Winchester Model 94/1894

Description

The Winchester Model 1894 is a lever-action hunting rifle chambered in .30-30 Win.

The Model 1894 is a decorative version of the Model 94, a sporting rifle designed to use a smokeless powder first introduced in 1894. On the left side of the receiver of the 1894 is an engraving of an old Winchester Repeating Arms crest and on the right the words, “Two Hundred Years, Oliver F. Winchester,” and the dates, “1810 — 2010.” The 1894 comes in 2 models: the custom grade and the high grade. The difference between the two is about $500 and gold engraving on the custom grade. Otherwise, the 1894 has a fancy grade walnut stock and checkered fore-end. Its angled ejection port is helpful if a shooter wants to use a scope. It also has a buckhorn rear-sight and a gold bead front sight.

Winchester recommends the Model 94 for sport shooting and hunting hoofed animals. The 1894 is a decorative model.

winchester_m1894_custom_0103111 winchester_m1894_high_0103111

Specifications

Custom Grade
Caliber:.30-30 Win.
Capacity:8
Sights:Open
Action:Lever
Stock:Walnut
Website:http://www.wincheste…
Weight:8 pounds
Barrel Length:24"
Twist:1 in 10"
Length of Pull:13.25"
Overall Length:42"
Drop at Comb:2.875"
Drop at Heel:3.625"
High Grade
Caliber:.30-30 Win.
Capacity:8
Sights:Open
Action:Lever
Stock:Walnut
Website:http://www.wincheste…
Weight:8 pounds
Barrel Length:24"
Twist:1 in 10"
Length of Pull:13.25"
Overall Length:42"
Drop at Comb:2.875"
Drop at Heel:3.625"
MSRP$1469.00

Editor Review

The Winchester Model 94 is the gold standard of lever action rifles.  There are other lever action designs that are arguably better in some respects, but the Model 94 remains the benchmark against which they are all compared.  First introduced in 1894, it quickly became one of the most popular and enduring sporting rifles in America.

Its depiction in cowboy movies and TV shows created generations of hunters and shooters who grew up with fantasies of owning the same gun that John Wayne and other matinee idols brandished in the name of justice.  But even apart from the Hollywood appeal of the Model 94, it was always a reliable hunting rifle.  When chambered in .30-30 or .32 Winchester Special (the most common chamberings for 94), the rifle is both accurate and powerful so long as the limits of its capabilities are respected.

The tubular magazine of the 94 presents the same engineering problem that has plagued most lever actions.  Having all of those cartridges lined up end-to-end places the primer of one right up against the tip of another’s bullet.  With aerodynamic bullets this would approximate a pipe bomb, requiring that blunt-tipped bullets be used.  This traditionally limited the range and accuracy of the 94 and similar guns, although Hornady now makes a line of ‘LeverEvolution’ ammunition with soft plastic tips that improve performance.

The 94 was designed before scopes were common.  In the 1890’s it wasn’t a problem that the rifle ejected the brass casings straight up over the shooter’s shoulder.  These tend to fall back into the action and cause jams if a scope is mounted.  There are angle-eject versions out there as well which are more practical with a scope.

However, most enthusiasts will agree that the Model 94 is not in its element set up as a long-distance rifle.  The receiver fits perfectly in the hand of the typical adult male and the common carbine-length models handle easily in thick brush.  It is arguably the best gun for hunting deer in the thick stuff.  With low visibility, shots tend to be within 75 yards and you don’t need a scope or magnum power in that situation.  My great-grandfather used one for whitetails in Michigan in the 1940’s.  70 years later I take that same gun out on a hunt every season.  Within its limits it still harvests venison today as reliably as it did in the ‘40s.  Or in 1894, for that matter.

The Model 94 was sadly taken out of production in 2006 because it cost Winchester more money to make than the market was willing to pay for it.  Since then, a few limited runs of special editions for collectors have been produced but I doubt any of them will ever be used on a hunt.  It seems likely that Winchester will bring it back into regular production at some point.  Meanwhile there are scads of old 94s available on the used market.  If you decide to buy one, look carefully at what it is chambered for since the 94 has been produced for a great many cartridges, many of which are obsolete and impossible to purchase locally.