American Rifleman - April 2011 - 104

TECHNICAL

I HAVE THIS OLD GUN

...

Winchester 1886 Extra Light Weight
GUN: WINCHESTER 1886 EXTRA LIGHT WEIGHT
SERIAL NO.: 138XXX
CALIBER: .33 WIN.
CONDITION: 60 PERCENT
(NRA GOOD - MODERN GUN CONDITION)
MANUFACTURED: 1905
VALUE: $1,850 TO $2,200

B

y today's standard, referring to a 7½-lb. hunting rifle as "extra light
weight" might be open to debate, but at around the turn of the last
century, this big-game lever-action rifle was state-of-the-art. The
Model 1886 rifle was unlike the previous toggle-link Winchesters of 1873
and 1876. It had a stronger, beefier action that could chamber the popular .45-70 Gov't cartridge. Eventually offered in 10 chamberings ranging
from .33 Win. to .50-110 Win., the 1886 was the ultimate medium-range
hunting rifle.
The product of brothers Matthew S. and John M. Browning, the Model
'86 owed its popularity to an action as smooth as warm butter, yet strong
as a tank, thanks to twin vertical locking bars that slid up through the
receiver. When the Browning brothers showed their Model 1886 prototype to an executive at one of the country's leading firearms dealers,
Schoverling, Daly & Gales in New York, they were told their rifle held
the key to Winchester's future. Indeed, it put Winchesters in the hands of
serious big-game hunters, not the least of whom was Theodore Roosevelt.
In fact, it was TR who indirectly focused on one of the rifle's faults: it was
heavy. Roosevelt responded by ordering an '86 with a half magazine to
reduce the 9-lb. weight of the 26" octagon-barreled rifle.
Winchester also took note of its popular lever-action's heft and introduced the 1886 Extra Light Weight in 1896. Chambered in .45-70 Gov't
and featuring a 22" round, tapered barrel, a half magazine, a hard rubber
shotgun buttplate and a straight-grip stock, this was also Winchester's
way of eliminating many special order options, although a take-down version was available. In 1902, the Extra Light Weight was also chambered
for the .33 Win., albeit with a 24" barrel.
The Extra Light Weight was discontinued in 1919 but re-cataloged from
1928 until 1931. Not many of these slimmed-down '86s were produced,
making them one of the more desirable Winchester variants.
This Winchester Light Weight, chambered in .33 Win., was manufactured in 1905. It shows years of honest use but retains much of its bluing
and traces of casehardening, now drifting to grey. The sights are period
replacements, and some of the screws are marred. Nonetheless, it is still
occasionally used by its current owner to hunt deer, and in 60 percent
condition, it would easily fetch $1,850 to $2,200 at a gun show.
-RICK HACKER

92 A

PRIL

2011

WWW.AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG

Photos by author


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American Rifleman - April 2011

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