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.
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.
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.