The Winchester Model 55 was a rifle with a 24-inch barrel, an integral ramp front sight and a half-magazine that held three cartridges. It was initially chambered only in .30-30 Win., but .25-35 Win. and .32 Win. Spl. were added in 1926. For the first few years, the Model 55 carried its own set of serial numbers; however, in 1926, around serial number 2,865, the Model 55 reverted to serial numbers within the already established Model 94 range.
The earliest guns were made as takedowns, a nod to the popularity during that era of storing guns in closets or trunks or transporting them via bicycle or in suitcases. In 1930, solid-frame Model 55s were made available. Extra-order options, such as shorter or longer barrels, double-set triggers and half-octagon barrels, are known to exist. In 1932, with approximately 20,500 guns made, the Model 55 was discontinued to make way for the Winchester Model 64. There were enough spare parts in Winchester’s inventory, however, to keep the Model 55 in production until 1935, even though it was no longer catalogued.
This early Model 55 Winchester takedown is one of those guns I wish could talk. Its four-digit serial number puts it in the second year of manufacture, and although it shows signs of long, hard use, it has been taken care of, with no serious rust or pitting (although the link pin stop screw is an original replacement). The bore, too, remains shiny, and the rifling is sharp. As it came out of a ranch in Montana, no doubt it could tell tales of many deer hunts. It is a classic example of an early 20th century hunting rifle that, while still serviceable, is also increasingly collectible.