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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I may have the chance to buy a model 1886 Winchester rifle in .45-90, I'm planning to go look at it tomorrow morning. The man selling it didn't seem to know guns too much, he said he and his wife inherited it from her father (grandfather? I don't remember for sure), it's very old and he's asking $1000 for it. He didn't know if it was a take down or solid frame. Before I get flogged for not running over at warp speed and getting it for that price, he told me it's been re-stocked and may have been reblued, but he's not sure on the rebluing part. He said he knows it shoots, and there's some old shells with it. Assuming the worst, that it's been re-stocked and reblued but the bore is good and the new wood and bluing if redone looked decent, what would be a fair price for a rifle like this? I realize that's always a hard question to answer based on the limited info on hand, but I'm just trying to get a fair ballpark estimate, I don't want to put up that kind of money for a humped bubba special. I've always written 1886's off as being too expensive for me and haven't kept up with current prices for them. Thanks in advance!
 

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Assume you mean 45-70? Don't have a clue really about the going price but in my guess from everything you stated it seems a little high for what your are basically describing as a almost rebuilt, far from original rifle. But as I said. Don't really know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the input, I went and looked at it and bought it, got it for $900. It's a .45-90 rifle, solid frame, octagon barrel. As far as I can tell, it hasn't been reblued, the finish is a mix of blue and patina and is at least 75%, the bore is decent, the only down side is that the wood was refinished. It has an old tang sight on it with patent dates from January 28 79 and May 6 84. I have to work this afternoon but I'll try to get some pictures up over the weekend. I can't believe I actually have my '86!
 

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I'd say it scrapes in as collectible, and it would have to be in dreadful condition to be a bad buy at $900. You should check out what people are paying on eBay for even disembodied tang sights of that period. It reminds me that I need to forget what I paid for my .40-82.

A point to check in your rifle before you invest in a bullet mould is the rifling twist. The .45-70 was built around the US military round, and generally has a 16in. or 20in. twist, amply fast for any bullet you are likely to use. This is also true of the post-1900 .45-90, which has a 20in. twist. Earlier .45-90 rifles were 32in., precluding the use of bullets over about 330 gr. I mention a date with some diffidence, as changes by date are often misquoted, and there were plenty of special-order barrels etc. It needs to be checked, but a cleaning rod marked with a pen, and a tight-fitting jag and patch, are all you need to find out.

The heavier bullets have to encroach more on the powder space, since the nature of the action limits you to an overall cartridge length of only about 3/8in. more than the case length, and you risk a very troublesome jam by exceeding it. With black powder loads or its substitutes this is a nuisance, but the 1886 can be loaded very well with Reloder 7 or 4198. In a barrel stamped "nickel steel" you wouldn't want to go to the loads some people do for the very strong modern Ruger No. 1, but you could step it up considerably above Trapdoor Springfield level. If the barrel isn't nickel steel, you would want to keep smokeless loads about equal to black powder most of the time. But you could go considerably higher for hunting, and a few extra to establish point of impact.

You can reload with cheap .45-70 dies for quite a while before chambering becomes tight, but .45-90 is fairly inexpensive as obsolete dies go. I would be wary of shooting much with .45-70 rounds, though. Unless you use intense smokeless loads, erosion of the exposed chamber walls, producing hard extraction when you go back to full-langth .45-90 ones, will be slow. But it could happen.

A book well worth having, and often available on www.bookfinder.com, is Clyde Williamson's "The Winchester Lever Legend". It is for users rather than collectors, and a great doorstep of a book, usually expensive but you are ahead of the game on money at the moment,and it is full of so much anecdote and folksy humour that many people would overlook the expertise and meticulous load testing that went into it.

A useful piece of advice for the future (since after a coup like this there is always a future) is to look at the internet gun auction sites, like Auctionarms and Gunbroker. Even if you don't buy there, you can learn a lot about how much is paid for what. Note, though, that some sellers post asking prices they go on for months never getting. If you are really trying to weigh up something about which you are serious, look for completed sales.
 

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I'll give you your money back! I have almost the same gun without the tang sight and paid more then that and was happy to do it. Lots of fun. Shoot cast bullets and have fun.
 
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