Representative Ed Greef (R-Florence) is asking the 2013 Legislature to establish a state historical rifle, the Winchester Model 1873, often called “The Gun that Won the West.”
Greef called his HB 215 a chance for the state to recognize “the rifle that played a very prominent role in the early years of developing from the lawless frontier land of the early 1870s to statehood in 1889.”
The House State Administration Committee heard the bill Thursday.
Vic Reiman of the Montana Historical Society said the rifle was immensely popular due to being one of the first widespread lever-action ‘repeater rifles’ that could hold multiple shells.
“There were interesting rifles before this one,” Greef said, but added that the mass-produced ‘repeating’ 1873 changed history. “(It) proved an obvious advantage, especially in the early years when the other guy used a single-shot type rifle.”
Clancy resident Mac Minard spoke in favor of the designation, saying “almost as iconic as the horse on the plains is the rifle that was in the scabbard and that is the 1873 Winchester rifle.”
The bill had no opponents during its Thursday hearing.