By Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week this time around is the Winchester 1895 rifle, which has just begun being produced again in Japan, by Miroku.
I confess to now being only a mediocre rifleman. I never hunted large game except bipeds. I have shot pests, ground squirrels, rabbits, etc. with a .22. But I do appreciate a nice rifle and the 1895 Winchester meets my definition of a nice, interesting, even elegant rifle.
This was the first rifle that Winchester produced using a box magazine rather than a tubular magazine. This allowed the use of military cartridges, which by that time were loaded with spritzer (pointed nose) bullets which could not be safely used in a tubular magazine rifle. It was also the last lever action rifle designed by John Moses Browning. It was designed to handle smokeless power loads which previous rifles were not and was of relatively strong design for its time.
The largest number of these rifles were produced for the Imperial Russian army in 7.6 X54R. About 300,000 of these were made, something like 70% of the production of this rifle prior to 1936. A fair number of these were also sold on the American commercial market.
The U. S. bought 10,000 of them in 30/40 Krag for the Spanish American war, but they were not delivered until after the end of the war. A small number were issued to U. S. troops in the Philippine-American war where they were determined to be inferior to the Krag rifle.
Theodore Roosevelt owned three of these rifles, one in 30/40 Krag and two in .405 Winchester. He took the .405s with him on his famous African safari in 1909.
The rifle was reintroduced briefly in 1985 in 30-06 Springfield and again in 2001 in .405, 30/40 Krag and 30-06 Springfield. They were again offered in 2009 as a homage to the Roosevelt safari.
The new production features a tang-mounted safety and a rebounding hammer, both of which were not on the original production rifles. I will probably take a look at one when they actually come my way, but will probably not buy one. I just can’t see paying the sort of money they will want for them for a rifle I won’t shoot hardly at all.