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Model 94 24" ELW 32WS
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August 6, 2022 - 9:01 pm
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Fellows

As a conversation piece, I’ll share a Model 94 Semi-Deluxe Extra Lightweight 3/4 mag. rifle I picked up a while back. This particular rifle is a bit late, being manufactured in 1926, at a time when the carbines started dominating the 94 production. It’s a 24″ barrel which falls into the short rifles, at least by my standards. The condition, barrel length, and straight grain, I-checkered wood really appealed to me, but those attributes were not what really drove me to take a run at buying it. The anomaly to me is the fact that it’s an extra-lightweight barrel in 32 Win. Special. To my knowledge, and in researching the ELW ’94s in the past, I’ve yet to ever see the 32 WS offered in an ELW barrel. In fact, some of the catalogs specifically noted the ELW rifles could be made in all calibers except the 32 WS.

My theory on this oddity has to do with the recent production of the Model 55 at this time. I believe someone ordered this wanting all the frills the 94 still offered (crescent butt, I checkered, 3/4 magazine) but also wanted the 32 WS chambering in an ELW barrel. It just so happened that the 55 barrels were essentially a 24″ extra light contour and were catalogued in a 32WS. Maybe this barrel is a 55 blank and stamped as a Model 94. I keep forgetting to ask the survey king Bert if he has any other M94 ELW 32WS examples in his survey. I certainly did not in my short rifle database. Has anyone else seen one?

Anway…… enjoy……

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August 6, 2022 - 10:07 pm
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Good eye, Gary. A very special rifle in many aspects.

 

Mike

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August 6, 2022 - 10:17 pm
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Gary – super nice rifle and in a great chambering.  Particularly so given the rarity of an extra light in a .32 Special.  Super condition too.  What is the serial number range?

By the way, any idea why Winchester didn’t want to offer the extra light in .32 Special?  They had no issue offering that same barrel style in the Model 55.

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August 6, 2022 - 11:35 pm
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Gary,

I did not realize that the ELW variant was very rarely ever chambered for the 32 W.S. cartridge.  In my survey, I have (113) ELW rifles listed (and that includes the (88) that are Short Rifles).  Of the (113) ELW rifles, just (3) of them are 32 W.S. (which includes your rifle).  Interestingly, 2 of the 3 32 W.S. rifles have a 3/4-magazine.

Bert

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August 7, 2022 - 12:23 am
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steve004 said
Gary – super nice rifle and in a great chambering.  Particularly so given the rarity of an extra light in a .32 Special.  Super condition too.  What is the serial number range?

By the way, any idea why Winchester didn’t want to offer the extra light in .32 Special?  They had no issue offering that same barrel style in the Model 55.

  

The serial number is 994443. 

I have no idea why it wasn’t offered. Maybe the bullet diameter in conjunction with the smokeless chambering and potential energy? Thats why I was hoping someone else might know a bit more about this subject. I looked through all my old catalogs and cannot find anywhere it was cataloged. By the time they decided it was safe to use the ELW barrel in 32WS with the M55, it obviously could be ordered in a 94 rifle. That said, I think this is a fairly rare occurrence. Thats why I was leaning toward the M55 connection. 

                                                                               ~Gary~

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August 7, 2022 - 12:27 am
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Bert H. said
Gary,

I did not realize that the ELW variant was very rarely ever chambered for the 32 W.S. cartridge.  In my survey, I have (113) ELW rifles listed (and that includes the (88) that are Short Rifles).  Of the (113) ELW rifles, just (3) of them are 32 W.S. (which includes your rifle).  Interestingly, 2 of the 3 32 W.S. rifles have a 3/4-magazine.

Bert

  

Bert 

Are the other (2) you surveyed late rifles……… out past the introduction of the M55? What length are those barrels? Up until I purchased this rifle, I had exactly zero 32WS ELW’s in my shortie survey. Also, do you concur that it was never actually offered as a catalog item?

                                                                               ~Gary~

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August 7, 2022 - 12:42 am
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Gary,

The first is S/N 459937 (1910) and the second is S/N 58044 (1912)2, so No, neither one is a “late” production.

I have not reviewed all of the catalogs to see if the 32 W.S. was ever offered in the ELW variation.  That stated, I guess that I had always assumed that it was offered in the catalogs until this topic brought to light just how uncommon it is.

Bert

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August 7, 2022 - 12:50 am
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I was aware quite a while back, possibly when I wrote the 1894 Short Rifle article in the 2018 collector that I, personally had not found them offered in any of my catalog copies, and this lined up with the fact that I had zero in my survey. I have a portion of my survey broke out into strictly ELW’s so that zero for the 32WS always stood out. When I stumbled on this one earlier this year, I thought it was possibly one of a kind or at least fairly rare. It wasn’t exactly cheap, as the previous owner knew what he had. 

Anyway, always something new to learn. Let us know of you discover any catalog offerings, or any insight on why it was omitted from the ELW line-up. 

                                                                               ~Gary~

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August 7, 2022 - 2:15 pm
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I realized the .32 special puts a larger hole in the barrel than a .30WCF and hence, the barrel walls will be thinner.  However, if memory serves me, I have seen M1894 ELW rifles in .38-55.  So we are talking much thinner barrel walls.  I’m stretching my memory here, but I believe I have even seen .38-55 ELW rifles with a dovetailed front sight!  That’s got to be getting close to touching the rifling.  What do the surveys show about ELW rifles in .38-55?  And while were at it, the .32-40?

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August 7, 2022 - 5:16 pm
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steve004 said
What do the surveys show about ELW rifles in .38-55?  And while were at it, the .32-40?  

Steve,

My survey document only covers the ELW rifles manufactured after S/N 353999, and these are my numbers;

32-40 = 7

38-55 = 13

Many of the 38-55 ELWs have an octagon rapid taper barrel, and the dovetail cut for the front sight is very shallow.

Bert

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August 7, 2022 - 6:36 pm
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Steve,

Yes, a fair number of 38-55 ELWs floating round, and a few 32-40s. I’m guessing the reason for not offering the 32WS in ELW had more to do with the energy of the round, than the bullet diameter. 

I double checked a few catalogs to refresh my memory and the 1908, 1913, and 1918 copies clearly do not offer the 32WS. The ’08 and ’13 catalogs have specific verbiage saying the 32 cannot be furnished in the extra light weight barrels. That said, I can’t explain the two that Bert has surveyed in that period. The example I showed above is easier explained due to the M55 offerings already out there. Something had changed by then ….. barrel materials, …… I have no idea?

Clip from the 1908 catalog – 

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                                                                               ~Gary~

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August 7, 2022 - 7:37 pm
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Thanks Gary.  We don’t often think of the .32 Special as being the most powerful round the Model 1894 was chambered in.  I suppose this was particularly true back when Winchester characterized the .32 Special as nearing the .30-40 Krag power level.

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