Gun Review: Turnbull Finished Winchester 1892 Deluxe Takedown Rifle

Turnbull Finished Winchester 1892 Deluxe Takedown

Courtesy Turnbull restorations

“Crazy Horse would have been in front, alone, standing out in that kaleidoscope of shifting color by his apparent plainness. He would have worn only his breechcloth and a single hawk’s feather in his hair…He carried his Winchester lightly.” (Stephen E. Ambrose, Crazy Horse and Custer)

When the Sioux warrior Crazy Horse stood looking out over the area known as Little Big Horn, he carried a Winchester lever action rifle. So did Pat Garret and Billie Bonnie, as did the groups of men known as Texas Rangers and U.S. Deputy Marshalls.

 

Turnbull Finished Winchester 1892 Deluxe Takedown

Mike Arnold for TTAG

In each of their hands, the Winchester rifle was devastating – whether on battlefields, cattle trails or the dusty streets of towns. Though an earlier model Winchester was the weapon of choice for Garret, Crazy Horse and others, the John Browning-designed Winchester 1892 is the model best known to millions-upon-millions of Wild West Show attendees, moviegoers and television viewers.

Turnbull Finished Winchester 1892 Deluxe Takedown

Mike Arnold for TTAG

When Annie Oakley broke flying targets with a Winchester lever action, she did so with a smooth-bore Model 1892. Whether Chuck Connors wielding his rapid-fire repeater in The Rifleman or John Wayne blazing away in True Grit, they were firing customized Model 1892s.

OK, so there weren’t really any projectiles issuing from either Connors’ or Wayne’s rifles, but as a kid I sure could imagine that there were.

Courtesy Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco, Texas; https://www.texasranger.org/

Returning to real-world applications, the fact that Winchester’s lever actions were chambered for popular handgun cartridges provided the advantage of carrying a single type of ammunition for rifle and revolver.

For example, the cartridges in the iconic photo of Billy Bonnie, a.k.a. Billy-The-Kid, appear to be the widely-used caliber, .44-40. In addition to the advantage of having one cartridge for two firearms, the design of the Winchester lever actions resulted in an extremely fast-pointing and easy-handling long gun that could generate substantial firepower.

These characteristics were (are) perfect for fighting from horseback and for short-range hunting. Though Texas Ranger,Jim Gillett ‘applied’ his Winchester lever action against criminals, he also reflected on hunting with the same .44-40, thus stating, “I have killed almost every kind of game that is found in Texas, from the biggest old bull buffalo to a fox squirrel….”

I wonder about the wisdom of Jim Gillett’s use of his rifle on a ‘bull buffalo’, but as Craig Boddington has pointed out, the .44-40 “…at close range will kill deer today as well as it did in 1873.”

When Turnbull Restoration’s Mike Nelson asked about my desire to review one of their ‘Turnbull Finished’ rifles, I was, to put it mildly, delighted. Already having worked with one of Doug Turnbull’s’s Custom Reproduction Model 1886s, I had a good idea what was in store.

Unlike the Model 1886, the 1892 Deluxe Takedown is a stock factory-made Winchester rifle that’s been “Turnbull-ized.”

I would be able to handle an exquisite firearm that would bring the 19th Century episode known as the ‘Winning of the West’ into the here-and-now. When Mike specified that the rifle they would be sending was a Winchester Model 1892 Deluxe Takedown rifle, chambered to .44-40, I was even more pleased.

My pleasure was two-fold: first, I had never handled a Takedown rifle, let alone a ‘Deluxe’ version; second, I had never fired a rifle chambered to this iconic caliber. I was being given a two-fer for my bucket list.

Turnbull Finished Winchester 1892 Deluxe Takedown

Mike Arnold for TTAG

When I opened the box containing the 1892 Takedown at my local gun shop, this is what I saw: bone charcoal case hardening coloration on receiver, lever, hammer, butt plate and forend cap that is the ‘tell’ indicating time spent in the Turnbull workshop.

Turnbull Finished Winchester 1892 Deluxe Takedown

Courtesy turnbullrestoration.com

There was also the era-appropriate rust bluing on the octagon barrel and magazine tube as well as a hand-rubbed oil finish on the Grade 5/6 walnut stock that shades the wood with that classic Winchester red.

What I could not see, but would experience later when I carried out my rangework, was the tang safety conversion that restored the half-cock safety as was found on original 1892 rifles.

Likewise, adjustments were made by the Turnbull gunsmiths to lighten the mainspring thus softening both the action cycling and trigger pull. The resulting rifle looks and feels like the original Winchesters carried by Crazy Horse, Garret, Bonnie, Gillett, Oakley and, yes, even Connors and Wayne.

Not Just Another Pretty Face

Turnbull Finished Winchester 1892 Deluxe Takedown

Mike Arnold for TTAG

One of the things that I wondered was whether the .44-40 handgun cum rifle cartridge, and the era-correct steel butt plate on the Model 1892, would combine to make the rifle a menace to my shoulder. I realized that using 200-grain Winchester hunting loads for my rangework probably wouldn’t help matters. With all of that in mind, I strapped on my gel pad before pulling the trigger for the first time. I needn’t have worried. The Turnbull-ized Winchester was wonderfully mild in the recoil department. In fact, it was so much fun to shoot that before I knew what was happening, I had run 30+ cartridges through the rifle.

Turnbull Finished Winchester 1892 Deluxe Takedown

Courtesy turnbullrestorations.com

I mentioned earlier that a major attraction of the Winchester lever actions for lawmen, outlaws and hunters alike was the firearm’s ability to point like a well-fitted shotgun. I found the 1892 Takedown does just that.

I did not need to reposition my cheek on the stock after cycling the action; the rifle kept pointing at the target, seemingly ignoring that it was being held by inexperienced hands. The fact that the rifle and ammunition were forgiving of my novice status is reflected in the groups obtained using a fieldrest at both 50 and 100 yards.

Takedown is quick and easy. With the lever open, simply open the takedown lever at the front of the magazine tube, rotate it a few times, then twist the barrel assembly about 1/4 turn to separate it from the receiver. That’s all that’s needed to convert the 41-inch rifle into a very compact, portable package.

Turnbull Finished Winchester 1892 Deluxe Takedown

Mike Arnold for TTAG

The photo illustrates two of my best groups from targets placed at the 50 yard mark.  Though not pictured, my groups at 100 yards averaged 4 inches in diameter. The accuracy at both distances is more than sufficient for both uses for which the Winchester lever actions were designed – killing game and enemies.

Turnbull Finished Winchester 1892 Deluxe Takedown

The takedown lever at the front of the magazine tube (Courtesy turnbullrestorations.com)

With the accuracy of the Model 1892 confirmed, I investigated the muzzle velocity and energy of the Winchester ammunition. I had in mind to carry the 1892 on upcoming deer/feral hog hunting trips.

The average MV and ME of ~1100 f.p.s. and ~600 ft-lbs, respectively, might suggest some doubt as to the effectiveness of the cartridge for deer-sized game. However, as testified to by legions of .44-40 owners, its flat-nosed bullets are extremely hard hitting.

Turnbull Finished Winchester 1892 Deluxe Takedown

Mike Arnold for TTAG

I won’t be trying to stretch this rifle or load into a 100+ yard hunting device. But that’s not its purpose. It should be perfect for the thick hardwood stands of my adopted state of Georgia – but probably not the huge food-plots.

Conclusions

This is a rifle that has a primary place in the history of the United States. The Winning of the West involved resilient men and women of many nations and tongues who required tools like the Model 1892 Winchester to put food on their tables and provide protection against those who meant them harm.

Holding this rifle stirs a lot of emotions, in particular, awe towards those who were strong enough to journey into a hostile wilderness. I’m equally excited as I contemplate carrying this rifle after big game, a rifle made oh-so-true-to-history by Turnbull and his craftsmen.

Specifications: Turnbull Finished Winchester 1892 Deluxe Takedown Rifle

Action Type: Lever
Caliber: .44-40 Winchester (.44 WCF…also comes in .45 Colt)
Capacity: 12 rounds
Length: 41”
Barrel Length: 24”
Weight: 7 lbs, 8 oz
Stock: Grade 5/6 walnut with a hand-rubbed oil finish
Sights: Marbles gold bead front, buckhorn rear
Price: $3,450

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style * * * * *
This rifle is a stock Winchester lever gun made truly beautiful by Turnbull to accurately reflect the historical period in which they first appeared.

Fit and Finish: * * * * *
Bone charcoal case hardening coloration on receiver, lever, hammer, butt plate and forend cap, with era-apposite rust bluing on the octagon barrel and magazine tube. Takedown was quick and easy.

Accuracy * * * * *
Fantastic accuracy for the .44-40’s historical application…putting down big-game and enemies at 100 yards or less.

Ergonomics * * * * *
At 7 ½ pounds, this rifle is extremely easy to both carry and hold at shoulder level while waiting for an animal to take that step into the open. The overall balance, ‘off-the-rack’ fit of the stock, and smoothness of the reworked action allowed quick re-acquisition of the target while working the lever.

Reliability * * * * *
There were no chambering issues with any of the different cartridges I ran through this rifle. I don’t expect there to be any when I take this Model 1892 into the whitetail woods either.

Overall * * * * *
I have high expectations for Turnbull products. This Model 1892 Winchester did not disappoint. The fact that it shoots like dream, but doesn’t kick like a demon (mixed metaphors), make this rifle a wonderful shooting experience. This rifle allows the shooter to dream of the Old West.

 

Mike Arnold writes about firearms and hunting at his blog Mike Arnold, Outdoor Writer.

A note of thanks to the following folks, without whose generosity this review would not have been possible: Mike Nelson, Paul Downs and Doug Turnbull from Turnbull Restoration (https://www.turnbullrestoration.com); Tom McElwayne (owner of Shooters Den https://www.facebook.com/ShootersDenUS); Tracy Ledbetter (owner of Gun Racks for Less – https://gunracksforless.com); and Lilian Camalet (owner of 4StableSticks® – https://4stablestick.com).

comments

  1. avatar GS650G says:

    Nice gun but not a take out in the rain hunting deer gun at all. I’d be afraid to even hold it lest fingerprints or powder residue reduce it’s value. The take down gives a new twist on an old classic, pun intended.

    1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      I had a really nice custom gun from Hamilton Bowen once. It was so nice, I hardly ever fired it and eventually sold it because I was obsessed with the inevitable day when I would drop it on some rocks or concrete. I wish I hadn’t but I did:-(

    2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      True, I’d be a little apprehensive, too, but it’d be a shame for such a beautiful item to sit unused for a lifetime up on a shelf for display. I’d use it for a hunt or two. Certainly take it to the range, and let a buddy fire it. Things like this need stories to accompany them, and they won’t acquire memories by sitting in a display case.

      ****
      I’m seriously considering a very similar restoration to a Model 94 that’s been in my family for three generations.

    3. avatar Jake Rogers says:

      I have a very rare Zoli 12ga O/U . Only 8 of this particular model were ever made. It sat in my safe for years and years because i was afraid to scratch it or mess it up. Finally, i decided to take it to a clay course while on my honeymoon and I’m glad i did. I know use it as my go to bird (dove) gun and it has more value to me than ever as a tool rather than a safe queen. I treat all of my guns as tools but they always are well taken care of.

  2. avatar Small Talk says:

    Would have been a great bug out gun for the Carrington event in 1859!

  3. avatar Ing says:

    ***droolcovetcovetcovet*** Man, I would kill to get my hands on one of these. That is a beautiful gun in every possible way.

    1. avatar KenW says:

      Mine too, Now I have two to drool over this one and a Sharps 1874 Model Rifle. Guess its time to go watch Quigley down under again. Probably the closest I’ll ever get to one.

  4. avatar Ogre says:

    Nice rifle but well above my budget. I have a Uberti ’92 carbine (all blue, no case-hardening) in .45 Colt, which the original run of ’92s was never chambered for. It’s a very slick action once the action is broken in (like all Winchester-type lever actions). It’s a very nice rifle for hunting deer-size game out to 150 yards or so, especially with ammo like Hornady’s LeverRevolution rounds.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      The 1873 wasn’t chambered in .45 Colt originally, but .44-40, which was hard on Colt because it had just introduced its 1873 pistol in .45 Colt but not .44-40. But I am pretty sure that part of the settlement between Colt and Winchester resulted in 1) the 1892 being chambered in .45 colt at issuance, and 2) colt ceasing the manufacture of its Lightning rifle.

      1. avatar John in AK says:

        Well, no.

        There wasn’t really a ‘settlement’ between Colt and Winchester, and there never was a Winchester Model 1892, or later Model 92, in .45 Colt. Original rifles came in .25-20, .32-20, .38-40, .44-40, and later Model 92s came in 218 Bee, to the end of actual production in 1941. Winchester figured that it had no need to produce rifles using Colt’s cartridges when it could just build rifles for its own, cartridges that Colt would eventually have to chamber its revolvers to take.

        When Winchester began developing trials models of revolvers designed by William Mason in 1882 (Mason having designed guns for Colt, including the 1873), Colt ‘agreed’ to discontinue its Burgess lever-action gun in exchange for Winchester not marketing revolvers in direct competition with Colt. Colt’s ‘Lightnng’ series pump-action rifles really weren’t much competition with Winchester’s products, so they didn’t figure into the equation.

  5. avatar B.D. says:

    You guys review the most distant shit to 90% of consumers. Nice gun, yes, but worth a review like anyone else is going to spring for one? Nope.

    1. avatar Geoff WWJWD - "What would John Wick do?" PR says:

      Well, it got folks to comment on it, so it succeeded.

      And that keeps the lights on for TTAG… 😉

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I don’t care what kind of guns they review so long as it is not another ar15. How long would Playboy have lasted if they used the same naked woman in every issue?

        1. avatar Joseph Quixote says:

          Yeah or a glock. Nice to see a different article for once.

        2. avatar DrewN says:

          LOL, I once saw a chart of the statistics for every Playmate through 1990 something. The mean deviation on that chart would make an F class shooter proud. Hef certainly had a type.

    2. avatar No one of consequence says:

      Now that comment, sir…

      (Removes monocle, frowns at it, polishes it, puts it back in)

      … makes me want to go out and buy two of these.

      1. avatar B.D. says:

        lol. I realize that came off harsh. Not my intention. But it’s a bit of a weird review. Maybe they could just title some of these “interesting guns and the history behind them”. I dunno… eventually they are going to be doing unboxings 😉

        1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          I could go for an article showcasing a dozen of these Turnbull Winchesters, in case hardened and “Yellowboy” brass versions. If only for drool factor.

  6. avatar Truntlop says:

    A gel pad for shooting a .44-40? Please.

    1. avatar Mike Arnold says:

      Yep, it really showed my ignorance. But, I’m ok with that, as long as I get a chance to handle these wonderful Turnbull products.

    2. avatar Aaron says:

      what is this “gel pad”? is that a feminine hygiene product?

  7. avatar Mark N. says:

    I have a Winchester 1892, and the safety isn’t all that much of an issue except that you cannot mount a long range sight there. What is a real bummer is the “rebounding hammer” set up that eliminates the half cock position and radically increases the trigger pull. It is a simple matter to eliminate the rebounding part of the action, but the action is still heavy unless you can find a lighter replacement spring. I have had no luck with that, because the arm that pushes on the hammer is completely different than the original (or any of the reproductions), and the springs don’t fit. And you end up having to replace those parts and the hammer if you want half cock.

    I absolutely love Turnbull’s case coloring work. There is none like it.

  8. avatar jwm says:

    For folks like Gillet, along with all the others involved in resettling the west, every day was a shtf existence. His rifle had to take every thing from rodents to bison. It was not sport hunting or ‘fair chase’. And there were no regulations on hunting or permits required to do so.

  9. avatar Timothy Toroian says:

    Turnbull must really enjoy his work! Recreative artistry!! Wood and metal equivalency of Michelangelo.

  10. avatar Deadeye Dicky says:

    That’s an amazing bargain for all of that (my opinion). Just wish I could afford to buy one. I think life is too short to shoot ugly guns, and guns that aren’t accurate.

  11. avatar Wood says:

    Gorgeous! I’m a Marlin guy generally, but I’d drive that!

    TTAG, more articles like this please. I can only stand so much AR and plastic fantastic. I do realize a large percentage of the readership would ridicule this as a “fudd” gun, but what do they know.

    1. avatar VLAD TEPES says:

      Come on, all those uneven splotches of different colors and wood grain are supposed to be pretty? Now, a nice Cerakote….
      😋

    2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      Definitely not a FUDD gun. A work of art.

  12. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    I’d love a take down lever gun. But it’s to much $$$.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email