The Legendary Winchester Rifle
By Dale Zimmerman – RIA Employee
Moline, IL –-(AmmoLand.com)- This past weekend I watched John Wayne rule the Wild West with his trusty Winchester rifle. How I would have loved living out the adventures he played on screen! Of course, the old west has been highly romanticized. Still, I often imagine myself learning from the hardships and taking part in the triumphs those early settlers experienced.
Few things represent that golden era more than Winchester. Just mentioning the legendary name takes me to a time when America was charging ever forward, expanding westward; becoming a global player. The Winchester brand was a manufacturing behemoth, a model of American industry. It’s important we remember how intertwined the history of the United States and Winchester firearms truly were. For over a hundred years, classic Winchester rifles were carried by American settlers across the vast frontier and by soldiers on battlefronts too numerous to mention.
It has been nearly fifty years since Winchester’s heyday. It’s sad to see an American legend as large as Winchester fall so fast and so completely. While we drool over the pre-’64 Winchesters and wonder why “they don’t build them like they used to,” there’s something we forget.
Winchester was long ago forced to halt production because people were buying newer, “more cost-effective” guns. In an ironic twist, this has left the higher-quality, older guns, like Winchester, collecting dust on the shelves. Of course, other legends of American industry have suffered as well. GM is no longer the king of the auto industry, our politicians have allowed us to become dependant on foreign money and, in general, we have become a shadow of the powerhouse we once were.
The glory days of Winchester was a boon time for this country. Self-reliance was our trademark and classic Winchester rifles were, and are, a shining symbol of our pioneer spirit.
Through grit, determination and sheer force of will, we forged the greatest empire ever known to man. What would America be without those hardened settlers trudging across the great expanse with Winchester in hand and Colt on hip?
Today we find our past slipping away.
This alone makes the revered, American made Winchesters such a precious commodity. They’re a direct tie to our historic past. Each firearm contains a portion of this country’s soul.
The sad fact that we now purchase the Winchester brand from foreign markets is an unbelievable disgrace.
Most of us would rather have seen the name die completely than for such a thing to happen. But happen it did. And in a world where our fathers blood, sweat and tears are being sold to the highest bidder – what more could we expect?
We owe it to the few remaining classic Winchesters that they be preserved forever. So much of the detail and workmanship that made these weapons so special have been tossed aside.
That’s why collectors of antique firearms are so very important.
They preserve the history of this country. A history that men like Teddy Roosevelt and Buffalo Bill Cody helped shape. They knew the value of these legendary rifles. Today it is up to us to keep their legacy alive in the hope that we can recapture the magic and the boldness these great guns represent.
Rock Island Auction Company has been solely owned and operated by Patrick Hogan. This company was conceived on the idea that both the sellers and buyers should be completely informed and provided a professional venue for a true auction. After working with two other auction companies, Mr. Hogan began Rock Island Auction in 1993. Rock Island Auction Company has grown to be one of the top firearms auction houses in the nation. Under Mr. Hogan’s guidance the company has experienced growth each and every year; and he is the first to say it is his staff’s hard work and determination that have yielded such results. Visit: www.rockislandauction.com