In December 1875, Texas Ranger James Gillett took a trip to Austin, Texas, in search of a rifle with greater firepower than his .50-70 Sharps carbine. “The new center-fire 1873-Model Winchester had just appeared on the market and sold at $50 for the rifle and $40 for the carbine…
ten men in Company D, myself included, were willing to pay the price to have a superior arm,” he wrote. “I got carbine number 13401, and for the next six years of my ranger career I never used any other weapon.”
From one of the most experienced sources on the frontier, his solid testimony confirmed the effectiveness and reliability of the famed 1873 model. Now, 140 years later, leisure shooters and cowboy action and cowboy mounted rifle competitors have shown, through their acceptance of modern replicas, that the ’73 model is as handy on the competitive shooting range or in the saddle as it was during the frontier era.
Taylor’s & Co. offers a trio of unique lever guns among its lineup of Italian-import replica 1873 rifles, carbines and sporting and trapper models. These slicked up ’73s have each been designed for a specific audience (although any of them would also make for a fine, all-around trail, saddle or general purpose shooting companion).
This past year, Taylor’s & Co. introduced a handy little carbine designed to produce less recoil and make for easier handling by shooters of small stature. Dubbed the Ladies & Youth 1873 Carbine, this 16 1?8-inch, round-barreled, blued lever action weighs less than a standard carbine (7.2 pounds as opposed to 7.48 pounds) and is chambered for the .38 Special and .357 Magnum cartridges. The stock is an inch shorter, with less than a 12.8-inch length of pull. A soft leather stock cover, rubber butt pad and an easy-to-see gold bead front sight are optional.
For the past several years, Taylor’s & Co.’s 1873 Comanchero rifle and Runnin’ Comanchero carbine have proven popular with cowboy action and cowboy mounted shooters respectively. The custom tuned Comanchero is offered in either octagonal or half-round/half-octagonal blued barrel styles, in 18- or 20-inch lengths. The rifle wears a color case hardened receiver and either a straight or a checkered pistol-grip stock. The ammunition can be either .357 Magnum or .45 Colt caliber, and cowboy action shooters favor the rifle’s short stroke links. Additionally, the Comanchero has a gold bead front sight, a soft buckskin lever wrap and an elk skin butt stock cover. Any of Taylor’s & Co.’s ’73s can be configured into a Comanchero—regardless of barrel length or style.
Like the Comanchero rifle, the Runnin’ Comanchero carbine was designed especially for—and has found favor with—cowboy mounted rifle shooters. The carbine not only has the front sight rounded for ease of quick removal from the saddle scabbard, but also the rear sight dovetail is filled, so the rear sight or straight edged front sight will not hang up when withdrawn during the lightning fast horseback competition (important factors in mounted rifle competition). The factory does offer an optional ladder-style sight in the box. This straight-stocked, 16 1?8-inch, round-barreled, blued saddle gun can be had in either .44-40 or .45 Colt caliber, with the short-stroke action, as well as an elk leather butt cover and lever wrap.
Taylor’s & Co.’s slicked up ’73s and the gunmen who rely on them are all doing their part to keep the legacy of the “gun that won the West” alive and well!
Phil Spangenberger has written for Guns & Ammo, appears on the History Channel and other documentary networks, produces Wild West shows, is a Hollywood gun coach and character actor, and is True West’s Firearms Editor.