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A Guide to Disassembling and Cleaning the Winchester Model 1873

In this article, you will learn about a comprehensive guide to disassembling and cleaning the Winchester Model 1873. We will provide you with step-by-step instructions and a helpful video to walk you through the process. Additionally, you will gain some historical context about this iconic firearm. By the end, you will have all the knowledge and skills necessary to properly disassemble and clean your Winchester Model 1873.

A Guide to Disassembling and Cleaning the Winchester Model 1873


The Winchester Model 1873 is a legendary firearm that holds a significant place in history. As one of the most iconic lever-action rifles, it played a crucial role in the expansion of the American frontier. Maintaining and cleaning this classic rifle is essential to ensure its longevity and optimal performance. In this guide, we will provide step-by-step instructions on how to disassemble and clean the Winchester Model 1873, along with some historical context of this remarkable firearm.

Overview of the Winchester Model 1873

The Winchester Model 1873, also known as “The Gun that Won the West,” is a lever-action rifle that was first manufactured in 1873. Designed by John Browning, this rifle quickly gained popularity due to its reliability, versatility, and advanced features for its time. It became the go-to firearm for many settlers, cowboys, lawmen, and outlaws alike.

Key Features of the Winchester Model 1873

The Winchester Model 1873 boasts several notable features that set it apart from other firearms of its time. These features include:

  • Lever-action mechanism: The lever-action design allows for smooth and rapid cycling of cartridges, making it easier for quick shots and reloading.
  • Tubular magazine: The rifle has a tubular magazine located under the barrel, which can hold up to 15 rounds depending on the caliber.
  • Brass lifter: The brass lifter provides reliable feeding of cartridges into the chamber.
  • Walnut stock: The Winchester Model 1873 features a beautiful walnut stock, which adds both aesthetic appeal and durability to the firearm.

Historical Significance of the Winchester Model 1873

The Winchester Model 1873 played a crucial role in the settlement of the American frontier. It provided settlers with a reliable and effective means of self-defense and hunting. Its popularity soared due to its versatility, allowing users to shoot for sport, protect their livestock, and even engage in military conflicts. The rifle’s impact on American history and its association with the cowboy era solidified its legendary status.

A Guide to Disassembling and Cleaning the Winchester Model 1873

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Tools and Materials Required

Before disassembling and cleaning the Winchester Model 1873, it is important to gather the necessary tools and materials. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Screwdriver set: You’ll need a set of screwdrivers, both flathead and Phillips, to remove various screws and parts.
  • Cleaning solvent: A good cleaning solvent is essential for breaking down and removing built-up dirt, debris, and powder residue.
  • Lubricating oil: A high-quality lubricating oil is necessary to ensure smooth operation and prevent rusting.
  • Cleaning patches: These patches will be used to clean the barrel and other hard-to-reach areas.
  • Bore brush: A bore brush is specifically designed to clean the rifling inside the barrel, removing any fouling or residue.

Disassembling the Winchester Model 1873

Before disassembling any firearm, it is crucial to ensure that the firearm is unloaded and in a safe condition. Always follow proper safety protocols and remove any ammunition from the area.

Removing the Magazine Tube

To begin disassembling the Winchester Model 1873, start by removing the magazine tube. Follow these steps:

  1. Ensure the firearm is unloaded. Double-check the chamber and magazine.
  2. Open the action and locate the magazine plug at the end of the magazine tube.
  3. Using a screwdriver, carefully remove the plug by unscrewing it counterclockwise.
  4. Once the plug is removed, slide the magazine tube out of the rifle barrel.

Taking Apart the Receiver and Lever

After removing the magazine tube, the next step is to disassemble the receiver and lever. Here’s how:

  1. With the magazine tube removed, locate the takedown screw on the underside of the receiver, near the trigger guard.
  2. Use a screwdriver to remove the takedown screw.
  3. Carefully separate the receiver from the buttstock by pulling them apart.
  4. To remove the lever, push the lever latch located on the left side of the receiver forward.
  5. As you push the lever latch, pull the lever downwards and out of the receiver.

Removing the Bolt and Carrier

Once the receiver and lever are taken apart, it’s time to remove the bolt and carrier. Follow these steps:

  1. Locate the bolt at the rear of the receiver. Pull the bolt back slightly to align the bolt stop with the slot in the receiver.
  2. Once the bolt stop is aligned with the slot, push it upwards until it is above the receiver.
  3. Lift the bolt upwards and out of the receiver.
  4. To remove the carrier, push it forward slightly until it is clear of the receiver and then lift it out.

Separating the Trigger, Hammer, and Lever

To complete the disassembly process, separate the trigger, hammer, and lever. Here’s how:

  1. With the bolt and carrier removed, pull the trigger downwards to release the hammer.
  2. Carefully slide the hammer and trigger out of the receiver.
  3. To separate the lever from the hammer and trigger, locate the hammer pivot pin and push it out using a small punch or screwdriver.
  4. Once the hammer pivot pin is removed, slide the lever out of the hammer and trigger assembly.

A Guide to Disassembling and Cleaning the Winchester Model 1873

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Cleaning the Winchester Model 1873

Now that the Winchester Model 1873 is disassembled, it’s time to clean each individual component thoroughly. Follow these steps:

Cleaning the Barrel and Chamber

  1. Attach a bore brush to a cleaning rod and dip it in the cleaning solvent.
  2. Insert the cleaning rod from the muzzle end of the barrel and push the brush back and forth to scrub the rifling.
  3. After scrubbing, remove the bore brush and attach a cleaning patch to the cleaning rod.
  4. Dip the cleaning patch in the cleaning solvent and run it through the barrel to remove any additional residue.
  5. Repeat the process with clean patches until they come out clean.
  6. Use a separate brush or cleaning rod to clean the chamber thoroughly.

Removing Carbon Buildup

Carbon buildup can occur on various parts of the Winchester Model 1873. Use cleaning solvent and brushes to remove carbon buildup from areas such as the bolt, carrier, and firing pin.

Cleaning the Action and Internals

Use a brush and cleaning solvent to clean the inside of the receiver, trigger, and hammer assembly. Pay special attention to hard-to-reach areas and ensure that all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned.

Cleaning the Stock and Exterior

To clean the stock, use a clean cloth dampened with a mild cleaning solution. Wipe down the stock, paying attention to any dirt or grime buildup. For the exterior metal parts, use a clean cloth and a rust inhibitor solution to prevent corrosion.

Proper Lubrication

Proper lubrication is essential to maintain the Winchester Model 1873’s smooth operation and prevent rusting. Here’s how to apply lubrication:

Applying Lubrication to Key Components

Apply a small amount of lubricating oil to the appropriate parts, such as the bolt, carrier, lever, and trigger assembly. Use a clean cloth or your finger to evenly distribute the oil.

Preventing Excessive Buildup and Dripping

Avoid over-lubricating the firearm, as excessive lubrication can attract dirt and debris, affecting the rifle’s performance. Wipe off any excess oil to prevent dripping.

A Guide to Disassembling and Cleaning the Winchester Model 1873

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Reassembling the Winchester Model 1873

Once all the components are cleaned and lubricated, it’s time to reassemble the Winchester Model 1873. Follow these steps:

Reverse Steps of Disassembly

Begin by reversing the disassembly steps, starting with inserting the lever back into the hammer and trigger assembly. Then, reassemble the trigger, hammer, and lever into the receiver.

Ensuring All Parts are Properly Aligned and Secured

Ensure that all parts are properly aligned and secured before moving on to the next step. Double-check that screws are tightened securely but not overtightened, as this can cause damage.

Test Firing and Function Check

Before putting the Winchester Model 1873 back in regular use, it is crucial to perform a test firing and function check. Follow these steps:

Inspecting the Firearm for Any Issues or Malfunctions

Check for any visible issues or malfunctions by visually inspecting the firearm. Look for loose parts, unusual wear, or any signs of damage. If any issues are detected, consult a professional gunsmith for further evaluation and repair.

Checking the Trigger Pull and Action

With the firearm unloaded, slowly pull the trigger and check for smooth and consistent operation. Pay attention to any abnormalities or irregularities in the trigger pull and action. If everything feels normal, your Winchester Model 1873 is ready for use.

A Guide to Disassembling and Cleaning the Winchester Model 1873

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Safety Precautions

When disassembling and cleaning any firearm, it is crucial to prioritize safety. Here are some safety precautions to follow:

Wearing Protective Gloves and Eyewear

Always wear protective gloves and eyewear when handling firearms and cleaning solvents to protect yourself from chemicals and potential debris.

Performing Disassembly and Cleaning in a Well-Ventilated Area

Ensure that you are in a well-ventilated area when cleaning the firearm to avoid inhaling any fumes from the cleaning solvents.

Handling Ammunition Safely

During the disassembly and cleaning process, keep all ammunition away from your work area and handle it safely, following approved safety protocols.


The Winchester Model 1873 is not only a remarkable firearm but also an important piece of American history. Properly disassembling and cleaning this iconic lever-action rifle is essential to maintain its performance and longevity. By following the step-by-step instructions in this guide, along with adhering to safety precautions, you can ensure that your Winchester Model 1873 remains in excellent condition and continues to be enjoyed for years to come.

A Guide to Disassembling and Cleaning the Winchester Model 1873

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