A tale of the Winchester 1895 that wouldn’t cock. Sorting out this old lever action seemed more like archaeology than gunsmithing.
by Brian R Smith
Everyone likes a deal, and I have a few acquaintances and customers who are more than avid bargain hunters. Such was the case with one customer who showed up the Monday evening after a particularly successful hunt at a weekend gun show.
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“It’s in great shape,” he said. “Except that it has no blueing left, and somebody cut the barrel and installed a banded front ramp. And the hammer doesn’t cock.” The action was already open, his having paid heed to the sign at the door admonishing all to ensure that their firearms be unloaded. With the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, he levered the bolt forward and sure enough, the hammer followed to the safety notch. I immediately thought “broken sear,” or “broken sear notch in the hammer.” Maybe the top of the hammer was too worn.
Taking the rifle in hand, I tried several cycles of the lever, slowly at first and then “running it like I stole it.” With aggressive levering, the hammer cocked maybe twice in a dozen tries but would push off with thumb force. Taking up a small flashlight, with the lever dropped it appeared the sear spring was in place and intact. As I filled out a tag, the proud new owner asked what I though it could be. “Can’t say without running more tests, maybe some imaging, and probably some exploratory surgery. You have insurance, don’t you?” His face got a little pale.
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