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Book Review: The Winchester Model 1895: Last of the Classic Lever Actions

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Rob Kassab and Brad Dunbar have just published an excellent new book on the Winchester Model 1895 rifle – the Last of the Classic Lever Actions, as their subtitle describes. It is a very nice looking and feeling book (US-printed, leather-bound, and 432 pages long), it is chock full of good photography and historical period pictures, and it covers a wide range of subjects. It begins with the development of the 1895, including the history of the Browning brothers with the Winchester company, as well as Winchester’s own engineers like William Mason.

It then covers all the different aspects of Model 1895 variations – and there’s a lot to cover there! Beyond the couple basic receiver patterns (“flat side” and standard), there are changes in magazine design, the addition of takedown models, and changes to small parts like hammers and extractors. The receiver markings changed periodically as well, of course. Elements like the sights, stocks, and barrels are not only relevant to the 1895, but also carry over to other Winchester models. There is also a section on the embellishments offered by Winchester, in both fancy wood and engraving.

It next delves into the different cartridges that were offered with the 1895, and also elements like the cartridge boxes and loading tools. The final sections include whole chapters on the 1895’s use in Mexico, it’s World War One Russian contract, its one small US military contract, its famous safari use by Theodore Roosevelt, and its use by a variety of lawmen in the Old West.

The whole text is liberally sprinkled with reproduced original documents, period photos, and very nice modern photography in a way that does a great job of conveying the whole character of the 1895, not just mere data. This was a highly personal gun to many of its buyers – it was the one rifle that they depended on for hunting or life-and-death combat. It was also available in a huge number of configurations, and these two factors together mean that one cannot really understand the Model 1895 without seeing a great many of them and their owners. Kassab and Dunbar have done a great job bring not just the facts of the 1895, but also in conveying the real character of the gun, from inception to today’s collectible.

At a remarkably low $80, this book is a must-have for anyone interested in Winchester or specifically the Model 1895. It is available direct from the publisher:

Or via Amazon:

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