Outstanding, early Winchester Model 1885 High Wall single-shot falling-block action octagon rifle in very desirable and scarce .45-70 caliber with high condition. This rifle with serial number 15578 was manufactured in 1887. Designed by Jonathan Browning as an improved and strengthened falling block single shot rifle capable of handling the largest and most powerful cartridges of the day, this was the first of his inventions discovered by the famed Winchester Arms company. Winchester was so impressed with Jonathan Browning and his rifle, a deal was struck for his patent. Winchester tooled up and began producing Browning’s creation in 1885 and continued production for approximately 30 years. After selling the patent to Winchester for this first rifle, Browning went on to invent new rifles, shotguns and handguns well into the 20th
Century. Winchester and Colt were the major buyers of his arms which included the Winchester Models 1886, 1892, 1895 and 1895 and Colt automatic pistols and machine guns. The Highwall Single Shot rifle was chambered in cartridges from .22 Short Rim Fire to the big .50 calibers. One of the most desired caliber was the big .45 Government chambering also known as the .45-70. This powerful caliber was widely used on the frontier for the largest game. Since it was also the government’s standard caliber, ammunition was always available at frontier outposts and forts. In the eastern portion of the United States and on the popular target ranges of the day, the Highwall was usually chambered in smaller, less recoiling calibers. As popular as the .45-70 was in the western U.S., the population there
was relatively small and the number of 1885 Model rifles so chambered was correspondingly small.
According to a recent study of Model 1885 production figures, of well over 100,000 Model 1885s produced, only 3,032 were chambered in .45-70 which comprised only 2.76% of total production. From a collector’s standpoint this makes any .45-70 chambered Model 1885 a rarity. Survival rates for early rifles is also small which also adds to the scarcity of such rifles. This example is truly outstanding. The receivers on early rifles were finished in case hardened colors. Handling and sunlight will quickly fade these swirling colors in the surface of the metal to a silver-gray and finding an example that retains case colors in a rarity in itself. This rifle still reveals fine, vivid case colors on the receiver sides, receiver ring behind the barrel and around the hammer on the upper portions. The colors are fairly
bright and only lightly faded. The octagon barrel measures a correct 28” and is the standard No.3
weight for this heavy caliber. The barrel retains nearly all the deep Winchester blue with only light wear. Markings are all crisp and the barrel is fitted with a buckhorn rear wight with the elevator bar intact plus a small blade front sight. The action is exceptionally tight and the bore is also bright and excellent with sharp rifling all the way through. The rifle was also fitted with a single set trigger by which the trigger is pushed forward to “set” and then a slight pressure on the now set trigger will fire the rifle. This trigger is intact, but needs an adjustment to hold the set position. The rifle will still function perfectly without the trigger being set. The butt stock and forearm are also in excellent condition showing only light handling and very tight wood to metal fit. The screw heads are excellent and the forend has the correct factory ebony wedge inlay in the tip. Overall, one of the most exceptional of the big frontier caliber Highwall Single Shot rifles we’ve seen. It is in especially
remarkable condition considering it was made for the western trade in the first two full years of production! Model 1885 rifles in this caliber are very difficult to locate in any condition and this example is truly exceptional. Serial Number: 15578. This firearm qualifies as an Antique, and does not require FFL Transfer or NICS Background Check.