An American Legend: The Wild West
And since its beginnings in 1866, Winchester has sustained the romance and legacy of its remarkable heritage as an American original. Winchester firearms accompanied American settlers as they moved west to seek their fortunes in a virgin land. Winchester's image became one with that of the cowboy, the Indian, the lawman, the pioneer, the mesa, the mountains, the desert, and the grandeur of the west. Small wonder that Winchester is called "The American Legend." The famous horse and rider logo used by Winchester on its products symbolizes that legacy.
The Winchester Repeating Arms Company produced the first firearm to bear its name in 1866 - the Model 66. In 1873, the company began to expand its operations to include increased ammunition manufacture. To coincide with the introduction of its new Model 73, the company claimed it was "prepared to manufacture 250,000 cartridges per day, embracing every size and description of a quality superior to anything heretofore offered." By 1875, cartridge capacity had been stepped up to a million a day. The decision to expand ammunition production was one of the major policy changes in the history of Winchester. It marked the first step toward making the company one of the largest and best-known manufacturers of ammunition in the world.
Smokeless powder entered the market in the 1890s. The adoption of smokeless powder for ammunition was one of the major innovations affecting the entire history of firearms, and started a new phase in the development of guns and ammunition. Winchester began to produce smokeless cartridges, but did not reduce its offerings of black powder shotshells because, as was the case with metallic ammunition, smokeless powder did not eliminate the demand for black-powder loads.
Winchester owes its fame to many sources. However, one man did much to spread the fame of the Winchester firearm more than any other -- Buffalo Bill. While Buffalo Bill was never employed as a shooter by Winchester to publicize the company's products, he directly and indirectly did much to increase the company's exposure. As the hero of fictionalized Western dime novels, he was often armed by the authors with a Winchester rifle in his fights with the Indians and the bad guys. In the famous Wild West Show, he and his fellow marksmen, including Annie Oakley, used Winchester rifles and ammunition. The Winchester Repeating Arms Company did not fail to publicize the fact that its products were the choice of Buffalo Bill and his fellow star performers. Theodore Roosevelt was another one of the famous folks that used Winchester products and publicized that fact.