Merz Antique Firearms ~ Catalog of Old Guns and Related Items
The standard Winchester carbine barrel length is 20 inches, which is 4 inches shorter than a standard 1873 Rifle. As a result, a carbine is easier to handle and carry. Carbines have always been considered a "working man's gun." While a rifle might spend decades sitting in a corner, carbines tended to see a lot of daily use. As a result, today the average rifle is in better condition than the average carbine. Some carbines had barrels shorter than standard. Some are as short as 12 inches. These special order short barrel carbines have earned the nickname "trapper" carbines. But a short barrel alone does not make a gun a trapper. Some short barrel rifles were made as well, which are sometimes confused with trapper carbines. To identify the difference between a carbine and a rifle, look at the shape of the forearm wood and how it attaches to the barrel. The forearm wood of a carbine is attached to the barrel by a band of metal located 3-4 inches from the front of the forearm wood. The forearm on a rifle is attached by a metal cap that covers the front inch of the forearm wood.