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January 17, 2023

'The Stinger' was the Winchester 1892 Down Under

By Kurt Allemeier

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William and George Perry arrived in Brisbane, Australia in 1860 and opened their hardware business, fittingly, Perry Brothers Ltd. At the time, Brisbane’s population was 6,000 and was 42 years away from being designated a city.

By the late 1880s, Brisbane was bustling in Queensland, on the coast of northeast Australia but it had an American frontier feel to it. European settlers were arriving and tensions were thick with the indigenous people of the region. Railway lines began operation in 1870, and by 1880 about 3 million head of cattle and seven million sheep were being run in Queensland.

In the United States, Winchester had released its Model 1866, followed by the “Gun that Won the West,” the Model 1873 as well as its upscaled brother, the Model 1876. The company released its Model 1886 that was made to handle larger caliber bullets for big game hunting, and by the 1890s Winchester was looking for something to replace the 1873, firing handgun calibers.

A bet was proposed between John Moses Browning, on his way to being a legend in gun design, and Winchester vice president Thomas Bennett: If Browning could design a new rifle in 30 days, the company would pay him $20,000, but if not Browning would provide the design for free.

Rock Island Auction Company will offer this Winchester Model 1892 rarity, marked and marketed as "The Stinger" from Perry Brothers Ltd. in Australia, in its Feb. 14-17 Sporting and Collector Auction.

Browning had a preliminary design by the time he got off the train that returned him to Ogden, Utah. Two weeks later a functioning prototype was being tested, and a production model completed well within the 30 days. It would be the Model 1892.

What do a Utah gun maker and a  hardware merchant in Australia have in common? “The Stinger.” Perry Brothers imported the Winchester Model 1892 carbine from the 1890s to about 1920, marked with “The Stinger” and the image of a wasp on the barrel.

A rare example of “The Stinger,” chambered in 44 WCF, is available in Rock Island Auction Company’s Feb. 14-17 Sporting & Collector Auction.

This Winchester Model 1892 was imported to Australia by Perry Brothers Ltd. of Brisbane as "The Winchester."

Winchester 1892 That Would Become “The Stinger”

Browning sized down the larger Model 1886 mechanism for the 1892. It was chambered for .44-40, .38-40, and .32-20 cartridges, like the Model 1873. The Model 1892 was offered with a 24-inch rifle barrel, while the carbine barrel was 20 inches. A trapper’s carbine had barrel lengths of 14-18 inches. A musket with a full wood forend and a 30-inch barrel was offered from 1898 until 1918. The price, according to a 1894 catalog, was $19.50 for an octagon barrel or $18 for round barrel rifle, while a carbine was $17.50.

More than 1 million Model 1892 rifles would be sold worldwide. Production ended in 1932, but the gun continued to appear in company catalogs until 1941. The gun found popularity among cowboys, ranchers, and lawmen, not just in the United States, but abroad. It was carried by vaqueros of South America and on the cattle stations of Australia. The gun was issued to Australian prison guards and western Australian police.

Annie Oakley had a Model 1892 that was chambered in .44-40 but was a smooth bore in order to fire shot during Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Admiral Robert Bird carried a .44 caliber one to the North Pole in 1909, depending on it to obtain fresh meat needed by the expedition.

America’s favorite cowboy, John Wayne, carried an 1892 in “The Searchers” and “True Grit,” while Chuck Connors’ character, Lucas McCain, used the model in “The Rifleman,” despite the show being set in the 1880s.

While this Winchester Model 1892 takedown rifle didn't find it's way to Australia, it did find it into Rock Island Auction Company's Feb. 14-17 Sporting & Collector Auction lineup. More than 25 Model 1892s are on offer in the auction.

Who Imported "The Stinger"?

Along with William and George Perry, they were joined by Frederick Perry in the business, arriving from Sydney, Australia. When their business opened in 1860, 210 ships with a tonnage of 45,000 arrived in that year. By 1907, the Brisbane docks handled ship tonnage of 80,000 per day.

In the Dec. 6, 1907 “The Brisbane Courier,” an article about Perry Brothers states, “The business built up so carefully and soundly on the foundation of good quality and good faith with the public has increased and expanded year by year, spreading over the whole of this great state and into the large and prosperous districts of New South Wales, and the firm of Messrs. Perry Brothers Limited, enjoy an enviable reputation in every city, town, and hamlet in Queensland and beyond, second to no other firm in the Commonwealth.”

The company’s eight-story building, constructed from 1911 to 1913, was the tallest in Brisbane at its completion and was used by the U.S. military in Australia during World War 2. The building was sold by Perry Brothers in 1947. Once called Perry House, it is now the Royal Albert Hotel.  Historical records are unclear on when Perry Brothers went out of business.

Perry Brothers Ltd. of Brisbane, Australia imported the Winchester Model 1892 as "The Stinger" in the early part of the 20th century. This lever gun rarity is on offer in Rock Island Auction Company's Feb. 14-17 Sporting & Collector Auction.

Challenger to “The Stinger”

Another company, Lassetter and Co., of Sydney and Melbourne also sold the Model 1892 in Australia at about the same time as Perry Brothers, but under the name of “The New Daisy Rifle.” The company previously offered the Model 1873 as the “Daisy Rifle.”

Perry Brothers later continued to use “The Stinger” moniker on other Winchester rifles, including Model 1902 bolt action .22, the Model 1905 self-loading rifle and Model 1906 pump action rifle.

Many of these guns found their way to cattle stations and farms as working tools so surviving samples are described as “pretty average at best,” according to Royce Wilson’s article “The Wild West’s Winner: Winchester Model 1892 History,” that appeared in Australia’s Sporting Shooter. “The Stinger” available in the Sporting & Collector Auction is listed in good condition and in good working order.

The Model 1892 was also very popular in Spain, only it wasn’t the Model 1892. More than one million copies made in Spain were called the “El Tigre” rifle. “El Tigre” was made with a 22-inch round barrel chambered for .44-40. The steel and the workmanship by G. Arate y Cia on the unlicensed Winchesters, was of poor quality, according to George Madis, author of “The Winchester Book.” Winchester changed the markings on the 1892 for a time because of foreign knockoffs like “El Tigre.”

“El Tigre” was intended for the Spanish Civil Guard, as well as issued to police and military reserve units, and was even used on both sides in the Spanish Civil War. They also found their way to Central and South America.

"The Stinger" was the Winchester Model 1892 marketed by Perry Brothers Ltd., in Brisbane, Australia in the early 20th century. This rare variant is available in Rock Island Auction Company's Feb. 14-17 Sporting & Collector Auction.

“The Stinger” for Sale

Rock Island Auction Company’s February Sporting & Collector Auction is an opportunity to see and hold rarities like “The Stinger,” making it worth the visit for an auction. An opportunity to obtain a Winchester 1892 from “the land down under” should be too good to pass up for any Winchester collector. “The Stinger,” a Model 1892 sold by Australia hardware company Perry Brothers Ltd., is for sale in Rock Island Auction Company’s Feb. 14-17 Sporting & Collector Auction, providing a great chance to add a rarity to any lever action collection.

Sources:

The Wild West’s Winner: Winchester Model 1892 History,” by Royce Wilson

“The Winchester Book,” by George Madis

Annie Oakley’s Winchester Model 1892 Smoothbore Rifle,” by Ashley Hlebinsky

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