Modern Firearms - Winchester Lee Navy rifle model 1895 (USA)
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Winchester Lee Navy rifle model 1895 (USA)


Winchester Lee Navy rifle model 1895

 


Winchester Lee Navy rifle model 1895, close-up view with bolt open and clip partially loaded into the magazine

 


Winchester Lee Navy rifle model 1895, close-up view with bolt closed

 


Winchester Lee Navy rifle model 1895, diagram

 

Caliber

6x60 USN (.236 USN)

Overall length

1210 mm / 47,6”

Barrel length

711 mm / 30”

Weight, empty

3,86 kg / 8,5 lbs

Magazine capacity

5 rounds

 

The Winchester Lee Navy model rifle, which was also officially known as “Lee Straight Pull rifle, model of 1895”, emerged from US Navy requirements for small-bore, rapid-firing rifle firing newly developed smokeless powder loads with great accuracy, range and penetration. Requirements for new rifle were drawn by USN by 1894, along with new cartridge, also developed by Navy. As a result of trials, US Navy adopted a rifle, designed by James P. Lee and built by Winchester Repeating Arms Co.

Between 1895 and 1898, about 15 000 of these rifles were delivered to US Navy. In 1899, US Navy has decided to replace 6mm Lee rifles with 7,62mm (.30 caliber) Krag rifles, already in use by Army. Commercial 6mm Winchester rifles, based on the same Lee straight pull action, were produced until about 1902.

The 6x60 cartridge (also known as .236 USN in American nomenclature), as developed and adopted by US Navy, originally was loaded with jacketed round-nose bullet weighting 8.75 gram (135 grs) at 750 m/s (2460 fps). Later version of the cartridge was loaded with 7.26 gram (112 grs) bullets, with nominal muzzle velocity of 777 m/s (2550 fps). Compared to other contemporary military loadings, 6mm USN ammunition produced flatter trajectory, comparatively high penetration of wood and steel barriers, and light recoil. However, contemporary powders and barrel-making technologies resulted in excessive fouling and barrel wear problems which plagued Winchester Lee rifles, especially in humid conditions typical for Naval use. Small bore diameter further complicated bore cleaning, especially under combat conditions, and this, along with desire to standardize upon one cartridge between all military branches (Army, Navy and Cavalry) resulted in early retirement of this otherwise fine weapon. It must be noted that Winchester also manufactured “sporting” version of the same gun, which was sold commercially with limited success.

 

Winchester Lee “Navy” rifle is manually operated, straight pull bolt action weapon. It uses vertically tilting bolt locking system, patented by James P. Lee, in which bolt is equipped with locking shoulder at its base. When in battery, this shoulder rests against a seat in the receiver. To avoid accidental unlocking, bolt is held in its locked position by a special catch. This catch can be disengaged either when firing pin is released (gun is fired) or when special release button (located to the left of the bolt) is pressed. Unlocking of the bolt is achieved by tilting its rear end up until its locking shoulder is clear from its seat in the receiver. This is achieved by pulling the separate bolt handle to the rear. Bolt handle is an L-shaped rocking member with grasping ball on bottom end. Initial pull on the ball rotates bolt handle, forcing its cam-lever to rotate down against the receiver. This movement raises the rear of the bolt until it is unlocked completely. Once rear of the bolt is clear from its seat in the receiver, further pull on the bolt handle forces entire bolt to the rear, extracting and ejecting fired cartridge case. To close the bolt, operator has to push the bolt handle forward. This push first moves entire bolt into the battery, and once its forward movement is stopped at the breech of the barrel, further push on the bolt handle forces it to rotate and lower the rear of the bolt into its locking seat. Feed is from integral single stack box magazine, also patented by Lee. This magazine can be loaded through the top opening of the receiver, when bolt is at its rearward position. Loading can be achieved by manually inserting single loose rounds into the magazine, or by using special clip, which holds five rounds at once, using internal spring. This clip is fully inserted into the magazine, where internal cam setup disengages the spring inside the clip, allowing it to fall down and out of the magazine, usually after first or second shot. Since this version of the Lee magazine does not have any “lips” which retain cartridges inside while bolt is open, it features unusual floating extractor / ejector, which, upon opening the bolt, extends forward from the bolt face forward and into the magazine tunnel, first to eject spent case and second to keep uppermost cartridge in the magazine from popping out under the pressure of magazine spring.

Winchester Lee “Navy” straight pull rifle is equipped with wooden stock with semi-pistol grip and short handguard. Iron sights are graduated for 300, 600 and 800-2000 yards range, with 100-yard increments between 800 and 2000 yds range.