I`ve been thinking about either a #1 or #3 but i`m not sure what the difference is. I know very little about these rifles but have heard some good things about `em. Are they accurate and what`s the good and bad on `em.
The #1 is essentually the deluxe version. The #3 was the version more in line with the basic American Carbine configuration.
The wood and the rest of the fitting on a #3 was not as good or as refibed as a #1. The #3 was differently lever and locks in the front of the frame as opposed to the trigger gaurd bow like the #1. The #1 also has a latch/release for the lever that the #3 doesn't.
The #3 is and has been discontinued for a long time. It was never as popular as the #1. It was essentually chambered in a different class of cartridges. 345-70, 375 Winchester, 30-40 Krag, 44 Mag, 223 and 22 hornet being the most common.
There are others but they were uncatloged and rare due to very limited numbers. Going rate on a #3 right now in basic configuration seems to be $600 +- a bit.
The #1 is the finest single shot sporting rifle for the money in the US market.
It's been chambered in something to do darned near anything.
I hear a lot of talk about how accurate they are. Well sometimes. By definition and the basics of physics the average #1 is NOT as accurate as the avergae bolt gun. There is a variety of reasons for that that we could write a book about. That being said nearly every #1 will shoot at or near MOA once you find a lod the like.
If you find the right load and like to tinker then many shoot very very well indeed.
The other consideration is why you want a single shot and a #1 in particular.
It also depends on what andf how you hunt, if you hunt at all.
I own lots of rifles. I actually own more bolt guns than #1s. That being said my #1s are the focus of my collecting, shooting and hunting just because they are more fun and even rare ones aren't so exspensive that a working guy can't own a few.
Years ago I seriously collected Winchester lever guns. When I knew it was time to get out of that hobby was when I was standing at the Vegas Show and seriously thinking about spending $10,000 for a Winchester 1894.
Sure it was rare as all get out. It would also have been my "Gun Budget" for the year.
Instead I can buy and occassionally buy nifty #1s for well less than $2000 and have bought truley rare #1s for less than $1500. Every once in a while you just find a really nice one for $600.
If I were you and you have I would pick a favorite caliber and buy a factory #1 in it at a reasonable price. Play with it and hunt with it and reload for it.
After that one of two things will happen. You will decide you don't like the damned thing and it's a lot of work to get to "shoot right" and your buddies has better wood and a whole variety of reasons to sell it and never buy another. That's if you are lucky.
If you are unlucky yu'll fall in love with them and will spend the next 50 years buying them and hunting for and with them. You tinker for hours on end with the rifle and your reloads and you'll buy and seel a bunch ver the years and no matter hard you try the overall number will steadily climb. You'll decide you have too much money wrapped up in them and sell 10-12 of them and then buy 5 different ones within months.
I`ve just always liked the single shots. I have a bolt gun in .270 and a lever action in 35Rem. and love both. I once had an H&R Buffalo Classic in 45-70 and liked it o.k. I just didn`t like the thumb release and was always worried the dang thing would pop open when fired. Like you, I own several guns and I just don`t ever seem to quite content enough with what I have. I`m always looking for something else to try out.
The basic used #1 in a common caliber and configuration is priced pretty close to the everyday price for #3s right now. I'll agree with that.
Once you get into the rarer or even uncommon rifle in either variant prices go up, sometimes rapidly. Though as a general rule unless a #3 is really something special and or an uncataloged variant they seldom bring what a similar #1 does.
The #1 just starts the game with an advantage of much better wood and a more refined look.
my pennies on the subject. Of course I don't I don't own any #3s other than a few that have turned into something else. ;-)