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The Winchester Model 1887 lever-action shotgun was one of the first successful repeating shotguns on the market. It pushed Winchester’s lever action brand optimization into new markets. This gun is serial number 1 and has a John Ulrich engraving. It was made as an exhibition piece and ultimately bought by Henry Ford and given to Harvey Firestone (Heard of them?).

We don’t know the specific reason for the gift, but we do know that between 1915 and 1924, the two traveled the country with American naturalist John Burroughs and inventor Thomas Edison and called themselves, “The Four Vagabonds.”


Personally, I think they sound like a pretty bad ass group to road trip with – not to mention the cool ride. In addition, it’s pretty neat to see two people associated with the automobile industry owning and using firearms – especially since gun designers like Sam Colt’s advancements in interchangeability, production lines, and industrial machinery inspired Henry Ford.

Additionally, the automobile and firearms industries are often interconnected. For example, the automobile muffler and firearm suppressor were invented around the same time for similar reasons. Yet somehow one is now standard and the other highly regulated…hmmm. To some, guns can seem segregated from larger contexts in history, so it’s nice to see a gun that truly represents the interconnectedness of firearms to other facets of industry and society.

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  1. Car companies made small arms and other weapons during the second world war also. M3 sub gun comes to mind immediately.

    I could be wrong but I believe the Spencer company made the first production pump action shotgun.

      • M1 Carbines were also made my US Postal Meter (coin in the slot before use?), Saginaw geabox (did it have a 4 speed shifter?), Underwood Typewriter division of IBM (the charging handle makes a good carriage return).

  2. You may well be right.
    The only one I have seen was in a gun shop, built up from spare parts when that famous NY company bought up what was left of the Spencer Co.

    It had a very coarse twist steel barrel and that pump action was all machined, not just stampings like today!

      • Not a formal member of the NSDAP, but his Dearborn INdependent in the 1920s spewed a line of hate that paralleled some Nazi concepts. So yes, anti Jewish, but fomally a pro Nazi? No.

        Charles Lindbergh had similar issue. He admired the efficiency of Nazi Germany, accepted award from Hermann Goering, but was not a member or formally a supported of the Nazi regime. Still, because of his fellow traveler sympathies he lost a good amount of support from many Americans, was booed in Iowa for one of his speeches. For international relations he was an anti interventionist in late 1930 and 1940 and 41.The Army and FDR allowed to fly in the Pacific Theatre of Operations. Scott Berg wrote a perceptive biography of Lindbergh. Try it. I do not know where Lindbergh stood on Second Amendment issues. But then again, forearms possession in the thirties and forties didnt have the explosive political content it had after 1967 and the Koerner Commission Report.

    • Right up until Hitler stepped over a specific line (probably Kristalnacht, definately the border with Poland) a great many people all around the world thought he was a great leader who had miraculously pulled Germany out of the Hell created by the Versailles Treaty.

      It is not the first time in history, nor will it be the last, that a sociopathic leader has fooled the world.

      The important take-away, of course, is who continued to support the Nazis AFTER the invasion of Poland, and especially after the Nazi atrocities became known.

      • Sociopath. W comes to mind. Grandpa bush of the bush crime family was fond of the nazis and remarked, and I paraphrase, if the American people knew what we have done we would all be in jail. It is not really all that remarkable that clinton and trump are the major party candidates and are still walking around loose. God help us all.

    • As opposed to GM’s Opel division which cranked out much of the NAZI war wheels? GM’s US bosses were involved until well into the war, and once the war was over, got reparations from the US government for destroying their factories.

      • It’s all money.

        The fact that Germany was borrowing money from the US to pay off Britain and France for the costs of WWI so they could pay back the US for the costs of WWI and that was one of the major contributing factors to WWII just proves that the world is round.

  3. Winchester, eh? Surprised they didn’t go with “shotshell rifle” or some other needlessly qualifying designation. Probably because Henry Ford wouldn’t let them get away with it.

    “Mr. Ford, we proudly present you with your new Winchester 1887 shotshell rifle!”

    “You can cut the crap, boys. Me and Webster both know a shotgun when we see one.”

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