Theodore Roosevelt and his son Kermit brought 3 Winchester Model 1895 rifles with them to the Roosevelt-Smithsonian Expedition of 1909. This, together with the .405 Winchester cartridge, became the weapon of choice among American hunters of the time. 

In this case a truncated replica of this gun is presented alongside a ‘rhino tail’, photograph of Roosevelt with a rhino kill, and with three metal serial numbers from the three Winchesters used on the expedition: 63727, 63736, 68180

Theodore Roosevelt: African Game Trails, 1910

Selected quotes

” While hunting I wore heavy shoes, with hobnails or rubber soles; khaki trousers, the knees faced with leather, and the legs buttoning tight from the knee to below the ankle, to avoid the need of leggings; a khaki-colored army shirt; and a sun helmet, which I wore in deference to local advice, instead of my beloved and far more convenient slouch hat. My rifles were an army Springfield, 30-calibre, stocked and sighted to suit myself; a Winchester 405; and a double-barreled 500-450 Holland, a beautiful weapon presented to me by some English friends.* *Mr. E. N. Buxton took the lead in the matter when he heard that I intended making a trip after big game in Africa. I received the rifle at the White House, while I was President.”

“The Winchester and the Springfield were the weapons one of which I always carried in my own hand, and for any ordinary game I much preferred them to any other rifles. The Winchester did admirably with lions, giraffes, elands, and smaller game, and, as will be seen, with hippos. For heavy game like rhinoceroses and buffaloes, I found that for me personally, the heavy Holland was unquestionably the proper weapon.”  

“Soon after lunch we drew up at the little station of Kapiti Plains, where our safari was awaiting us; “safari” being the term employed throughout East Africa to denote both the caravan with which one makes an expedition and the expedition itself. Our aim being to cure and send home specimens of all the common big game -in addition to as large a series as possible of the small mammals and birds -it was necessary to carry an elaborate apparatus of naturalists’ supplies; we had brought with us, for instance, four tons of fine salt, as to cure the skins of the big beasts is a herculean labor under the best conditions; we had hundreds of traps for the small creatures; many boxes of shot-“

“Mounting a low ant-hill I saw rather dimly through the long grass a big gray bulk, near the foot of the tree; it was a rhinoceros lying asleep on its side, looking like an enormous pig. It heard something and raised itself on its forelegs, in a sitting posture, the big ears thrown forward. I fired for the chest, and the heavy Holland bullet knocked it clean off its feet. Squealing loudly it rose again, but it was clearly done for, and it never got ten yards from where it had been lying.”

“It was about eleven o’clock. As the bull rose Kermit gave him a fatal shot with his beloved Winchester. He galloped full speed toward us, not charging, but in a mad panic of terror and bewilderment; and with a bullet from the Holland I brought him down in his tracks only a few yards away. The cow went off at a gallop. The calf, a big creature, half grown, hung about for some time, and came up quite close, but was finally frightened away by shouting and hand-clapping.”

“Too little is known of these northern square-mouthed rhino for us to be sure that they are not lingering slowly toward extinction; and, lest this should be the case, we were not willing to kill any merely for trophies; while, on the other hand, we deemed it really important to get good groups for the National Museum in Washington and the American Museum in New York, and a head for the National Collection of Heads and Horns which was started by Mr. Hornaday, the director of the Bronx Zoological Park. “

” I waited a moment for Kermit to snap him. Unfortunately the waving grass spoiled the picture. Then I fired right and left into his body, behind the shoulders, and down he went. In color he seemed of exactly the same shade”

Winchester Model 1895 Takedown Rifle from the Metropolitan Museum


Theodore Roosevelt’s Winchester Rifles: Philip Schreier, senior curator, NRA museums