Sunday, February 5, 2017

The M-1866 Winchester Rifle

After the Civil War, Oliver Winchester renamed New Haven Arms the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. 
The company modified and improved the basic design of the Henry rifle using Nelson King's improved patent. This patent remedied flaws in the Henry rifle by incorporating a loading gate on the side of the frame and integrating a round, sealed magazine covered by a wooden forestock. The .44 Henry cartridge was retained. The result was the first Winchester rifle: the Model 1866.

It would become the first mass produced Winchester lever rifle. Nicknamed the "Yellow Boy" because of its receiver of a bronze/brass alloy called gunmetal, it was famous for its rugged construction and lever-action "repeating rifle" mechanism that allowed the user to fire a number of shots before having to reload.

France purchased 6,000 Model 1866 rifles along with 4.5 million .44 Henry cartridges during the Franco-Prussian War. (1870-1871)

The Ottoman Empire purchased 45,000 Model 1866 muskets and 5,000 carbines in 1870 and 1871. These rifles were used in the 1877 Russo-Turkish War, causing much surprise when outnumbered Turks, at the Siege of Plevna, inflicted many times more casualties than their opponents armed with single-shot rifles The Model 1866 compelled Russians to develop a new repeating rifle, the Mosin–Nagant, after the war.

When more potent centerfire cartridges were developed the M-1866 was replaced with the steel-framed Model 1873 using the .44-40 centerfire cartridge. However, due to public demand, the Model 1866 continued to be manufactured and sold until 1899, mainly because they were less expensive than the later steel-framed centerfire models. 


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