Of a goat and a mystery rifle

I came across this reddit picture of an unidentified goat hunter (“found in 1920’s collection”) showing a proud hunter with a hard-to-get American Mountain goat.

The rifle in the grainy photo is something of a mystery all its own, though it is definitely an early 20th Century Winchester autoloader, which narrows things down a bit.

In 1902, Thomas Crossley Johnson was a well-respected engineer and designer who coughed up the patents responsible for the first commercially available rimfire self-loading rifle, a gun which Winchester would term their Model 1903. A neat little .22 that fired 10-rounds from an under-barrel tubular magazine as fast as you could pull the trigger, the rifle was a hit.

T.C. came up with a much modified hunting version in 1905, that deleted the tube mag for one with a detachable box magazine (5 or 10 shot) chambered in .32SL and .35 Winchester Self-Loading (.35 WSL), the latter a beast of a round whose 180-grain bullet was slow (like 1,400 fps) but packed a wallop good enough for taking most large land mammals in North America.

This Model 1905 rifle went on to be updated in the Model 1907 and 1910 (the latter chambered in the even tougher .401 WSL).

These novel semi-auto blowback action rifles were popular in military circles to a degree, especially when using the longer magazines.

The first U.S. Army aviators to fly in a war-zone were those of General Pershing’s 1st Aero Squadron of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Air Service. These hardy fly boys were shipped 19 Winchester Model 1907 rifles and 9000 cartridges of .351SL ammunition to use in arming their craft if they got lost over the Chihuahua desert while looking for Pancho Villa in 1916.  The Winny ’07 was thought to be lighter than the then-current issue Springfield 1903 rifle.

The Russians bought some 500 Model 1907 rifles, another 500 Model 1910s, and 1.5 million rounds of .351WSL in 1916 (along with 300,000 Winchester Model 1895 muskets in 7.62x54R) for use in World War I.

The French also picked up 5,000 Model 1907s, 150 Model 1910 rifles, spare magazines, and something on the order of 425,000 .401 WSL and 2 million .351SL cartridges on their own.

The Brits brought up the rear with 120 Model 1907 rifles and 78,000 rounds of .351SL ammunition for back seat observers in the Royal Flying Corps.

As far as our hunter goes, it’s hard to tell from the image at the top of the post just which one of T.C.’s Winchester autoloaders he has.

Between 1907-57, some 58,456 Model 1907s were made– the most prolific of the series. The 1905, which was put of of production in 1920, saw just 29,113 rifles produced while the M1910 had 20,787 guns made by 1936. As such, the numbers would make the odds that our hunter is carrying a M1907 model.

In the end, he seems well-equipped no matter which model took to the woods with.

As for the evolutionary legacy of Thomas Crossley Johnson, he died in 1934 with more than 124 patents active.

Across the pond, one Fedor Vasilievich Tokarev, using Johnson’s work for the benefit of the Motherland and equipped with a collection of old Winchesters to reverse engineer, came up with the Tokarev Model 29, an autoloader chambered in (wait for it) .351 WSL, which served a a kind of stepping stone to his later SVT-38/40 rifles.


Doesn’t that get your goat?


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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as GUNS.com, Univesity of Guns, Outdoor Hub, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the US federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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