The Museums

Winchester Historic Firearms & Antique Products

The Museums

The Winchester Historic Firearms Museum has one of the largest collections of Winchester rifles on the west coast.

Here you’ll find a history of how the Winchester rifles evolved, starting with Oliver Fisher Winchester.

Oliver Fisher Winchester was an entrepreneur who made a fortune in the shirt manufacturing business during the 1830’s and 1840’s. He took over a bankrupt arms manufacturing company in New Haven, Connecticut in 1857, which eventually became the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.

The Gun That Won The West!

The Repeating Rifle

B. Tyler Henry, the plant manager, developed the famous Henry Repeating Rifle in 1860. In 1866, improvements were made to the Henry Rifle. The redesigned model then became the first Winchester Repeating Rifle. The year 1873 brought more improvements – including a steel mechanism and heavier center fire cartridges – and the model released that year is popularly known as “The Gun That Won The West.”

All these historic rifles, and many other firearms from around the world, are on display in the Winchester Firearms Museum. The museum’s collection includes firearms that are hundreds of years old, as well as the famous Limited Edition Winchester commemorative rifles – among them the Centennial ’66, the Theodore Roosevelt, and the renowned John Wayne.

After World War I, the demand for military arms in America was substantially reduced. As a result, during the 1920’s the Winchester Arms Company shifted production to a new and growing market – household and sporting goods. Under the slogan, “More Than Just The Gun,” the Winchester Products Company developed a product line that touched virtually every aspect of American life. At one time there were 6,300 Winchester franchise stores throughout the country. Ordering the products through the Winchester mail-order catalog was also extremely popular.

Some of Winchester’s best known products include roller skates with double-row ball bearings, advertised as “The Skate with a Backbone – Lightweight, Most Mileage, Utmost Strength.” Winchester safety razors were said to be “As Good As The Gun.” Winchester fishing tackle was famous, and the company produced a full of line of tools like hammers, planes, saws, wrenches, and more. There were “focusing flashlights,” batteries, ice boxes, locks, scissors, cutlery, tongs, meat grinders, paint and varnish, pots and pans – even footballs and bicycles!

The Winchester Antique Products Museum, located in the gazebo adjacent to the Winchester Gift Shoppe, has many of these items on display, along with Winchester Product Company advertisers posters, which show how Winchester products were marketed to the American public.

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Wander through 110 of the 160 rooms of this Victorian mansion, designed and built by the Winchester Rifle heiress. Tour the estate daily. Keep up to date on all the happenings, worldly and otherwise, only with the exclusive "13th Hour" newsletter.

Mrs. Winchester’s financial resources were virtually unlimited; upon her husband’s death she received several million dollars in cash and 777 shares of stock in the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Upon her mother-in-law’s death in 1897, Mrs. Winchester received 2,000 more shares, which meant she owned just under fifty percent of the company’s capital stock. This provided her with an income of $1,000 a day – back in the days before income taxes.