1875. S&W was in the middle of producing over 150,000 Russian models for the Russian, Turkish, and Japanese governments, but they made time to produce the Schofields for the Army. Many of these revolvers eventually made their way into the Old West as they were surplussed out.
     
  17. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2013
    Messages:
    7,275
    While I would not want to use an original Spencer 1860, I have always like the mechanism it used for feeding: from a magazine spring in the buttstock. A modern one in 45-70 or 45LC would be very appealing to me. Which Taylors & Co make. A grail gun as I own neither the original or remake.
     
    gobsauce likes this.
  18. BringHomeTheBacon

    BringHomeTheBacon member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2022
    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    Lawton, Ok
    So, it seems like the Winchester 1973 and the Remington 1875 in .44-40 would have been the two original cowboy companion guns. Something cowboys might have carried on the first cattle drives since the advent of the cartridge. Somebody else here might want to cite another pair of Old West cowboy companions. A SA revolver and a lever rifle of the Old West sharing a common cartridge.
     
  19. gobsauce

    gobsauce Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2019
    Messages:
    1,127
    Location:
    El Paso
    Can't say I blame him for saying it's been refinished. Holy cow is it pristine looking. I probably would've said the same thing (although in a nicer tone and with an interrogation sign instead. ).
     
  20. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2008
    Messages:
    9,232
    Location:
    Flatlandistan
    The '73 was chambered in .44-40, .38-40, and .32-20, Colt revolvers were eventually chambered in those cartridges also.

    Driftwood mentioned that the .38-40 was actually a .40 caliber. Similarly, the .44-40 was not a .44, but was actually a .42.

    The .38-40 was a fairly powerful cartridge, having similar ballistics to a modern .40 S&W.
     
  21. north east redneck
    • Contributing Member

    north east redneck Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2014
    Messages:
    212
    Location:
    Berkshire Hills
    What a beautiful gun. Great story/history to go with it.
     
  22. BringHomeTheBacon

    BringHomeTheBacon member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2022
    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    Lawton, Ok
    There was a gun ad in the 1990's. I can't remember which one, maybe Marlin. It was for a lever rifle to be a companion to a 6-shooter like a Colt Peacemaker or a Remington in .45 Colt. Back then it instilled in my head the notion that there were both pistols and rifles even back in the Old West that could fire the .45 Colt. Now, people are saying here that .45 Colt rifles did not exist during pre-1895 Old West times. The ad romanticized the Old West cowboys who wanted both a handgun and a rifle that could conveniently fire the same ammo. Now, I'm finding out there were other companion combos in the Old West which could fire cartridges other than .45 Colt. When it comes to original cowboy guns, I'm fascinated by the whole COMPANION concept. I'm sure there a lot of reproductions that could give one such a companion pair of guns.

    It might be especially super tough for collectors to find minty pre-1895 guns of a "companion" caliber if they are romanticized by the companion gun notion.
     
  23. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    31,730
    Location:
    Florence, Alabama
    Colts and Winchesters were expensive, each maybe a month's pay for a ranch hand.
    There was a brisk business in Army surplus in those days, a cap and ball revolver or cartridge conversion and a single shot rifle, even a muzzleloader would be a feasible outfit.

    I don't think as much thought was given to common caliber rifle and revolver then as now.
    There were two historical cases in opposite directions, Driftwood can probably provide the names.
    A Texas Ranger was in a battle with Indians. He got in a rush and stuck a .45 revolver cartridge in his .44 lever action. He stayed calm, unscrewed the side plate with his Bowie knife, cleared the jam, and resumed the fight. A friend did that in a CAS match and it was a chore to get back in action.
    Another lawman had a .44-40 cartridge split and lock up his revolver. He went to a .45.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2022
  24. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    5,702
    Location:
    Land of the Pilgrims
    Although bullet diameters varied widely, the original spec for 44-40 bullets was .427. I generally load my 44-40 ammo with .428 bullets. So if we are going to be rounding off bullet diameters to two digits, 44-40 would be a 43 caliber. Just like 44 Russian, 44 Special and 44 Mag which have .429 diameter bullets. 38-40 bullet diameter is actually .401, so it truly is a 40 caliber.
     
  25. BringHomeTheBacon

    BringHomeTheBacon member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2022
    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    Lawton, Ok
    Some extra thoughts on cowboy guns since we are on this topic have come to me.

    It could be that cowboys in 1880 commonly carried a Colt Peacemaker (or perhaps a surplus cap n ball) then because no Blackhawks or autos were around yet. upload_2022-4-18_9-54-9.gif Because of Hollywood, some folks still envision cowboys with old-fashioned guns today. There might still be a real working cowpoke today sporting a Peacemaker in the holster somewhere. The Old West/Old West style lever guns by Marlin, Henry and Winchester still seem to be as popular as ever even with hunters and non-cowpokes. I met a young air force fellow of Asian decent from New York City in 2017 who told me he wanted a Winchester lever in .30-30 of all things as a fun gun to shoot at the range. He told me his family was of strong Democrat and gun control mentality as well. Perhaps, getting a "fun cowboy gun" might have (gladly for us pro-gunners) put gun rights and American firearms traditions in a new light for him. In his mind, an "old-fashioned" or "innocent-looking" gun (as commonly seen in cowboy pictures) might seem as 'intimidating" or as "scary" as a modern "black" rifle or pistol. He claimed to me that "only police officers" could own handguns in New York City. If these "cool cowboy guns" can convert American anti-gunners, then god bless them!
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2022
    FL-NC likes this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice