Rifles: Of Roosevelt and Russians…

Winchester recently closed its doors, an event that some slightly overwrought gunwriters have likened to the end of our civilization. I am not quite that depressed, but I am glad I own one of their more obscure products: a Model 1895 rifle in .405 Winchester:

Introduced in (of course) 1895, it was the first lever rifle designed for hot “modern” loads, and its box magazine allowed cartridges with pointed bullets to be loaded, unlike earlier models with tubular magazines that might let the point of one bullet detonate the primer of the one ahead under recoil. The ’95 was soon chambered in .303 British, .30- 40 Krag, .30- 03 (the brief precursor of the .30- 06) and .30- 06 “Government”.

Winchester also introduced its proprietary load, the .405 Winchester, which until the factory chambering of .375 H & H in the Model 70 in the late 30’s was the most powerful American cartridge available. It accompanied American expeditions to Asia and Africa, most notably Teddy Roosevelt’s great African safari. He called it his “Medicine Gun” and used it on all his lions. It is still rather popular with bear guides and handloaders.

My modern version had at some point been drilled and tapped for a complicated peep sight. I went in search of the right one and came upon it here.

Any reader of this blog will know that I am not likely to be able to come up with $225 for a mere sight; besides, the ones already on the gun work. But I did wonder “Why Ukrainian?” And I think I have come up with an answer.

Winchester made less than 133,000 guns in all for the commercial market, including all calibers mentioned above, from .30- 40 Krag to .405. But in 1925- 1916 the Imperial Russian Army ordered 293,816 rifles in musket (barrel- banded) configuration! All were chambered in 7.62 X 54 “Russian” or Mosin Nagant, still a useful caliber available in sturdy Russian surplus rifles,like the one being shot by Chas here:

I suspect many are still in use; “gun control’, even in Soviet Russia, is and was a myth away from the cities. Winchesters are good enough. So why not keep making sights?

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