This is a very fine early production Winchester Model 1866 Musket that was manufactured in 1870. The Winchester factory termed these as an "Infantry Rifle" as a marketing tool to encourage customers to think of these as a graceful, lightweight modern rifle instead of using the term "Musket" which evoked images of the large bore, long barreled musket used during the Civil War. These rifles have the distinctive 27-inch round barrel with 24-inch magazine, 17-inch forearm and three barrel bands. Factory sling swivels are mounted on the middle barrel band and stock. The stock has a brass carbine style buttplate with sliding trapdoor. This example was intended to be used with a socket bayonet that locks on to the front sight base, so it lacks the bayonet stud found on the front band of some muskets. The top of the barrel is roll-stamped with the two-line legend: "WINCHESTER'S-REPEATING-ARMS NEWHAVEN CT./KING'S-IMPROVEMENT-PATENTED-MARCH 29. 1866. OCTOBER .16. 1860" between the lower barrel band and the rear sight, and the barrel is fitted with a Henry style two position, folding rear sight that is marked "2-8" (200-800) yards, with the 900 yard notch on top of the staff. The serial number, "34224", is stamped in block letters on the lower tang behind the trigger. It has the early style recessed breech end of the barrel and the first pattern breech bolt still correctly chambered in 44 RF. It has the first pattern small loop loading lever, and the hammer spur has the early borderless knurling. The barrel, magazine, barrel bands and loading gate are blued. The hammer, trigger and lever are color casehardened. The stock and forearm are straight grain American walnut. The musket is complete with a socket bayonet with 15 1/2 inch blade. The bayonet has no markings.
Very fine with 70% plus of the original blue finish on the barrel and magazine tube. The rear area of the barrel has a thinning mixed blue/brown patina finish, and better blue finish is on the magazine tube. The excellent receiver, side plates and buttplate have a very attractive aged golden patina look. The sides plates all original as the dovetail edges are sharp and crisp. The loading gate retains 80% bright original nitre blue. The stock and forend are both in very fine condition with 90% of the varnish finish overall showing minor handling marks and light pressure dents on the sides in some areas. The wood to metal fit is tight. The socket bayonet is in very good condition with traces of the blue finish in the protected areas with some very fine erosion overall. A very nice, high condition all original Winchester Model 1866 Musket.
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