The Weapons that Defined the Winchester Name
Antique Winchester gun values can be hard to estimate thanks to the hundreds of replicas of them that have released over the years and the ever-changing tastes of the firearms market. However, there are a few historic models spanning the 19th and 20th centuries which continue to stand the test of time thanks to their legacy, construction, and superior craftsmanship.
The Henry Rifle
The Henry Rifle is the direct predecessor to the famous Winchester line of rifles. A very fine example of one of these from 1865 is currently valued at $47,500 since the gun is entirely matched and has about 97% of the original blue pigment in its barrel. Quite often, inexperienced people improperly clean and polish the old guns that've been left in their family, erasing the gun's natural patina and immediately depreciating its value. Keep in mind that collectors look for frames in a nice dark aged patina color, like this one here.
Winchester Model 1866 Carbine
A carbine is a shorter version of a full-sized rifle, and it's usually easy to identify by the band of metal that goes around the forward piece of wood. The Model 1866 Winchester carbine is an improvement over the Henry Rifle, and depending on each model's release year and its condition, they can sell for anywhere between $10,000-$30,000. For instance, this 1878 Model 1866 has 97% of the original blue on the barrel and very little wood shrinkage as well as a delightfully even patina across its brass frame. Such a high-quality example, like this one, which is appropriately listed for $32,500, can sell for the top of the model's value range. Thanks to the varying prices for these authentic rifles, they're a great choice for somebody who wants to add one to their collection without spending a bundle.
Deluxe Winchester Model 1873
The deluxe model of the Winchester 1873 rifle is noteworthy for its outstanding condition, particularly its bright and vivid original "case colors." Case colors are a side effect of the process of applying heat to harden the metal and this process results in a case hardened finish that differs from Winchester's typical blue finish. These colors are very fragile and normally fade away, revealing the plain silver-colored metal underneath. It's quite unusual to find colors this vivid intact after over 100 years. As a result, these guns can sell for upwards oof $50,000 at most. For example, this antique model that still has its case colors, about 90% of the original blue, and original accessories as well is listed for $25,000.
Factory Engraved Winchester
This antique Winchester rifle is a "take down" version that comes apart in two pieces for easier transport. It's all original, as completed by the Winchester factory about 100 years ago. It has very nice engraving, fancy deluxe style wood, and most of the original blue finish. As a result, one just like it sold for $29,900 at Morphy's Auctions in 2013. When dealing with top-quality guns, a small difference in condition makes a huge difference in price. Even though this has a lot of blue finish remaining, if it had a little more original blue, it could easily sell for double the price.
Winchester Model 1892 Rifle
The Winchester 1892 model rifle isn't worth as much as some of the company's more legendary predecessors are; however, even mid-quality ones can sell for a few thousand dollars at auction. For example, this model 1892 that was made in 1896 is a .38 caliber rifle that's still fully functioning after all those years. Equipped with many of the original parts and the typical bluish tinge, this special order rifle is highly desirable for its octagonal barrel and is currently listed for $3,595. Despite it being difficult to track down one of the first 1892s that was ever released, any of these early editions would still make a very nice display piece for a fraction of the cost of an older Winchester gun.
Long Barrel, Nickel Finish Model
Known as the 'Gun that Won the West,' the Model 1873 Winchester rifle typically came with a 24-inch barrel, but many special-order options--such as octagonal barrels--were available from the factory to request for a notable fee. Thanks to the gun's reputation, it's unlikely that you'll find one of these from the 1870s outside of a collector's case or high-valued auction. However, you can still find examples from the 19th century for a reasonable price, such as this good quality, 32" one from 1890, that's listed for $8,500.
Lightweight Model 1886
A 26-inch barrel was standard on the Winchester Company's 1886 repeating rifle. These late-19th century Winchesters are among the holy grail of American firearms, but they can turn out to be surprisingly affordable. Take this 1886 model that was manufactured in 1893 that's only listed for $3,995, for example. It's unrestored original stock and barrel add to its historic allure, while the bore's wear and the visible scuff marks from repeated use bring its price down to something more manageable for average collectors.
Hollywood Prop Guns
An experienced collector would immediately be suspicious of any Winchester rifle with a strange collection of carbine and rifle parts. Normally, you would never encounter a carbine-style forearm with an octagon rifle barrel, and such a combination could indicate that somebody had done some tinkering to an original gun; however, this gun is actually made from leftover parts at the Winchester factory, to fill a large order of guns from the Metro-Goldwyn Meyer Studios for use in some of the studio's old western films.
As is often the case with historically inspired pieces, the gun's overall appearance is far more important than its historical accuracy. Yet, that doesn't necessarily devalue the piece of western memorabilia right away, though these prop guns usually don't come close to original Winchester rifle prices. For example, this prop gun replica of Winchester's Henry rifle made in the 1940s sold for just $130 at auction.
Model 1892 15 Inch Trapper Carbine
A standard Winchester carbine is valued at a few hundred dollars at most, but these unique carbines that have a much-shorter than usual 15-inch barrel are worth a couple of thousand at least. For instance, this early 20th century model 1892 trapper recently sold for $7,475 at auction. These short barrel carbines are known to collectors as "trapper carbines," and are very rare to find in a good condition. Subsequently, most of these guns saw a lot of heavy use, making it doubly hard to find high-quality examples from the 19th century. It's also important to note that the short barrel is original from the factory - not to be confused with a barrel that has been cut down later. Guns with originally shortened barrels are worth far more than those with barrels that have been shortened post-manufacturing.
Repeating Arms Company Golden
Manufactured by the Henry Repeating Arms Company, this relatively inexpensive repeating rifle is a modern replica of Winchester's original Henry 1866 Model rifle. Equipped with an American walnut stock and a 20" octagonal barrel, this rifle is a great option for people who want a high-performance weapon but also crave something with a touch of the past. Thankfully, these rifles are valued at around $500, making them a great starter weapon for new Winchester collectors.
Winchester Firearms Never Go Out of Style
As all of these rifles collectively prove, Winchester firearms values vary widely from such factors as the type of rifle it is, the manufacturing date, the amount of patina and blue coloring that's left, and so on. While these specific images came from Merz Antique Firearms and are used by permission and with special thanks, you can always head to your local firearms retailer to see if they have anything similar to these Winchesters in stock. While those 100+ year old specialty models might take more than a trip to your favorite retailer, Winchester's own modern iterations of their famous repeating rifles can be found in stores around the world for a fraction of the cost of the original antiques.