Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Winchester Model 1866 Infantry Rifle

The iconic Winchester Model 1866 went into production in 1867 and over the next 30+ years some 160,000 M-1866s would be produced, in rifle, carbine and musket variants. While most images of the M-1866 center on the American “Old West”, and involve the saddle ring carbine or the rifle, the musket was an important part of the Winchester product line because Oliver Winchester was always hoping to secure military contracts for his arms.

Winchester actually termed these Model 1866s as "Infantry Rifles" because the term "Musket" evoked visions of the unwieldy long barrel, large bore rifles that were produced during the Civil War era.

Even though the musket variant of the M-1866 did not go into production until late 1869 or early 1870, in the series known to collectors as “Third Model” 1866s, they had a major influence on military rifle design, especially in Europe. A large number of M-1866 muskets and a smaller number of carbines were acquired by the Turkish military and used to great effect during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, where their rapid-fire capability decimated the Russian forces during the Siege of Plevna. Although the Turks eventually lost the war, the firepower of the repeating Winchester resulted in many European countries developing tubular magazine fed repeating rifles.

The military musket had a 27” round barrel, with the 24” magazine tube allowing the rifle to have a full 17 round capacity.

It had 3 barrel bands, sling swivels and could mount either a socket bayonet (standard) or a saber bayonet, 1,000 or less, were equipped to accept a saber bayonet. Today 1866 muskets that are equipped for the saber bayonet are highly sought after by Winchester collectors.

Most estimates place the production of 1866 Muskets at somewhere around 14,000 units.

A limited number of the rifles were nickle plated, possibility for naval use? 

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