Winchester Model 94 - a piece of Americana

Discussion in 'General Firearms Discussion' started by TopGas, Nov 3, 2014.

  1. TopGas

    TopGas Member

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    While I'm not a hard core gun collector, I do have a "selection" of firearms and add to it when something grabs my fancy. Most recently, I decided that I wanted/needed a levergun. I think that I was watching an episode of "The Rifleman" on METV and realized that I didn't have a levergun! (I didn't necessarily want/need one like Lucas McCain had, standard fare would be fine.) I decided to focus my quest on a Win Mod 94. Even tho it came into being at the tail end of the westward expansion in the U.S. It is many times referred to as "the gun that won the West". I wanted a little piece of Americana!

    As usual,when you're not looking for something you see them everywhere and when you are, they're few and far between. I wanted to keep the overall expenditure down, so new was out of the question. The LGS in my town had no lever action rifles on his rack. About 2 weeks ago I spotted a lone levergun on the rack in a pawn shop in the town where I work. It was a Winchester Model 94. It was clearly not in pristine condition. The buttstock had suffered some abuse. There was some light surface rust on the mag tube and a few scratches on the receiver. It definitely needed to be cleaned. The sticker price was $259.99. I didn't have a real feel for the going price on these guns so I went home to study up.

    Based on the serial # 308xxxx, it was made in 1968. I checked on GunBroker.com and found that the more desirable pre-'64 versions were clearly out of my price range and that even the post-'64 ones were commanding a fairly high price. While getting one on GB for less than $260 was possible, S&H would add ~$25 and close inspection is not possible. I decided that the one I saw at the pawn shop deserved a 2nd look. Next day went back to the shop. Turns out that all center fire rifles were "on-sale" for 10% off bringing the price down to ~$234. I tried to haggle but they held firm. I guess that less than a month before deer season is probably NOT the best time to expect a "deal" on a rifle. Bad timing on my part.

    I wanted to be out the door for less than $250 and after taxes this one came to a few bucks less than that so I bought it!

    Here are a few pics:
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    It will, of course, undergo a thorough cleaning, and something needs to be done with the dingage on the stock. More as that process moves on.
    Comments welcome. TG
     
  2. Bull

    Bull Just a Man Supporting Member

    ive heard of people steaming out dings in stocks...... IIRC, a wet rag was put on the stock, and heat applied with a iron..... But I don't recall where I saw it, or the exact details..... Good lookin gun though!
     

  3. SWAGA

    SWAGA No longer broke... Lifetime Supporter

    MidwayUSA has instructional videos on their YouTube channel.
    Good find!
     
  4. Not2ManyGuns

    Not2ManyGuns Member

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    That indeed is a nice looking rifle. I suspect that you'll get the dings in the stock fixed up nicely.

    The Rifleman eh. I've also been watching episodes of the show on MeTV also.

    Last summer my wife and I went to an antique show and I saw a toy Rifleman rifle that was made back in the early 1960's. That got me interested enough to do some searching on the net about how the modified rifle was able to fire so rapidly and how Chuck Connors was able to cock it by swinging it around. Fascinating stuff. One funny thing is that one website jokingly said that Lucas McCain was a mass murder because in the four years the program aired, he killed over 140 people.

    Here is an interesting web site that talks about the rifles that were used on the program and even offers a très cher (very expensive ) reproduction custom The Rifleman rifle:

    http://www.riflemansrifle.com/own_riflemans_rifle.htm
     
  5. TopGas

    TopGas Member

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    There are some dings that may steam out BUT a couple (the visible ones in the pics) are actually gouges that will have to be filled in or sanded out. I do think that I will be able to make them look and feel much better!

    RE: The Rifleman, I too, read some interesting stuff about the gun and the number of "kills". They had to modify the gun for the show so that the bullets wouldn't fall out of the gun when Lucas spun it around to cock it:D! TG
     
  6. TopGas

    TopGas Member

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    After I brought my "new toy" home and did further research (not always a good idea) I found that there seems to be more than a little bit of gun snobbery RE: the pre & post '64 editions of this rifle. At first I thought that I perhaps should have waited until a pre-'64 mod 94 popped up (?when and at what cost?). I only reflected on that aspect briefly tho.

    Since I'm not a collector, most of the differences were of little consequence to me. Yes, Winchester did some things to reduce their costs and increase their profits. (That's what businesses do here in the U.S.A.) Walnut vs "other" hardwood stock, receiver machined from solid steel vs sintered steel and carrier machined vs a stamped part seem to be the differences that the "purists" focus on between the pre & post '64 guns.

    For me, I'm happy that the one I have was made here in the U.S.A. by American workers. I like the absence of plastic parts and I like the simplicity of the design. All of those things were carried over from the pre-'64 era into the early post-'64 era. I'm not so sure that can be said about later editions.

    Mine is a tool not a trophy. TG
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2014
  7. Personally if it was mine I would leave the appearance alone, dings and all. I love a gun with character. Just rub some linseed oil into the wood, the colors of the dings should eventually match, while the dings will still be there. Take some fine steel wool to the rusted areas being careful not to take off the remaining blue, lube the gun up and enjoy.
     
  8. ajole

    ajole Supporting Member

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    You did ridiculous good, TopGas.

    You can't even get a beat up Marlin 336 for that much in my AO.

    Great price, decent gun, not as good as a Savage 99 of course, but perfectly serviceable.;)
     
  9. TopGas

    TopGas Member

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    I have "cleaned up" a few other abused stocks and generally I do end up
    leaving a few of the dents and dings not fully repaired. Boiled Linseed Oil is my go-to finish on wood stocks but I will have to remove to old finish. I'm compelled to do something with the gouges too.

    RE: the light surface rust, I already have the gun in pieces on my work bench (well, several pieces at least:)) I have a product called "Rust Free" that's a non-abrasive remover/preventer that has cleaned the rust up nicely. I did have to hit it with some 0000 steel wool but not enough to disturb the existing bluing. The metalwork is in very good condition. I'm surprised (and thankful) that the level of abuse to the stock didn't carry over to the metal.
    TG

    This is what I like about this forum! There's always a boatload of folks out there that will make a person feel good about a purchase, a mod, some work whatever. (Not always the case when you make a bonehead decision tho :D)
    TG
     
  10. Hermitt

    Hermitt Hey! Get Off My Lawn! Member

    Very nice find! Congrats!

    What are the differences between the model 94 and the original model 73s?
     
  11. TopGas

    TopGas Member

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    A question best left to the experts BUT here's a link to start you off:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winchester_rifle
    TG
     
  12. TopGas

    TopGas Member

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    I got busy and cleaned my "treasure" up some. Stripped the old finish off with Zip-Strip, steamed most of the dents and then sanded down the rough spots. Fortunately the gouges weren't too terribly deep and I was able to blend the damaged areas without having to remove a massive amount of existing wood. There are a few dings that I left for "character". I darkened both the fore grip and the buttstock with a couple coats of MinWax "Special Walnut" in the hope of getting a pre-'64 black walnut look. That didn't quite happen but it looked much better than it did when I brought it home. I rubbed in a few coats of boiled linseed oil and then a final coat of Johnson's Paste Wax. I have to admit, I like the way it turned out!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    While I waited for the BLO coats to dry I took the gun the rest of the way apart. I didn't TOTALLY disassemble everything i.e. I left the trigger group assembled as well as the bolt and the components along the inside walls of the receiver. I did thoroughly clean those assemblies by soaking in kerosene and blowing them out with compressed air. Everything cleaned up nicely. I doesn't look like many rounds have been thru this gun. The steel butt plate had some rust and the bluing was wearing thin so I cleaned it up and re-blued it. Looks much nicer now.
    [​IMG]

    As usual, the disassembly was a lot easier than putting it back together :eek:. With the help of a couple of on-line guides tho, I got it back together.

    I am more than pleased with how it turned out:). I do want to pick up a few things to finish off the project. Not so sure that the front sight hood is absolutely necessary but i want to get one. Additionally, the rear sight is missing the blade assembly and I like to get one of those too. Just today I picked up tube mounted sling stud and need to mount up one of the rear mounts that I have in the buttstock.

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    Again, I'm VERY pleased on how this project turned out!:cool:
    I hope you guys (and gals) like it too. TG
     
  13. Bull

    Bull Just a Man Supporting Member

    Looks very nice...... Excellent work brother!
     
  14. Not2ManyGuns

    Not2ManyGuns Member

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    +1. I totally agree.
     
  15. planosteve

    planosteve Lifetime Supporter

    Sweet looking, let us know how it shoots.
     
  16. TopGas

    TopGas Member

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    Oh yea, we're supposed to shoot these guns too!:D
    TG
     
  17. TopGas

    TopGas Member

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    While I'm sure that there are folks in the world that would never add sling attachments to a gun that didn't come with them from the factory:eek:, I decided to do so. Since this 1968 vintage rifle is hardly a collector's piece, I wouldn't be defiling it:D.

    Uncle Mike's makes two types of front sling studs for the centerfire rifles with tube magazines; a full band (one piece) and a two piece partial band style. I liked the full band version since it allowed for the sling pivot to be closer to the magazine tube and I think a more sturdy mount.

    Several reviews on-line indicated that some had trouble with the full band type being loose and didn't like the amount of disassembly required to mount it. I put one of the two piece style stud mounts on a Marlin 60 and while it seems to be OK, it definitely looks like an "add-on", puts the pivot point further from the mag tube and could feasibly pull off if enough force was applied.

    I didn't need the complete kit from Uncle Mike's. I was able to find just the full band and screw at a LGS. I already had several rear stud screws and slings many times already have the QR swivels attached. I found it very easy to mount the band on the mag tube and was able to get a tight fit. (Later, I did add a small piece of plastic tape between the mag tube to help prevent marring the mag tube and the band to further tighten the grip.)

    I had never mounted a stud screw in a virgin stock before and was a little worried about the proper position, drill angle, depth etc. MidwayUSA has a how-to video, there were several on YouTube and the instructions from Uncle Mike's are pretty clear. I'm not so sure why they have you drill the 7/32" countersink hole before the 5/32" pilot hole :confused: but it worked out OK.

    A day or so after I bought the full band mounting stud I came across a vintage leather 1" sling (the type with the two parallel rows of adjustment holes) complete with the early design QR swivels. It was on the clearance table at a different LGS for $10. I was in excellent condition so I snagged it:cool:.

    All in all, I'm pleased. I think the 1" leather sling is maybe more period specific (not that it really matters) for this rifle. Here are a few pics:

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    I do need a couple more things to complete this restoration; the rear sight is missing the adjustable blade and the front sight hood is missing (the one in the pic is something I cobbled up from a piece of plastic tube). Numerich carries both but the rear sight blade is currently "sold out". I'll try some other parts sources. If any had suggestions, I'd appreciate it. Thanks
    TG
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  18. ajole

    ajole Supporting Member

    34,524
    10,759
    NE Utah
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
  19. Moestooge

    Moestooge Member

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    You did well on that 94. I'm on the Marlin side in the Marlin/Winchester debate, but a lever-action .30-30 is as American as it gets.
     
  20. TopGas

    TopGas Member

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    Thanks Ajole, both of the options you recommended have popped up in the various searches that I've done looking for a replacement rear sight blade.

    I briefly considered the receiver mount peep sight but decided that, in spite of the potential for improved accuracy, it would detract from the low profile of the stock sight configuration.

    I do like the fiber optic upgrade to the OEM sight and that just might be the way I end up going. I do however, liken that to putting L.E.D. turn signal lights on a '68 Mustang:rolleyes:. There'd be a slight improvement in function but it might look a bit out of place (or more accurately out of place in time).

    Until the part becomes available again at Numrich, I'm going to a take whack at hand fabricating a reasonable facsimile out of a chunk of aluminum. If one of my buddies at my rod & gun club would let me "borrow" the sight blade off their rifle, I could make a plaster mold and "cast" a blank out of J-B Weld. Either of the fabrication modes will be a bit time consuming but that's something I have an excess of during the Winter months.

    Thanks again Ajole for the suggestions and thanks to Moestooge, as well as others, for the compliments. While I'm not currently on the prowl for another levergun, if I were to stumble across a Marlin (at a decent price) I'd prolly get it:).
    TG