Today we’ve got two old rifles, both designed in the late 1800s. Both are still killing deer today. Other than that, they don’t share a lot in common. One is lovingly restored; the other shows every bit of its age. One is a lever action; the other a bolt. One is chambered for .257 Roberts; the other for .30-40 Winchester. The KAR88 was originally chambered for 8×57 Mauser. It was issued to German soldiers in their colonial wars prior to WWI, and it saw wide use in the first year of the Great War as well. The lever action 1895 Winchester become famous as Teddy Roosevelt’s “Big Medicine” in .405, but it was available in many other cartridges as well.
This gun one of my projects that I try to piece together on the weekends. This one started life as a KAR88 (Carbine version of the GEW88) back in 1894. It has been re-stocked and re-barreled to .257 Roberts. If you have never handled the commission rifles, you are missing out on one of the smoothest actions ever made. Last season, at 119 years old, it took a decent buck for me here in Kentucky. It’s still shooting straight.
Harold S’s 1895 Winchester
This is the story of my first big-game rifle: a Model 1895 Winchester in .30/40. It was made in 1927, the high-water year for Model 95 production. It was bought by Ted Officer, a black cowboy working in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming who stamped his name on the barrel. This rifle provided a lot of much-needed meat for hungry families in and around the little mining community of Tinton during the 1930s. Ted and my father became good friends when Dad was a young man. In fact, Ted, when hearing that my father was unable to continue his college education due to lack of funds, reached into his money belt and produced the $500 needed for a year’s tuition, allowing my father to become the first in our family to graduate from college. Like most young men, Dad went into the service during WWII. After the war, he needed a hunting rifle and persuaded Ted, now ailing, to part with the rifle. Dad used it to slay deer and elk for many years. When I became old enough to hunt, my father bought a .30/06 and handed down the old .30/40 to me. I killed my first two deer with it. The first was a scrawny yearling whitetail doe. The second was a huge 6×7 monster that will probably be the biggest whitetail I’ll ever get. When I was 16 I bought a more modern rifle but kept the old Winchester. When I’ feeling somewhat nostalgic, I take it out hunting and sometimes kill with it. When I do, I lay it down by the dead deer and think of the old cowboy who, as it says on his tombstone, “Was beloved by everyone.”
Actually, these rifles do have one more trait in common besides being old: They are both the kind of unique rifles that make Gunfight Fridays so entertaining. I hope you will agree, and will help Gunfight Fridays continue by sending more gun pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, vote and comment on these two below.