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As its model number tells us, the Model 1885 Winchester first appeared over a century ago. In fact, well over a hundred thousand were made before it was discontinued in the 1920s. Based on an original John Browning patent, for which he was reportedly paid $8,000, the M-1885 was built in a variety of sizes and configurations that can be generally divided into two categories: High-Wall and Low-Wall. The larger and stronger High-Wall class usually came in heavy calibers, up to and including the .50/140 Winchester Express, while the petite Low-Wall was reserved for smaller rimfire and centerfire calibers. The Low-Wall, like its larger brother, came in far too many variations to list here and over the years gained a reputation as a solid and reliable rifle for target and small game.

Like all early Winchesters, these guns are now eagerly sought by collectors willing to pay well more than a thousand dollars for certain variations in good condition. Which is just one reason Winchester has reintroduced a Japanese-made version of the M-1885. Another reason is the spectacular success of the .17 HMR, which, when offered in a Low-Wall configuration, makes for a good-looking, fun rifle to take into the field.

For accuracy testing, we mounted a scope on our test sample Low-Wall (the model comes drilled and tapped for scope bases). While accuracy was not as good as that of some .17 HMR bolt-action rifles we’ve tested, it is plenty good enough for targets as small as prairie dogs out to 100 yards and a bit beyond.

Fit and finish of its blued octangular barrel and receiver were excellent, and the action was crisp and tight. If there is a complaint to be made, it is the added-on rotation safety mechanism, which is ugly and difficult to operate. But perhaps few will bother with the safety; after all, on a hammer gun the hammer is the safety. But its safety mechanism aside, this pretty rifle represents a legendary era of American gun making and should fit nicely into any modern shooting program.


Test Rifle: Model 1885 Winchester Average Group Size: 1.829 inches* Ammo Used: Hornady ammunition

*Average of 5 five-shot groups

Manufacturer:| Winchester/Import
Model:| M-1885 Low-Wall
Type:| Single-Shot Rifle
Caliber:| .17 HMR
Magazine Capacity:| Single
Weight:| 6 lb. 15 1/2 oz.
Finish:| Blue with case-colored receiver
Stock:| Walnut
Barrel Length:| 24 in.
Rate of Twist:| 1 in 8 in.
Overall Length:| 40 1/4 in.
Length of Pull:| 13 3/8 in.
Drop at Heel:| 1 3/4 in.
Drop at Comb:| 1 in.
Trigger Pull:| 3 lb. 10 oz.
Bore finish grading (out of 5):| 3
Suggested Retail:| $936