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Facts About Winchester: History, Locations and Information

By    |   Thursday, 30 April 2015 01:39 PM

Oliver F. Winchester was a sure-footed investor, savvy businessman, Republican politician, and the quintessential self-made man. Here are some facts about the man, the brand and the rifle’s role in history.

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He was not born into a charmed life, according to the book Bulls, Bears, Boom, and Bust: A Historical Encyclopedia of American Business, by John M. Dobson. Winchester was born in 1810 on a poor Boston farm. By the age of 20, he had worked his way up from carpenter to construction supervisor before opening a successful men’s clothing store in Baltimore. Winchester developed a patented technique for manufacturing shirts which led to establishing a manufacturing company in Connecticut. By 1855, he had enough money to buy a majority share of stocks in a small firearms business – the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company. The company would become the Winchester Repeating Arms Company a decade late with plants in New Haven and Bridgeport.

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He became a prosperous and generous man, according to an account of his later life in Britannica.com. In addition to being a weapons and ammunition manufacturer, Winchester was a philanthropist and politician. He served as the New Haven city commissioner, Republican presidential elector in 1864, and the lt. governor of Connecticut from 1866 to 1867.

Winchester died in 1880 at age 70. By the 1920s, his Winchester Repeating Arms Company was drifting toward the edge of bankruptcy, according to a history on the NRA museum website. In 1931, the company was bought by the Olin Corporation, which renamed the company U.S. Repeating Arms Company. In 1992, Giat of France bought the company from Olin. Many Winchester arms are currently manufactured in Japan by Miroku.

Oliver Winchester’s son and designated heir to the company, William, died four months after his father’s death.

Winchester rifles, shotguns and ammunition were used by U.S. and Allied troops during World War I and World War II. The military contracted for the bolt-action model 1917 and the M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle. Other models used during the wars included M1 Carbine and Model 12 slide-action shotguns.

Utah's last firing-squad execution was in 2010, when Ronnie Lee Gardner was put to death by five police officers with .30-caliber Winchester rifles. 

This article does not constitute legal advice. Check the current gun laws before purchasing or traveling with a firearm.

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Oliver F. Winchester was a sure-footed investor, savvy businessman, Republican politician, and the quintessential self-made man.
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Thursday, 30 April 2015 01:39 PM
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