Winchester Celebrates 150 Years in Business in 2016

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Winchester as founded in 1866 by Oliver Winchester as the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. The company’s first gun was, of course, the Model 1866, a lever-action repeating rifle chambered in .44 Henry. The Model 1866 was nicknamed the “Yellow Boy” due to the color of its receiver which was made from a bronze and brass alloy that resulted in a dull yellow coloration. Then there was the Model 1873 which became known as “The Gun That Won the West”. Over the years there have been many changes as is the norm for the majority of companies, but the name of Winchester remains synonymous with the Wild West and a certain dedication to quality. This year, in 2016, Winchester is celebrating 150 years.

WIN1866

In their earlier years Winchester received free publicity thanks to historically impressive figures such as Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley using their firearms in shows. Over 150 years several generations of gun owners have relied on Winchester for firearms and ammunition, and while the subsidiaries behind the Winchester brand may have changed the classic Western history of the company will never change. Some things can never change.

One of my favorite rifles is a Winchester Model 60A which is around eight decades old. I have a few older long guns in my collection but this one in particular always brings a smile to my face. It may not be the famed Model 1866 or the well-known Model 1873, but it’s a piece of firearms history – my piece of firearms history – and I value it. 150 years is an impressive length of time and I, for one, hope the name of Winchester will be around for some time to come. Happy 150th, Winchester.

WIN60A

Side note: At SHOT this year Winchester will be showcasing some of their historical firearms at their booth as part of a celebration of their 150 years in business. You can be sure I’ll be there to take a look and share the resulting information and photos with you.

Visit www.winchesterguns.com for a look at Winchester firearms and www.winchester.com for a look at Winchester ammunition.



katie.ainsworth

Katie is an avid shooter, hunter, military journalist, and Southern girl. Firearms are her passion whether at the range or on a spot-and-stalk after a big buck. She’s a staff writer at The Firearm Blog and writes about guns, hunting, and the military for various publications both online and in print such as Outdoor Life, Handguns, and Shooting Illustrated. Shoot her a message at ainsworth.kat@usa.com


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  • Steven T Ling

    I’ll celebrate by taking my model 62A to the range. Love those old rimfires!

    • M.M.D.C.

      I have a 69A. Love it.

  • Jwedel1231

    Aren’t their guns made in Japan?

    • drambus ambiguous

      I think some parts are. I’m not sure about entire guns. It seems like under the FN umbrella, FN is the defense brand, Browning is the Hunting brand of things, and Winchester is the ammunition and classic firearms brand.

      • Jwedel1231

        Didn’t know they were owned by FN.

  • john huscio

    In commemoration of this auspicious event, I’ll go buy some more 147gr +p ranger ts

  • Martin törefeldt

    Happy birthday to you (Winchester).

  • Stu Gotz

    How the mighty has fallen. Once the premier gun maker in America, now known for its shoddy products.

    • Swarf

      But enough about Marlin…

    • Kefefs

      Is it opposite day? Last I checked, quality has been immaculate since FN took over.

  • Vitsaus

    150 years, 150 different owners.

  • secnerret

    Clarification—you can see “Made by Miroku – Japan — Imported by . . . ” prominently on the high res images of the 150th Anniv. Model 1873 (same MSRP as the 1866) and the 150th Model 94, not the 150th Model 1866. Don’t know if that’s because the run of 1866’s were made in USA, or if the photos just don’t have the right anhle to see it.

  • Twilight sparkle

    Way to go FN… I mean Winchester! 🙂

  • codfilet

    Not really the same company at all any more.

  • Rimfire

    Cannot believe some of the Winchester hate going on here. No shoddy products at all in their lineup anymore, unlike the post ’64 guns. Most of those were either discontinued or revised by 1972 btw.
    As far as “150 owners”, not an intelligent statement. The Winchester repeating Arms Co. was in the Winchester family from it’s inception until the Great depression, in 1931 Olin Corp (John Olin) of Western Cartridge bought it to save the brand. Olin ran Winchester very well to 1981, when the union strike became unbearable. Olin retains the rights to the name and continues to produce great ammunition, but the very old New Haven facilities were sold to U.S. Repeating Arms and they continued operations. Some of their breakthroughs included bring back the controlled round feed for the Model 70 and the angle eject for the M-94 allowing top scope mounting. By 2006, bad labor and high operating costs in New Haven caused the plant shutdown.
    That is when FN Browning stepped in. They moved Model 70 production to SC in the FN factory, while low quantity items like the model 94 etc were assigned to Miroku, who long had made guns for Browning. Since the quality of Miroku was excellent with Browning, these guns are very high quality as well, not “shoddy” by any means. They have given us many historical models since, the Model 12 and 42 pump shotguns, the model 52 and 63 .22 rifles and many of the classic leverguns, including my favorite, the Model 1892. All high quality guns by any standard.

  • Rimfire

    I did contact Winchester recently regarding the very excessive roll markings on the barrels too. The person I spoke to agreed with me and those thoughts were passed along to marketing. OMG, The Gettysburg Address had fewer words then the barrel of some of these.
    it was strongly suggested that this was reviewed and would be reduced to a level more acceptable soon.
    As is typical of most manufacturers nowdays, the lengthy script of roll-marked safety warnings, origin etc. has become so overwhelming as to take away the good looks of firearms. Regardless of brand, I think we all agree these are very degrading of the guns good looks.