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The Winchester Model 1866 Musket

The Merriam-Webster definition of a musket is “a heavy, large-caliber muzzle-loading usually smoothbore shoulder firearm.” The key terms here are muzzle-loading and smoothbore. However, by the time of the American Civil War, the term musket added an almost oxymoronic qualifier, the rifled musket. After the war, Winchester also liberally used this term. Many breech-loading Winchester firearms came in musket variation.

Winchester Model 1866 Musket (courtesy

This Model 1866 Musket in .44 rimfire is considered rarer than many of its sister Model ͚66͛s. The Winchester Model 1866 was the first gun called Winchester. The first type was often called the Improved Henry.

The initial manufacture of these guns was strictly rifles and carbines, but in 1869 – the first year the name ͞Winchester͟ was stamped on the barrels of these guns – muskets were added to the mix. Typically, the barrel and forend of these guns were longer than the standard rifle. A large quantity of Winchester Model 1866 Muskets were sold to Turkey in the 1870s.

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  1. And the turks used those “muskets” to ruin the plans of the russians. The lever action repeater was the wonder weapon of its time.

  2. Ban it! Ban it! Ban it!

    This is an evil weapon of war that does not belong on our streets! It has a sharp spearing knife thing that goes on the end (even more deadlier than the shoulder thing that goes up). EVIL SPEARING MONSTROSITY – ASSAULTING WEAPON OF TERROR AND DESTRUCTION. You all are baby killers for even looking at the pictures of this thing.

    For Pete’s sake, it even holds more than one bullet. How many people are you guys trying to murder?

    • Forget about the shoulder thingy that goes up. This evil murder/death/kill machine has the sight thingy that goes up AND the hand thingy that goes down.

      Won’t somebody please think about the children.

      • It even has that sneaky little hole thing on the side. You know, the one to put more and more baby killing bullets into, so you can murder people nonstop.


  3. In 1866 this thing would have been the “assault rifle” of its day.

    Very cool. Anyone make a copy of this thing? Uberti?

  4. Ash, between the smoothbore rifle and this breech-loading musket, I think it’s time to call shenanigans on these manufacturer designations. Saying that’s a musket just because Winchester claimed it is would be like me saying it’s legal to drive on the sidewalk just because that’s what I’m doing while I write this.

    • The rifled musket was a term that was in common usage at that time in history. The military insisted on the new rifles that were replacing smooth bore muskets be as long as the muskets because of the tactics and training of the time. Soldiers volley fired in ranks. The weapons were kept longer than the technology actually needed as a safety measure. Didn’t want the back ranks shooting the guys in their front ranks.

      Winchester was simply using a common term that was being used by the military of the day. Winchester wanted to make those large, bulk sales to the armies of the world. Like Remington and their rolling block.

  5. The common terminology of the day called all full size military rifles muskets. Carbine were short barrel weapons intended for use on horseback. The Brits called long range rifle fire musketry as late as WW1.

  6. Very cool. I had a .50 caliber rim fire found in my cartridge collection. I donated it to a buddy of mine who has a Spencer rifle in that caliber in a display case. They are neat looking rounds.

  7. Nifty. I have a couple pieces of .44 rimfire brass, stamped with the Henry “H” on the case head and everything. They were exposed to a lot of weather at some point, so they’re practically black, but otherwise in perfect shape. I really enjoy wondering where they’ve been and what those two bullets were fired at.

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