Welcome everyone to the 42nd edition of ‘Hot Gat or Fudd Crap?’, one of our many series here on TFB. If you’re new to the series, this is where we look at the most obscure or unusual firearms that are actually for sale and ask the question – is this Gat a sweet deal or does it only have Fudd appeal? Each week the TFB staff weighs in with their thoughts, but readers get the final say in the poll at the bottom of each article!
In our last edition, our poll showed that you, the readers, decided the Single Action Colt Buntline was a Hot Gat.
The original auction will be ending just a few hours before this article will go live. So if you’d like to see the final price, be sure and check the listing now.
In this week’s edition of HGFC, we look at a heavily engraved Winchester 1902 22lr pistol. As is tradition, this piece of Winchester history is currently up for sale on GunBroker. Starting bid set at $2,899.99 with No Reserve. Thank you to reader Jacob M. for the tip!
HOT GAT or FUDD CRAP?
Whittled Down Winchester 1902
Let’s see what the Staff had to say about this week’s offering:
“Hilarious, how did they manage to take over 40 photos of it?” – Matt M.
“If you gave 1,000 monkeys 1,000 typewriters, they would eventually write Shakespeare… If you gave one failed gunsmith a non-functioning pistol meant for scrap, he would chisel this cut-checkering.” – Adam S.
““Prices on this model can be $3750-$4950, depending on original condition.” That last sentence is crucial.” – Rusty S.
“It looks like some sort of mad max improvised weapon made from a petrified turd and a metal pipe.” – Sam S.
“Khyber Pass products suddenly look more desirable” – Giorgio O.
“It looks like a High school drama prop gun.” – Nick C.
Selling this rare pistol is GunBroker seller South_rnGuns, located in Southaven, MS. Let’s see what they had to say about this old engraved Winchester:
I know what you’re thinking and it’s wrong — Winchester never made any pistols. Not true. You’ve probably also heard over the years that Sam Colt and Oliver Winchester had a gentlemen’s agreement that Colt would make handguns and Winchester would stick to long guns. Wrong again. Colt did manufacture slide action rifles and SxS shotguns, even though they didn’t develop legendary reputations like Oliver Winchester’s repeating rifles and shotguns. Winchester DID make a few pistols and even some revolver prototypes. This particular pistol was based on the Model 1902 single-shot rifle that was produced in .22 cal from 1902-1931.
Over 640,000 of these rifles were manufactured during this time period, and it was Winchester’s entry .22-caliber rifle that had a retail price of $5 in 1902. More importantly, why did Winchester bother with a pistol, and what were their marketing plans for potential sales? There isn’t a lot of information on these pistols that never made it into the production stage, and it seems all were prototypes, since no two have the same features. There’s also a theory that these were “lunch bucket guns” made by Winchester employees. LeRoy Merz, well-known and long time Winchester dealer from Minnesota, provides the following information on this weirdo: “Over the last 30-35 years, I’ve probably had a total of 12 or 13 of these Winchester pistols. Every one I have had or examined has been different. The taper of the barrel, the sight, notches or grooves, the handles-whether it be walnut, brass or pot metal. The complete designs vary from heavy barrels to pencils barrels. Every one I have examined has been under serial #20. I understand that at one time, these were offered for sale to the public in both Australia and New Zealand — I have not been able to confirm that, but 3 of these guns came from New Zealand. The sides of the walnut stocks are marked: one is marked ‘102’, one is ‘103’ and one is ‘104’. I’m not sure if this is Winchester’s marking or the marking of an importer. These pistols are very unusual and quite collectible — I wish I had kept all the ones I’ve had over the years. Some range from VG quality to a strange, very crude, poor quality for Winchester. I don’t know just what they were trying to do.”
In terms of value, they’re actually somewhat of a novelty item. Winchester lever-action collectors don’t need to buy one — neither do Winchester shotgun aficionados. This is a good example where rarity is not the trump card in determining a firearm’s value. While undoubtedly these pistols are rare, they’re not that desirable for most collectors. After all, how many Winchester handgun collectors are out there? This can also be determined by the value, since they’re a lot less expensive than mainstream Winchester rifles and shotguns. So what’s this Winchester pistol really worth? $3,500-4,000. The bottom line is that we’ll probably never know exactly why these pistols were made. Even if we did, it most likely wouldn’t make much difference in their value or collector status with Winchester dealers and collectors.
The strange engraving on this pistol gives it that Middle Eastern battlefield pickup look. It’s the kind of gun you would expect to have explained to you by Miles V. on TFBtv.
Certainly the gun looks a hundred years old, but who knows, maybe it’s still safe to fire.
This piece of history probably won’t be making any trips to the range anytime soon. Between the worn sights, old bolt action, and rifling (or lack thereof) this gun may take the cake as the most impractical .22lr pistol ever.
But of course, the gun doesn’t need to be practical. This gun exists as a piece of history that’s survived for over a hundred years. It’s my hope that someone can look past the “meh” engraving and give this Winchester a new home.
What do you think? Is this prototype Winchester 1902 a Hot Gat or just some carved up Fudd Crap? Be sure to let us know in the comments below, and cast your vote to let us know if this Winchester Bolt-Action 1902 Pistol is a Hot Gat or Fudd Crap: