Oliver Winchester was not a gun designer. He was a clothing manufacturer who financed the design and production of Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson’s Volcanic lever-action pistol and rifle. The company was named Volcanic Repeating Arms and Winchester was one of the major stockholders. Smith and Wesson eventually left the company to put up their own gun manufacturing company (Smith & Wesson).
The Volcanic Rifle Company’s
success was limited. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1856 and Oliver
Winchester bought the company’s assets and revamped it as the New Haven Arms
Company in 1857. Benjamin Henry of the defunct Volcanic Rifle chose to continue
to work for the New Haven Arms Company perfecting the self- contained metallic
rimfire cartridge and the .44 Henry round. He oversaw the design of a new rifle patterned
after the Volcanic that will use the new ammunition. This firearm became the
Henry Rifle of 1860. Together with the
Spencer rifle, the Henry rifle established the lever-action repeater in the gun
Winchester Repeating Arms Company
An altercation between Benjamin Henry and Olive Winchester ensued in 1866. Henry felt his compensation was not enough so he attempted to take over New Haven Arms. Winchester got hold of the situation and immediately reorganized New Haven Arms and acquired the name Winchester Repeating Arms Company. He modified and improved the Henry rifle and came up with the Winchester rifle Model 1866. This rifle uses .44 caliber rimfire cartridges and has wooden forearm and an improved magazine.
The Model 1873 was the first firearm to use the .44-40 Winchester Center Fire (WCF). The 1866 and 1873 belong to the rifle families that basically called the “Gun That Won the West.” A larger version Model 1876 was called the Centennial Model. This firearm uses the same toggle-link action and cartridge elevator patterned from the Henry. The 1876 was chambered to take in powerful cartridges as the 45-75 WCF, 45-60 WCF and the 50-95 WCF.
Winchester in the First Half of the 20th Century
The competition between Winchester and Browning brought about the production of the first self-loading rifle was on. Winchester came up initially with the .22 rimfire Winchester Model 1903 and later with the Model 1905, 1907, and 1910 rifles. The Model 1911 was designed by Winchester to “outwit” Browning’s patent on the self-loading shotgun. Next came the classic Winchester Model 1912, Model 54 and Model 52
During World War I Winchester produced the .30-06 M1917 Enfield for the United States and .303 Pattern 1914 Enfield for the UK. It was also during this time that Browning worked on the final design of the Browning Automatic Rifle or BAR at the Winchester plant. Close to 30,000 BARs were produced.The Great Depression brought about the decline and fall of Winchester Repeating Arms Company. The c company tried to produce and sell consumer goods such as kitchen appliances and more in order to recoup its losses. The strategy did not work that the Winchester Company went bankrupt. The Olin family of Western Cartridge Company bought Winchester to initially become the Winchester-Western Company (1935) and then to Winchester-Western Division of Olin Industries in 1944. This brought about design and production of Model 52 Sporter and the Model 21 double-barreled shotgun. For a time Winchester thrive.
During World War II, Winchester produced the M1 carbine. The gun company also produced the M! Garand Rifle and the M14 rifle which makes Winchester the first civilian manufacturer of the said rifle.
Decline and Fall of Winchester
By the 1960s, automation was the norm in the field of manufacturing. This process made a particular product cheaper to manufacturer which translates to cheaper product. The production of Winchester firearms took considerable hand-work that they cost more to make. The flagship models 12 pump shotgun and 70 bolt-action rifle were machine-forged and therefore expensive. Winchester veered towards cast-and -stamped designs much like Remington guns. Unfortunately the result was catastrophic. The new line of guns was deemed cheap and sub-standard by experts and gun aficionados. Winchester firearms made from 1964 up were considered less valuable than pre-1964 models then.
In 1980, the Winchester plant in New Haven was sold to its employees thus the US Repeating Arms Company was founded with a license to produce Winchester brand guns. The Olin family retained the rights to manufacture Winchester ammunition and ownership of the Winchester trademark. The firm eventually folded was acquired by Belgian Herstal Group which also owns the Browning Arms Company and Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal (FN).
The New Haven plant of the US Repeating Arms was finally closed in 2006. It was also announced that the Model 94 rifle and the Model 70 rifle and 1300 shotgun were to be discontinued.
Revival of Winchester Firearms
The Olin Corporation, before the close of year 2006, entered an agreement with Browning to manufacture Winchester brand shotguns and rifles. The Miroku Corporation of Japan produced the Model 1892, 1886 lever action and 1885 falling block action while Browning imported them back to the United States.
In 2008 Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal produced the Model 70 rifles in its plant in South Carolina. In 2010 FN revived the production of the Model 1894. The Winchester 1300 also evolved into the new Winchester SXP.
To date, Winchester brand rifles are the Model 70, Model 94, Model 1895, Model 1886, Model 71 and Model 1892. Under shotguns are the Super X3, Super X2, Model 101 and the SXP.
- $482.2770308 Winchester  $1018.8070 Featherweight243 Winchester  $802.4870 Ultimate7mm Rem  $574.0070 Stealth308 Winchester  $710.0070 Alaskan Bolt338 Lapua Magnum  $1014.0070458 Winchester Mag  $1270.8070264 Winchester Magnum  Out of Stock70 Extreme Weather308 Winchester  $1067.3870 Super Grade300 Winchester Magnum  $1099.0070 Sporter300 Winchester Magnum  $764.0870 Extreme Weather243 Winchester  $1094.7470 Alaskan Bolt375 Holland & Holland Magnum  $972.0070264 Winchester Magnum  Out of Stock70 Extreme Weather25-06 Remington  $1094.7470 Super Grade338 Winchester Magnum  $1089.0070 Featherweight27  $744.7670 Extreme Weather270 Winchester  $1094.7470 Coyote Lite243 Winchester  $1033.8570 Featherweight30-06 Springfield  Out of Stock70 Safari Express416 Remington Magnum  $1289.5870 Sporter325 Winchester Short Magnum  $839.0270 Extreme Weather270 Winchester Short Magnum  $1131.2870 Featherweight Grade III270 Winchester  Out of Stock70 Sporter300 Winchester Magnum  $839.0270 Featherweight7x57mm Mauser (.275 Rigby)  $766.0070 Safari Express375 Holland & Holland Magnum  $1270.8070 Bolt338 Winchester Magnum  $839.0270 Sporter300 Winchester Magnum  $794.1970 Exteme Weather30-06 Springfield  $1269.9970 Featherweight7mm-08 Remington  $731.0070 Featherweight300 Winchester Magnum  $482.2770 Featherweight25-06 Remington  $757.4670 Extreme Weather243 Winchester  $1014.0070 Alaskan375 Holland & Holland Magnum  $1114.9270300 Winchester Magnum  $1131.2870270 Winchester  $677.33
- Out of Stock
- $482.2770 Ultimate Shadow270 Winchester  $754.0070 Ultimate Shadow270 Winchester Short Magnum  Out of Stock70 Ultimate Shadow7mm Rem  $887.7270 Ultimate Shadow30-06 Springfield  $851.1870 Ultimate Shadow300 Winchester Magnum  $775.9870 Ultimate Shadow325 Winchester Short Magnum  $670.0070 Ultimate Shadow27  $785.0070 Ultimate Shadow308 Winchester  $838.8070 Ultimate Shadow243 Winchester  $838.8070 Ultimate Shadow270 Winchester  $692.8870 Ultimate Shadow Hunter308 Winchester  $857.6670 Ultimate Shadow Hunter270 Winchester Short Magnum  $890.2970 Ultimate Shadow Hunter300 Winchester Magnum  Out of Stock70 Ultimate Shadow Hunter325 Winchester Short Magnum  $810.8270 Ultimate Shadow Hunter7mm-08 Remington  $825.1270 Ultimate Shadow Hunter270 Winchester  Out of Stock70 Ultimate Shadow300 Winchester Magnum  Out of Stock70 Ultimate Shadow Hunter30-06 Springfield  $482.2770 Ultimate Shadow300 Winchester Magnum  $670.0170 Ultimate Shadow270 Winchester Short Magnum  $684.8570 Ultimate Shadow300 Winchester Magnum  $754.6570 Ultimate Shadow325 Winchester Short Magnum  $670.5970 Ultimate Shadow300 Winchester Magnum  $646.3670 Ultimate Shadow.243 Win  $857.66
- Out of Stock
- Out of Stock
- Out of Stock
- $771.49M70 Sporter27  $839.02M70 Sporter264 Winchester Magnum  Out of StockM70 Sporter300 Winchester Magnum  Out of StockM70 Sporter325 Winchester Short Magnum  $771.49M70 Sporter300 Winchester Magnum  $783.24M70 Sporter300 Winchester Magnum  Out of StockM70 Sporter243 Winchester  $1199.99M70 Sporter270 Winchester  $802.48
- Out of Stock
- $627.00M70 Ultimate Shadow25-06 Remington  $633.77M70 Ultimate Shadow Bolt338 Lapua Magnum  $656.00M70 Ultimate Shadow7mm Rem  $688.14M70 Ultimate Shadow7mm-08 Remington  $809.92M70 Ultimate Shadow25-06 Remington  $824.44M70 Ultimate Shadow243 Winchester  $643.66M70 Ultimate Shadow325 Winchester Short Magnum  Out of StockM70 Ultimate Shadow7mm-08 Remington  $627.00M70 Ultimate Shadow243 Winchester  $792.71M70 Ultimate Shadow7mm Rem  $794.75M70 Ultimate Shadow308 Winchester  $795.00
- $673.03Model 70300 Winchester Magnum  $1155.62Model 70 Sporter270 Winchester  Out of StockMODEL 70243 Winchester  $673.03Model 70 Super Grade7mm-08 Remington  $1027.80Model 70 Bolt Action30-06 Springfield  $686.51MODEL 70 ULTIMATE SHADOW H...308 Winchester  $719.77MODEL 70 ULTIMATE SHADOW H...308 Winchester  Out of StockMODEL 70 ULTIMATE SHADOW H...270 Winchester Short Magnum  $719.28Model 707 MM-08 Remington  $851.18Model 707 MM Remington Mag  $1216.51Model 707mm-08  $721.21Model 7030-06 Springfield  $1041.83Model 707 MM Remington Mag  $1015.20Model 70264 Winchester Mag  $1105.00Model 70338 Winchester Mag  $809.00
- $1714.8010112 Gauge  $2134.80101 Pigeon Trap12 Gauge  $2266.80101 Sporting12 Gauge  $2134.80101 Sporting12 Gauge  $1841.9510112 Gauge  $2266.80101 Pigeon Grade Trap12 Gauge  $2410.80101 Field12 Gauge  $1714.8010112 Gauge  $1714.80101 PGT12 Gauge  $2410.80
- $610.21Super X312 Gauge  $1354.71Super X3 Black Shadow12 Gauge  $972.97Super X3 Black Shadow12 Gauge  $846.30Super X312 Gauge  $1002.00Super X320 Gauge  $952.21Super X320 Gauge  $845.00Super X3 Black Field12 Gauge  $846.30Super X3 Waterfowl20 Gauge  $842.00Super X312 Gauge  $952.21Super X312 Gauge  $1358.00Super X312 Gauge  $1354.71Super X312 Gauge  $1094.74Super X312 Gauge  $952.21Super X312 Gauge  $878.62Super X320 Gauge  $610.21Super X320 Gauge  $846.30Super X312 Gauge  $846.30Super X312 Gauge  $858.00Super X320 Gauge  $931.00Super X320 Gauge  $940.00Super X312 Gauge  Out of StockSuper X312 GA  $1106.38Super X3 Waterfowl Hunter20 Gauge  $910.00Super X312 Gauge  $973.40Super X320 Gauge  $622.37Super X3 Waterfowl Hunter20 Gauge  $962.00Super X3 Black Shadow20 Gauge  $818.00Super X312 Gauge  $957.74Super X312 Gauge  $969.00Super X320 Gauge  $910.00Super X3 Universal Hunter12 Gauge  $973.40Super X312 Gauge  $916.00Super X320 Gauge  $910.00Super X312 Gauge  $969.00Super X312 Gauge  $916.00Super X320 Gauge  $879.42Super X3  Out of StockSuper X320 GA  $1188.59Super X320 Gauge  Out of Stock