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Russian Winchester 1895 in 7.62x54R

Sold for $2,588.

The Winchester 1895 was the last of Winchester’s lever-action rifles, and has an interesting place in a couple different parts of world history. On the one hand, the 1895 in .405 Winchester caliber is known as Theodore Roosevelt’s “Big Medicine” for safari hunting. On another, it was the object of the largest military lever-action purchase ever, made by the Russian Czar during World War I.

The Russian military was woefully under-equipped at the outset of WWI, and needed rifles wherever it could find them. While waiting for a contract with Remington (and later New England Westinghouse) to provide Mosin-Nagant rifles, the Czar’s military ordered 300,000 model 1895s from Winchester. These rifles were purportedly going to be available immediately form Winchester’s existing production line, although in reality it took several months before deliveries began, The rifles were modified by Winchester to accept standard Mosin-Nagant stripper clips, and were chambered for the 7.62x54R cartridge.

They saw heavy combat use, and reportedly performed well, despite the lever action system having some fundamental inferiorities compared to bolt action rifles in a military context. What made them feasible was the action designed specifically for full-power smokeless rifle ammunition and the box magazine design which avoided the potential problems of spitzer cartridges in a tube magazine.

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