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NOOB Question on 1970 Model 94 Quality
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kanky2
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December 11, 2016 - 4:37 am
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A brief introduction – I have no history with Winchesters of any type. I caught the Model 94 bug a few years ago and have decided that next year is my year for a cure.

I see many Model 94s available at shows, stores and online, but I’d really like one with some type of “story” behind it. My grandfathers were not gun owners, and neither was my dad, so I have no legacy or heirloom Model 94 coming down the road. Originally I thought maybe I could find some local older gentleman who has a Model 94 that means something to him, but who has no one to leave it to; maybe he’d appreciate selling it to someone like me who’s interested in what made that particular rifle important to him.

Since an opportunity like that has not come along, I figure why not make my own story?; i.e. come up with my own heirloom Model 94 to hand down. One scenario I though of would be to buy a Model 94 that was made in 1970 (the year I was born). In the absence of a more compelling storyline, the age of the rifle would at least be an interesting starting point.

However, all I ever hear from friends who own Winchesters is that I need to stay away from anything made after 1964. I understand the pre-64 argument, but my question for the forum is, would a 1970 rifle really be bad enough to derail my idea?

I’d like an occasional shooter; not a showpiece or safe queen, nor a pristine collector’s item. Would the “lesser quality” of a 1970 rifle be a frustration?

Thank you for your attention and expertise!

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December 11, 2016 - 6:47 am
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Actually, you would be wise to steer clear of any Model 94 manufacture after 1963. “Pre-64” means 1963 or older. The quality of the post-63 production Model 94s is rather lacking, and if you plan to start collecting them, be prepared to be frustrated should you decide to sell them at a later date. The pre-64 production Model 94s continue to rise in value as time goes by.

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December 11, 2016 - 5:06 pm
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While Bert is absolutely right about the “collectability” and quality issue (I personally go back to 1931), there is still a place for Winchesters made from 1964 to 1980, especially if you want to use them from time to time.  And with nearly 10,000,000 model 94’s having been manufactured by all sorts of companies, (Winchester, Olin, U.S. Repeating Arms, Fabrique Nationale, Miroku) I see nothing wrong with specializing in some category of reasonably priced Winchesters as you are endeavoring to do.

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December 11, 2016 - 5:54 pm
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My opinion is that the quality of Winchester lever action rifles declined after WWII. I would avoid any produced after 1963, of course, but might be inclined to find one much earlier. I will say that when it comes to 1894 carbines, they never quite looked right with the shorter forearm. As for myself, I my latest Winchester is a Model 1892 rifle dating from 1920. I do own two 1894 rifles in 95%+ condition, one produced in 1908 and one produced in 1918, and the workmanship of the one produced in 1918, while excellent, is clearly not as good as the one produced in 1908. I would try and find a Winchester 1894 rifle mid-teens or before. Something about Winchester firearms produced the last few decades of the 1800’s and the first decade of the 1900’s–the quality is impeccable!

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December 12, 2016 - 3:01 pm
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kanky2

Here’s just a thought…  Maybe a way to create both a “legacy collection” and get some of the earlier M94s is to first acquire one made in your birth year (1970), then find one from each of your parent’s birth years (2), then your grandparents birth years (4), etc. until you get back to 1894.  Just make sure to consult something like Bob Renneberg’s book if you start considering those older M94s.  I’m sure that Bert and the “when was my winchester made?” tool on this site under the “Resources” tab can help you figure out the serial number range for each of the ‘pre-64’ years in question.

If you have someone to pass them down to, maybe they’ll keep the tradition alive, as it seems the M94 is probably going to be made forever by somebody!!!

Best of luck…Laugh

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December 12, 2016 - 4:55 pm
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Louis, not to belittle your ideas, but, in my opinion (that is, how I collect), the goal is to collect the very best firearm you can, within a certain date range, and ignore exact production years. By sticking to a specific date, this may cause you to overpay for a specific firearm and ignore the firearm that has condition at a near bargain price. The only exception to this is to be aware of a firearm as logging as pre-1899 or post-1898. In my case, my latest Winchester is a 1920 production firearm. Quality was still good up until WWII, but much of what I collect ceased production in the mid-’30’s. I have never found a Winchester that fits in my collection at the right price that dates from the 1930’s, but I wouldn’t ignore it since it is not pre-1920, if the price is right relative to condition. I would, however, if presented with two identical firearms with regards to condition, and one is post 1898 and the second is pre 1899, select the pre 1899 firearm, even if it comes with a somewhat greater price tag.

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December 12, 2016 - 4:59 pm
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mrcvs said
My opinion is that the quality of Winchester lever action rifles declined after WWII. I would avoid any produced after 1963, of course, but might be inclined to find one much earlier. I will say that when it comes to 1894 carbines, they never quite looked right with the shorter forearm. As for myself, I my latest Winchester is a Model 1892 rifle dating from 1920. I do own two 1894 rifles in 95%+ condition, one produced in 1908 and one produced in 1918, and the workmanship of the one produced in 1918, while excellent, is clearly not as good as the one produced in 1908. I would try and find a Winchester 1894 rifle mid-teens or before. Something about Winchester firearms produced the last few decades of the 1800’s and the first decade of the 1900’s–the quality is impeccable!  

I have a good friend who is a retired Master Machinist who has taken many of the M1894 and M94 rifles apart and I can tell you, quality started to fall long before WW2. Most likely in the 30’s after Mr. Olin took over. The company was in dire straights at that time and cuts needed to be made to keep the company afloat. Sure, things got real bad post 1963. The steel was changed and the followers were made out of  sheet steel. The bluing went to %$#* too.

They were called “Junkchesters” for a while. 1930’s and 1940’s carbines can still be had for well under $1,000  depending on caliber. Not too long ago, I bought a drippy mint, unfired, 1960 30-30 at the Big Reno show for $750. I bought it because it was cheap and I was looking for a representative M94 with the short wood forend.  All my Winchesters date from 1890 to 1960.

I know there are folks who will not agree, but a post 1963 has  no place in my collection.  Big LarryM1894-1913-004.jpgImage Enlarger

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December 12, 2016 - 5:24 pm
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kanky2 said

Since an opportunity like that has not come along, I figure why not make my own story?; i.e. come up with my own heirloom Model 94 to hand down. One scenario I though of would be to buy a Model 94 that was made in 1970 (the year I was born). In the absence of a more compelling storyline, the age of the rifle would at least be an interesting starting point.

Hi Bert, Larry and mrcvs

My “suggestion” was based on the OP statement quoted above, along with the statement that he wanted an occasional shooter, not a showpiece or safe queen, i.e. wants a family heirloom with a story behind it, not an investment portfolio.  Your collective advice regarding production quality and resale value is all valid and important information to pass along in light of the OP’s question about quality.

While I do not generally collect rifles based on year of manufacture either, I am happy to have the 1957 M70 243 WIN Standard rifle that my Dad bought new the year I was born.  And I did recently give my brother a 1927 M54 .30GOV’T’06 1st Standard rifle made in 1927 (the year our Dad was born) along with an unopened box of Winchester loaded ammo from the same year (label date).

There are many philosophies to collecting, and I would not belittle any of them.  For myself, I am generally in agreement with all of you about what I am interested in collecting, but kanky2 may not share our motivation.

I’m sorry to have even brought this up!!! Wink

Best,

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December 12, 2016 - 5:56 pm
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Big Larry said

I have a good friend who is a retired Master Machinist who has taken many of the M1894 and M94 rifles apart and I can tell you, quality started to fall long before WW2. Most likely in the 30’s after Mr. Olin took over.M1894-1913-004.jpgImage Enlarger

Big Larry,

I think I picked WWII as there are a few decent Winchester 55/64’s and 53/65’s kicking about that I have seen that date from the ’30’s and 40’s that were of “decent” quality, but, yes, I generally agree with you and would even argue that quality declined not much after 1910, as some of the stuff I have dating from the first decade of the 20th Century is of MUCH better workmanship than that of the second decade. The workmanship in the teens is still excellent, just not of the quality of the previous decade.

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December 15, 2016 - 4:23 pm
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Hi, just thanking all who’ve taken the time to offer up their advice thus far; I appreciate it. I’ve had fun mulling over the Winchester idea for a few years, but actually putting a plan together means choosing an approach. There are clearly several directions I could go with this, and hearing where you’ve gone is great.

I’ve reached out to a couple of gun guys I know to see if they can steer me toward a local (central Wisconsin) M94 enthusiast who might be willing to educate me show-and-tell style.

Actually, I’ve found Cabelas to be a pretty good way to view a number of rifles in one spot. They’re always so stinking busy though, I don’t like to pester them with questions.

I wish you all a blessed and Merry Christmas, and thanks again.

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December 15, 2016 - 7:55 pm
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kanky2 said
Hi, just thanking all who’ve taken the time to offer up their advice thus far; I appreciate it. I’ve had fun mulling over the Winchester idea for a few years, but actually putting a plan together means choosing an approach. There are clearly several directions I could go with this, and hearing where you’ve gone is great.

I’ve reached out to a couple of gun guys I know to see if they can steer me toward a local (central Wisconsin) M94 enthusiast who might be willing to educate me show-and-tell style.

Actually, I’ve found Cabelas to be a pretty good way to view a number of rifles in one spot. They’re always so stinking busy though, I don’t like to pester them with questions.

I wish you all a blessed and Merry Christmas, and thanks again.  

Join up here and you may get all the good info you may need. Most folks here are very good at taking pics and putting out some great info. Besides you get a very nice magazine with great articles. Get a sponsor and join up. You cannot go wrong.   Big Larry

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December 16, 2016 - 1:48 am
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kanky2 said

Actually, I’ve found Cabelas to be a pretty good way to view a number of rifles in one spot. They’re always so stinking busy though, I don’t like to pester them with questions.
I wish you all a blessed and Merry Christmas, and thanks again.  

Be very careful in dealing with Cabelas Gun Libraries.  They’d just as soon rape you as look at you.

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December 16, 2016 - 2:57 am
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Wincacher said

Be very careful in dealing with Cabelas Gun Libraries.  They’d just as soon rape you as look at you.  

Additionally, they are not by any stretch of the imagination what you could refer to as “experts” as it applies to the Winchesters they have in the Gun Libraries.  I have visited six different Cabela’s stores in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Nevada, and in each case, the fellows working in the Gun Library were clueless.

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Bert H. said

Additionally, they are not by any stretch of the imagination what you could refer to as “experts” as it applies to the Winchesters they have in the Gun Libraries.  I have visited six different Cabela’s stores in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Nevada, and in each case, the fellows working in the Gun Library were clueless.

Bert  

That’s for sure. I saw a S&W K38 new in it’s gold box go for $300. I was about the 200th caller on the gun. But, I do want to thank them for selling me a 95% ++ M56 in 22 short for under $1,000. I have also gotten some other deals from them. It does seem they are lacking on intelligence as far as older guns go. They will sometimes negotiate a lower price too. For me, Guns International has some really nice stuff as does Collectors Inc. Big LarryM1892-takedown-001.jpgImage Enlarger 

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December 16, 2016 - 11:00 pm
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Kanky 

I by no means consider myself an “expert” but can tell you there is no substitute for reading books about Winchesters and looking/handling them. A $50 book can save you a lot of hard earned cash. There are several members on this site from Wi. Myself included, that would be glad to help you out. 

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Bert H. said

Additionally, they are not by any stretch of the imagination what you could refer to as “experts” as it applies to the Winchesters they have in the Gun Libraries.  I have visited six different Cabela’s stores in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Nevada, and in each case, the fellows working in the Gun Library were clueless.

Bert  

I’ve learned to use that shortcoming to my advantage more than once, Bert. One guy working at my local Cabelas is actually quite knowledgeable about Winchesters but he most often keeps his observations to himself. WinkI haven’t bothered to pass on much of what I’ve learned in recent years but I do drop by on a regular basis before the recently acquired guns hit the ‘net.

Back on topic I have a few post-63 94’s in my safe from the days before I started collecting the older rifles. All are nice enough guns in excellent condition and I enjoy shooting them now and then. They are beginning to increase in value but I don’t expect to live long enough for them to be considered “collectable” but I’m quite often wrong about these things. Embarassed

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Wincacher, Bert H., & Big Larry – thanks for the Cabela’s wave off. I figured as much; I just use them as a viewing library.

 

jschaal – thank you for the offer. I’m in the Oshkosh area. And I totally agree about the books; I have a couple on my Christmas list.

 

Hey TXGunNut, none of those “few post-63 94’s in my safe” would happen to be made in 1970, would they? (Insert winking emoji here, ‘cuz I don’t know how.) 

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December 21, 2016 - 4:20 pm
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Kanky2,

Would prefer to send you this as a PM but you aren’t a member (yet) so no can do.  Sometime in January I plan to dispose of the 3 Model 1894’s I have that were manufactured after 1930.  All 3 are from the 1970’s.  You may be interested in 1 of them.  It’s nothing special except for having been made in 1970, 44 Magnum caliber and in like new condition with a perfect bore.  I bought it in 1974 and have never fired it (but no longer remember if I bought it new or not). 

I plan on listing it on GunBroker and if you have any interest I’ll send you a notification and link when it is listed.

Wayne

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Kranky2, If you are able, attend a WACA show nearest you (I go to Reno in November).  In 3 days you will learn gobs of stuff from some great folks who have examples on their tables.  It’s an invaluable experience!

 

Big Larry’s Model 92 is beautiful.  What caliber?1918-Mod-94-short-rifle.JPGImage Enlarger

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Hey TXGunNut, none of those “few post-63 94’s in my safe” would happen to be made in 1970, would they? (Insert winking emoji here, ‘cuz I don’t know how.) -kanky2

 

Sorry, seems I have a gap between 1958 and 1978 or thereabouts. Wink

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