POTD: Henry Did it First, Winchester Did it Better – Winchester 1866
Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here we have a huge stepping stone in the history of Winchester. This is the Winchester 1866 which (at the time) was actually called The Winchester Rifle! It was called this because it was the first rifle ever produced by Winchester. It was basically a heavily improved Henry (Henry and Winchester had business dealings). A little-known or misunderstood fact is that Oliver Winchester of Winchester fame was not an inventor or ideas man. He was a businessman and a very good one in most cases. This new Henry rifle (Winchester 1866) was improved with a loading gate, wooden forend, and the same but “refined” mechanism. It was still chambered for the 44 Henry Rimfire cartridge but would eventually have conversions available to a 44 centerfire.
“This Winchester Model 1866 was manufactured in 1868 and has the very desirable “HENRY’S PATENT-OCT. 16. 1860/KING’S PATENT-MARCH 29. 1866” marking on the top of the blued octagon barrel which also features a dovetailed blade front sight and a notch and ladder rear sight graduated out to 900 yards. The left side of the lower tang is marked “7 RV W 16046.” “16046” is also stamped in the upper tang mortise of the stock. Sling swivels are fitted on the bottom of the forend cap and on the bottom of the stock. The stock compartment is empty.”
Lot 3006: Henry Patent Marked Winchester Model 1866 Lever Action Rifle. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved January 24, 2023, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/79/3006/henry-patent-marked-winchester-model-1866-lever-action-rifle.