View Full Version : Winchester 1885 32 W.C.F. #1

01-22-2012, 8:47 AM
Hey Guys. I'm wondering if you might be able to help me out with some info/feedback. I am out of my element when it comes to rifles this old. It is a Winchester Model 1885 in .32 W.C.F. #1 stamped on the bottom of the Octagon barrel. The gun seems to be in excellent shape and completely original except for a replacement bolt on the stock. The walnut is pretty flawless with no major flaws. I have only been able to track down one similarly online and it was being sold for $3,000. I've got my first child on the way and I'm not sure if I should sell this or keep it and also what its realistic value would be. Thanks for your time and here are the pics!


01-22-2012, 8:48 AM
More pics

01-22-2012, 9:21 AM
Salter, you have a Model 1885 Winchester Low Wall in .32-20 Winchester. The Number "1" is the barrel size, numbers 1-4 with 1 being the smallest profile.
It looks like your front sight was installed backwards?
The bolt through both upper and lower tangs is a big value detractor, as the rest of the rifle looks to be original and in very good shape, and I can't imagine why it's there.:confused:
Can you post a pic of the top tang, rear sight and barrel markings, buttplate, and a better shot of the front sight?
With the serial number, I can tell you exactly what year it was made.

01-22-2012, 9:49 AM
Beautiful old low wall. Like it was said, the front site blade is backwards. The bolt through both tangs was done to a number of rifles when the stock was getting loose, usually due to cracks in the stock or the wood being softened by excessive oil.

01-22-2012, 10:49 AM
Like it was said, the front site blade is backwards.
Thanks for confirming that Fjold, more reason for me to take the plunge and go for the Lazik eye fix!:oji:
I can't imagine why bubba would use a stove bolt to tighten the buttstock when the upper tang screw makes a solid clamp.:confused:
The only time I can recall seeing anything like that, was where someone tried to adapt another type of tang sight. Damned shame it was done on a nice original LoWall.
A correct tang sight I think would cover the upper tang hole, and any good welder worth his salt could fill the bottom tang hole. Careful application of some Oxpho-Blu on the weld plug to match the finish.

01-22-2012, 5:25 PM
Thanks guys! Yeah I was bummed when I saw the bolt as well. I have a feeling the serial number is underneath the edge of the bolt because I cant find it anywhere on the rifle. I need to find it and try and get a Cody Letter for it and sell it to help with baby expenses coming up. Here are some more photos of what you requested. I'd love a Winchester collector to have this and appreciate it as they aren't my cup of tea. Let me know what else you can determine from the photos. Thank you!



01-22-2012, 5:26 PM
Few more




01-22-2012, 10:49 PM
The serial number was stamped in just one location only... on the lower tang between the tang screw and the stock screw. It looks like that nut may be covering part of it.
I can see now why the bolt is in there, either the upper tang bolt threads were stripped out, or the lower tang was broken across the hole and welded up obscuring the serial number.
Some Winchesters had the serial stamped into the wood under the tang, but I've only seen it on a couple of guns.
This is what the number should look like:


01-22-2012, 10:54 PM
Too bad that's a nice looking winny otherwise

Mike A
01-23-2012, 6:55 AM
The reason for that repair is hard to imagine; I can't see how the rest of the rifle is in such good condition if such a major break occurred; it takes a lot of force to break the tang. Onething that might mitigate the damage a little would be to replace that huge nut with a smaller one that is more flush with the tang.

Theserial number should be elsewhere in the gun. I'll look at my "Winchester Single Shot" books and see where (I think I remember it should also be on the breechblock at least). Then you can know when it was made. It looks like an early one to me.

I would try selling it on one of the specific single shot sites first or a Winchester collectors site. It is almost certainly a legal antique so that it can be shipped anywhere to anybody that can prove they are 21, without paperwork. Makes it much easier to sell. Just guessing, I'd say it's worth around $1200, real world. But you might get more with a little marketing.

Too bad I can't make you an offer right now--one of my favorites.

Mike A
01-23-2012, 8:37 AM
"Update"--My almost 70-year old memory was quite WRONG--the only place the serial number on an 1885 single shot was marked is the lower tang. If yours is defaced and completely unreadable, the only way to "date" the gun is by its features, and that is a very tricky business because Winchester was notorious for using old parts on new guns and vice-versa, especially in the 1885 where just about every one is unique in SOME way.

So unless there is some vestige of the serial visible, even just enough to count the number of digits (which would give a very rough date like "it couldn't be newer than ____") you are stuck with treating the rifle as a C&R to be absolutely legal, should you wish to ship it someplace else. C&R it definitely is, since Winchester stopped making receivers near the end of WWI (and this is definitely NOT one of those--it's much earlier). If you can tell how many digits the serial was, and the FIRST digit is clear enough to read, I could probably tell you the manufacturing year within a year one way or the other.

As for value, you have the alteration and the lack of a serial and ability to date. SERIOUS problem for a serious collector. On the other hand, you have the good condition and the fact that the caliber is common and a good 'un--if the gun is complete and functioning, a fellow could take it out and shoot it. That appeals to many, myself included. It's really too bad you can't hang onto it and just shoot the heck out of it.

As always, don't go by ASKING prices on the internet sites or any place else, or "Blue Book" values. Go by what the guns actually sell for.

BTW congratulations on the coming baby! You will find that, as interesting as guns are, there is NOTHING more interesting than a son or daughter. Your life will get bigger in every way.

01-23-2012, 5:16 PM
The last 1885 Winchester was made in 1920.
I magnified that tang pic, and my old eyes could make out a heavily polished 4. Use a LED flashlight and shine the light parallel with the tang from back to front, and use a good magnifying glass. The light will make what's left of the number stamps fill with shadow, and you may be able to read them.
Might try the paper and lead pencil trick too

01-23-2012, 5:48 PM
If you are going to sell it another good place to try would be the ASSRA Forum. American Single Shot Rifle Association. they are shooters before collectors. theres a Guy on there named Texas Mac who could probably get you a fair apraisal of its value. good luck DR

Mike A
01-23-2012, 7:25 PM
+1 on ASSRA connection. Don't let the acronym fool ya--they know their stuff when it comes to single shots. A poster there named Green Frog is especially astute on 1885s and a gentleman to boot (some of the fellahs in ASSRA should have the handle "Green Crab," or other crabby colors as appropriate....although I guess you could say "It takes one to know one...".).

It might help to put penetrating oil on that tang bolt and GENTLY unscrew it to see if there is the beginning of the serial number left under there.

01-26-2012, 12:52 PM
Gonna take it to my local gunsmith today to see what we can do about the bolt. If you hadn't noticed it is for sale in the classifieds. Ill let you know what I can find out as far as serial number and the changes I decide to make. I listed it on the ASSRA page as well. Thanks for the heads up on that!

01-26-2012, 1:24 PM
You priced it about right, I was waiting to see if you could get a serial off it before I suggested a price.