In days of old, ambitious journeyman gunmakers, seeking to become master gunsmiths, had to construct a working miniature of a firearm, demonstrating each of their skills (woodworking, metal finishing, engraving) by crafting a small piece that could be easily taken along with them as proof of their abilities. This half-scale Winchester Model 1866 was handbuilt by master craftsman Peter Alutto and recreates a Ulrich-engraved octagonal barrel rifle that was embellished by inlays of big game species and classical hunting scenes. The full coverage engraving and inlay work for this diminutive shoulder arm was also done by Mr. Alutto.
Fitted with a mirror backdrop on a stand, this small scale Winchester can be viewed by front or back perspective. Like its full-sized original, the small Model 1866 rifle is fitted with a rimfire bolt and incorporates the King's Patent loading gate system. As one of the best known Winchester models on the American frontier, this miniature arm is emblematic of the arms that met the challenges of the American West.
This rifle and many other fine miniature arms are part of a special temporary exhibition loaned to the National Firearms Museum through the Miniature Arms Society. Each of the miniature pieces selected for this exhibition has also received the prestigious NRA silver medal for miniature arms excellence, awarded at the NRA Annual Meetings. This temporary exhibition will run through mid-2007 as part of the National Firearms Museum's "Artistry in Arms" display.