How many companies can you think of that have been in business for 150 years? Although there may be more than a few in Europe (Beretta comes to mind), it's quite rare in a country as young as America. A notable American exception is Winchester: 2016 marks the 150th anniversary for Winchester Ammunition and Winchester Repeating Arms. Here to weigh in on this milestone is American Rifleman editor in chief Mark Keefe.
Of course, Winchester has been in the ammunition business as long as it has been a gun company. The landmark Model 1866 lever-action would have been useless without the .44 rimfire cartridges it chambered. Although the ammunition and gun businesses split up years ago, the two entities—Winchester Ammunition and Winchester Repeating Arms Co.—have come back together to work hand-in-hand to celebrate 15 decades of Winchester ammunition and firearms.
And while a commemorative rifle might not be in the budget this year, Winchester is offering .44-40 Win., .270 Win., .30-30 Win. and 12-ga. shotshells with black-and-silver embossed packaging highlighting some of the great artwork from Winchester’s past—including some pieces used in these pages. My favorite is Philip R. Goodwin’s “Close Encounter” on the box of 150-gr., .30-30s.“Winchester is a brand at the very core of the shooting sports and hunting heritage, and it’s humbling to know we have helped write history,” said Brett Flaugher, vice president of marketing, sales and strategy. “With so many reputable companies in this industry today, we are fortunate to have such a rich legacy that we can share with our customers, our families and those who appreciate our contributions. Our brand is built on integrity, hard work and a deep focus on its most loyal customers. With a deep emphasis on innovative products, the Winchester brand remains one of the most recognized and respected brands around the world.”
Winchester went to considerable effort to chronicle its story with an online timeline featuring photos, facts and videos with my friends Ron Spomer and Ashley Hlebinsky, among others. Spomer, of course, is an outdoor writer and host of “Winchester World of Whitetail,” while Hlebinsky is the curator of the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wy.—that’s where the Winchester collection of guns and ephemera resides today. Videos on guns such as exhibition shooter “Plinky” Topperwein’s Model 1890 to the M1 Garand intended for Gen. George S. Patton are just a snapshot of what is covered, and be prepared to spend some time on the timeline as it is worth it. You can visit it yourself at winchester150th.com.