The latest batch of the 1873 Winchester presents a rare opportunity.
Wayne, the old paratrooper who runs the local gun shop in my hometown, has an odd way of classifying dirty words.
To his way of thinking, one of the dirtiest words you can utter, in the environs of a gun shop, is need.
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Now, this might sound like a strange word to censor, but as far as Wayne is concerned if you don't chase after the things you want, as opposed to need, you'll miss out on a lot of finer things in life.
Wayne's attitude towards needing things has a lot to do with buying an 1873 Winchester. Obviously, you'd have to look around long and hard to figure out a reason to need a 73. The gun's design has remained unchanged since the end of the Civil War, they're not capable of handling most of our modern cartridges and they're not cheap. So why buy one?
Well, it's easy to figure that out once you free yourself from need and start to embrace want as a lifestyle. That's how the gospel of Wayne runs, and to tell you the truth, he does seem like a pretty happy old guy.
The crop of 73s that Winchester is putting out for this year might be the nicest offerings in the gun's long history.
Importantly, these rifles have the same buttery smooth toggle-lock actions that define the 73. This action gives up a lot in terms of strength, which means that the 73 is stuck with pistol caliber cartridges, but makes up for this deficiency by being the only lever actions that can really be operated like they do in the movies.
A buyer has their choice of either the Short Rifle model (MSRP $1299) -- a plain-Jane kind of affair geared towards a short-range deer hunter or cowboy action shooter -- or the Color Case Hardened model (MSRP $1579), which is the same gun dressed up with a case-hardened receiver and a fancier grade of walnut. Both of these rifles can be had in 357 Magnum, 45 Colt or the newly reintroduced 44-40 Win.
When contemplating the purchase of a 73, it's important to remember that while the it is far from what we generally think of as a hunting rifle today, it has probably taken more game than any other American rifle.
From gophers to bison, the 44-40 chambered 73 was the settler's choice out of necessity, but was still an effective implement. A careful, modern-day hunter should have no trouble using the 73 to fill the freezer in some capacity.
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Another good reason to pick up a 73 is that not every generation has had the opportunity to have one. A lot of famous movie stars from John Wayne to Jon Voight have been forced to walk around with other guns, while merely pretending to have a real 73. How can you pass on an opportunity to own a gun rare enough that even the Duke didn't have one?
Heck, that would be un-American. My advice is to check one out and try to forget what you need for a little while.
Featured image via WinchesterGuns.com