Know Your Weapons History: Oliver Winchester

Oliver Winchester was born in Boston, on November 30, 1810. He started his career with a clothing company based out of New York City and New Haven, Connecticut. After successfully running this aspect of his business, Winchester began to look for new opportunities. Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson (yes, that “Smith & Wesson” who later formed the Smith & Wesson Revolver Company) acquired and improved a rifle design with the help of shop foreman, Benjamin Tyler Henry. Talk about a genius cluster! In 1855, they began to manufacture what would be known as the “Volcanic” lever-action rifle. The company would become incorporated as the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company; its largest stockholder was Oliver Winchester.

After limited success with this new rifle, Winchester seized the opportunity to take control over the failing company and renamed it the New Haven Arms Company. Although initial returns were slow, Benjamin Henry, the company’s leading engineer, improved the Volcanic repeating rifle’s design by enlarging the frame and magazine to accommodate the all-new brass cased .44 caliber cartridge. This ingenuity put the company on the map, and in 1860, the patent for the infamous Henry rifle was issued. The next  six years of production produced over 12,000 Henry, many of which were used in the Civil War. In the following months, Benjamin Henry, angered over what he believed was inadequate compensation, filed a lawsuit for ownership of the company. Oliver Winchester hastenly reorganized the company as the Winchester Repeating Arms Company to circumvent this issue. 

The Model 1866 soon rolled out as the first Winchester rifle. Based on the Henry rifle, it came with an improved magazine and a wooden forend. In the following years, larger caliber rifles such as the infamous Model 1873, “The Gun That Won The West”, brought more notoriety and foundation to the company. Although Mr. Winchester would miss the opportunity to see his company’s greatest achievements; he passed away in December of 1880. 

Winchester Repeating Arms Company’s collaboration with John Browning brought about much success with a host of shotguns, including the still produced Model 1885. The turn of the 20th century hosted a series of new arms developments, many from the top engineer at the time, T.C. Johnson. But it was the start of the First World War that set development and production requirements into full force. The company became a major producer of the .30-06 M1917 Enfield rifle for the United States military, and worked once more with Browning to develop the .50 caliber BMG.

 

During the war, the company borrowed heavily to finance the expansion. In an attempt to pay down its debt following the war’s end, they used their surplus production capacity to manufacture consumer goods such as kitchen knives, roller skates, and refrigerators. The strategy was a failure, and the Great Depression sent the company into bankruptcy. John M. Olin’s Western Cartridge Company purchased the Winchester Repeating Arms Company at auction in 1931, with plans to restore the brand to its former glory. The Second World War helped this cause tremendously as Winchester produced the U.S. M1 Carbine and the M1 Garand rifle during this time period. 

Over the following decades, the Olin Winchester-Western division struggled with rising labor costs and other companies’ cast-and-stamped production methods. By 1980, Olin decided to sell the company back to its employees, which re-incorporated as the U.S. Repeating Arms Company. Olin retained the Winchester ammunition business. U.S. Repeating Arms went bankrupt in 1989, and after a number of sellouts to forgien holdings companies, the New Haven plant closed its doors on January 16, 2006, after 140 years of producing rifles and shotguns. 

In August of 2006, Olin Corporation, owner of Winchester trademarks, entered a new license deal with Browning to make Winchester brand rifles and shotguns once again. The Model 1885, Model 1892, and Model 1886 are all produced by Miroku Corporation of Japan, then imported to the U.S. by Browning. Currently, Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal (FN) makes the remainder of Winchester’s rifle and shotgun lineup in various locations around Europe.

Winchester-branded ammunition continues to be produced by the Olin Corporation. Some of the most successful cartridges ever invented have been under the Winchester name: the .44-40 WCF, the .30-30 WCF, the .32 Winchester Special, the .50 BMG, the .270 Winchester, the .308 Winchester (the commercial version of the 7.62x51mm NATO), the .243 Winchester, the .22 WMR (aka the .22 Magnum), and the .300 Winchester Magnum. In North America, the .30-30 and .308 Winchester are some of the best selling cartridges in firearm history. 

Through its history, the Winchester name has experienced great successes and significant failures; but it’s truly an important story to know in the realm of firearms. Here’s to the man that started it all, happy birthday to Mr. Oliver Winchester.

I want to give a shout out to my friends over at Ammo.com for this awesome write-up!

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

Indexing Firearm Serial Numbers Online

NOTICE: Facebook And Google Indexing Your Firearm Serial Numbers

 

I have never been a big fan of posting pictures of your personal firearms on the web, but if you’re gonna do it, take precautions.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

XM42 Lite Flamethrower Review

XM42 Lite Flamethrower, Handheld & Civilian Legal – Review

Ever since man harnessed the power of fire, it’s use as a weapon still strikes FEAR into the hearts of evildoers.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can;t wait to see what their “Heavy” version is going to look like. 😂😀😛

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

 

The Webley Mk.1- Going Strong 130 Years Later.

Beautiful British Wheel gun with some amazing service history in the man stopping caliber of .45 ACP. What more do you need?

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

tinker talks guns

The Webley company has roots extending into the 18th Century, and changed names a few times over the years. Initially a maker of bespoke firearms of a variety of sorts, they dipped their toes into the emerging revolver market in 1853 with the percussion ‘longspur’ revolver.

This was a very high-quality, hand-made weapon. Webley had hoped for an Army contract, but in the end they could not compete with Adams mass-produced pistols, which were less expensive and could more easily be produced in the numbers required.

In the 1860s they produced a solid-frame, double-action revolver, and in 1868 a variant of this was purchased by the British government for the Royal Irish Constabulary, causing the model to be named the RIC. A few years later they made a more compact version of the RIC called the Bulldog, and these became one of the most widely copied handguns of the 19th…

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Texas News: Texas Votes to Repeal ‘Illegal Weapon’s’ Bans

Texas Votes to Repeal Weapons Bans, Restore 2A Rights to Access Clubs and Knucks

 

We finally did away with the Switchblade ban, now it is time to do away with these ridiculous regulations concerning “illegal weapons” such as blackjacks, brass knuckles, clubs, ASP, Stun Guns, etc.

They should include “chemical dispensing devices” while they are at it, just to be thorough, but maybe they will tackle that one next month.

Just to be clear, Commercially sold Pepper Spray is LEGAL to carry in Texas.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!