Vintage 1892 Winchester Lives Again!

Gotta love these old rifles!

A few weeks ago a couple friends and I went on a “Road Trip” visiting various gun shops in the area. I’d been on the lookout for a nice vintage Winchester 1892 in my favorite cartridge, the 38 WCF (38-40 Winchester). I have an 1866 (Uberti) and and 1892 Take Down (Mirkou), a vintage 1889 Marlin a vintage 1873 Winchester and a few Colt clones all in 38-40. I shoot Cowboy Action and the 38-40 is just about perfect for both smokeless powder and Black Powder.

So a Vintage Winchester 1892 was a target.

I’ve looked at a number of very nice examples. But they were always pushing $2000 and I just didn’t want to spend that much. In one of the gun shops on our tour, back in the corner of the upstairs rifle area, there was an old Winchester. I picked it up and blew the dust off it to uncover a 1892, Octagon, 24″ barrel in 38WCF! It was in rough shape. Every screw was “butter-knifed” by a kitchen gunsmith. The forarm had two hunks of wood missing. The bore was a sewer pipe and the action barely opened and closed. But it was $450! I could take it apart and sell the parts and make a profit. But this little beauty was going to be turned into a shooter!

(Notice the nice work on the tang screw…)

First thing I did when I got it home it took it completely apart. A few problems were obvious from the start. The ejector that sits at the bottom of the bolt had one ear missing. The ejector spring seemed like it gave up the ghost long ago. There was near no tension on the ejector.  The cartridge carrier didn’t seem to to be popping up high enough and the trigger pull was about 20 pounds.

All the parts went into my little Harbor Freight Ultrasonic Parts Cleaner (best $29 I ever did spend!) The parts came out looking much better and I reassembled the rifle. A few dummy cartridges were inserted in the magazine and the action cycled. Failure to feed and failure to eject! The cartridges would come out of the magazine, but as soon as you tried to move the lever to close the action, the cartridge would fall down just enough so that it wasn’t at the right height for the chamber and it would jam. This was due to the cartridge carrier not coming up high enough and locking in place. I could see the spring loaded Carrier Stop was worn and not holding the carrier in the proper position.

Instead of “ejecting”, the cartridges would pop up and fall right back down into the action causing a “stove pipe” type jam. The ejector was not “flinging” the empty cases like a 1892 Winchester should.

I’m pretty sure I knew what was wrong. It needed a new ejector, ejector spring and Carrier stop.  It also needed a barrel reline. The barrel was toast. A real sewer pipe. I tried cleaning it but it was “used hard and put away wet”!

An order went off to Homestead Parts ( These folks carry just about any part you would need for a vintage Winchester. I ordered a complete set of external screws ($36) a new carrier stop ($7.75) a new ejector ($42) and ejector spring ($6) and while I was at it a new extractor ($21) and a new magazine spring ($6)…Can’t beat these prices! Each part and ever screw comes in a nice , well labeled bag. Make replacing all them screws easy!


From Brownells I ordered a .401 barrel liner ($122)….. (BTW….The 38-40 is really a 40-40….No one is sure why they didn’t name it 40-40…) ( And the 44-40 is really a  43-40 as it uses .429 bullets!)

The parts all came in and the first thing I did is pull the barrel off the receiver.

Oh-Oh!! This is not good!

Looks like someone had been here before and screwed up the threads something terrible.  Looks like it got cross threaded and then a file was used to attempt to fix the damage.

My 24″ 1892 Winchester was now to be a 23″ 1892 Winchester. I cut the threaded shank off and turned the shank to .809 and cut new threads to 20 to the inch on the lathe.

I then bored the barrel out with the special drill I’d bought from Brownells some time ago for another 38-40 reline project.

You can read all about the barrel lining procedure elsewhere on this web site. “Winchester 1873 Back From The Dead”


The boring and liner install went off without a hitch. The chamber was cut and headspace set for “perfect”! Because I set back the barrel, I had to shorten the magazine tube and re-cut the dovetail for the forend hanger. The lathe and the milling machine had this done in short order. Muzzle was crowned with a recessed crown to hide the very fine line left by the barrel relining.

All the new parts were installed and the old Winchester reassembled.

Four dummy cartridges were inserted into the magazine, I blessed myself, and attempted to cycle the action…………..PERFECT!! All cartridges found the chamber and they ejected to the other end of my shop!

To say I was a happy camper is an understatement!

I also ground the hammer spring and cleaned up the sear. Now it has a nice 3-4 pound trigger pull and the action cycles smooth as glass!

The last thing I needed to do was fix the broken forend wood. Pictures below.

I’ll update this web site once I take it to the range and put it on paper.

Here is the quick repair I did on the forearm:


The following are just pictures of the old gal:




Hope you liked my little “Back In Action” story….


Thanks for visiting!




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7 comments on “Vintage 1892 Winchester Lives Again!”

  1. Richard Immel Reply

    I enjoyed the article. I have a 92 Winchester that shoots ok and I’ve been thinking about having it relined. What did you use for a barrel vise and action wrench to get the barrel off. I have a Brownells action wrench and a barrel vise I make blocks for as needed.


    Richard Immel

    • Roy Bertalotto

      I built a hydraulic barrel vise with a 20 Ton hydraulic jack. But I also have the one Midway sells that works just as well. I’m always surprised at how easy these old gun barrels come apart. They are never on very tight.

  2. ben conrad Reply

    Great story. I have a 24″ barreled ’92 in 32 WCF (32-20). It too has a few worn parts and a pretty ratty barrel bore but I plan on leaving it that way. I ordered a 100 box of brass and a 2-cavity bullet mold and a set of RCBS dies. My grandson loves to shoot it and I does pretty well even with the pitted bore. It will shoot about 3-4″ at 100 yards from a good rest.

  3. whistle pig wrangler Reply

    My 16 year old Rossi made navy arms 1892 clone has developed an intermittent failure to feed. The cartridge carrier won’t lift a shell. It usually happens half way through a match. No obvious wear on either carrier or lever. Itrie adjusting the ccartridge guides. What should I check next? Gun cost $500, is it worth fixing? Thanks

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