The Black Powder Cartridge News|Summer 2020
Quite often, in the course of collecting vintage rifles, I have come across single shots that have replacement barrels on them. Now, I suppose that one could refer to any single shot with a Pope barrel as having an “aftermarket” barrel, but I’m talking of firearms fit up with the product of large firearms manufacturing firms such as Winchester, Stevens or Remington.
In perusing the old shooting periodicals of the time, I’ve noticed that many riflemen would set up their pet single shot with a Winchester barrel. I’ve personally owned several Ballard rifles that were done this way. Winchester barrels enjoyed an exceptional reputation for accuracy and consistency of manufacture, to the point that some custom “barrel ’smiths” like Pope and Schoyen would order unrifled barrels from the company and then rifle them with their own particular type of rifling. I’ve especially noticed several barrels that were rerifled by George Schoyen, typically from .32 to .38 caliber. Harry Pope, as well as Horace Warner, were known to purchase smoothbore barrels from Winchester and rifle them. That’s a pretty good endorsement for the Winchester product from two master gunsmiths.
There was a small article in a vintage Winchester catalog that caught my eye entitled, “How Winchester Barrels Are Tested.” Given the reputation they had for accuracy, I thought it would be interesting to include it here in the Center Shot.
One can immediately see that Winchester indeed went to great lengths to assure that their barrels shot as well as the best. In fact, I would bet that many barrel makers today, especially the large firearms companies, do not go through as an extensive procedure when manufacturing their rifle barrels.
Having dabbled in the business of making rifle barrels, I can tell you that there are no shortcuts to a good barrel. You either do it right, or you do it over. Winchester barrels enjoyed a good reputation because they were made by experts that knew their job, then subjected those barrels to a strict quality control process. Here is the procedure Winchester went through to make a superior product:
HOW WINCHESTER BARRELS ARE TESTED
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