RIA: Spanish “El Tigre” Winchester 92 Copy

Spain was historically a major center of patent infringement in firearms manufacture because its patent law left open a big loophole: patents were only enforceable if the patent holder actually manufactured their guns in Spain. The major European and American firearms manufacturers were not interested in setting up plants in Spain, and so their patents were not enforced there, leaving Spanish shops and factories legally free to copy them.

One of the more successful copies was the “El Tigre“, a clone of the Winchester 1892 lever action rifle made by Garate Anitua y Cia. Ironically, Garate actually registered their own patent on the design since Winchester hadn’t bothered to, and that patent was enforced, since Garate did make the guns in Spain. Their copy was chambered for the .44-40 Winchester cartridge, known in Spain as the .44 Largo. This made it compatible with many of the revolvers in the country of American, Spanish, and Belgian origin, and thus quite popular with a wide variety of groups. Rural citizen militias and the Guardia Civil both used significant numbers of El Tigre carbines. They were also fairly popular in the United States, as the cost was substantially lower than a true Winchester. Many Hollywood films and shows used them as less expensive prop guns, especially for scenes where guns would be handled roughly.

Despite their competitive cost, the El Tigres were actually quite good guns, and served their owners well.