The Winchester Model 94 and the 1950’s


Winchester firearms would still be producing the Winchester model 94 through the 1950s, and 60s and until Winchester ceased production in 2006. They are probably one of the longest running single models of any firearm that was ever produced. Obviously they started in 1894 and continued without much interruption for over a hundred years.

There would be a major change in Winchester’s manufacturing in 1964. Especially for the Winchester model 94.

Winchester Model 94So basically as far as I am concerned, that was the final year that Winchester firearms in the Winchester model 94 would be considered a good classic firearm.

Finding nice 94’s after 1964 can still be good investments in the firearms market as they still have the Winchester name.This is especially true if the original box is present.

It was one of those guns that Winchester firearms did change considerably. Now the outside look did not change that drastically. The stock finish was probably the biggest outside appearance that would be noticed on the post 64 in the Winchester 94 model.

The gun had a receiver that was basically plated on the outside. The metal under the outside coating was not suited for a nice blued finish from the traditional hot dip bluing. The overall receiver finish looked good but a lot of them over time had the finish start to flake off.

This made it difficult to reblue the new 94’s to a nice finish that we were accustomed to on the pre-64 Winchester model 94’s. Why they went to the plated receiver is a mystery to me. It just did not make sense (IMHO).

Internally the Winchester 94 went to more stamped pieces instead of machined parts. One part in particular, I remembered as I worked on them was the carrier, which went from a machine carrier to a stamped carrier along with many other internal parts. Screws replaced pins and this was to cut labor and machining costs. I was able to work on both model Winchester 94’s over the years and consider the Winchester model 94 pre-64 a far superior rifle.

But the rifle in the Winchester model 94 that was produced in the 1950s till the mid 60’s was a fine firearm. It had a nice finish and the wood was typical of all the Winchester’s since the 1800s.

I consider that gun of the 1950s a good investment, as there were obviously many produced, and many are still available. You can still find some in pretty good condition because there were so many made. Finding them with the original box can be a great addition to any collectable classic firearms. Original boxes are very collectable for any Winchester Firearms of that period.

You do have to watch as there are many of them that have been reblued. If done right they do look good and it can sometimes be hard to tell, especially if they have been hunted with afterwards. I will get into more detail on what to look for when they have been refinished in articles on restorations.

This is probably one of the most worked on guns by the average gunsmith as they are very numerous and popular. There were primarily only two Winchester cartridges made for the 1950s era guns for the Winchester model 94. That would be the Winchester 30/30 cartridge and the 32 special Winchester ammo. Both of these cartridges I believe are excellent deer cartridges, especially on the east coast or Eastern United states and have probably been used all over the world.

The biggest issue with the Winchester 94 model was its inability to accept the modern rifle scopes of today. When it was designed the rifle scope was never considered as something that would be added on in later years. Scopes could be installed, but it required a little more attention than say the Marlin firearms in model 336. Marlin would benefited greatly from the ability to add a scope to their rifles.

You could put a scope on the Winchester 94 but it was a little difficult to have a scope and deal with the top ejection of the fired cartridge. I would install many side mounts on the Winchester model 94’s and would have to make the left and right adjustments into the up and down adjustments. This was because I would turn the adjusting knob to the up position and make the up and down adjustments become left and right. It was a little awkward to do but did work out well and the fired shell would be ejected with no issues.

So as the 50s rolled into the 60s and 70s and Winchester did eventually redesign the Winchester 94 to what was called the angle eject and it did work well with many being sold. By the time Winchester would start to make the angle eject 94. Several gun companies would be gaining ground on the Winchester 94 dominance.

The Marlin 336 would be developing new cartridges in their models. By 1968 Marlin would have the 44 mag and 444 cartridge in their lineup, along with the 30-30 and 35 rem cartridges.The Winchester 94 in 1968 would only offer the 30-30 cartridge. The Savage gun company would start to add a detachable magazine to the lever action 99 in the 1960’s. Savage would have the 243, 284, and 308 with a detachable mag. Along with the poorer guality of the new Winchester firearms of the 1960’s. Other Classic Firearms of that period were making better quality firearms and hunters and shooters were taking notice.

The Winchester model 94 is probably the most popular family owned gun that would be handed down from generation to generation. Great grandpa or grandpa acquired it, and handed it down to their son and so on. This is a great gun to have in your collection because of its nostalgic aspect, and because of its history and what it meant to the American hunting tradition.

Advantages for Investing

•    Many made (Nice ones still available)

•    Excellent history (Many Variations)

•    Desirable

•    Winchester name

Gunsmithing issues (my experiences)

•    Replace firing pins

•    Feeding from tube

•    Carrier (let shell by)

•    Poor finish (used a lot)

Rating:    Good