GREEN RIVER — The Sweetwater County Historical Museum’s Vintage Firearms Research Program recently researched two rifles that were particular favorites of Theodore Roosevelt’s.
The rifles were lever-action Winchesters; a Model 1886 and a Model 1895.
Model 1886 Winchester
Both rifles were John M. Browning creations. The 1886 was a completely new design for heavy-caliber, lever-action rifles. Unlike its predecessor, the Model 1876, which featured a toggle-link lockup like the earlier Models 1873 and 1866, the Model 1886 utilized a far stronger locking block action.
The 1886 was available in a broad range of cartridges, including the .38-56, .38-70, .40-65, .40-70, .40-82, .45-70 Government, .45-90, .33 WCF, and the huge .50-110-450 Express. Early in World War I, Great Britain’s Royal Flying Corps purchased a number of 1886s chambered in .45-90 that were loaded with special incendiary bullets designed to ignite the hydrogen gas used in German airships, called zeppelins. By the time production ceased in 1935, some 160,000 ‘86s had been produced.
Chambered in .40-65, the 1886 researched was a full-length rifle fitted with an octagon barrel, manufactured in 1893. Roosevelt’s ‘86 was a .45-90.
For more on the 1886 Winchester, check out the museum’s YouTube channel feature by clicking here.
Model 1895 Winchester
The Model 1895 was the last John Moses Browning design for Winchester. It was designed to handle a new generation of smokeless military cartridges and featured a non-detachable box magazine in front of the trigger guard, which permitted the option of using pointed, or “spitzer” bullets, which were impractical – even dangerous – in a rifle fitted with a tubular magazine.
It was produced from 1895 to 1940 and a total of 426,754 were made. (Of these, 293,816 were in the 7.62 mm (Russian7.62 x 52mmR) caliber in an infantry musket configuration, which were shipped to the Russian Imperial Government in 1915 and 1916.) The Model 1895 examined, a .30-06, was manufactured in 1916.
Model 1895 calibers included the following: .30-40 Krag, (also known as “30 Army” and “30 U.S. ”) .38-72 W.C.F., .40-72 W.C.F., .303 British, .35 W.C.F., .405 W.C.F., 7.62 Russian, Russian, .30/03 ( Springfield), and .30-06 ( Springfield ).
The model 1895 was popular among the Texas Rangers and other lawmen of the period. It was also favored by Theodore Roosevelt, who, along with his son Kermit, used two ‘95s in .405 Winchester on their epic African safari of 1909-1910.
For more on the Model 1895, visit the museum’s YouTube channel by clicking here.
If you have a vintage firearm (or firearms) and would like to learn more about them, contact the museum at (307) 872-6435 or via email at email@example.com. There is no charge for the museum’s Vintage Firearms Research Program.