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Winchester Rifle: A Resource Guide

Oliver Winchester realized the idea of a repeating rifle in 1866. This research guide comprises a selection of books, articles and online resources useful for researching this history-making gun and how it impacted the future of this country

Introduction

Buffalo Bill Cody, full-length portrait, seated on rocks, facing right, holding rifle with right hand, left hand resting on knee. 1903. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

In the 1800s the idea of a repeating rifle was finally realized by Oliver Winchester, the largest stockholder of the New Haven Arms Company of Connecticut. He was assigned U.S. patent No. 5501, which protected improvements to the Henry Rifle. The new technology included a spring-closed loading port on the right-hand side of the frame, directly at the rear of the magazine tube, and resulted in the first reliable lever-action repeating rifle, produced as the first Winchester, Model 1866.

Manufacturing of the Model 1866 started in Bridgeport, Connecticut. in 1867; the Winchester Repeating Arms Company moved to New Haven in 1871. The Company also manufactured and licensed to the U.S. government the M1 Carbine, the standard 30 caliber weapon used by Allied forces in World War II.

The U.S. Repeating Arms Company (owned by Herstal Group, a Belgian gun-making conglomerate that also owns Browning Arms Company) Winchester plant in New Haven closed on March 31, 2006. With the plant's closure, the production of a celebrated line of rifles and shotguns known collectively as "the gun that won the West' officially ended.

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