Few American companies are as historic and recognizable as Winchester. This isn’t just a firearms and ammunition manufacturer, this is a deeply-engrained part of our country that has had an influence on history, culture, and the shooting industry as a whole.
Winchester changed the way Americans, and for that matter the world, use rifles. In 1866, Oliver Winchester established the Winchester Repeating Arm Company. His first product, the 1866 “Yellow Boy,” was a beautiful and highly-effective lever-action rifle that originally took rimfire .44 Henry ammunition. This made the rifle extremely useful, as it could load a readily-available cartridge that was used in both rifles and handguns.
In 1873, the “gun that won the West” was released. The Model 1873 took .44-40 WCF ammunition and, due to popular demand, Winchester produced over 700,000 units. Long and lean, the Model 1873 took centerfire cartridges, greatly enhancing the performance of the gun, creating superior results.
Winchester firearms won praise from the likes of elite outdoorsmen like Buffalo Bill and Theodore Roosevelt, but it wasn’t until 1877 that the company entered the ammunition business. Although they are now one of the top companies, they started small, offering shotshell components for reloaders.
The continued to innovate in firearms, especially in lever-action models, but in 1893 they went all-in for ammunition. Seizing on advances in smokeless gunpowder, Winchester began loading sporting charges in a wide range of cartridges for rifles, handguns, and shotguns.
Just a year later, the Model 1894 is released, a gun that would become the best selling centerfire rifle in United States history. In 1895, Winchester released on of the most influential and long-lived cartridges in history: the famous .30-30 Winchester. Made to be paired with Model 1894, this combination became an extremely popular rifle-ammo pairing, especially among deer hunters. Although this cartridge was released over 120 years ago, it still remains a favorite for hunters and target shooters to this very day.
In 1900 Winchester’s repeater shotshell is released. Through the decades, Winchester would continue to be a leader in both ammunition and firearms. They would supply troops throughout our major conflicts, including both world wars.
The Winchester name is not only found on rifles, it’s also seen on cartridges, including the famous .30-30 Winchester, the .243 Winchester, and the .308 Winchester.
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