From the Henry to the 1866 Yellow Boy, to the 1873 and 1876 models, Winchester had chambered its own carbines and rifles with increasingly powerful ammunition. But it was only with the model 1886 designed by John Moses Browning that the big bore lever action rifles era started
The 1873 had been an incredibly successful rifle, but it could handle only pistol cartridges. While this allowed the light and handy carbine to tackle most small to medium sized game and worked well for self-defense, it lacked true range and power.
Technical solutions had to evolve to accommodate for higher powered cartridges and, while the shape remained that of the instantly recognizable Winchester lever action, materials and mechanical details changed a lot.
While the 1876 model got over this problem, being able to chamber some proprietary high-power rifle cartridges, it still made use of the same short, toggle link action that made it unsuitable for longer cased cartridges like the ubiquitous 45-70.
So, just three years later, Winchester had John Moses Browning design a new model that could feed the standard “buffalo” cartridges of the time. For the new gun, Browning choose a falling block with double locking lugs that secured the long bolt in place. This arrangement allowed for a longer bolt throw and a more secure lock.
The 1886 action was so successful and sturdy that it could easily accommodate the smokeless cartridges developed in the late XIX and early XX century and, with just the adoption of a nickel steel barrel, could be chambered for the high speed .33 WCF cartridge and new, smokeless loadings of classic black powder cartridges.
The Pedersoli 1886 is a faithful replica of the original rifle. The Classic Sporting is different from other versions of this model for the long, round barrel and the straight English stock.
The barrel is in the PMG (Precision Match Grade) class in the manufacturer’s range of barrels, meaning it’s machined on CNC centers and rifled by slow turning multiple pass broaches for match grade accuracy.
But as accurate as the barrel may be, what really stands out immediately to the eye is the receiver. Machined from a forged billet for maximum strength and durability, it is beautifully case hardened with dramatically vivid and contrasting colors that are a welcome comeback on modern weapons, where conventional current day case hardening processes create weak colors at best.
You’d probably be thinking what I though myself viewing this receiver: a “showcase” piece exceptionally made for display at gun shows and in the factory’s display room. Not at all: this is a run-of-the-mill, standard production piece, one of many like it. Someway, somehow, Pedersoli managed to recreate the same bright colored, dramatically contrasting clouds and splashes that call back to the traditional case hardening methods of old times.
All other steel parts are beautifully blued, while the wood is carefully matched to the metal. A gold bead front sight offers good contrast with dark targets while the rear sight is of the buckhorn type: not ideal for accurate target shooting, but offering a fast target acquisition for hunting, which was the original purpose of the rifle.
Both sights are adjustable, the front sight horizontally through a dovetail, the rear sight horizontally in the same way (a screw must be loosened) and vertically through the usual sliding step wedge found on many Winchester guns. For those wanting a more accurate aiming device, both the left side of the receiver and the tang have been drilled and tapped to accept a Vernier peep sight.
With 8 45-70 cartridges in the magazine, this is a remarkable, long reaching, hard hitting gun very effective both for accurate, long range shooting (equipped with the optional peep sight) and for large game hunting.
Pedersoli 1886 Sporting Classic Rifle - Specifications
Pedersoli 1886 Sporting Classic Rifle
Lever action rifle
Lever action manual repetition
Manual safety, on first cock of the hammer
26" / 660 mm
6 groves, with 1/18" twist
Half-buckhorn adjustable rear sight; adjustable front sight
44 7/8" / 1.140 mm
9,26 lbs / 4,2 kg
Blued steel barrel; casehardened steel frame and lever.
Walnut stock and forearm
Contact your local dealer