Any Winchester 1894 Guru's out there?

Discussion in 'Hunting & Fishing' started by Tunnelratt, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. Tunnelratt


    So Cal
    Spent some time with my Dad this holiday and this question invairiably comes up.
    Here is the story, Dad spent time in Korea, when he was back on leave stateside he spent his last $1 to enter a raffle to win an 1894 Winchester 30 30 lever action carbine, my Mom was pissed, but he won the raffle;p, I grew up shooting and Hunting with that rifle, a number of years ago dad passed it on to me, I could take out the eye of Mercury at 75 yards with that thing, anyway, through the years he and I had taken it to various gun shops to ask what it was worth, all we were ever told was, if you want to sell it we will buy it, never would come clean with a price.
    Well we talked about the rifle again over the holiday I said I would ask around, so if any of you Mudders have a connection or have an answer, I would love to here it.
    Here are the markings on the rifle.

    30 W.C.F - where the barrel meets the reciever

    293501 - underside of the reciever

    Nickel Steel Barrel Especially for smokeless powder - on the barrel

    Manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. New Haven Conn. U.S.A Patented August 21 1894 - on the barrel

    Model 1894 Winchester Trade Mark - on the tang

    The rifle has an iron sight up front and a ramp sight at the rear, I am trying to locate the flip up sight that I remember it having.

    Octagonal Barrel

    The action is tight and solid, the barrel is clean, no pitting, no rust, stock is in great shape, it has always been stored and kept clean, original patina on the wood and barrel, I can say that it has probably had + - 350 / 400 rounds thru it since my Dad won it in Korea.

    Not interested in ever selling but would love to be able to tell Dad what his $1 dollar is worth now, for me it will forever be the memories, until I pass it down.

    Any help would be fantastic.:cheers:
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
  2. Vitesse_6


    Taylorsville Utah
    If your is stamped in the 300K range its an oldie! Looks like it could be have been built in 1905

    Winchester Dates

    I would say its fairly valuable I don't know for sure, But I would think in the $600+ range, I could be WAY off, But its an early model, Pic's would be awesome
  3. Actually that serial number would date it as being 1904 production.

    30 WCF stands for 30 Winchester Center Fire, also known as the .30-30.

    "Nickel Steel Barrel Especially For Smokeless Powder" - The first production 1894s were made for blackpowder cartridges, which were the 32-40 and 38-55. These barrels were relatively soft steel, because they were designed for blackpowder, which burns less hot than smokeless, and the bullets were lead. The .25-35, .30-30 and .32 Special needed a barrel that resisted erosion better, because of hotter gas temps and jacketed bullets. That's why the steel had a high nickel content, and this was a selling point.

    "Manufactured by theWinchester Repeating Arms Co. New Haven Conn. U.S.A Patented August 21 1894" This was the standard barrel stamping between serial numbers 100,000 and 500,000.

    "Model 1894 Winchester Trade Mark" This was the standard tang stamping from approximately serial numbers 100,000 to 400,000, but it was transitioned in and out.

    So far so good, everything is correct...

    In the absence of photos, need some questions answered...

    First, it is a rifle, as carbine did not have octagon barrels. The standard barrel length for a rifle from that era is 26". Is this your barrel length? (Measure form the face of the bolt o the muzzle).

    Is the barrel entirely octagon, or part octagon, part round? (Round barrels were standard, but the octagon barrels, which cost more, were more popular for rifles. Half-octagon, half-round barrels are also special order and are rare.)

    Is the receiver solid frame or take-down? (Take-downs are rare.)

    A full length magazine tube is standard. Other lengths are special order. What length is your tube?

    Is the stock in the grip area straight or curved (pistol grip)? Straight grips are standard.

    Checkering? (Checkering was extra cost.)

    Buttplate - crescent (curved) buttplates on rifles are standard. Flat buttplates (so-called shotgun buttplates) are special order for that era, and were made in steel or hard rubber. Crescent buttplates normally are smooth. Rare special order is a trapdoor for cleaning rods.

    Sights. Standard is a bead on blade front with a buckhorn rear. Is this your sight or does the gun have something different? Tang sight?

    Finish. Receivers were normally blued. Case hardened, color case hardened, or plated finishes, are special order.

    What condition is the bore? Wood? Metal finish? Condition of screw slots?

    Go over the above and post what you have. Then an approximate value can be figured out.
  4. RavenTai


    Dixie co. Florida
    on my hunt for one saw several older ones, one was pre WWI, carbine, he was asking 1K, another was older still, longer barrel, sounds similar to yours IIRC it was 6 digit, had the tang peep sight but it was bent, hardly any finish left at all he was asking $2600 :eek:

    I paid 450 for a late 1950's carbine, witch is more then there were going for just a few years ago, no idea if those are accurate values but that is what I have seen for asking prices in this area.
  5. Tunnelratt


    So Cal
    OK, I knew there would be answers and questions, here are a couple pictures.

    The barrel is octagonal from the muzzle to where it connects to the frame, however it is only 22 1/2 inches in length, full length magazine tube, solid frame,although I am not certain what a takedown frame would look like, straight grip stock, no checkering and no trap door in the curved butt plate, front sight is a bead on blade, rear sight is a buckhorn, although I remember shooting with a flip up rear tang sight.
    The bore is clean and shiney, no pitting, scoring or other deficits, the wood is in what appears to be great shape, some minor scarring, I remember most of them, but no cracks, chunks or missing pieces or looseness.
    I am going to say the reciever is blued, the color seems to be consistent thruout save for a blemish at the magazine loading port.

    All of the screws look original and undamaged, one on the tang appears to have been removed and reinstalled, it is the original but possibly was holding the rear tang sight.

    It is amazing to me that based on the serial numbers it makes it 106 years old and it has been in my family for about 60 of those years, I would love to find out where it spent the first part of its history.

    Brian, have a look, tell me what you can, its value to me is the history and memories, I would love to be able to complete the story for my Dad.:cheers:

    004.JPG 005.JPG
  6. OK, this could go one of two ways....

    If that is an original rifle, in original condition, and that's a special order barrel length, then it is rare. Standard barrel length on rifles is 26". Below 22" and the forend was often shortened by one inch, and almost all rifles with a 20" or shorter barrel have shorter forends. 22" to 24" rifles rarely have a shorter forend. I cannot determine from the photos if the gun has been reworked. If it is original condition, then that barrel length and nice condition could push it into the $1500 range or even much higher, to the right collector. If that's a genuine 22" barrel, then it would have a lot of collector appeal.

    If the gun has been reworked, reblued, and/or wood refinished, and especially if the barrel has been cut, then it's just a nice shooter. Prices for these are all over the board. I've seen some go begging at $450 and I've seen others get snapped up at $850. It really depends on how much appeal it has to a shooter, and how well the reconditioning work was done.

    You need to find someone local who is knowledgeable and can tell you if the gun has been reworked. If it has been, then it's just a nice shooter. If it appears to be in original condition, you might consider getting a "Factory Letter from the Cody Firearms Museum. They are in possession of all the old Winchester factory books, listing firearms by serial number. If that gun was factory made with a 22" barrel, it should have an entry in their books. They can then research their files and issue you a historical letter about what you have. I've done this before, but it's been many years. There is a cost for it. I don't know how much it is currently. Also, if the gun was sent to Winchester for rework, often this was noted on the original serial number entry. A factory rework would then have collector value, but a third party rework would not. Sometimes these entries even say who the gun was made for, if it was a custom job. A "Factory Letter" can reassure a collector what it is you have, and can thus help fetch a better price.

    I tried to access the Cody Firearms Museum website, but it appears to be down at the moment. Keep trying this URL:

    I have an old 1894 half-round/half-octagon rifle in 25-35 from around that era (1910 if I remember right). It's a shooter, no collector value, because the barrel has been cut.

    BTW, if I might digress, it is possible to have rifles with barrel lengths the same as or shorter than carbines. We generally define a carbine as a short rifle, but that is not true when referring to lever action rifles. For our definition, and this is based on the original factory definition, a carbine has a barrel band around the forend. A rifle has a forend cap, like yours, and regardless of barrel length it is a rifle.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
  7. Tunnelratt


    So Cal
    Brian, Excellent, Thank You for the information and additional direction, it would be exciting to see if the records are available from original manufacture.

    One more question,
    lets make the assumption that this rifle was cut down by some P.O, is it safe to assume that the cutting would have been at the muzzle end? seems the easiest ? would they have then cut in another notch to accept the sight? or would the location of the sight have been in such a location that it would not have needed to be moved ? if the barrel was shortened at the muzzle end would there be remnants of cutting or tooling visible? I would guess that if it was a farmer with a hacksaw maybe some old scarring but in your opinion were the gunsmiths back in the day quality oriented for something like this.
    If this is only a shooter or something more makes no difference, but I am really digging the history.

    Oh, what would be your guess on the length of an original forend?

    Thanks for the use of your knowledge.

  8. That's an excellent question....

    The easiest way to shorten the barrel is to cut it at the muzzle end, then cut the dovetail for the front sight. On some rifles, there is also a dovetail for the magazine tube. Yours has the mag tube band. However, some versions of this dovetail are not simple dovetails. They're actually a circular dovetail, as the mag tube band twists into place instead of sliding into place. I have this style on several old Winchesters, and believe me, they are a PITA to cut properly. Some of the magazine tube end caps have a small tab that fits into a small slot cut into the barrel near the muzzle as well. This is also something the average person is not set up to cut. One giveaway of a home made short barrel is often little attention is paid to how far from the end of the muzzle the dovetail is cut, or to the exact barrel length.

    The factory shortened barrels in a different manner. They would select a barrel after it was machined to exterior dimensions, but before it was threaded and chambered. The factory cut it at the breech end.

    What this did was leave the muzzle end of the barrel at the same dimensions as a normal length barrel (26"). This is a measurement collectors look for to ascertain authenticity.

    At the breech end, the barrel is narrower than a standard length barrel. The wood forend in theory should be loose, but for a 26" barrel, there is little difference between 22", 24" and 26" for fit. Starting at 20", and especially for shorter lengths, there is a difference. This is why starting with 20" but particularly with 18" and shorter the forends have also been shortened at the breech end by 1". Because there is another dovetail holding the forend cap in place, you will not see the forends shortened on rifles that are shortened at the muzzle, and this is another thing collectors look for. A 16" rifle with a full length forend would be a dead giveaway that the muzzle has been shortened. (My 20" half-octagon, half-round could possibly fool a collector, because forends for 20" rifles could go both ways, and most do not have the dimensions of this particular barrel.)

    I used to have these dimensions, but I have not been able to locate them. I haven't bought very many old Winchesters for quite some time, other than some carbines.

    Now for some disappointing news...

    After going through my archives, my gut feeling on your gun is that the barrel has been shortened. I didn't catch it at first last night, but after seeing the tale-tell clue, I wanted to make sure. The magazine tube band on your gun is almost directly underneath the front sight, if not exactly under it. This is wrong. I have absolutely no photographic evidence of a magazine tube band not being a few inches back from the muzzle. The position of your front sight and muzzle indicate that about three and a half to four inches were cut off your barrel. That means your gun is not in original condition, and it calls into question the finish of the gun as well. It is difficult to tell from your photos, but the original Winchester blueing is actually more of a grayish blue than a solid black. Your receiver looks like this grayish blue, but I'm having a hard time telling from the photo. The barrel looks quite dark, but the photo is not good enough for me to tell. If it is a solid glossy jet black, it's probably been reblued. This would mean there is no collector value in the gun. But, there is shooter value, and it could bring a higher value from a shooter wanting something clean and unique, even if not totally original, because an original would be totally out of their budget.
  9. Tunnelratt


    So Cal
    Excellent, Excellent information, part of the reasoning for my last question was exactly the magazine band, although I have no intimate knowledge, it just looked out of place to me, as though there should be an offset between the band and the sight.
    So potentially what has happened to this rifle is that it was purchased and cut down by a PO or gunsmith 60 + years ago, 4+ inches were cut from the muzzle end, whoever did the work had the skills and machining capability to re-cut the dovetail for the relocated sight, re-blued the barrel and had a great rifle.
    I spent some time on the Cody Museum website, I have inquired about the research information, it takes about 4 weeks to get the documentation letter, unless you have a membership, so I may throw down the coin for the membership, anyway I am going to give it a try, it may shed some additional information, maybe original buyer, wouldnt that be something.
    Anyway, I will shoot a couple additional pics and post them, see if I can get some cleaner shots of the barrel bluing, forend, muzzle etc, have a look, maybe something will jump out at you.
    Your help and knowledge has been fantastic.
    I will let you know what comes from the museum


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