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Centerfire Rifles - Manually Operated Lever action, bolt action or other non gas operated centerfire rifles.

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  #1  
Old 10-16-2022, 7:35 PM
prophei prophei is offline
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Default So I just bought an original 1873...

Hi All,

I am in the SF Bay Area, and just bought an original 1873 with the fancy flip up sights from the vallejo gun show. It is an early 1890's production, full length, hex barrel, and in 32-20.

This is my first 1873, and was wondering if I might be able get some advice about a few things from the experts/fans here.

My first question is... is it true that my only real option for ammo is going to be reloading? As is well known, the prices for 32-20 is very high, and most places show no stock. I have never rolled my own with ammo, so that would be a big step. Still, any advice about this, all the way up to which reloading set I should be looking for is much appreciated! Anyone selling something like this here?

My second question is about the spec of ammo I need to have. I know that this thing isn't made for ammo that is too hot, but I am not sure if there are particular things to avoid. It seems like all 32-20 has a similar spec that I assume is ok... but is that a bad assumption? What do I need to be careful about? I bought this as a shooter, and was told it is very much a good one, so I assume it is generally up to the task.

Lastly, is there anything else I should know? These are incredibly beautiful old rifles that I have lusted after for a long time, but my experience with lever guns is very new. Most of my experience is with more modern semi-auto stuff, and a bit with mauser type bolt actions. This lever thing is all new to me, so I assume that I don't know what I don't know.

Anyways, looking forward to your thoughts! Thank you in advance!

p.s. If you have ammo for sale, or if you have any modern production winchester 1973 that you want to get rid of, please PM me!

*I have added some images, and will add more in the thread below
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_4548.jpg (92.6 KB, 229 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4549.jpg (90.7 KB, 115 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4550.jpg (96.5 KB, 89 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4551.jpg (92.2 KB, 74 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4552.jpg (96.9 KB, 82 views)

Last edited by prophei; 10-17-2022 at 9:31 AM..
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  #2  
Old 10-16-2022, 7:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prophei View Post
Hi All,

I am in the SF Bay Area, and just bought an original 1873 with the fancy flip up sights from the vallejo gun show. It is an early 1890's production, full length, hex barrel, and in 32-20.

This is my first 1873, and was wondering if I might be able get some advice about a few things from the experts/fans here.

My first question is... is it true that my only real option for ammo is going to be reloading? As is well known, the prices for 32-20 is very high, and most places show no stock. I have never rolled my own with ammo, so that would be a big step. Still, any advice about this, all the way up to which reloading set I should be looking for is much appreciated! Anyone selling something like this here?

My second question is about the spec of ammo I need to have. I know that this thing isn't made for ammo that is too hot, but I am not sure if there are particular things to avoid. It seems like all 32-20 has a similar spec that I assume is ok... but is that a bad assumption? What do I need to be careful about? I bought this as a shooter, and was told it is very much a good one, so I assume it is generally up to the task.

Lastly, is there anything else I should know? These are incredibly beautiful old rifles that I have lusted after for a long time, but my experience with lever guns is very new. Most of my experience is with more modern semi-auto stuff, and a bit with mauser type bolt actions. This lever thing is all new to me, so I assume that I don't know what I don't know.

Anyways, looking forward to your thoughts! Thank you in advance!

p.s. If you have ammo for sale, or if you have any modern production winchester 1973 that you want to get rid of, please PM me!
Brother, you do know that you have to post pictures, right?

Its not that we don't believe you, we just want to see the gun.

Your either going to pay the price of factory ammo or reload.
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  #3  
Old 10-17-2022, 5:17 AM
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20gr ffg
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Old 10-17-2022, 6:07 AM
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It’s sounds nice but we need pictures
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Old 10-17-2022, 6:23 AM
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Yeah trying to "shoot" old calibers pretty much means you need to reload. The 32-20 is a gun I would love to own. I have a couple 218's and a 25-20. Same case but smaller diameters.

Brass is really had to come by right now. I would try gun broker or Starline.

I love to reload with black powder but I would probably go with smokeless for this gun. Black can be pretty corrosive unless you do a super through cleaning.

I am not a big fan of reloading for other people's (really nice ) guns but if you can find some brass and bullets, I could help you load up however many you need. I have the dies, powder and primers. I am around Sacramento.
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Old 10-17-2022, 6:45 AM
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I have an original 1873 as well. Saddle ring carbine 32-20.
Ammo issues IMO are multiple. One factory is nigh impossible to get or stupid expensive. Two brass is also hard to find. Three the cases are relatively fragile at the neck. You gotta take your time relatively speaking reloading this
Lots of recipes out there. Black powder loads sure but then you gotta clean black powder (yuck). I use a small amount of tite group. It’s pretty accurate honestly and chronos around 900. there are multiple published loads that keep your pressures down and keep it around 900 fps which is what I believe what 20 of BP will give you. that being said, the action on this is an 1873 action. it'll handle 44-40 (BP loads) (edit not 45LC) so it'll probably handle whatever you can actually put in a 32-20 case (again, the brass is a bit on the fragile side). It is a VERY light shooting round. And it’s subsonic. So light shooting that in my colt lightning sometimes only way I know round went off is the “ding” after of the metal


Last edited by bonesurf; 10-17-2022 at 8:20 AM..
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Old 10-17-2022, 8:18 AM
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How did the 73 handle 45 colt bp loads?
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Old 10-17-2022, 8:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandspider500 View Post
How did the 73 handle 45 colt bp loads?
Brain fart
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Old 10-17-2022, 8:30 AM
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Originally Posted by golfish View Post
Brother, you do know that you have to post pictures, right?

Its not that we don't believe you, we just want to see the gun.
Fair!
I'l take some and get some up.

-m
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Old 10-17-2022, 8:33 AM
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Originally Posted by bonesurf View Post
I have an original 1873 as well. Saddle ring carbine 32-20.
Ammo issues IMO are multiple. One factory is nigh impossible to get or stupid expensive. Two brass is also hard to find. Three the cases are relatively fragile at the neck. You gotta take your time relatively speaking reloading this
Lots of recipes out there. Black powder loads sure but then you gotta clean black powder (yuck). I use a small amount of tite group. It’s pretty accurate honestly and chronos around 900. there are multiple published loads that keep your pressures down and keep it around 900 fps which is what I believe what 20 of BP will give you. that being said, the action on this is an 1873 action. it'll handle 44-40 (BP loads) (edit not 45LC) so it'll probably handle whatever you can actually put in a 32-20 case (again, the brass is a bit on the fragile side). It is a VERY light shooting round. And it’s subsonic. So light shooting that in my colt lightning sometimes only way I know round went off is the “ding” after of the metal

Thanks for the info... beautiful rifle!
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  #11  
Old 10-17-2022, 9:33 AM
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Some more pics in addition to those attached to the original post...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_4553.jpg (96.3 KB, 66 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4555.jpg (91.3 KB, 47 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4558.jpg (95.5 KB, 43 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4556.jpg (90.2 KB, 43 views)
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  #12  
Old 10-17-2022, 10:34 AM
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Old 10-17-2022, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prophei View Post
Some more pics in addition to those attached to the original post...
Well done, it looks like a nice one..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandspider500 View Post
How did the 73 handle 45 colt bp loads?
This probably surprises a lot of people but a lever gun in 45 Long Colt wasn't produced until 1985.

https://leverguns.com/articles/paco/45coltlevergun.htm
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Old 10-17-2022, 11:12 AM
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Yeah that’s the whole 45LC was a COLT thing not a winchester thing
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Old 10-17-2022, 1:01 PM
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I knew that, and had read comments here before. But, that article sheds a lot of light on why

Quote:
Originally Posted by golfish View Post
This probably surprises a lot of people but a lever gun in 45 Long Colt wasn't produced until 1985.

https://leverguns.com/articles/paco/45coltlevergun.htm
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Old 10-17-2022, 6:09 PM
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Nice one OP!
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Old 10-18-2022, 12:24 AM
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Post a pic of the bottom of the brass lifter, and one of the bolt face, serial number too and I can confirm or correct the DOM on it.
Real common for the cartridge rim support on the bolt face to be broken off, resulting in a jam-o-matic. When the bottom of the lifter is all dinged up, that's from trying to clear a jam, the wrong way.
Flip it belly up and you'll see two small screw heads between the lever and lifter. They retain the springs for the lever and the lifter, and are the adjustments for the tension on both too.
Out of adjustment, you get jams, and broken cartridge supports, and more jams. The lifter lever is steel, the lifter is brass, the steel wears the brass, without grease in the track, it wears real fast. That's why it has adjustment.
When every thing is in working order, the 73 action is still one, that has to be full cycled like you mean it. Short stroke it, it'll jam. They eject empties up, back, and over your head. They eject loaded rounds up, back, and right in the forehead...hard! Don't ask how I know that. Any questions, give me a holler.
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Old 10-18-2022, 9:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRAP55 View Post
Post a pic of the bottom of the brass lifter, and one of the bolt face, serial number too and I can confirm or correct the DOM on it.
Real common for the cartridge rim support on the bolt face to be broken off, resulting in a jam-o-matic. When the bottom of the lifter is all dinged up, that's from trying to clear a jam, the wrong way.
Flip it belly up and you'll see two small screw heads between the lever and lifter. They retain the springs for the lever and the lifter, and are the adjustments for the tension on both too.
Out of adjustment, you get jams, and broken cartridge supports, and more jams. The lifter lever is steel, the lifter is brass, the steel wears the brass, without grease in the track, it wears real fast. That's why it has adjustment.
When every thing is in working order, the 73 action is still one, that has to be full cycled like you mean it. Short stroke it, it'll jam. They eject empties up, back, and over your head. They eject loaded rounds up, back, and right in the forehead...hard! Don't ask how I know that. Any questions, give me a holler.
Thanks for all the info! I am a complete novice with these kinds of firearms, so I have a lot to learn. I have included some pics of what you asked...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_4564.jpg (99.0 KB, 44 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4565.jpg (98.4 KB, 38 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4566.jpg (93.9 KB, 38 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4569.jpg (89.6 KB, 37 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4570.jpg (90.3 KB, 40 views)
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Old 10-19-2022, 6:14 PM
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Made mid 1891, with 38,901 made that year.
Looks good inside! I never have figured out what they used to bang on the bottom of that lifter with, but they'll all have the same marks.
Any luck finding ammo or brass?
The Lyman tang and folding Beech sights could well be a factory installed option, a Cody Letter will tell, and your serial number will letter.

Last edited by TRAP55; 10-19-2022 at 6:18 PM..
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Old 10-19-2022, 6:28 PM
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Originally Posted by TRAP55 View Post
Made mid 1891, with 38,901 made that year.
Looks good inside! I never have figured out what they used to bang on the bottom of that lifter with, but they'll all have the same marks.
Any luck finding ammo or brass?
The Lyman tang and folding Beech sights could well be a factory installed option, a Cody Letter will tell, and your serial number will letter.
Glad to hear it is looking good
What is a Cody Letter? Not sure how to check about those sights.
I am definitely a novice with these!

-m
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Old 10-19-2022, 6:32 PM
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https://centerofthewest.org/explore/...earms-records/
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Old 10-19-2022, 6:46 PM
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Any luck finding ammo or brass?
Oh thanks! So $75 and I get all the info? I'll have to study that site more.

As far as ammo, somebody here on this site responded to me that he had ammo. I got an email and we chatted back and forth, with my agreeing to buy 12 boxes of 20rd for a total of $400. I apple paid, and then he comes back with a weird story about needing more for shipping, even though the agreement was that he cover it.

It suddenly went from feeling really good to really bad.

I come back here and see that user has now been blocked. The guy claims he sent the money to a sick relative and needs to wait until he gets paid to send me the ammo. I am pretty much screwed. I got played. I have sent messages to this site in hopes of getting some data, but have had no responses. It became a big mess. I have some friends tracking his data, and have some details, but I will probably never see that money again unless he's being honest and this is the most fraudulent looking honest person on the planet. I'm not feeling good about it.

Other than that, I bought a little online. I have a reno address, and was going to shoot out there, so I have a legitimate place to send it without needing an FFL. Now I am down $400 I really didn't have to spend, and got nothing for it. I am considering learning how to reload, but that is a whole new mess of stuff to have to learn and pay for. Options are looking slim though. Would have been easier to buy a system with that $400 I now lack. Oh well.

Sorry for boring you with the details!

Last edited by prophei; 10-19-2022 at 7:00 PM..
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Old 10-19-2022, 8:22 PM
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well that story totally sucks. reloading honestly is the way to go for 32-20. the ammo is WAY too tough to come by.
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Old 10-19-2022, 9:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Sandspider500 View Post
20gr ffg
That's what I'd do! Well probably 3F, but, whatever.

Black is easy to load, has simple tools, hard to screw up, and real black cleans up with soap and water, and is easy on the gun.

Just find or make bullets lubed with a black powder lube (SPG or something).
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Old 10-19-2022, 9:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prophei View Post
Oh thanks! So $75 and I get all the info? I'll have to study that site more.

As far as ammo, somebody here on this site responded to me that he had ammo. I got an email and we chatted back and forth, with my agreeing to buy 12 boxes of 20rd for a total of $400. I apple paid, and then he comes back with a weird story about needing more for shipping, even though the agreement was that he cover it.

It suddenly went from feeling really good to really bad.

I come back here and see that user has now been blocked. The guy claims he sent the money to a sick relative and needs to wait until he gets paid to send me the ammo. I am pretty much screwed. I got played. I have sent messages to this site in hopes of getting some data, but have had no responses. It became a big mess. I have some friends tracking his data, and have some details, but I will probably never see that money again unless he's being honest and this is the most fraudulent looking honest person on the planet. I'm not feeling good about it.

Other than that, I bought a little online. I have a reno address, and was going to shoot out there, so I have a legitimate place to send it without needing an FFL. Now I am down $400 I really didn't have to spend, and got nothing for it. I am considering learning how to reload, but that is a whole new mess of stuff to have to learn and pay for. Options are looking slim though. Would have been easier to buy a system with that $400 I now lack. Oh well.

Sorry for boring you with the details!
Wow!! Lots and lots of these same stories going around here. It's been much worse in the last couple years.

You might do your fellow calgunners a favor and out the person so nobody else gets ripped off.

I'm sorry OP, I wanted to add more and just plan forgot. It sucks that this happened to you. I hope it works out and you get your ammo. You got such a nice gun there and then some a hole comes along and does this. It just pisses me off.
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Last edited by golfish; 10-19-2022 at 10:33 PM..
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Old 10-19-2022, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
It just pisses me off.
golfish, me too! CalGuns needs a ball bat crew, and make a few examples, with pics posted on the forum.
prophei, after I last posted, I took a look for a dozen or so rounds I picked up in a trade, found the bag I thought they were in, but it was .32acp, No clue what I did with those rounds, but I think they may have gone to Idaho for a friends '73. Would have told you to come and get em. Reloading, get a Lee Loader, cheap, easy, bench not required. If you've never reloaded before, best tool made to learn the basics.
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Old 10-20-2022, 12:40 PM
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You might do your fellow calgunners a favor and out the person so nobody else gets ripped off.

I would like to, but was going to wait until I got a reply from a moderator. I also am holding out the slim hope that this person makes good before the end of the month, which is the time span they gave. If the impossible happens, and they do, I am hesitant to smear them on the internet.

If anyone else is approached by someone in a way that resonates with my situation, I am happy to give more details in a PM to make sure it isn't the same person. I absolutely don't want anyone else getting screwed.

I am a huge believer in having integrity, and having this happen here is quite a gut-punch!
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Old 10-20-2022, 12:40 PM
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Reloading, get a Lee Loader, cheap, easy, bench not required. If you've never reloaded before, best tool made to learn the basics.
Thanks for the suggestion!
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Old 10-20-2022, 12:59 PM
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I would like to, but was going to wait until I got a reply from a moderator. I also am holding out the slim hope that this person makes good before the end of the month, which is the time span they gave. If the impossible happens, and they do, I am hesitant to smear them on the internet.

If anyone else is approached by someone in a way that resonates with my situation, I am happy to give more details in a PM to make sure it isn't the same person. I absolutely don't want anyone else getting screwed.

I am a huge believer in having integrity, and having this happen here is quite a gut-punch!
If you put a post in the "wanted" forum, then you're probably SOL. Almost all replies to posts there are from scammers.

Do a Google search on either the user name or phone number and see if you don't get hits from the same fellow on other forums. My bet is that you will........ especially if they are a low-count poster.
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Old 10-20-2022, 1:10 PM
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Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
If you put a post in the "wanted" forum, then you're probably SOL. Almost all replies to posts there are from scammers.
Lesson learned, I had no idea.

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Do a Google search on either the user name or phone number and see if you don't get hits from the same fellow on other forums. My bet is that you will........ especially if they are a low-count poster.
One of the first things I did, but hit nothing. I did have a hacker friend do some investigations though, so I have some name/address information associated with the tel number. I was hoping for the admins here to give me their IP address. That would help a lot.
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Old 10-20-2022, 2:16 PM
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One of the first things I did, but hit nothing. I did have a hacker friend do some investigations though, so I have some name/address information associated with the tel number. I was hoping for the admins here to give me their IP address. That would help a lot.
I put up a "wanted" post a long time ago, and got a reply. I searched on the user name/number given, and surprise surprise...... all over other forums doing the same thing. Boy was he pissed when I outed him.
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  #32  
Old 10-20-2022, 3:02 PM
prophei prophei is offline
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Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
I put up a "wanted" post a long time ago, and got a reply. I searched on the user name/number given, and surprise surprise...... all over other forums doing the same thing. Boy was he pissed when I outed him.
You were smart. I definitely should have checked beforehand. I have always had good luck on this forum, and was still excited about the gun and was thinking too optimistically. So. much. money. :/
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  #33  
Old 10-20-2022, 3:03 PM
Jimboecv Jimboecv is offline
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I shoot a couple of Colt revolvers (1851 Navy and a 1861 Army) and I have a '73 Winchester/Cimarron copy. I've found a lot of useful info in Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbook.https://www.lymanproducts.com/brands...ok-4th-edition
It's more about shooting cast bullets and reloading than just making cast bullets.
Also, buy a reloading package, you'll get more bang for your buck. Some of the parts you'll find ain't all that great, but you can pick up better stuff as you go along. And read the reloading manuals and understand them before you get excited and half *** something.
A one-pound container equals 7000 grains of powder. A starting load for 115gr. projectile, using Unique, uses 3.6 grains of powder. You don't need 8 pounds of powder to get started.
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  #34  
Old 10-20-2022, 3:45 PM
prophei prophei is offline
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Originally Posted by Jimboecv View Post
I shoot a couple of Colt revolvers (1851 Navy and a 1861 Army) and I have a '73 Winchester/Cimarron copy. I've found a lot of useful info in Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbook.https://www.lymanproducts.com/brands...ok-4th-edition
It's more about shooting cast bullets and reloading than just making cast bullets.
Also, buy a reloading package, you'll get more bang for your buck. Some of the parts you'll find ain't all that great, but you can pick up better stuff as you go along. And read the reloading manuals and understand them before you get excited and half *** something.
A one-pound container equals 7000 grains of powder. A starting load for 115gr. projectile, using Unique, uses 3.6 grains of powder. You don't need 8 pounds of powder to get started.
Thanks for the tip! You bring up a question I had. You mention a particular powder and the grains needed for that projectile. Can I use any powder with the right grain content, or are there specific powders that must be used for this kind of firearm? I am assuming the latter, as I believe that was written someplace online without explanation. I am guessing that different powders have different characteristics that can impact pressures? Maybe speed of ignition is a factor? Do you have any insight here?

Thanks!

Last edited by prophei; 10-20-2022 at 4:22 PM.. Reason: typo
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  #35  
Old 10-20-2022, 4:16 PM
Jimboecv Jimboecv is offline
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Reloading manuals will always speak to you as if you know nothing. Usually they have a burn rate chart in the front. When you look at the loads for a round the powders are listed in order of burn rate. The manual will explain everything.
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  #36  
Old 10-20-2022, 4:20 PM
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200Apples 200Apples is offline
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Quote:
I am guessing that different powers have different characteristics that can impact pressures? Maybe speed of ignition is a factor?

That is correct. It's known as "burn rate".

Generally speaking, the faster burning propellants are used for the popular, common handgun cartridges and as powders trend toward slower-burning they're utilized in the rifle calibers/bottleneck brass.

SPECIFICALLY, one should when reloading stick to KNOWN, published recipes only. These can be found in any of the bulletmakers' Handbooks for Reloading.

Never! rely on hearsay seen in firearms discussions. ALWAYS stick to published data.

Having said that, there are exceptions; the most famous being for .44 Special revolver loads and made popular by a well-known (at the time) gunwriter/retired lawman and friend of Elmer Keith, Charles Alan "Skeeter" Skelton. His preferred load for the .44 Special can be considered a "Heavy" .44 Special load and used in revolvers of known strength and good condition. That load is known in the single-action-revolver world as "Skeeter's Load" and is 7.5 grains of Alliant (brand) Unique (model) gunpowder in .44 Special brass topped off with a 250-grain Keith(-designed) Lead SemiWadCutter bullet. It's good for +/-950 feet per second and is about halfway, ballistically, between the over-the-counter/safe-in-all-old-guns .44 Special (a 246-grain lead round-nose bullet launched from the muzzle at 750 fps) and the blazing .44 Magnum (240 grain bullet @ 1200+ fps - the beginning of painful recoil for some folks).


*load data in this post for entertainment purposes only
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Last edited by 200Apples; 10-20-2022 at 4:22 PM..
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  #37  
Old 10-20-2022, 4:24 PM
prophei prophei is offline
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Great information guys! I love this board.
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  #38  
Old 10-20-2022, 5:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Jimboecv View Post
Also, buy a reloading package, you'll get more bang for your buck. Some of the parts you'll find ain't all that great, but you can pick up better stuff as you go along.

Are there any progressive budget reloaders that would work well? One thing I have little of is time, and being able to get through a lot of ammo when I have a chance to sit down is a positive in my book. Thoughts?

Am I correct that the turret reloader basically let you rotate the dies to your primary press point, and that the progressive allow for multiple die presses at once?
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  #39  
Old 10-20-2022, 5:29 PM
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JMO. Use a turret or single stage. Not a progressive for 32-20. You have to watch the case expansion and bullet seating steps relatively carefully. The necks are relatively fragile
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  #40  
Old 10-20-2022, 5:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bonesurf View Post
JMO. Use a turret or single stage. Not a progressive for 32-20. You have to watch the case expansion and bullet seating steps relatively carefully. The necks are relatively fragile
That is good advice. Was my definition of turret correct above? I could do a handful of other calibers, so fast is good, but the 32-20 is the only ammo I shoot that is getting hard to find. That's a big driver.

I keep reading good things about this one...
https://www.amazon.com/Lyman-7810311.../dp/B071H4MLXW
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