Browning’s Winchester 1886 Rifle in 45-70 Is One of The Best in The World

Winchester 1886 Lever Action

Sweat rolled down his back as It was fairly hot for early March. In fact, it was the 8th of the month and already 1916. Seth reined in his horse Buck to paused for a moment to survey the small town ahead. He has been to Columbus, New Mexico on several occasions. He liked small towns such as Columbus as people are just more friendly and help each other in times of need. The Saguaro cactus were in full bloom bringing color and life to the desert. Seth stood in the stirrups to allow some blood to return to his butt. He just turned 66 years old but felt like he was still half of this age. Seth nudged Buck forward.

The Hoover Hotel will be a good place to stay for the night. Seth has known Willian Hoover for several years. A more honorable man cannot be found. Seth plans are to stay the night in Columbus and in the morning head out toward Lordsburg, Arizona. A hard day and half ride northwest. He had money to deposit in the Western Bank in Lordsburg.

Seth rode into town straight to the Hoover Hotel. As he dismounted from his horse, he noticed Deputy Sheriff Jack Thomas and Mayor Hoover standing near the front door. Seth stretch out his back and rubbed his backside trying to get blood to come back in this area. “These long rides are getting longer.” Seth thought.

Henry Repeating Arms

As Seth walked up to Mayor William Hoover and Thomas, he heard Deputy Thomas say, “I sense something in the air. It is just a feeling.” Seth greeted them and asked, “What do you sense Jack?” Jack and William looked at him in a curious way. “I heard from a Mexican ranch foreman Juan Favela that he saw a large group of armed Mexicans about ten miles south of the border. He told me he believed it was Pancho Villa. Juan said he felt these armed Mexican were up to nothing but bad.”

Mayor Hoover spoke up and said, “I notice some Mexican strangers in town a couple of days ago. Also, several Mexican residents will not talk and several others have left town with their families in tow. I just don’t know what to think Seth.” “Well it all sounds strange. Did you tell Colonel Jermain about what you heard?” asked Seth. In a disgusted tone Hoover replied, “Yes, he just believes all this talk is just not reliable.”

Columbus, NM Pancho Villa AttackSeth walked back to his horse and removed his saddle and possibles bags which he will need on the overnight camp out on his way to Lordsburg. He also pulled from the saddle scabbard his 1886 Winchester. Deputy Thomas noticed the large rifle, “Hey Seth keep that Winchester handy just in case.” Seth looked at him wondering if the Deputy knew more than he was willing to share. “I sure will and I have extra ammo just in case hostilities break out.” Seth quipped back.

Seth stored his gear in his upstairs room which faced the street in front. He then took his horse to the stables about 200 feet away. He paid the owner a silver dollar and six bits to rub Buck down and give him some grain, water and hay. As he returned to the hotel, he griped the Winchester 45-70 in his right hand. In the left hand he had two belts of 45-70 ammo. As he walked, he ran the scenario of an attack on Columbus through his mind. For his part, he would fight. In addition to the Winchester, he was packing a Colt .45 Single Action Army. Back in his room Seth pulled out two boxes of the .45 Long Colt ammo from his saddle bags.

Later that evening, he had dinner at the hotel and a shot of “Uncle Nearest” whisky. Being healed, he walked out onto the front porch and set in an old wooden chair. He noticed there were very few people in view. Columbus was a small town, so it would be fairly easy to observe most of it from his position. After about thirty minutes he headed upstairs to the facility and then to his room. In case hostilities broke out, before he turned in he laid out his cloths, boots, Winchester and revolver just in reach. His ammo was tucked away in his possibles bag.

Seth was a light sleeper. He guessed he developed this from his days as one of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. He kind of chuckled to himself, “I was in the First Calvary fighting in Cuba without a horse to be found.”

It felt like he had just closed his eyes when something woke him. He set straight up in bed and listened. It was a distant shot. He went to the window flinging it open. “There it was again.” he thought. Gun fire was coming from the border area where the 13th Cavalry guards the crossing.

Seth quickly dressed. He could barely tell the time on his gold pocket watch, but it was 4:20 in the morning. He strapped on his Colt and grabbed up the Winchester, ammo belts and possibles bag. As he left his room, he pounded on the doors of the other rooms and yelled, “Grab you guns boys.” Seth then ran down stairs and deposited his extra ammo and possibles bag near the front door. He stepped outside and fired off three quick rounds with the Winchester. “In this part of the States this means trouble.” Seth thought. He then took up a defensive observation position behind four large wooden full water barrels stored next to the street. He quickly reloaded his Winchester and added the sixth round in his Colt. Seth was excited but not concerned. He is confident in his ability to take care of himself.

Shortly, the gun fire started on the west side of town. Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement. He looked at the same time covering this area with the big bore Winchester. It was Deputy Thomas running all out for Seth’s position. Deputy Thomas stopped and dropped behind the barrels of water gasping for air. He said excitedly, “This hotel’s walls are one and half feet thick adobe. We will need to make our stand here if their intensions are this town.” Seth nodded in agreement. Within less than a minute to the south the sound of gunfire roared. “This is the sound of battle”, Seth thought. Three more men with their families arrived running inside the hotel to secure their wives and children. They came armed well healed and ready.

Seth looked at his pocket watch and saw the time was 4:30 am. Two hours to sunrise. He looked back into the open hotel door and saw the ladies tearing up bed sheets for bandages. They will be sorely needed if the hospital here does not survive.

Pancho VillaThey heard some yelling and hooping coming from the west. Almost immediately there was gun fire and shouting “Viva Pancho Villa”. Seth and Thomas heard screaming woman and men shouting. Three riders were racing down the street toward the hotel. They were obviously Pancho Villa’s men. They were wearing the cross bandoleers and big sombreros. When a target presented its self they would shoot.

Seth took careful aim at a rider some 150 yards away. The Winchester roared. The 405 grain handload round hit the rider in the chest flipping him over backwards off of his horse. The remaining three rained in hard on their excited horses. Seth levered in another round and fired. Another rider was driven from his horse. The remaining two fired some quick shots in the hotel’s direction missing everyone, even the building. Deputy Thomas fired three quick shots from his Winchester 94, 44-40 knocking down one horse. The rider came to his feet visibly injured as he limped off behind a house where he was met with what sounded like a 10-gauge shot gun blast. Another citizen, with the monster shotgun in tow, ran out and across the street and out of sight.

Seth saw manyVilla men on foot firing at people running toward the desert or trying to make it to the Hoover Hotel. Many of the people were gunned down falling in the street. Gun fire then was concentrated toward the hotel causing wood splinters and chunks of abode flying driving Seth and Thomas back inside. Once inside they broke out the windows to be able to shoot and to minimize flying glass from bullets shot at them. Three men went upstairs to man the upper windows doing the same. Wave after wave of Villa’s men charged the hotel from all sides. Seth kind of admired them for their bravery. Each time they were driven back leaving their “camarada soldados” behind. Seth could hear the Calvary’s French Hotchkiss machine gun firing to the south across the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad tracks where the military camp is located.

At day break the attack ceased. Many of the wooden homes were engulfed in fire. Bodies of Villa’s men and citizens of Columbus were to be found everywhere. Mrs. Milton James and her unborn child lay dead some 50 yards away. The local garrison survived the raid suffering nine deaths. Seventeen civilians lost their lives including four unarmed people who were murdered prior to the raid. They were dragged out of the other hotel and shot in the street. The U.S. Calvary was in hot pursuit.

Winchester 1886 Lever Action Short Rifle

In 1916, well-armed citizens of Columbus New Mexico prevailed against over whelming odds. The US Military using early years machine guns took their tole as well. Many of the citizens of Columbus were unarmed and therefore shot down. In these days of uncertain security, even those of us who protect our homes and families with lever action rifles and single action pistols, have a good chance to survive attackers. If the United States declare the Mexican Cartel as terrorists and act accordingly, attacks across our border could be a possible way for them to strike back. Winchester makes many excellent lever action rifles such as the model 94. If you don’t want or can own an assault rifle, then the Winchester 1886 will fill that void. The stopping power of the 45-70 is legendary.

The Winchester Model 1886 is a lever-action repeating rifle designed by John Browning. The idea was to have a lever-action rifle which could handle the more powerful cartridges of the era. The original intent was for the 1886 was to handle the U.S. Military 45-70 ammo. Later, the 1886 was chambered in 45-90 WCF, .40-82 WCF and .50-110 WCF. Because of the strong action of the 1886, the jump to the smokeless powder rounds was made with the modification of a nickel-steel barrel. The advent of the nickel-steel barrel was a game changer in the firearms development. The current Winchester 1886 is offered, at this writing, in 45-70 and 45-90.

At first, I requested the 1886 in 45-90 but there was only one or maybe two small commercial manufactures who produced this caliber for sale to dealers. Since I am responsible for this $1,399.00 rifle, I choose to use the high-quality dependable Winchester ammo.

In watching the video in this article, you will see the Winchester 1886 functions flawlessly. I love the feeling of levering in the large 45-70 cartridges.  It feels very manly. I love the lever-action rifles so bear with me when I drool over the 1886. The loading and chambering of the large 45-70 cartridges is easy and fun. The Winchester 1886 has a crescent metal butt plate. One would look at this butt plate and wonder how the recoil will be felt. To my pleasant surprise, the recoil was mild and manageable. I love the look of this butt plate and could see why it was designed in this way. It tucks into the shoulder naturally.

The chambering of rounds in the 1886 Winchester is a smooth operation. Shooting and levering the next bad-boy 45-70 Govt is quick and very natural with only a 13 ¼ inch pull. I loved shooting this rifle with only one wish. I wish my eyes were as good as they were when I was thirty. The brass bead front sight was tough to see on the end of the 24-inch barrel. To remedy this, I found was to shoot left-handed. I can shoot with either hand. So, on the pig hunt I will shoot left-handed. My left eye is my strong eye.

The Winchester 1886 has a safety on the tang just below the hammer. At first, I didn’t think I would like this “non-original” upgrade. But after shooting sixty rounds, I decided I did like the safety. When I levered a round into the chamber, I could put on the safety when I was changing my stance. The safety blocks the hammer from impacting the firing pin. So, expect to find a safety on this traditional 1886 Winchester.

The Winchester 1886 has some heft to its size. The 24-inch barrel and over nine pounds, when fully loaded with eight man-stoppers, makes this rifle a better saddle/pickup gun than a “walkabout” gun. When I walked around the range, I held this rifle in my right hand. Amazingly, it was decently balanced and easy to carry. So, I like the heft of this rifle.

For those of us who add scopes to our hunting rifles because of aging eyes, there are no factory options for a scope mount on the Winchester 1886. For me, I would not add on a side scope mount to this beautiful historic rifle.

Winchester ammo for Winchester firearms

Winchester ammunitions are nothing but top-quality ammo. I have written several times on how my entire family going back four generations, have used Winchester ammo and shotgun shells. Winchester ammo is just dependable. By the way, Winchester ammunition is not owned by Winchester/Browning firearms. Winchester ammo does make ammunition for Browning. I have been told the two companies cooperate in joint ventures. Two great companies, two great products.

For more information, check out the YouTube video and the links below. Thank you for checking us out.


Winchester 1886 Lever Action Short Rifle Stats

  • UPC 048702119590
  • Caliber: 45-70 Govt
  • Barrel Length: 24 inches
  • Overall Length: 43 inches
  • Length of Pull: 13 ¼ inches
  • Front Sight: MARBLE ARMS® brass bead
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable Buckhorn style
  • Weight: 8 pounds and 6 ounces
  • Magazine Capacity: 8
  • Twist Rate: 20 inches
  • Barrel Finish: Brushed Polish
  • Stock Finish: Satin
  • Wood Grade: Grade # I
  • Receiver Finish: Brushed Polish
  • Chamber Finish: Polished
  • Barrel Material Steel
  • Barrel Contour: Round
  • Stock Material: Black Walnut
  • Recoil Pad: Crescent Metal
  • Receiver Material: Steel
  • Trigger Finish: Brushed Polish
  • Bolt Slide Finish: Brushed Polish
  • Magazine Type: Full-Length Tube
  • Trigger Material: Steel
  • Trigger Guard Material: Steel

MSRP $1,339.99          


Winchester Repeating Arms 

Winchester 1886 Short Rifle

Winchester Ammo

Winchester 45-70 Government, 300 Grain

Galco Gun Leather

Galco Field Grade Culling Belt


Henry Repeating Arms