American Rifleman - February 2015 - 104

Technical |

i have This old gun ...

104

GUN: Model 1895 lee Navy
MANUFACTURER: WiNchester repeatiNg arMs co.
CONDITION: Nra aNtique excelleNt
CALIBER: 6 MM lee Navy
MANUFACTURED: 1908

C

onsidering the trends in U.S. military
firearm technology during the 1890s,
the country's selection of a proprietary
straight-pull rifle is extraordinary. In addition to its unorthodox action, the 6 mm Lee
Navy was the smallest-caliber longarm ever
officially issued to U.S. fighting men at the
time of its adoption. The principal Army rifle
at the time, the Krag-Jorgensen, was chambered in .30-40 Krag, and large numbers of
.45-70 "Trapdoor" Springfields were still in
service. The Lee Navy was also the first U.S.
service rifle chambered for a U.S. cartridge
designated by millimeters rather than inches.
Though the Winchester 1895 Lee Navy
had a short life span, it did see action-most
conspicuously in China's 1900 Boxer Rebellion
and also in Cuba and the Philippines during
and after the Spanish-American War.
Arms inventor James Paris Lee (of LeeEnfield renown) designed the arm to meet
specifications outlined by the U.S. Navy. Unlike
contemporary Swiss and Austrian straight-pulls,
whose rotating bolts came straight back on the
same plane as the action, the Lee rifle featured
a camming arrangement that did away with
bolt lugs; instead, the action was locked by a
pair of shoulders milled into the rear portion of
the bolt and the receiver.
A classic infantry-style arm of the time, the
rifle featured a 47¾" overall length with a 28"
barrel and 8-lb., 4-oz. heft. It could be fitted
with an 8¼"-bladed knife bayonet.
The cartridge and cartridge-loading setup of
the Lee were also unique. Employing a 112-gr.
round-nose 6 mm (0.236") bullet, fixed into a
smokeless-propellant-charged, bottleneck semirimmed case, its velocity was 2565 f.p.s and
muzzle energy was 2,217 ft.-lbs. Five rounds
were clipped into a slim charger and secured
by a unique elongated wire locking lever. The
loaded charger was inserted into the top of the
magazine above the follower. Closing the bolt
stripped off rounds, and when the second cartridge had been expended the charger dropped
free through a hole in the bottom of the
magazine. The Lee was adopted by the Navy in
1895 and manufactured by Winchester between
February 2015

1896 and 1916. A total of 20,000 Lee Navys
were produced.
Although the Lee Navy generally proved
serviceable, it did have a few glitches. The
gun's cartridge, for which the Navy's Model
1895 Colt/Browning "Potato Digger" machine
gun was also chambered, created a bit of a
cross-service logistics problem. Because it
was a Navy/Marine specific arm, that could
have probably been dealt with if there weren't
other difficulties. Most critically, it was found
that the gun suffered excessive bore erosion
due to the corrosive effect of the smokeless
propellant. There were also complaints that
the trigger and extractor springs were fragile,
and the follower was weak at its hinge rivet.
Concerns were also expressed that the open
magazine well could collect dirt and debris,
affecting the sear.
After much soul-searching, the Navy
decided that it was probably best to retire
the Lee Navy, and Krags were finally ordered
for the Marines, only to be replaced shortly
thereafter by 1903 Springfields. Still, Lees
continued to be built and remained in
stores for some time. Interestingly enough,
Winchester felt the rifle had enough merit
to warrant a sporting version, of which some
1,700 were sold commercially from around
1897 to 1916. The rifle shown here is in NRA
Antique Excellent Condition, and as such is
worth in the $2,250 to $2,400 range.
-Garry James, ContributinG editor

american riFleman

Photos by Jill Marlow

AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG/BANANAWARSONE

MODEL 1895 LEE NAVY


http://www.AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG/BANANAWARSONE

American Rifleman - February 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - February 2015

Contents
American Rifleman - February 2015 - Cover1
American Rifleman - February 2015 - Cover2
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 1
American Rifleman - February 2015 - Contents
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 3
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 4
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 5
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 6
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 7
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 8
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 9
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 10
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 11
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 12
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 13
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 14
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 15
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 16
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 17
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 18
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 19
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 20
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 21
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 22
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 23
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 24
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 25
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 26
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 27
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 28
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 29
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 30
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 31
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 32
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 33
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 34
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 35
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 36
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 37
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 38
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 39
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 40
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 41
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 42
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 43
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 44
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 45
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 46
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 47
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 48
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 49
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 50
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 51
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 52
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 53
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 54
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 55
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 56
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 57
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 58
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 59
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 60
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 61
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 62
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 63
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 64
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 65
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 66
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 67
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 68
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 69
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 70
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 71
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 72
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 73
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 74
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 75
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 76
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 77
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 78
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 79
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 80
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 81
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 82
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 83
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 84
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 85
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 86
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 87
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 88
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 89
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90b
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91b
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90c
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91c
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90d
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91d
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90e
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91e
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90f
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91f
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 92
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 93
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 94
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 95
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 96
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 97
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 98
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 99
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 100
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 101
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 102
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 103
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 104
American Rifleman - February 2015 - Cover4
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