New Member with some Winchester Questions?


Howdy Folks
A friend of mine has had a box of Winchester Bullets along with several loose bullets that he found in an old barn on a ranch in Northern Ca. over 20 years ago. The bullet box is labeled 350 grains and the bullets Mic out to .459 Diameter so, I’ve determined that these are for the Winchester 45-75 Cartridge. Here are some Pictures…

Label reads “350 grains, 50 grooved bullets, Winchester Model 1876, Manufactured By The Winchester Repeating Arms Co.
NEW HAVEN CONN. U.S.A.” Box end label reads " Winchester Model 1876 below that GROOVED BULLETS
Here is a pic of one of the bullets.

So far the only info I’ve found is regarding complete ammo from Winchester and was unaware that Winchester was offering bullets as a component. My Questions are these. Do any of you guys have an idea of the date of MFG this box of bullets, and on the collector market, what would their dollar value?


I don’t know the year, but I assume they are 1880’s to 1920’s era stuff. There is a similar style box shown here for $60.00:


Based only on the style of the label printing, I’d estimate the box to be from sometime in the 1880s, certainly not much later than that. The bullets are very likely to have been intended for the .45-75, as that was a caliber exclusive to the Winchester Centennial Model 1876. Also, the 350 grain bullet was the common weight used in the .45-75 factory load. I can’t guess at the value, as there’s probably not that much collector interest in bullets only. Nonetheless, a nice find, especially as it is a full box.


I also would not venture a guess at value, however, I would beg to differ on the “not much collector interest”…It is an early Winchester product, full, in great shape…and those who collect bullet boxes, (like me, albeit not 45-75), would go nuts over it, I’m betting…



I just started collecting and studying Winchester cartridges. The 45-75 was scaled up from the 44-40 used in the Model 1873 Winchester rifle. The experience I have had so far collecting Winchester cartridges is that this caliber bullet and cartridge for the Model 1876 are relative rare. The box of bullets is a good find.


The purpose of the .45-75 was to get near-.45-70 ballistics in the shorter lever action Model 1876 Winchester rifle (which has a relatively weak toggle lock similar to the Model 1873 and earlier Winchester lever action rifles). The toggle lock design posed limits on the maximum cartridge length that could be used, so the .45-75 was made shorter than the .45-70 but fatter to allow more powder space, and also used a lighter bullet than the .45-70. It was not a scaled-up .44-40; Rather. it was actually more of a shortened and fattened .45-70 case. However, the Model 1876 rifle could be thought of as being a scaled-up Model 1873.

Remember, this was before John M. Browning’s much stronger and longer lever actions had been invented, such as the 1886, 1892, 1894, and 1895, which made possible the use of truly BIG black powder cartridges in a lever action rifle (such as the .45-90 and .50-110). Of course, the Model 1892 was designed to use shorter revolver cartridges, but it did have a far stronger lockup than the Model 1873. Therefore, there were essentially “+P” revolver caliber loads made for use only in this rifle. The Browning lever action designs were adequately strong to handle newer smokeless powder loadings, and have survived to the present day. The earlier toggle lock designs are obsolete, except for Cowboy Action Shooter replicas of the early Winchester lever action rifles.

The Canadian Mounties used the Model 1876 in .45-75 extensively, and so did Teddy Roosevelt. If you wanted to use a repeating rifle for big game hunting between 1876 and 1886, the Model 1876 in .45-75 was the best way to go, as it represented a quantum leap in ballistic performance over the .44-40 and .38-40 in the Model 1873.


An early Winchester bullet box & for the Centennial or M-76 Winchester, I’d think perhaps contemporary with the first issue of the rifle, & as to value it’s a very uncommon box.
[1st I’ve seen, for whatever that is worth]

This forum is great!, a show of new stuff every day!


Actually the Marlin 1881 was a lever-action repeater available in .45-70 several years before Winchester offered its 1886. Jack


Thanks for the responses guys, Sorry I wasn’t able to get back to this thread sooner was having some computer problems.

Dennis that info on the toggle link Winchester rifles is right on the 1876 was basically a scaled up 1873

I’m inclined to believe that this box of bullets dates from around 1876-1880 as the old homestead where they were found dates to that era. I have access to a sophisticated chem lab and I sent a tiny sample of the bullet lube in for full analysis out of curiosity, turns out of be mostly parifin based with traces of animal proteins in other words animal fats such as lard, no beeswax additives. I’m guessing that they chose the parrifins in order to maintain a higher melting point to prevent the lube from melting during warm weather or storage conditions.

Would still like to get an idea of their value on the collector market.


An interesting possible subject of investigation - early lead bullet lubricants. Any specialists in that topic out there that would like to hold forth?

If you have to pay for it, that kind of lab analysis is not cheap.

I remember reading an article somewhere. and long ago, about the very early Volcanic Rocket Balls using beef tallow in grooves as a lubricant after finding out they wouldn’t shoot very accurately without it.