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PURCHASING A USED BROWNING OR
WINCHESTER 1885 BPCR
By Wayne McLerran
Last updated 11/8/16

For those of you considering the purchase of a used Browning or
Winchester 1885 High Wall BPCR, especially one listed for sale via an
Internet web site, it might be helpful to share some of my experiences
while buying and selling close to 200 of the rifles to date.  Although the
Winchester BPCRs are relatively new and produced in much smaller
quantities, they are identical to the Browning BPCRs.  Therefore, the
same issues and comments will apply once used rifles come up for sale.

For the most part I have found that firearm sellers are honest, but there
will always be unscrupulous sellers, and Internet-based sales does not
provide the opportunity to handle and check out a firearm prior to sending
substantial funds.  Since BPCR shooters tend to know, or at least know
of, each other through matches and the several online discussion forums,
there’s less likelihood of dishonesty, but I can attest to the fact that it
does exist.

The Browning & Winchester BPCRs have rather complicated actions,
meaning that many rifle owners, buyers and sellers do not have the
expertise to disassemble and adequately determine its condition.  And
many of these firearms are repeatedly purchased and sold prior to
ending up in the hands of an actual shooter; therefore the seller may be
unfamiliar with the intended purpose of the firearm being sold and also
not aware of the correct accessories that originally sold with the rifle.  A
good example is a firearm retailer selling a rifle on consignment.

A few years ago, when first buying and selling firearms, I purchased two
Browning BPCR rifle from separate sellers via two of the well-known
Internet firearm sites.  After receiving the rifles it quickly became
clear that the condition of the rifles were intentionally misrepresented.  
Both sellers refused to accept the rifles back, issue a refund or admit to
false representation.  One rifle had the forearm bedded (glued) to the
forearm hanger and barrel.  The rifle had been represented as like new
and required a lot of work and a new forearm to return it to original
condition.  The other rifle had a “ringed” chamber.  The seller had
specifically indicated the chamber and bore were like new.  The barrel
had to be “set back” and rechambered.  Afterwards, after taking plenty
of photos and documenting the problems, at every opportunity over a
period of several months, I identified the sellers by name and address
on various Internet firearm discussion forums.  By the way, although
they may advertise otherwise, do not expect the firearm listing sites to
aid buyers in these situations to any degree.  They may make a weak
attempt to resolve the situation, but their main goal is to cultivate a
relationship with sellers and continue to collect sales fees.

Following is a list of conditions and problems I’ve run into while
purchasing used Browning’s for resale; conditions that were not
identified by the sellers.  None were factory problems, but the direct
result of, shooter abuse, ignorance or intentional misrepresentation by
the seller.

•        The ringed chamber mentioned earlier.
•        Pitted bores – one was obvious.  The other required a bore scope
to identify.
•        Forearm bedded (glued) to the forearm hanger and barrel –
mentioned earlier.
•        Both mainsprings shortened, which resulted in the hammer
intermittently catching in the ½ cock position when fired.  Required time
and work to identify problem and mainsprings were replaced.
•        Damaged front sight required some machine work and replacement
of the spirit level vial.
•        Cracked front sight spirit level vial, and vial housing end cap
missing (very common).
•        Front sight insert nut forced into the housing and cross-threaded.  
The threads were cleaned up and nut replaced.
•        Front sight insert nut epoxied into the housing, ruining the front
sight.  I can only imagine this was done because the nut was cross
threaded and the threads destroyed.
•        Dings and scratches, some very deep, in the metal and wood
which were not described in the listing or mentioned by the seller.
•        Cracked stocks, usually around the wrist and tang.  Although I’ve
received at least 5 rifles with stocks that were clearly cracked or broken
during shipping; a couple were clearly cracked prior to being shipped.  
Unfortunately this is somewhat of a common problem and one of the
worse to run into since the shipper resists accepting blame and the seller
resists refunding the rifle fee and shipping costs.  To have the factory
replace a stock costs over $500.
•        Several with “McGee” trigger modification, which were not
mentioned by sellers.  Some resellers were most likely not aware the
modification had been made by the previous owner.
•        “McGee” trigger modification incorrectly installed that damaged the
threads for the stock through-bolt.
•        J&B trigger modifications which were broken off.  Required drilling
out the modification and replacing with an original trigger pull adjustment
screw and spring.
•        A couple of rifles with stocks that were crudely coated with a shinny
varnish or lacquer.  Had to strip and properly refinished.
•        Several had filthy actions and some internal corrosion which would
have been impossible to clean without completely disassembling the
action.  Routine proper cleaning would have prevented this.
•        One broken sear spring.
•        Many damaged rear soule sight base screw heads.
•        A couple of damaged rear soule sights with missing parts.
•        One rusted rear soule sight required disassembly and some parts
replaced.
•        Rusted rear soule sight base bottom, which was still attached to
the tang with banged up screws.
•        Scope base mounting screw twisted off in the hole.  Had to be
drilled out & threads cleaned up.
•        
Rear soule sight base screws staked in place.  Had to cut off the he
ads & drill out the screw shanks.

•        And this one really caught me by surprise.  Barrel was loose and
rotated in the receiver while disassembling the action and trying to figure
out why the lever and extractor hung up.  Barrel was removed, threads
checked, barrel installed properly and headspace checked.  No more
problems.  Assuming the rifle did not leave the factory in this condition;
most likely someone switched out and did not properly install the barrel.

If you are seriously considering a Browning or Winchester BPCR, it’s a
good idea to become as knowledgeable as possible about the rifles pr
ior to purchasing one.  As many of you know, I’ve written and published a
book on the rifles.  Although it does not discuss the many “owner

created” problems noted above, it provides a complete history of the
Browning BPCR and covers in detail the functioning of the action,
including design and manufacturing issues.  A large section of the book
also discusses the complete disassembly and reassembly of the action.  
More book details and ordering information are available on this site at

Browning BPCR
Book and Book Ordering Information.

Hopefully your BPCR will arrive in the condition you expect?  I c
an guarantee you that some will not.  In this business just like any other

there will always be a “shyster” or two attempting to separate you from
your hard earned money by intentionally misrepresenting a firearm or,
more likely, someone lacking the knowledge to properly evaluate and
describe the condition of the firearm being sold.  Caveat emptor (
let the
buyer beware) is certainly a term to keep in mind when purchasing
firearms over the Internet.


Wishing you great shooting,
Wayne