This Old Gun: Winchester Model 1890

by
posted on July 17, 2022
Winchester Model 1890 Slide-Action Pump-Action rifle repeater old

This feature article, “I Have This Old Gun,” appeared originally in the November 2005 issue of American Rifleman. To subscribe to the magazine, visit the NRA membership page and select American Rifleman as your member magazine.


Two Winchester 1890 receivers metal old vintage takedown rifle carbine pump-action slide-action metal wood
Left: NRA Antique Very Good—10%-20% receiver case colors. Right: NRA Antique Excellent—80%-90% receiver case colors

These three images (above) actually represent two Model 1890 slide-action rifles in different condition factors.

Model 1890 fans will immediately recognize these guns as Second Models with the takedown screw visible on back of the case-colored receiver. While manufactured only two years apart (1896 and 1898), there is a huge difference in values, based on the original condition factors. The rifle at the top of the page with the corresponding close-up image on the left has very few original receiver case colors left, having mostly worn and faded with a few traces of original finish remaining. Observe finish wear on the sharp edges of barrel, including wrench marks, and how the color of the stock varies, probably indicating sanding and possible refinishing.

The close-up image on the right is a different Model 1890 in much better condition. The color-casehardening of steel or iron parts is achieved by baking the selected gun parts at more than 800 degrees Celsius, while packed tightly in a charcoal and bonemeal mixture. Once the necessary temperature has been reached, the individual components are removed from the baking crucible and quenched with cold water. The resulting finish is very thin, but as you can see from this gun, very colorful. Superior original case colors (note the vivid blue, green and brown swirling colors) remain on the receiver, trigger guard and hammer. Also observe the near-perfect bluing and lack of finish edge wear on the barrel, slide and magazine tube.

Even though almost 850,000 Model 1890 rifles in various .22 rimfire calibers were manufactured between 1890 and 1932 (retail was $16 until 1917), only a handful remain in this type of superior original condition. Most were heavily used and possibly abused, like the one on the left. Moral to the story: most common guns are not rare. Rather, superior original condition is rare, desirable—and expensive!

—S.P. Fjestad

Latest

Silhouette Shooting
Silhouette Shooting

South Of The Border Turkey Shoot

Along the U.S.-Mexico border where the cultures of the two nations merge, a sport-shooting game has emerged—the Silhoueta Shoot. Authors Ben Avery and Gene B. Crum take a close look and report their findings.

New For 2024: Traditions Pro Series

Despite its name and extensive line of traditionally styled muzzloaders, Traditions Performance Firearms is at the cutting edge of modern muzzleloading and hunting firearms. New for 2024, Traditions is adding Pro Series models to its most popular firearm lines.

Preview: High Standard Firearms History | A Collector’s Guide

For lead author John Currie, High Standard Firearms History: 1932-1984 Connecticut, A Collector’s Guide has been a work more than 30 years in the making.

Gun Of The Week: Rossi Brawler

"Adaptable" and "handy" are key words that best describe Rossi’s modern single-shot handgun. A spinoff of the Tuffy shotgun series, the Brawler delivers .410 bore performance in a handgun-size platform.

The Armed Citizen® April 12, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Review: Tisas 1911 A1 ASF

A new Tisas take on an American military wartime classic is officially known to the public as the 1911 A1 ASF (Armed Services Family) pistol and is being brought to U.S. shores by SDS Imports.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.