July 30, 2019
By Steve Gash
Uberti USA currently offers more than 20 versions of the classic Model 1873 Winchester lever-action rifle, comprising trapper, carbine, short rifle, sporting rifle, special sporting, and competition versions. Barrel lengths range from 16.13 inches to 24.25 inches, and chamberings include .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44-40 Winchester, and .45 Colt.
One of the newest Uberti Model 1873s is the fancy version called the Model 1873 Limited Edition Rifle Deluxe. It’s eye-catching to say the least, and it grabbed my attention immediately upon first learning about it. I quickly ordered one and put it through a thorough examination and shooting test.
The rifle is chambered in .45 Colt, and it is in the short rifle configuration with a 20-inch, polished blue, octagon barrel (twist rate is 1:16, standard for the .45 Colt). The hammer has the traditional quarter-cock notch, and the full-length magazine tube holds 10 rounds.
The steel receiver and lever are beautifully casehardened and hand-engraved. The lever has a “John Wayne” loop and is large enough to be used with gloves but not so big that it looks cartoonish.
The dust cover is blued and engraved, and it glides back and forth on rails machined into the rear part of the receiver, making this Model 1873 a “third model,” like the vast majority of the original Winchester rifles. The trigger is blued and has a pull weight of 3 pounds, 12.7 ounces. It was crisp, with very little take-up or creep.
The sights are a buckhorn rear with elevator and a post front. Both are dovetailed into the barrel, and both sights have tiny lock screws. The cartridge lifter is brass, just as on the originals, and is engraved on the bottom but is not marked as to caliber.
The engraving is extensive and exquisite. It is faithful to the original 19th-century pattern and was carefully crafted by the famed Italian engraving firm Atelier Giovanelli.
The stock and forearm are A-grade European walnut and have a nice, glossy finish with a subdued reddish hue that I think is very attractive. The forearm has a blued steel cap that is engraved.
The buttstock has a curved buttplate that is blued and engraved. As is typical of modern-day replica Model 1873s, the buttplate does not have the trapdoor storage compartment found on original centerfire Model 1873s. The length of pull is 13 inches, and the wood-to-metal fit is top drawer.
The action works slick as can be, and if one first cocks the hammer, working the lever is about as effortless as possible while still moving finely machined metal parts. Single loading is a snap, too. When lowering the lever with the chamber empty, stop just short of raising the carrier, drop a fresh round on the cartridge elevator, and close the action.
The Model 1873 and the .45 Colt are both so iconic that I couldn’t wait to get to the range. I had 10 factory loads, six with lead bullets and the remainder with jacketed bullets. Plus, I made up three handloads with 250-grain lead bullets and modern powders to represent powerful hunting loads. The results are shown in the chart. The rifle’s good trigger was an asset to respectable group shooting, but my eyes and open sights haven’t been on speaking terms for some time, so I attribute some of the larger group averages to the “loose nut” at the end of the stock: me. Nevertheless, the slick rifle pounded those big, fat bullets into rather tidy groups, all things considered.
Overall, the Uberti Model 1873 Limited Edition Rifle Deluxe shot like a champ. It’s no wonder cowpunchers and ranchers of old doted on their Model 1873s.