Book Review
Winchester Lever-Action Rifles
Winchester Lever-Action Rifles
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]

Winchester lever-action repeating rifles are an integral part of the folklore of the American West. Starting with the innovative Henry rifle, the Winchesters offered a lethal combination of portability, ruggedness, and ammunition interchangeability with pistol sidearms. During and after the American Civil War they were used by a staggering variety of military and civilian groups – gold miners, trappers, hunters, farmers, lawmen, professional gunmen, and Native Americans – and several models remain in production today. Winchester’s lever-action rifles became a favorite in Hollywood and left a lasting imprint on American culture. This book explores the Winchester’s unique place in history, revealing the technical secrets of their success with a full array of color artwork, period illustrations, and close-up photographs.

** Quoted from the back cover of the book.
The Book
Osprey Publications Ltd has released Winchester Lever-Action Rifles as Number 42 in their Weapon series. It is a softcover book with 80 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs and color photographs, color illustrations, a cut-away view illustration, original patent drawings and detailed captions. It has a 2015 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-0657-4. The book details the development, use and impact of the world famous Winchester lever-action rifles throughout history.

The Contents
  • Introduction
  • Development
  • “The ability to shoot repeatedly”
  • Use
  • North, South – and West
  • Impact
  • The Winchester’s place in history
  • Conclusion
  • Select Bibliography
  • Index

The Text
The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. Author Martin Pegler covers Winchester lever-action rifles and other firearms from their development and introduction and its use by various factions throughout history. As one can guess by the title of the book the main focus is on Winchester lever-action rifles and their use through history. Discussed are the many versions of the Winchester lever-action rifles such as the Winchester Model 1876, Winchester Model 1866 “Yellow Boy”, Winchester Model 1886 and Winchester Model 1894, as well as various other firearms such as the Smith and Wesson .50-caliber 1852, Model 1863 Sharps carbine, Model 1860 Spencer rifle, the Smith and Wesson .31-caliber Volcanic pistol and other such historic firearms. As I read through the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on Winchester lever-action rifles and other firearms to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and interesting book.

The Photographs
There are a total of 36 black and white photographs and 20 color photographs. The photographs range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. 5 of the black and white photographs are of original patent illustrations. I would say that the photographs that were chosen for this book were for the most part lesser known photographs as opposed to photographs that are featured in many other titles that deal with the same subject matter. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however a few have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and others appear too light. This is typical for the discussed periods of history and consideration needs to be given to the fact that some of the photographs are several years old and the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and do not take anything away from the book. I appreciate the fact that there are several photographs of just the weapons themselves as opposed to photographs that feature the weapons in a broad generalized military photograph. In my opinion it makes it much easier to study the various weapons and their details. Author Martin Pegler stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to the firearm enthusiast due to the details they contain.

Some of the various Winchester lever-action rifles and other firearms shown and discussed are:
  • Winchester Model 1876 rifle
  • The Jennings Rifle
  • Smith and Wesson .50-caliber 1852
  • Smith and Wesson .31-caliber Volcanic pistol
  • Winchester Model 1866 “Yellow Boy” rifle
  • Model 1863 Sharps carbine
  • Model 1838 Colt revolving rifle
  • Model 1860 Spencer rifle
  • Model 1896 Krag rifle
  • Model 1884 infantry-issue “Trapdoor” rifle
  • Winchester Model 1886
  • Russian-contract made Model 1895 rifle
  • Winchester Model 1894

The Illustrations
There are 4 color illustrations by illustrators Mark Stacey and Alan Gilliland. The illustrations are of:
  • The Winchester Exposed - A cut-away view showing the internal workings of a Model 1873 Winchester rifle.
  • The Henry in the Civil War - A group of Union soldiers armed with Henry rifles firing on attacking Confederate infantry that are armed with standard musket rifles.
  • Indian Wars, 1875 - Apache warriors armed with Henry and Winchester Model 1866 and 1873 rifles firing on US Soldiers.
  • The Model 1895 in World War I - French soldiers armed with Model 1895 rifles defending their trenched position against attacking German soldiers.

    The Notes
    There are 4 notes included in this volume and they are:
    • The NRA Museums
    • Acknowledgments
    • Artist’s Note
    • Editor’s Note

    The Captions
    The captions are well written and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown. The captions go into very specific detail as to weapons and their variations and modifications, dates and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by Martin Pegler’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.

    This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.
    As with the other Osprey Publishing ltd weapons series titles I was impressed with this volume. This is a very nice reference book that contains many close-up detailed subject specific photographs and illustrations and well detailed captions. It details Winchester lever-action rifles, as well as other firearms, from their development and introduction to their use throughout history. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey Publishing titles Ltd to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.
    Winchester An American Legend - The Official History of Winchester Firearms and Ammunition from 1849 to the Present - R.L. Wilson, Chartwell Books, Inc.

    Search inside Winchester Lever-Action Rifles on the Osprey web site: >Link Live links

    Look inside Winchester Lever-Action Rifles on the Amazon web site: >Link Live links

    Look inside the Kindle Edition of Winchester Lever-Action Rifles on the Amazon web site: Link Live links
Highs: Well written text and captions Subject specific photographs and illustrations
Lows: There are several firearms shown other than Winchester lever-action rifles as the title states which could be confusing for anyone looking for information on just Winchesters.
Verdict: Another excellent volume in Osprey Publishing’s Weapon series. Definitely beneficial to the small arms enthusiast.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-4728-0657-4
  Suggested Retail: US $18.95 / UK £12.99
  PUBLISHED: Oct 29, 2015
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


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