Lever-Action Winchester 1895 in 7.62x54R

Ian is at it again over at Forgotten Weapons. This time, he’s hitting us with knowledge and history of lever-action Winchester 1895 bolt-action rifles manufactured for the Russians in World War I.

At the onset of World War I, the Russians were, per Ian, “woefully unequipped”. Recognizing this as a weakness, the Russians immediately ramped up production of their Mosin Nagant rifles (of which millions were made), but getting the rifle into full production was going to take a year or more.

To cover the gap, the Russians contracted the Winchester company to provide their latest Model 1895, a lever-action rifle, which was supposed to be pressed through production within a month. However, due to various wartime logistics, design, and bureaucratic issues the rifles took almost half a year to first delivery. After production was running, over 300,000 were successfully delivered to the Russians (though some did sink to the bottom of the ocean prior to making to Russia).

Despite this, the 1895 was a battlefield success. Unlike previous lever-action rifles which relied on round-nose bullets and a tubular magazine, the 1895 used a stripper-clip fed box magazines that allowed the use of spitzer bullets

The full video is below with all the juicy details. Warning, its 17 minutes long and Ian is as captivating as always. 


Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • BattleshipGrey

    The fact about the German navy sinking some of the shipments of these rifles brings a much more sobering and literal meaning of “tragic boating accident”.

    As always, great video jam-packed with info!

  • iksnilol

    Lever action bolt action?

    I think these are really cool. Would be nice if somebody made a modernized version.

    • Anonymoose

      They kind of did that with the Winchester Model 88 in the 1950s, and then the Browning BLR in the 60s. Both use a lever to work a bolt and feed rimless, spitzer cartridges from a regular box mag underneath the receiver.

      • iksnilol

        I know, those things are awesome. But I am thinking intermediate calibres. Think for instance BLR with shortened barrel in 5.56 using AR mags.

        • DW

          There are BLR in 556 with 16″ barrel and muzzle brake. No AR mags though, lever throw cannot clear the magazine.

      • ostiariusalpha

        I love all the box magazine, spitzer-friendly leverguns. Even more than the Winchester 1895 though, the Savage Model 99 oozes pure classiness. They came with a beautiful brass rotary mag (often with a counter window in the receiver), case-hardened lever handle, and jewelled bolt straight from the factory. I find the ones with the schnabel forends particularly elegant.

  • Anonymoose

    The infamous Lever-Nugget! I MUST HAVE IT!

    • iksnilol

      Imagine an Obrez from it.


      • Iggy

        Imagine no longer:

  • Too bad none of these seem to have made it over in quantity. Lever action 7.62x54R rifle would be pretty slick.

  • Kelly Jackson

    In use

  • Something recently struck me. A lot of people suggest that the magazine of the Winchester M1895 lever action was designed for spitzer projectiles, but I suspect that this was merely a happy accident. After all, who was using spitzers back when the rifle was being designed in 1891? Judging from the language of the patent, it looks more like JMB was hoping to offer a variant fed by en bloc clips.


    • ostiariusalpha

      That’s a great insight. It certainly seems like he was aiming to make it compatible with the new fast loading clips that were coming out at the time.

    • Rock or Something

      It was probable to keep in line with parts and functions commonality (well besides the bolt-action) with the 1891 Mosin. But even back in the day, other rifles with en bloc clips were emerging on the military market (ie: Lee-Metford, 1888), all of which used round fmj before the advent and acceptance of spitzer bullets.

      • ostiariusalpha

        JMB didn’t know or care about the Mosin when he designed the 1895. The 7.62x54R Winchesters came about after he had already parted ways with the company.

        • Rock or Something

          To clarify my point, I didn’t say Brown created the rifle specifically for the Russian military. He quite clearly patented the design long before that. My point is that the design itself was conducive to the needs of the Russian military, and Winchester would just have to do some minor engineering alterations to accept the 7.62X54R round. My ultimate point is that spitzer or no spitzer, an en-bloc system wasn’t out of the ordinary when Browning patented the rifle, and as a result of this design having the en-bloc feed instead of the typical tube layout, was enough to attract the Russian to purchase as an alternative rifle alongside their Mosins.

          • Anonymoose

            En bloc is not the word you’re looking for. En bloc clips stay in the magazine, and are not used in the Mosin or any Winchester-designed rifle.

    • Beat me to the punch! Yes, the astute viewer will notice that Ian’s narrative doesn’t really hold up, as the spitzer bullet craze really starts in 1905 with the German D Patrone, more than a decade after the 1895 was designed!

      • ostiariusalpha

        I think the French Balle D came first as a general issue round, but I guess it really was the German Patrone that got things rolling with everyone else playing catch up to create an equivalent cartridge. Still, everyone of them owes a debt to Eduard Rubin and his jacketed projectile experiments.

        • Balle D was secret until 1903 or so. It was the S Patrone thst really started the fire under people’s feet. It became one of the most widely copied bullets of all time as a result.

          My Swissology’s somewhat deficient, but didn’t Rubin only play with round-nosed stuff?

          • ostiariusalpha

            Yeah, but the impression you get is that when the existence of the Balle D was revealed, the reaction was mostly, “Aw, those wacky French and their silly solid copper ‘merveille missile’ BS! Lawlz!” Yet when the Germans put out the Patrone series, all of a sudden it was a vital priority to national security that spitzer bullets be studied and fielded. They were both independent developments (at least, if you disregard all the spying & counter-spying they did on each other), but all fundamentally based on the publicized research of Rubin (whom I consider the P.O. Ackley of his era) with his extensive analysis of various geometries and compositions of jacketed bullets.

  • Vitsaus

    54R fanboys would never buy one because they would probably have to sell off their entire Mosin collection to cover one of these Winchesters.

  • Hudson

    Is it just me or did Ian misspeak a few times mixing up Remington & Winchester?

  • Gotta love a lever action

  • totenglocke

    I’d give a testicle to see someone put these back into productions (with possible improvements as well) at a reasonable cost.

    • Anonymoose

      They were making them in Japan until a couple years ago, in .30-06 and .405, for typical fancy modern Winchester prices.