One Weird Winchester

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In 1884, a Winchester Model 1873 .38-40 lever-action rifle was a well-regarded repeating long arm, equally suited for harvesting deer or providing personal protection. But one owner and gunsmith, Horace Warner, decided to take his shooting experience to the next level by adding a smoothbore to the mix, perhaps if only to try his hand at aerial targets.

Affixing a single-shot, 12-gauge barreled action to the top of the Winchester, the combination arm became a viable shotgun as well as a rifle. The sights for the rifle were moved to the top of the shotgun barrel for better visibility, and an ingenious system of connecting rods allowed the hammer of the rifle to fire the shotgun barrel when desired. It's been estimated that Warner built about three of these unusual Winchesters.

Just one of thousands of unusual arms represented in the National Firearms Museum collection, this Winchester-based hybrid is on loan and currently on display in the galleries.

Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, January 2010.