M1866 Turkish Contract Winchester (.44 Henry Rimfire)
GENERALLY: It is generally conceded that Turkey was able to purchase sufficient numbers of M1866 Winchester rifles and carbines to play a decisive role in delaying, for almost half a year the reapeated major assaults of the combined Russo-Roumanian Armies at the Battle of Plevna (1877). This was the first major military engagement in which the use of repeating firearms had a substantial influence on it's battles and in which extraordinarily heavy casualties were repeatedly inflicted. The Turks engaged the charging Russians at long range with their M1872 Peabody-Martini rifles (long range, powerful and flat trajectory for its day). The Russians were armed with the already obsolete Krnka rifles and only a limited number of Berdan I and Berdan II rifles. When the Russians closed to within 200 yeards, the Turks switched arms and engaged them with the repeating Winchesters and cut them to ribbons.
"The Plevna Delay" : An EXCELLENT exposition of the engagements at Plevna is told by Richard T. Trenk, Sr., in an article appearing in Man At Arms Magazine, Volume 19, Number Four, August, 1997, entitled "The Plevna Delay" which is reproduced here in part. An excellent as well as exciting story and I strongly recommend you take the time to read and enjoy it!!
PHOTO: The photo above is of a M1866 Turkish Contract Winchester.
DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS: The Turkish Contract Winchester M1866 is an otherwise standard "brass" framed 66 Winchester (although called "brass framed" the receiver is actually a bronze composition) which carries Turkish markings on the left side of the receiver near the buttstock (parallel with the rear edge of the left side receiver). Calibre is also the standard .44 Henry Rimfire, not an especially powerful cartridge for a military rifle, but fully effective enough at close range (within 200 yards).
MISC NOTES: Some additional information: There was (not sure where it is right now) some information on Plevna as well as additional information on Military Winchesters in an article at on the web at: http://www.earp.com/Leverguns.html
The Museum of Modern History in Slovenia has a photo of the Winchester on their web site. These rifles saw use throughout the Balkans as a result of Turk losses during the various wars fought as the Ottoman Empire collapsed. They were in use during WW2 by irregulars, and a few are probably hidden away still in barns and caves. http://www2.arnes.si/~ljmuzejnz/aorozje.html
You may find other items of interest in their collection. Their photo library, while not on line, is perhaps the best in S.E. Europe for military and weapons subjects of the 20th Century.
(KD note: This is M73 Winchester musket which might have been utilized by Turkey, but likely would not have been used during the Russo-Turkish war)
The M1866 Turkish Contract Winchester is very much an otherwise standard M1866 Winchester rifle in the standard .44 Henry Rimfire cartridge.
"WINCHESTER REPEATING ARMS NEW HAVEN CT KING'S IMPROVEDMENT PATENTED MARCH 29 1866 OCTOBER 16 1860"
Sights denominated in Arabic numerals raising the question of who and when
the farsi markings were placed on the rifle
Left rear receiver wall showing additional Turkish markings at the buttstock seam.
The M1866 Turkish Contract Winchester with its companion bayonet and scabbard.
The magazine support band also carries the bayonet mount stud on it's right side, not that easy to see in this direct-on photo but perhaps easier to see in the full photo at top.
Close-up of the left receiver wall Turkish markings.
Page built 1999
Revised February 18, 2000
Revised & Rebuilt Jan 6, 2001
Revised with Plevna article March 3, 2001
Updated: Nov 12, 2021