Winchester has long been a household name when the topic turns to firearms, and for good reason. Their offerings are reliable, classic examples of well-made firearms. Winchester has made millions of rifles and shotguns since their founding over 150 years ago and continues to perform today. Winchester makes 13 base models of firearms, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize each base model can have 15 or more variants offered for sale. Winchester is also a long-time supporter of shooting sports and is the official ammunition of the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP).
Winchester – Table of Contents
Winchester is a household name for firearms. They were originally founded in 1866 and remained strong for over 100 years. The company history is long and full of ups and downs, with their beginnings during the taming of the frontier through both World Wars up until today. Currently, Winchester rifles are produced under the Herstal group by Browning Arms and Fabrique National d’Herstal.
When you think Winchester, you think lever-action, and for good reason. Winchester currently sells 26 variations of lever-action rifles, all based on their Model 94, 92, 1886, 1873, and 1866 rifle platforms.
In addition to their lever-rifles, Winchester sells 22 Autoloaders, the venerable Model 70, and the Winchester XPR, Furthermore, they sell four different base models of shotguns, the Super X4 and X3 autoloaders, the Super X Pump, and the Model 101 over-under.
Originally founded in 1866 in New Haven Connecticut, Winchester began making rifles right off the bat. Their first gun was the Model 1866 “Yellow Boy” lever-action rifle.
A few years later Winchester produced the Model 1873 in 44-40 WCF. This rifle later became known as the gun that won the west.
Winchester rifles would appear in the hands of famous Americans like Buffalo Bill and Theodore Roosevelt just as often as they appeared in the hands of infamous outlaws like Billy the Kid. In 1886 Winchester began making shot-shells, and in 1887 produced the Model 1887 lever-action shotgun.
Just a few short years later, Winchester began manufacturing their famous (or perhaps infamous) Model 1897. This shotgun was capable of “slam-firing”. If the trigger was depressed then the shotgun fired every time the slide was racked until the internal magazine was depleted.
Winchester was contracted to produce Pattern 1914 Enfield rifles for Britain and M1917 Enfields for the United States during World War One. While working at Winchester, John Moses Browning developed the Browning Automatic Rifle, the Browning Machinegun, and the 50-caliber Browning Machinegun cartridge.
After the war, Winchester’s fortunes faded, but in 1936 began production of the famous Model 70 bolt-action rifle. During World War Two Winchester designed the M1 Carbine and produced the M1 Garand. After the war, Winchester was the first civilian manufacturer of the M14 rifle.
Winchester’s fortunes faded after World War Two again, and in 1980 the company sold its New Haven plant to its employees who formed US Repeating Arms, which later went bankrupt. US Repeating Arms was sold to the company that owns FN Herstal and Browning Arms Company, but later was forced to close the New Haven plant entirely.
Winchester guns are now manufactured in a number of other countries. Namely Belgium, Portugal, Turkey and Japan. Domestically, Winchester’s mailing address is 275 Winchester Avenue Morgan, UT 84050, Browning Arms’ headquarters.
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