in world war and hunting …

The author with the M1895 rifle. It is especially pleasant to write about what you happened to hold on to with your own hands. (Photo from the collection of the author)

“Evening! Evening! Evening!
Italy! Germany! Austria! ”
And to the square, darkly outlined in black,
a stream of crimson blood spilled!
A coffee shop broke my face in blood
the beastly cry of the bagrim:
“Let us poison Rhine’s games with the blood!
With thunders of cannonballs on the marble of Rome! “
From the sky, torn by bayonets,
the tears of the stars sifted like flour in a sieve,
and the soles of compressed pity squealed:
“Ah, let go, let go, let go!”
(War declared. 20 July 1914 Vladimir Mayakovsky)

Weapons and firms. And it so happened that John Moses Browning, while continuing to work for Winchester, was tasked with creating a rifle for a powerful rifle cartridge. Moreover, unlike the previous model M1894, the new rifle from the very beginning was created for more powerful cartridges – both hunting and army models, in order, on the one hand, to provide hunters with weapons for hunting the largest game, and on the other hand, to satisfy and military inquiries. Therefore, the new rifle had various modifications for cartridges of various calibers: 6-mm USN, .30 Army, .30-03, .30-06, .303 British, .35 Winchester, .38-72 Winchester, .40-72 Winchester and .405 Winchester. A rifle for the Russian rifle 7.62 × 54 mm R was also released, which eventually ended up in service with the Russian imperial army.

The ballad about
An amazing thing fate! All my childhood was spent with the M1895 hard drive, and now I again hold it in my hands, although not a hunting smooth-bore rifle, but an army rifle, but, in principle, this is not so important. My grandfather taught me to shoot with it, and in the winter we used it to shoot at the crows that teased our yard dog. Together they loaded copper shells for it and chopped off buckshot from a lead bar … And this photo was taken in 1965 after watching the movie “The Sons of the Big Dipper” in the completely “wild mountains” not far from Penza!

Moreover, it was the 1895 model that turned out to be the first rifle of the Winchester company, which had a Lee box magazine located directly under the receiver. Finally, it was decided to abandon the tubular under-barrel magazine, which has been equipped with all “Winchesters” since 1866. Such a store made it possible to safely use in the new rifle centerfire cartridges equipped with smokeless powder and with pointed bullets (which were risky to use in a tubular store because of the danger of the primers being impaled by bullets following each other cartridges). By the way, that is why “Winchesters” have been developed for so long just for rimfire cartridges. Even after switching to the “central battle” cartridges, the Winchester company continued to use blunt-headed bullets in them, since under no circumstances could they pierce the primer located in the center of the bottom of the case.

The new model became the most powerful rifle developed by the Winchester company, moreover, it uses powerful cartridges filled with smokeless powder. However, it is worth noting that there is nothing particularly original in its design, since the M1895 retained all the basic design solutions used by Browning in the rifles of previous generations. The M1895 also proved to be the last rifle with a lever-operated reloading mechanism developed by J.M.Browning. He never made such rifles again.


Rifle patent 1890

By the way, it is interesting to follow the “flight of the design thought” of its creator, because the designer began working on a rifle with a median magazine back in 1890! Together with his brother, he patented an original lever-operated rifle with a middle magazine with … a vertical arrangement of cartridges in it! Needless to say: the idea was very original. Cartridges in the amount of five pieces were inserted into the store from above with the shutter open and were positioned with bullets downward, while squeezing the feeder plate. When the lever returned to its place, the bolt pushed the upper cartridge into the chamber. However, such a store was not sufficiently sheltered from contamination (it was necessary to open and close a special door attached to the stock!), Complicated, and, apparently, therefore, they did not even make a trial sample of a rifle for it.


Exterior view of the 1892 rifle from the US patent


The device of the mechanism of the rifle in 1892 and the clip for it from the US patent

In 1892, a new “brotherly” patent was received for a rifle with a real middle magazine and loading with a clip. The lever moved the bolt back, and the feeder lifted the cartridges to the ramming line. Interestingly, the trigger spring on this rifle was … twisted and was in the stock. And the firing pin in the bolt … just freely “dangled” back and forth. Then he, apparently, realized that the bolt, which “hides” in the neck of the butt when reloading, is not a good idea, so this rifle did not see the light either.


Clip-on cartridges in the 1892 rifle magazine from a U.S. patent


Action rifle bolt 1892 from US patent

Here he came up with the design of the 1886 model – with a horizontal movement of the bolt and locking by means of a vertical wedge, also controlled by a lever. The locking proved to be very strong. All that remained was to connect this wedge-shaped breechblock to the vertical magazine, which was done on the 1895 model!


Diagram of the wedge locking device on the M1886 rifle


Diagram of the receiver “Winchester” M1895

Starting from about 5000 of the rifle, the initially smooth surface of the receiver received a ledge. This slightly reduced its overall weight, but the wall thickness increased by 1.59 mm. The last copies of the M1895, which had a smooth receiver, were issued with numbers between 5000 and 6000. Naturally, all M1895 samples with such a receiver are quite rare and therefore especially in price among collectors.


Diagram of the M1895 device from the US patent. Shutter closed


Diagram of the M1895 device from the US patent. The shutter is open

During the First World War, a shortage of rifles in the Russian imperial army forced the tsarist government to turn to the United States. And the Winchester company agreed to manufacture M1895 rifles for the Russian order and for the domestic cartridge 7.62 × 54 mm R. In the period from 1915 to 1917, about 300 thousand M1895 rifles were produced, which amounted to about 70% of all rifles produced in the USA this model.


M1895 receiver with seat ring (.30-40 Krag cartridges). (Photo by Alain Daubresse)


M1895 carbine with a saddle ring (cartridges .30-40 Krag). (Photo by Alain Daubresse)

Moreover, the “Russian” rifles were somewhat different from the American ones. First of all, because of the welted chuck, the shape of the store had to be slightly changed. Then, it was necessary to attach special guides to the receiver, necessary in order to insert standard clips of the Mosin rifle arr. 1891. Their great length also became a difference. Since the rifles made for Russia were with an elongated barrel with a dagger bayonet mount. Accordingly, the forend also became longer.


Rifle with clip and bayonet. (Photo from the collection of the author)


The aiming bar of the “Russian Winchester”, like that of the M1891 rifle, was graduated in the same way, that is, in steps, with 1000 steps being equal to 710 meters

The Americans delivered the first batch of rifles later than the agreed date, since the modification of the M1895 to the standard of the Russian army turned out to be more difficult than expected (and for some reason, the “design” of the magazine rails caused particular difficulties).


Rifle “Russian model” in “full height”. Rifles are generally difficult to photograph. They are long but narrow! (Photo from the collection of the author)

In the book “American Rifle Orders for the Allies”, which has a very good chapter on this particular rifle, the surprising fact is that Winchester took six months to develop these guides!


Here is this book!

However, Winchester also blamed the Russian military inspectors, for they refused, for example, to accept rifles tested for firing with cartridges produced in Russia and not in the United States. Rifles with wood chips on the butt were rejected (although this defect in the conditions of an acute shortage of weapons could well be considered insignificant), indicating the low quality of the wood of the stock and the butt. The Americans thought this was stupid nit-picking. And then all the rifles that the Russian inspectors rejected were sold to private individuals in their country. It is noted that there have been no complaints about the quality of the “hardware”.


Sleeve on the feeder. (Photo from the collection of the author)


The cartridge case is in the chamber. (Photo from the collection of the author)

Delivered to Russia, the M1895 rifles entered service with the units of the imperial army in Finland and the Baltic States (with the largest number of them falling to the Latvian riflemen). After the civil war, the surviving rifles were transferred to warehouses, from where the Soviet Union then sold nine thousand M1895 to the Spanish republicans in 1936.


This rifle “opened” when reloading. (Photo from the collection of the author)


Marking. (Photo from the collection of the author)

As for the US Army, it was armed with only about 10 thousand M1895 chambered for .30 / 40 Krag cartridges during the Spanish-American War, and this war ended faster than the first batch of rifles entered the army. Then they were returned and 100 pieces were transferred for testing to the 33rd Volunteer Infantry Regiment. According to the results, it was found that the .30 / 40 Krag cartridge is very good for the army. There remained 9,900 rifles, which were sold to a private company, and the latter resold them in 1906 to Cuba. But part of this party somehow then ended up in Mexico, where they were very popular among the Pancho Villa rebels.


Bayonet. (Photo from the collection of the author)


Bayonet handle. (Photo from the collection of the author)


Bayonet on the barrel of the rifle. It seems that the mount under the barrel is more convenient than the side one. But with a side bayonet, it fits better between the ribs! (Photo from the collection of the author)

In 1896, Winchester submitted the M1895 to a competition to identify the best rifle for arming the National Guard. But she managed to get only the second place, losing the championship to the M1895 Savage rifle (Savage). Then the company “Winchester” insisted on revising the results and announced the falsification of the results of the competition and data fraud. As a result of all these undercover games, the Savage rifle never made it to the guard, just as the M1895 rifle did not.


“Savage” M99. It became an excellent hunting weapon, with a completely unique design, which combined a lever-bracket and … a rotary magazine. (Photo by Alain Daubresse)


And this is how he looked when he was reloading! (Photo by Alain Daubresse)

Hunting modifications of the M1895 are usually associated with the name of such a US president as Theodore Roosevelt, who simply adored this weapon. He had two M1895 rifles (chambered for .405 Winchester) when he went on a safari to Africa in 1909. He also bought two of these rifles for his son Kermit: one .405 Winchester and the other chambered for the .30-03 Springfield rifle cartridge. Moreover, Roosevelt liked M1895 so much that in his book about African hunting, he called it “a talisman from lions.” However, the Texas Rangers also approved of this rifle, considering it both powerful and comfortable. And this is not surprising. Rifles with a lever-operated bolt are convenient for riders, but inconvenient for infantrymen who have to shoot with them in a prone position.


Advertising of hunting “Winchesters”

In 1985, the Browning Arms Company decided to release the M1895 in a piece version chambered for .30-06 Springfield, and Winchester, accordingly, prepared its anniversary series in 2001, which was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency. The rifles were chambered for the following calibers: .405 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield and .30-40 Krag. Two more batches of rifles were made in 2009 in memory of Roosevelt’s famous African safari in 1909. And it’s funny that, although all these rifles bear the Browning and Winchester brands, in fact, their manufacturer was the Japanese company Miroku Corp.


It is convenient to hold the M1895 in your hands. Convenient to aim. Convenient to shoot. Recharging is inconvenient at all! (Photo from the collection of the author)

To be continued…

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