Winchester 1876

The Centennial Model

See now also for Colt: http://outlawscolts.jouwweb.nl/

 
 
(foto; Winchester Model 1876 .45/60 Cal. Karabijn)
 
By Bill Hockett
 

The Winchester Model 1876 Rifle was Oliver Winchester’s attempt to offer a large caliber repeating rifle specifically designed for big game hunting. In 1875, Winchester’s only products were the Model 1866 rifle (.44 rimfire) and Model 1873 rifle (at this time only available in .44 Winchester Center Fire or .44 W.C.F.). A Winchester factory advertisement noted that "The constant calls from many sources, and particularly from the regions in which the grizzly bear and other large game are found, as well as the plains where absence of cover and shyness of game require the hunter to make his shots at long range made it desirable to build a still more powerful gun than the Model 1873."

 

Winchester had been working to make a high power, big bore repeating rifle since 1866. The design that culminated in the Model 1876 was not an outgrowth of the Model 1873. Instead, it was the natural evolution of engineering designs and prototypes. After the Springfield Model 1873 rifle with its .45-70-405 government cartridge became standard within the military, Winchester engineers worked to find a way of using that cartridge in a repeating rifle. The toggle-link system, in use since the Volcanic and Henry rifles, could not handle the length of the .45-70-405 cartridge, without a long and massive receiver. The answer was to make the cartridge bottle-necked and shorter. The resulting .45-75 W.C.F. held 75 grains of powder, used a 350 grain bullet and fed reliably through the 1876 action. Winchester felt they had a winner and the rifle entered the market in 1876. It had its premier at the Philadelphia Exposition (honoring the nation’s centennial), so the new Winchester became known as the Centennial Model.  In its standard sporting rifle configuration, it was offered with a 28 inch round or octagon barrel (octagon barrels were optional but much more popular), straight stock, full-length magazine, and crescent buttplate. Carbines were offered with 22 inch round barrels and a full-length forearm. Muskets were offered with a 32 inch round barrels and also had full-length forearms. The sporting rifles outsold carbines and muskets by a wide margin.

 

Like all Winchester rifles, the Model 1876 had many options for the buyer. Set triggers, special barrel lengths and weights, custom wood and metal finish, special sights, engraving, pistol grip stocks, different buttplates, etc., were among the extras offered by Winchester. The set trigger proved a popular option and was ordered on the Centennial Model more often than any other lever action Winchester. Extra-long barrels 30 inches or longer were sometimes ordered, as were handy 26 inch barrel short rifles.

 

Collectors generally accept three major production variations of the Model 1876. First Models, up to serial numbers in the 5,000 range do not have dust covers. First Models are often called "Open Tops" although many early rifles were later fitted with dust covers at the Winchester factory. Second Model rifles are in the serial number range up to about 25,000. They have dust covers with the guide rail secured to the receiver by screws. The dust cover may be of either the "thumbprint" type or one with serrated edges. Third Models continue until the end of production and have a dust cover rail integral with the receiver. Collectors soon find out, however, there are exceptions to every rule when it comes to antique Winchester rifles. Winchester never discarded useable parts; so late serial numbered guns will sometimes have early parts. Early serial numbered guns are also found with parts that were produced later. Collectors believe that parts were often dumped into bins for use, so early parts sometimes ended up in the bottom of the bin. A production worker probably would not dig through the bin, but use the part on top of the pile. There are other production features that changed over the life of the rifle. See the references for additional information. Many rifles were returned to the Winchester factory, and in some cases the factory records, will note, "Returned & Repaired."

 

Winchester was disappointed with the sales of the Centennial model. No military sales were made and the rifle was not popular with foreign sales either, with a couple of exceptions. The most famous group to use the big Centennial Model was Canada’s North West Mounted Police and they purchased over 1600 carbines. From 1878 until 1914, the Model 1876 Carbine was in use with the Mounties as well as the Alberta Provincial Police. It proved a reliable and popular arm with the Mounties. The other group known to use the Model 1876 in some numbers was the Hawaii Territorial Guard, which acquired muskets for use by the militia.

 

 

(foto; Winchester 1876 45/60 Cal.) 

 

The Model 1876 was mainly popular with people on the frontier looking for a powerful repeating rifle that was handy enough to carry on a horse. Famous and infamous westerners known to have used the Model 1876 include Teddy Roosevelt, Johnny Ringo (Tombstone), Charlie Bowdre (Lincoln County War), Major Frank Wolcott (Johnson County War), John "Liver Eating" Johnston upon whom the movie character "Jerimiah Johnson" was based, and Granville Stuart (Montana rancher and vigilante). Teddy Roosevelt was photographed with one of his 1876 rifles. He liked the 1876 better than English double rifles. In the movie “Tom Horn” Steve McQueen uses a Model 1876 in .45-60, but I cannot find any historical reference of the real Tom Horn ever using one. In the recent TNT movie "Crossfire Trial," actor Tom Selleck uses a refinished and engraved Model 1876 carbine in caliber .45-60.

 

The Model 1876 is the only repeating rifle that had successful, documented use in the northern plains buffalo slaughter. Earlier repeating rifles such as the Henry, Spencer, and Winchester Models of 1866 and 1873 may have seen limited use, but only the Model 1876 was considered by hunters as powerful enough to do the job against the big woolies. The strength of the Model 1876 rifle and the .45-75 W.C.F. cartridge was tested by Winchester in the late 1870s. The factory conducted tests on the strength and reliability of the action to answer concerns by customers. These tests will astound collectors and shooters who have stated the Model 1876's toggle link action is "weak." In response to a letter sent to the company by Charles Hallock, Esquire, of Forest & Streammagazine, Oliver Winchester responded by telling about the tests the factory accomplished on the 1876 rifle. He indicated that engineers first started the tests by removing one of the toggle links and fired 20 rounds (this was with .45-75 W.C.F. cartridge with 350 grain bullet) with no effect. They restored the missing link then went through 6 more trials starting with a charge of 105 grains of black powder, behind a 700 grain bullet! The comment "worked well" is noted. They then increased the charge of powder to 165 grains behind 3 bullets (1,150 grains) and that "worked well." From there, they increased the powder charge to 203 grains and added more bullets until they reached 1,750 grains of lead (five 350 grain bullets). This also "worked well." Finally, they added one more bullet, bringing the total weight to 2,100 grains, and things began to happen. The comment was, "Breech pin slightly bent. Arm working stiff." The seventh and final test was again 203 grains of powder but this time six Martini bullets weighing 480 grains each (2,880 grains) were used. "The charge bent the breech pin, blew out the side plates, split the frame and otherwise disabled the arm," was the comment. Oliver Winchester noted that in this seventh trial, the shell had burst into fragments and the escape of gas at the breech did the damage.

 

The big Centennial model was known for its excellent accuracy and is reputed to have been the most finely made of all the early Winchester lever action rifles. The original chambering in .45-75 W.C.F. was supplemented in 1879 by two others, the .45-60 and .50-95 Express. Up on the northern plains, the Model 1876 in .45-60 became known as the "Montana Bear Gun," while the .50-95 Express proved popular with dangerous game hunters in Africa and India. Winchester created the Express Rifle designation for guns chambered in .50-95. It was the least produced caliber for the Centennial model and the most sought after by collectors today. In 1884 Winchester added the .40-60 to the lineup. It used a 210 grain bullet in a very tapered case. This round was popular with coyote and wolf hunters. It is analogous to a super .44-40. It reached a certain level of popularity, and was the third most popular chambering in the 1876 after the .45-60 and .45-75. All these cartridges were loaded by Winchester into the 1930s.

 

Winchester’s competitors for the Model 1876 included the Marlin Model 1881, the Colt Burgess rifle, the Colt Lightning rifle, and the large frame Whitney-Kennedy models. In terms of sales and use on the frontier, the Model 1876 beat them all. Winchester also produced a prototype Model 1878 rifle, which used the standard .45-70 government cartridge. This rifle competed in military trials against other magazine guns, including the Winchester-Hotchkiss bolt action rifle. The Hotchkiss rifle was recommended by the board members conducting the trial, and was purchased in limited numbers by the government. The prototype .45-70 Model 1878 was the only one ever made. It's receiver exists today in the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Historic Center.

 

By 1885, Winchester had concluded an arrangement with John Browning of Ogden, Utah for the manufacture of a new lever action rifle. This Browning design became the legendary Winchester Model 1886. Winchester finally got the rifle it wanted – a lever action capable of handling the length of the .45-70 government cartridge. The new 1886 essentially ended the life of the older Model 1876, and production of new parts soon ended. However, parts continued to be on hand for years afterward, and Winchester completed the last Model 1876 in 1898. Total production was 63,803 guns, making the 1876 the rarest of the early Winchester lever rifles. In spite of its low production figures, the Model 1876 was a money maker for the company. Of even greater importance, Winchester gained an excellent reputation because of the Model 1876's use with the North West Mounted Police. The company reaped prestige benefits from the Model 1876 long after production ceased.

 

For those collectors and shooters lucky enough to fire an 1876 rifle or carbine, the old Centennial Model loaded with black powder produces a crowd pleasing boom with plenty of knock-down power for any targets out to around 300 yards. The late William B. Ruger once said the Model 1876 was "Just a piece of wood and steel." Hesitating, he added, "But it's a damn elegant piece of wood and steel."  The Model 1876 is a winner today just as it was in the days of the old west.

 

(foto; Winchester karabijn 1876 45/60 Cal.)

 

WINCHESTER
MODEL 1876
The Centennial Year
First Serial Number of Each Year
These were manufactured from 1876 to 1898.
Model
YEAR
Serial
Number
Model
Year
Serial
Number
Model
Year
Serial Number
1876
1876
1
1876
1877
1430
1876
1878
3580
1876
1879
7968
1876
1880
8972
1876
1881
14701
1876
1882
21716
1876
1883
32408
1876
1884
42411
1876
1885
54667
1876
1886
58715
1876
1887
60398
1876
1888
62421
1876
1889
NONE
1876
1890
NONE
1876
1891
NONE
1876
1892
63540
1876
1993
63562
1876
1894
63671
1876
1895
NONE
1876
1896
63679
1876
1897
63703
1876
1898
63870
     
                 
WINCHESTER
MODEL 1876
Number of Guns
produced each year.
These were manufactured
from 1876 to 1898.
Model
Year

Number
produced

 

Model
Year
Number
Produced
Model
Year
Numbered
produced
1876
1876
1429
1876
1877
2149
1876
1878
4387
1876
1879
1003
1876
1880
5728
1876
1881
7058
1876
1882
10647
1876
1883
10002
1876
1884
12255
1876
1885
4047
1876
1886
1682
1876
1887
2022
1876
1888
1118
1876
1889
NONE
1876
1890
NONE
1876
1891
NONE
1876
1892
21
1876
1993
108
1876
1894
7
1876
1895
NONE
1876
1896
23
1876
1897
166
1876
1898
1
     
                 

 

There were 63872 Model 1876's manufactured .
There were 8-- 1 of 100 rifles manufactured by Winchester in the model 1876.
There were 54--1 of 1000 rifles manufactured by Winchester in the model 1876 .
Beware of fake 1 of 100's and 1 of 1000's .
Standard barrel length for model 1876's was 26 or 28 inches in octagon or round barrel's .
Carbines barrels were 22 inches long.
Muskets had 32 inch Round Barrels .
1 large order of muskets were shipped to the Royal Place in Honolulu Hawaii for the Citizens Guard Of Hawaii these rifles were copper plated on all the internal parts and the ramrods , most serial numbers were consecutive to each other.
Model 1876 's were manufactured in the following caliber's: 40-60 ---45-60---45-75---50-95 .
Large order were shipped to India and South Africa and were equipped with 7 Leaf Express rear sites and Breeches front sights . Appromeiately 7 % of the production was shipped out of the United States to foreign country's .
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police bought Carbines for their use in Canada, total number purchased is unknown. These are stamped with NWMP in the butt stock.
Model 1876's were manufactured with deluxe wood in 2X , 3X and 4X and had pistol grip and straight stocks.
Model 1876's came in the following barrel lengths : 23 3/4 --24--26--27--28--30--32--33--34--36 inches.
They came in standard weight and 2 size of heavy and extra heavy barrels , there were also guns with matted barrels .
The model 1876 came in the following special finishes : Nickel ,Nickel trimmed , Half Nickel, Caseharden and Nickel , Silver Plated, Half Silver ,Silver trimmed ,Gold Plated, Gold and Nickel, Gold Plated trimmings .
There were 154 guns that were engraved .They are as follows 146 rifles , 6 carbines. 2 muskets .

For more information on this subject we recommend the following Books:
THE WINCHESTER MODEL 1876 CENTENNIAL RIFLE by Herbert G Houze
WINCHESTER ENGRAVING by R.L.Wilson .
THE WINCHESTER BOOK by George Madis.
WINCHESTER HANDBOOK by Bill West.
WINCHESTER AN AMERICAN LEGEND by R.L. Wilson.

Factory letters for you gun can be obtained from:
The Cody Firearms Museum
Buffalo Bill Historical Center
720 Sheridan Ave
Cody Wy . 82414

 

Nog meer info:

 

http://www.leverguns.com/articles/1876.pdf

 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Winchester 1876 SRC NWMP Reproduction - Revised

 

For many years I have been entranced by the stories surrounding the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a predecessor unit, the North West Mounted Police. The idea of the lone Mountie (trooper) patrolling vast reaches of the rugged Canadian heartland with his odd mix of English and American firearms simply caught my imagination. Canada has some beautiful country and I could easily imagine myself and my dog team out in the middle of that wild country.



Look at these fellows on the left. Fit, proud, why wouldn't I want to emulate that rugged individualism in service. Note that these fellows, as are the men in the next photo, are holding the 1876 SRC!



Of course the reality of the times was different. Mounties often worked together, sometimes in rather large (for Canada) units. They not only patrolled the back country but kept order in towns and along routes to the gold fields and they suppressed insurrections. I'm sure that the 1876 Saddle Ring Carbines (SRCs) that they carried were well worn for a reason! Still, I wanted one of those carbines.



Back in the day, Winchester was producing the very popular 1873 rifle and carbines which were chambered for the .44 WCF (aka .44-40) cartridge which moved a 200-220 gr. bullet at about 1200 fps. Experienced hunters know that this isn't exactly the first choice for game such as elk, bison or grizzly bear. Ned Roberts reports in his "The Man and the Boy" stories how his .44-40 was not nearly as good as his .45 muzzleloading double rifle in killing black bear due to the heavier bullets and larger powder charge of the "old fashioned" gun. So, hunters out in the western US were demanding and buying rivals of the Winchester just for hunting. Winchester wanted to compete in the marketplace and hence the 1876.



Produced from 1876 until 1886 approximately 63,871 1876s of all types were built. The last 1876 rifle left the factory in 1897 and was likely made up of various unused parts. Most popular among collectors (and bringing the highest prices) are the SRCs and the Express rifles. Some of this is due to the relative rarity of the two types. E.g. only 1600 SRCs were produced for the NWMP and at one point they reported only 970 some were functional! The English Express rifles (those in .50-95 often referred to as "cat guns") are even more rare.



Like all Winchesters of the era, a multitude of options were available. Some were produced in one configuration and returned to be modified (adding the dust cover to early guns was one popular modification) to another configuration. In some cases, they were pulled from stock and modified to meet an order. Add to that all the "parts guns" that were made up after regular production ceased in 1886 and one should expect a startling array of variations.



Longer (and heavier) than the 1873 but still using the same basic action design, the 1876 (called the Centennial because it was introduced in the 100th year of the USofA) couldn't handle the .45-70 Government cartridge. Winchester's fix was to use a fatter, bottle-neck cartridge of .45 caliber using a lighter bullet to nearly match the .45-70-405 cartridge's terminal ballistics. This it did. Winchester later produced the 1876 also chambered for 3 other cartridges as shown. Of course my gun had to be a .45-75 as were the NWMP guns. Unfortunately, this will make brass and ammunition difficult to find and more expensive than the .45-60 which can be formed from the cheap .45-70 Government cartridge.



When the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada authorized the North West Mounted Police on May 23, 1873, to stop the liquor traffic among the Indians, they had to have rifles. The single-shot Snider-Enfield breech loader was sufficent cause for them to want a replacement and 50 of the 1876 Saddle Ring Carbines (SRCs) were tried in service. These were acquired through the I. G. Baker Company and 50 were in use by 1878. In 1880 another 100 guns were received. 300 of the SRCs came in the 1882 order and another 100 in 1883. In 1885, the largest group of SRCs was received by the NWMP, that being 446 guns. More were likely purchased but the records are incomplete. The marking shown in the photo to the right (as on the reproduction) wasn't uniformly applied so it might not be legible and some carbines don't have it at all. Later carbines had the "Spanish meter" sight which is very similar to the "military wind gauge" sight but not identical. Range markings on this sight are in meters. My reproduction has this sight as well as the NWMP stock stamp.



Now that I've received my gun I can tell you a little bit about it. The rifle weighs 8-1/2 lbs, has a 22 inch barrel and is otherwise as described. Of course it has the Italian proof markings but they are on the bottom of the receiver. Also on the receiver bottom are the serial number and rifle catalog number. The cartridge/chambering is marked on the barrel between the rear of the back sight and forward edge of the receiver. The barrel is also marked with the patent dates and the importer and maker name. Some folks might not appreciate their location or form but they are pretty unimportant to me.



The finish of the gun is pretty good. The oiled finish on the wood (walnut?) stock is average and seems to be in keeping with the original guns. Only the made-for-the-English guns had varnished furniture. The bluing is even and looks pretty good. There is a finish flaw on the loading gate where the rifle was loaded and test fired. This is mostly due to the different material/metal used for the spring steel loading gate. It should eventually wear to look like an original. The finger lever latch is very stiff. I haven't been able to turn it into position yet. Then again, I'm not forcing it and it isn't used when shooting.



Reloading/handloading is almost a requirement with the .45-75. Brass is the most critical and difficult to find component. There is properly headstamped brass out there. However, the influx of reproductions has created a surge in demand and stripped the market of most of this brass. If you find cases it might be a good thing to buy them then and there.



Of the properly headstamped brass, Venturino reported that the Bertram brass (which came un-necked) had to be reamed and fire-formed before use. I understand the the Bertram brass now comes formed. His fireforming load was 12 gr. of W231 under a .457" roundball. Mr. Venturino also notes that COL is critical. You can't be very far off before experiencing feeding problems.



Jamison International made a run of .45-75 brass and supplied both Buffalo Arms and Ten-X with the brass they use in making their ammunition (note: Ten-X is now using Bertram brass with a corresponding rise in cost). It has a good reputation for working in original and the Chapparal reproductions. Unfortunately for the .45-75 shooter, Jamison has some big government defense contracts and is concentrating on supplying those now and for the forseeable future. Usable brass can be made from several other currently manufactured cases.



The cheapest of these, although it is a seasonal production item, is .348 Winchester brass. Nonte says to do this: "Expand neck to hold .456" bullets: Trim to 1.88" length; Size full length; Fire form; use .456" bullets" but it is a bit more complicated than that. The details are what will get you on this and you can lose quite a bit of brass in the forming if you don't pay attention to the details. Venturino addresses this in some detail in Loading Leverguns of the Old West.


Brass can be had in two ways. One is that .348 Winchester cases can be formed by full length sizing them in a .45-75 die.



Venturino also says that these will get the shooter by, but are not perfectly correct for either the Model 1876's chamber or its extractor. The cases may form a slight bulge about 1/4 inch ahead of the rim, and sometimes an extracted case will fall back on top of the cartridge lifter instead of being ejected from the action. So, I don't know if results will be entirely satisfactory for all shooters in all guns. I think that you can do it relatively easily it being necessary only to trim to length, form, fire-form and load and the cases work in my carbine.



Paco Kelly gives his instructions thusly:


It is not a hard conversion because the .348 case is smaller by a hair in all dimensions except length. The only catch I found was after trimming when running the cut down .348 case thru the 45/75 die; first do it without the primer/neck sizer rod, then the second time do it with the rod in. that way you remove the small part of the tighter neck left after trimming without ruining the case. Also use a super slick case lube inside the neck area.

The 45/75 case length is 1.895" so the .348 case must be cut back to 2.0 inches. you need the extra 1/10th of an inch length because the case will shrink slightly in fireforming. so remove approx. .250" off the .348 case neck, chamfer well. Then run it thru the 45/75 die as described above.

The other dimenstions of the .348 case are very close to those of the 45/75. .348 rim diameter is .603", the 45/75 rim diameter is .616", the head diameter (just above the rim) of the .348 is .547" and the 45/75 is .560". the difference in size in both these measurements for the two above is about the same .013", the thickness of a thick human hair. So no problem.

Just like the rim thickness of the .348 is 065" and the 45/75 is .070" which is less than half a human hair difference. So then use a fireforming load. The .348 cases's beauty is its strength once made then it will last forever at 45/75 pressures. Remember, once fireformed the cases set the resizing die so it doesn't touch the new shoulder, ever.

45/75 CASE DIMENSIONS...
CASE LENGTH 1.895"
HEAD DIA. .560"
RIM DIA. .616"
RIM THICK .070"
NECK LENGTH.550"
CASE OVERALL LOADED LENGTH 2.25" CASE HOLDS 5 CCs OF WATER
Another brass source or alternative cases for forming the .45-75 are the .50-70, .50 Alaskan and .50-90 Sharps cases from Starline. I think the .50-70 forms up as too short (see far right case in the photo below) but the .50 AK case is 2.1" long and requires trimming only .22" and is cheaper than the much longer .50-90 Sharps.

Here's some dimensional info.

  .348 Win .50 Alaskan .50-90 Sharps
Rim Diameter .603" .6015" .651"
Rim Thickness .0665" .067" .064"
Case Head Dia .546" .545" .5585"

Ok, to summarize the steps...
1 - trim .50-90 or .50 AK case to 1.90" using tubing cutter. Be careful because technique is required here as well.
2 - lube the case.
3 - run the case into the .45-75 full-length sizing die.
4 - anneal
5 - run the case through the expansion die
6 - remove lube (I use alcohol pads, I like ALL the lube off my cases).
7 - final trim
8 - LOAD!



Properly lubricated, a .50-90 case trimmed to 1.88" and run through the Lee full-length sizing die lengthens enough for a final trimming back to 1.88" but requires no fire-forming. Once a quantity of cases is made up one can do as Paco suggests and reset the die to just resize the neck (partial full-length resize) thus lengthening brass life. One important note about the .50-90 cases is that the rim diameter must be turned down to function through the magazine tube.



As to sizing it bears repeating that the shoulders in my chamber seem to be forward of those in the sizing die. This could result in working the brass excessively. I'm thinking that the rifle manufacturers used the original chamber dimensions from original rifles and the die makers used the cartridge dimensions as published by Winchester and, as with many BP cartridges of the time, there's some slop to allow for reliable functioning despite fouling. I will probably partial full-length size these cases. If you look at the 2nd and 3rd case from the left in the below photo you can see just what we are talking about here... (click on the photo to go to a larger version) The fired cases have a different shoulder configuration.



Anyway, dies are needed to work that brass. As I write this the Lee Pacesetter 3 die set is $25.99. Lyman's Classic set goes for $41.99, RCBS wants $229.99 for theirs. RCBS has the forming die set for .348 to 45-75 for $412.99. CH Tool & Die offers the 45-75 3-die set (includes FL sizer, expander and seater) for $101.45. For forming 45-75 brass from .348W, CH sells three step sized expander plugs for $13.30 each and $8 shipping. The expander die body only is $13.30. That is a total of $61.20, incl. shipping for the complete form die set.



Bullets are, of course, also a requirement. I was planning to use the Lyman 457122 (I understand that the FP mold number was 457192 and the HP is the 457122) from Mt. Baldy Bullets but will likely cast them myself. This is a hollow point, plain base bullet and 330 gr. but is of the correct length with the crimp groove in the correct place. I went ahead and purchased this mold and have high hopes for both the HP version and perhaps a solid/flat point version. The Lyman 457122 HP weighs 336 gr. cast of 1/20 alloy and as somebody else noted would, if not a hollowpoint (that is the Lyman 457192), duplicate the original bullet very closely. the good news is that we were able to get together a limited run of the Lyman 457192 and Lyman will be using the original cherry. Now that I've received my Lyman 457192 I'll be casting some bullets soon.



Venturino tried the RCBS 45-300FN and RCBS 45-325FN the latter of which is about the best weight 345 gr. cast from 1/20 alloy. BUT he says he got groups measured in FEET! One has to wonder why. I think .458" bullets are more likely correct. Venturino says that even the old originals all had .457" groove diameter. and so I've got some on the way from various sources. Other possible molds for this rifle are Lee's 457-340-F and 457-325-F. I've got one of the latter which I received via Chris C. They seem to do well but I've not yet done any group shooting. Will be switching to SPG to lube all bullets when my current stick of lube in the sizer runs out. Until then the cast bullets I lube will be used with smokeless only.



A short note about lube. Some correspondents are telling me that 1.5-1.7 gr. of lube will work with blackpowder. I suggest switching to SPG as that lube will work with all possible powders and simplify bullet preparation.



Powder is another requirement. I plan on using IMR SR4759, AA5744, IMR 3031, IMR or H-4198 and good old black powder. The action will not permit nor will I try to push velocities above original velocities. That would probably be 1200-1300 fps in the short 22 inch carbine barrel. I know that there is a lot of discussion out there about the choices of powders for this cartridge with some decrying the use of any smokeless powders and even some foolhardy individuals pushing the envelope. It seems to me that the loads used should not exceed 18K CUP although Brian Pearce expresses a different opinion in Lyman's 49th edition. Therein he states that the modern reproductions (he uses Chaparrals) 28K CUP is the upper limit. One should be able to duplicate original velocities with like weight bullets and thus equal original performance. That should be good enough for deer and black bear even if the ballistics aren't impressive by today's standards.



Crimping is another concern particularly for shooters using original bullets over smokeless powder. Why? Because the original bullets are designed to be crimped over the front band and the bullet supported by a case full (and compressed) charge of black powder. Smokeless won't fill the case and some fear that the bullet will be set back in the magazine resulting is an unintended and disastrous pressure increase. Orville C. Loomis in his article, "Shooting the .45-75 Model 1876" in the Summer 2001 issue of Blackpowder Cartridge News says that the crimp made by his original tool is very similar to that made by the Lee Factory Crimp Die (FCD). That being the case, one can order a FCD from Lee for less than $30. Chris C., Grizzly Adams and I have ours.



Suggested Loads (these come from various sources including Cartridges of the World, The Home Guide to Cartridge Conversions, The Legacy of Leverguns, Shooting Leverguns of the Old West, Blackpowder Cartridge News)and Lyman Reloading Handbook, 49th ed. however, I am not responsible for either the data presented or for your use thereof. You are on your own as to what is suitable and safe. Many experts recommend only blackpowder be used in original rifles and the reproductions are so new that I've not seen any comments on the subject from commonly accepted authorities.



Bullet Weight Powder Charge Weight Velocity Energy
Lyman 457122 330 2400

20.0
unknown unknown
Lyman 457122 330 XMP5744

21.5
1280 1274
Lyman 457122 330 IMR4198

26.0
1310 unknown
Lyman 457122 330 AA2015

41.0
1508 unknown
Lyman 457122 330 Trail Boss

15.5
1212 unknown
Lyman 457122 330 H4895

43.0
1480 unknown
Lyman 457122 330 Triple7 FFG

36.7
1307 unknown
Lyman 457122 330 GOEX FFg

70.0
1442 1524
Liberty 458-300FP 350 IMR 3031

43.0
unknown unknown
Lead 300 IMR SR4759

24.0
1300 1126
Hornady HP 300 IMR SR4759

26.0
1400 1306
Lyman 456192 350 IMR 4198

24.0
1380 1480
Lasercast FP 300 IMR 3031

44.0
unknown unknown


I now have quite a bit of ammunition together and need to do more shooting! I've had the gun out shooting the fireforming loads as well as a few using bullets from an original Winchester mold sent to me by Grizzly Adams. Those bullets weighed 364 gr. lubed and sized and both they and my fireforming loads using 300 gr. jacketed bullets I normally use for the .45-70 seemed pretty accurate. While I didn't shoot them at targets I did use the crotch of a 3" diameter Sycamore about 80 yards distance on the upper bank of Mom's farm pond. This is a tree I'm going to have to take down anyway so topping it with the NWMP carbine was no problem for the environment and it was no problem with the rifle either. The sights held for horizontal dispersion as I could see the tree shake with every round but it was a bit difficult with that sighting point and the sights to hold the vertical. Now that I have a stock of 20-1 alloy, I'm looking to get some more bullets cast and take my current stock of 500+ cases and really give the gun a workout.



Because of the popularity of NCOWS and SASS cowboy action shooting and reenacting, Chaparral and Uberti have decided there is a market for reproduction rifles and carbines, and some producers have stepped in the breech as it were and offered the things necessary to cartridge reloading. Many resources can be found on the net. Here are a few.



On-line articles on the 1876 Winchester:
- The Winchester Model 1876 by Kirk Durston
- John Boy's info on forming and loading with BP
- Winchester Toggle Link 101 by Larsen E. Pettifogger



Books on the 1876 Winchester:
- The Winchester Book by George Madis
- Shooting Lever Guns of the Old West by Mike Venturino
- Winchester by R. L. Wilson
- Winchester Lever Action Repeating Firearms Volume 1 The Models fo 1866, 1873 and 1876 by Arthur Pirkle



Sources for all things 1876 Winchester:
- Buffalo Arms - brass, loaded ammunition (smokeless and blackpowder), bullets, dies, rifles
- CH Tool and Die - dies
- GAD Custom Cartridges - loaded ammunition
- Graf & Sons - brass, dies
- Midway USA - brass, dies, molds
- Mount Baldy Bullets - Lyman 457122 cast bullets lubed with SPG
- Nevada Western Firearms - exclusive sellers of the NWMP carbines in the USofA.
- Old West Reproductions - custom, authentic copy of NWMP saddle scabbard
- Ten-X Ammunition - loaded ammo (smokeless and Triple-7)