Book Review: The Winchester Model 1895: Last of the Classic Lever Actions

Rob Kassab and Brad Dunbar have just published an excellent new book on the Winchester Model 1895 rifle – the Last of the Classic Lever Actions, as their subtitle describes. It is a very nice looking and feeling book (US-printed, leather-bound, and 432 pages long), it is chock full of good photography and historical period pictures, and it covers a wide range of subjects. It begins with the development of the 1895, including the history of the Browning brothers with the Winchester company, as well as Winchester’s own engineers like William Mason.

It then covers all the different aspects of Model 1895 variations – and there’s a lot to cover there! Beyond the couple basic receiver patterns (“flat side” and standard), there are changes in magazine design, the addition of takedown models, and changes to small parts like hammers and extractors. The receiver markings changed periodically as well, of course. Elements like the sights, stocks, and barrels are not only relevant to the 1895, but also carry over to other Winchester models. There is also a section on the embellishments offered by Winchester, in both fancy wood and engraving.

It next delves into the different cartridges that were offered with the 1895, and also elements like the cartridge boxes and loading tools. The final sections include whole chapters on the 1895’s use in Mexico, it’s World War One Russian contract, its one small US military contract, its famous safari use by Theodore Roosevelt, and its use by a variety of lawmen in the Old West.

The whole text is liberally sprinkled with reproduced original documents, period photos, and very nice modern photography in a way that does a great job of conveying the whole character of the 1895, not just mere data. This was a highly personal gun to many of its buyers – it was the one rifle that they depended on for hunting or life-and-death combat. It was also available in a huge number of configurations, and these two factors together mean that one cannot really understand the Model 1895 without seeing a great many of them and their owners. Kassab and Dunbar have done a great job bring not just the facts of the 1895, but also in conveying the real character of the gun, from inception to today’s collectible.

At a remarkably low $80, this book is a must-have for anyone interested in Winchester or specifically the Model 1895. It is available direct from the publisher, or via Amazon:

7 Comments

  1. The Winchester 1895 is indeed a classic, but how do they define “classic lever action”? The Savage 99 is also a classic, and came later. It can’t be the magazine design, since the 1895 used a box instead of a tube, just as the the Savage used a rotary magazine instead of a tube.

    Do they draw the line at having an external hammer?

    • Hi KBCraig,

      We mean no disrespect to the great Savage Model 99.

      On page 14 of our book, we seek to clarify with the statement on our cover with the last sentence of this paragraph: “Winchester purchased nine Browning firearm designs between October 1884 and September 1886. Thirty-three additional designs were later patented, with the rights to manufacture sold to the WRACo. These were never put into production, as the company bought the rights to prevent them from falling into the hands of competitors.8 Among those rifles manufactured were the popular Model 1886, Model 1892 and Model 1894 lever actions. However, the next Browning design manufactured by the company was remarkably different. It was the last of his classic lever action rifle designs to be manufactured by Winchester, the Model 1895.”

      Rob Kassab

  2. As soon as I finish this e-mail, I will order the book too.
    For all of us antique lever action fans: PLEASE, someone write a book about all the different manufacturers, competition, marketing wars, counterfeits (i.e., Belgium & Spain), inventors & patents (Browning, Remington, Ballard, Savage, and on & on).
    A well integrated text would be WONDERFUL! Hurry up as I am a youthful 82 1/2 years old.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*