About Winchester



 1866-2016 : 150 years of Winchester

Oliver F. Winchester – A man of vision and influence

Oliver Fisher Winchester was an innovative and driven man who saw the future of firearms and built an industrial empire around the lever-action rifle. Born in Boston in 1810, Winchester’s initial foray into business was as a maker of men’s shirts. Seeing the economic potential of the fast-growing firearms industry, Winchester began to assemble investors and secure venture capital, and in 1857 bought a controlling interest in the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company from two inventive gentlemen named Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson.

Winchester continued to refine firearm designs with inventors Benjamin Tyler Henry and Nelson King, and on May 22,1866 the Winchester Repeating Arms Company was born. For the next 14 years Winchester aggressively sought new markets, created new products and explored new opportunities for his lever-action rifles. With the opening of the American West to settlement and the ongoing military conflicts in Europe and the Near East, the demand for Winchester firearms and ammunition remained strong. In ill health for some time, Oliver F. Winchester died December 11, 1880 at age 70 in New Haven, Connecticut. He had groomed his son, William Wirt Winchester as his successor, but the younger Winchester died of tuberculosis in March of the following year before he could assume control of Winchester Repeating Arms.

President Roosevelt’s Winchesters

The Model 1876 Centennial Model became the favorite hunting rifle of Theodore Roosevelt when he was a young cattle rancher in the Dakota Territory. In 1885 Roosevelt wrote, “The Winchester…is by all odds the best weapon I ever had, and now I use it almost exclusively...”

In 1887 Roosevelt helped found the Boone and Crockett Club to encourage wildlife conservation and fair-chase hunting practices. Throughout his life Roosevelt worked tirelessly to champion civilian and military marksmanship, wildlife preservation and natural resource conservation.

The gun that won the western

When the American cinema industry moved to southern California to take advantage of the endless sunshine, Westerns quickly became a mainstay of the movies, featuring cowboys, Indians, outlaws, horse-drawn supply wagons, runaway stagecoaches and exciting shootouts in smoky bars and dusty streets.

The Winchester Model 1892 lever-action rifle quickly established itself as the movie-maker’s favorite, while revolvers chambered in 38-40 Win., 44-40 Win. and 45 Colt were also popular.

The 1939 film «Stagecoach», shot in Monument Valley by John Ford, has become one of the classic Westerns. In it, John Wayne, playing Johnny Ringo, carried a Winchester Model 1892 lever-action repeating rifle that was specially made to fit his big hands. Wayne also won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of U.S. Marshal Ruben «Rooster» J. Cogburn in the 1969 film «True Grit», in which he also used a Winchester Model 1892 during the final shootout on horseback against a gang of outlaws.

The 1950 Western «Winchester ‘73» starring James Stewart was based on the life of Kansas outlaw Henry N. Brown, who ended up lynched by a mob after a failed bank robbery in 1883.

Steve McQueen, nicknamed «the King of Cool», began his acting career as bounty hunter Josh Randall in «Wanted: Dead or Alive». In it, he carried a sawn-off Winchester Model 1892 nicknamed the «Mare’s Leg» in a holster, which could be drawn quickly. In the mid-1960s, «Spaghetti Westerns», so called because they were filmed in Spain and Italy, gained popularity with movie fans around the world. The premiere of «A Fistful of Dollars», the first film in Sergio Leone’s «Dollars» trilogy, took American TV actor Clint Eastwood to global silver-screen stardom. These films featured flawless supporting roles by certain Winchester rifles.

Westerns have enjoyed a revival in recent decades. Original studio productions such as «Silverado», «Unforgiven» and «Open Range», together with remakes of classics such as «3:10 to Yuma» and «True Grit», still have the power to entertain and enthrall audiences. They take us on a journey back to the Wild West, a time when a Winchester shotgun or rifle was a faithful friend.

Collecting The Legend

As long as there have been beautiful Winchester guns there have been folks who want to add them to their collections.

In 1875, the Winchester Repeating Arms company started bringing out superior grade Model 1873 rifles that were specially stamped «One of One Hundred» and «One of One Thousand». This unique feature stimulated demand from early Winchester collectors.


Multi-decorated and ornate Winchester guns have always been popular with collectors. Oliver Winchester presented many superbly engraved guns to influential people in person, including President Abraham Lincoln and his Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, as well as to a number of generals, kings, princes and monarchs.A devoted Winchester collector was industrialist and former president of Olin Corporation John Olin.


In 1975 Olin began the transfer of thousands of firearms and millions of historic documents from the Winchester corporate archives to the Buffalo Bill Historic Center in Cody, Wyoming. Later, part of Mr. Olin’s personal gun collection was auctioned to provide funds to create the Winchester Museum Complex in Cody. The Cody Firearms Museum now houses one of the largest collections of firearms in the world and is open to the public year-round. You can learn more at www.centerofthewest.org


Some collectors choose to specialize in specific models or types of Winchester guns, or love the factory commemoratives or firearms with a unique story behind them. Still others collect rare Winchester-branded items like hand tools, knives, toys, rollerskates, sporting goods, flashlights and home appliances or Winchester promotional items like calendars, ads, posters and the like.If you enjoy collecting, there’s something in the Wonderful World of Winchester that’s just right for you.


The Winchester Arms Collectors Association is made up of thousands of members who are devoted to the preservation, understanding and collecting of Winchester firearms and related products as well as the role these products had in forging America’s heritage. Visit www.winchestercollector.org to learn more.


May 22, 1866

Oliver Winchester establishes the Winchester Repeating Arms Company to build the finest guns and ammunition possible.


With its polished brass receiver the Model 1866 “Yellow Boy” lever-action rifle is the first gun to bear the Winchester name.


The Model 1873 lever-action rifle is introduced in 44-40 WCF. Known as the “Gun That Won the West,” more than 700,000 are produced.


The Model 1883 Winchester Hotchkiss Magazine Gun, often called the Third Model, is introduced and is the first Winchester bolt-action rifle.

T.G. Bennett of Winchester purchases the manufacturing rights for a new single-shot rifle designed by John M. Browning.


The Winchester Model 1885 Single Shot is introduced.


The Model 1886 lever-action rifle is introduced to handle the large cartridges like the potent 45-70 Government.


The Model 1887 lever-action rifle and model 1887 pump-action shotgun are launched.


The Model 1890 pump-action .22 rimfire rifle is introduced, along with the .22 Winchester Rim Fire cartridge.


The Model 1894 lever-action rifle is introduced, becoming the best selling centerfire rifle in U.S. history.


The Model 1895 centerfire rifle is introduced with an internal box magazine to handle modern pointed bullets.


The Winchester Model 1897 is introduced. It’s the best-selling pump-action shotgun on the market.


Tiffany & Co. produces a silver embellished Model 1894 in the Art Nouveau style for the Paris Exposition.


The Model 1902 single-shot .22 rimfire rifle is introduced and becomes famous as part of the Winchester Junior Rifle Corps Range Kit.


The Model 1898 breech-loading signal cannon is introduced.
Chambered for a 10-gauge blank shotgun shell, it remains a Winchester-branded product.


The Model 1905 is introduced, the first Winchester self-loading centerfire rifle and the first Winchester rifle with a detachable box magazine.


The Model 1912 pump shotgun is introduced and becomes one of the world’s most popular and respected designs of all time.


The Model 52 rimfire bolt-action target rifle is introduced and it soon becomes the benchmark.


The Model 20 rifle is launched, chambered in .410. The Model 20 was part of the ”Winchester Junior Trap Shooting Outfit” armory.


The Model 21 side-by-side shotgun is introduced and establishes Winchester’s reputation for building top-quality sporting arms.


Three new guns are introduced; the Model 63 rimfire rifle, the Model 64 lever-action centerfire rifle and the Model 42 pump-action shotgun.


The Model 69 bolt-action rimfire rifle is introduced.


The legendary Model 70 centerfire bolt action rifle begins production and soon becomes known as the “Rifleman’s Rifle.”


The Model 88 is introduced, breathing new life into the lever-action rifle.


The first of many Winchester Factory Commemoratives is a Model 1894 produced for the Wyoming Diamond Jubilee. It remains among the rarest of the all Winchester Factory Commemoratives, and establishes the Custom Shop as an important part of commemorative design and production.


A rimfire version of the Model 1894 is launched. Called the 9422 it helps introduce a whole new generation to the Winchester lever-action mystique.


The Super X Model 1 autoloading shotgun introduced
— the first of the Super X automatic shotguns.


Winchester celebrated the United States Bicentennial with the specially engraved Model 1894 Bicentennial in an aged silver workshop finish and featuring an inlaid medallion.


The Model 1300 pump shotgun and Model 1500 autoloading shotgun are introduced, as well as the Model 23 side-by-side shotgun.


The first limited series of 1,000 Model 1894 and Model 9422 rifle pairs is launched.


The Model 9422 Annie Oakley rimfire commemorative carbine is released, the first such firearm to honor a woman.


A new era of autoloading shotgun performance begins with the Winchester Super X2.


The optional Ballistic Optimizing Shooting System (BOSS) is introduced, combining a barrel tuner and ported muzzle break that allows the shooter to fine tune their rifle with just a twist of the wrist.


The Supreme® over-and-under shotgun is introduced.

The Model 70 is named “Bolt-Action Rifle of the Century” by Shooting Times.


Building on the “shorter is better” concept, the Winchester Super Short Magnums (WSSM) are unveiled.


The Winchester Super X2 autoloader sets the first of three new world records.


The Super X3 autoloading shotgun is introduced with an improved, self-adjusting Active Valve gas system.


The Model 70 rifle returns, equipped with the latest three-lever M.O.A. Trigger System and an improved three-position safety.


In honor of the 200th birthday of Oliver F. Winchester, Winchester offers a special Model 1894 rifle and limited edition collectible ammunition.


The introduction of the XPR rifle marks the first new Winchester brand bolt action centerfire design in more than 50 years. It is a robust, reliable and affordable hunting rifle that’s intended to carry the brand forward for decades to come.


Winchester proudly introduces a host of commemoratives including the Model 1866 Yellow Boy — the gun that started it all 150 years ago.


May 22, 1866

Oliver Winchester establishes the Winchester Repeating Arms Company to build the finest guns and ammunition possible.


The transcontinental railroad is completed, opening the American West to settlement. This westward expansion will fuel decades of demand for Winchester firearms.


The National Rifle Association is founded in New York with U.S. Army General Ambrose Burnside as the organization’s first president.


Smoothbore Model 1873. “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s favorite Winchester rifle for trick shots in his “Wild West Show.” The show launched in 1883 and would soon feature Annie Oakley.


“for hunting, I pronounce your improved Winchester the boss.”
— — William F. « Buffalo Bill » Cody in the 1875 Winchester catalog


“The Winchester…is by all odds the best weapon I ever had, and now I use it almost exclusively...”

— Theodore Roosevelt on the Centennial Model 1876 lever-action rifle


Winchester receives a patent for a folded type primer anvil.


Oliver F. Winchester dies at age 70 in New Haven, CT.


Winchester begins loading sporting cartridges with the latest thing in ammunition
— smokeless powder.


Combined with the Model 1894, this is the most famous hunting rifle and bullet combination never to have existed.


Winchester introduces new RIVAL products.

Factory loaded shotshells.


The United States goes to war with Spain. Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt becomes a national hero leading his “Rough Rider” volunteer unit at San Juan Heights. Roosevelt reportedly loans his personal Winchester Model 1895 rifle to another soldier during the attack.


Winchester introduces Repeater shotshells.

The first Grand American Trapshooting Championship marks the beginning of more than a century of Winchester support for the annual event.


Winchester shooters Ad and Plinky Topperwein dazzle visitors at the Worlds Fair in Saint Louis.


Winchester begins using the famous W/P oval proof mark called the “Hallmark of Quality” and introduces Nublack brand shotshells.


The Model 1907 semi-auto centerfire rifle is introduced along with the new .351 Winchester Self Loading smokeless cartridge.


Winchester starts loading Lesmok powder in centerfire cartridges.


Artist Phillip R. Goodwin creates an illustration that soon becomes the trademark for Winchester.


Winchester introduces the legendary Super-X brand shotshell.


Winchester introduces Lubaloy copper-plated bullets.


Dr. Fred Olsen patents a method for making smokeless powder underwater in small spherical grains. The new Ball Powder creates an instant competitive advantage for Winchester’s ammunition operation.


Western collaborates with Smith & Wesson to produce the 357 Magnum cartridge.


The western movie “Winchester ‘73” is released, staring Jimmy Stewart. Winchester’s wizard Herb Parsons fills in for Stewart during the film’s trick shooting scenes.


Launch of the Power-Point bullet, designed to expand more rapidly.


The 458 Winchester Magnum cartridge is introduced.


The Winchester Mark 5 shot collar is introduced, enclosing the shot column and greatly improving patterning performance.


The 300 Winchester Magnum cartridge is introduced, filling an important performance niche between Winchester’s 264 and 338 Magnums.


Winchester introduces the legendary AA shotshell. Its durable one-piece compression-formed hull is ideal for reloading and quickly becomes the “go-to” shell for millions of clay target shooters.


While the “Horse & Rider” have been part of the Winchester brand since 1919, the trademark is officially registered.


To mark the 100th Anniversary of Winchester Repeating Arms, a gold-tone plated Model 1894 named the Model 66 Centennial is introduced.


John Wayne wins the Academy Award for his role in the Western ”True Grit”, in which he fires his Winchester Model 1892 lever-action rifle one-handed on horseback while chasing a gang of outlaws.


The Buffalo Bill Historic Center in Cody, Wyoming begins negotiations to secure the Winchester Repeating Arms corporate gun collection. Thousands of Winchester guns become the cornerstone of the new Cody Firearms Museum.


The new world’s one day record, set by a team of six trapshooters uses six Winchester Super X Model 1 shotguns, crushing the old mark by 9,000 targets.


Winchester sets a new industry standard by introducing the one ounce rifled shotgun slug.


Launch of the high-performance Super-X Drylok Super Steel Waterfowl watertight shell.


The 300 WSM (Winchester Short Magnum) cartridge is introduced. The 300 WSM offers long action magnum performance in a short action rifle. Additional WSM calibers soon follow.


Winchester Ammunition celebrates its new rimfire manufacturing operations in Oxford, Mississippi, also home to one of the most state-of-the-art facilities in the world for centerfire rifle and handgun ammunition manufacturing.


Based on technology developed for the FBI, Winchester Ammunition introduces PDX1 Defender personal defense handgun ammunition.


Winchester Blind Side Steel ammunition, with its ‘hex’ shape shot and diamond cut wad, is named ammo product of the year by Outdoor Life and NRA American Hunter.


915 meters per second

The speed of the newly released 17 Winchester Super Magnum debuts, making it the fastest rimfire cartridge in the world.


Long Beard XR redefines turkey hunting ammunition and sets two new world records at the NWTF still target competition. SHOT LOK technology uses a liquid resin that hardens, keeping the shot perfectly round.


Launch of the Extreme Point: the first bullet specially designed by Winchester for deer hunting.


The iconic Winchester brand celebrates 150 years of legendary excellence.

Herstal Group

Pioneer in moderne small arms

Benefitting from over 130 years of history and know-how, the Herstal Group develops and markets a range of innovative, unique and diversified products and services based on small caliber light weapons.

Go to Herstal Group