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A Spruce or not a Spruce, That is the Question
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June 27, 2014 - 4:48 am
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I come here in hopes that an expert will be able to positively determine whether this 1894 is just a nice old gun or a really nice old gun.

I have just bought this Winchester 1894 in .30 WCF from a gentleman who told me it was a World War I era gun that had been used to guard the Northwest forests. I tried to do a quick bit of research while we settled on a price, but I could not nail down whether this was actually a Spruce Gun or not.

After we finished I began a more thorough search for information about Spruce Guns and how to determine whether a 1984 was one of the few. My research has left me a little more knowledgeable but still very unsure.
I found posts and articles that declared that if there was no “US” and ordinance mark it couldn’t be a Spruce Gun.

I found posts and articles that implied that ”J. C. ’17” was good enough for membership in the Spruce forest. I repeatedly found what appeared to be a cut and pasted unattributed conjecture which said J. C. were the initials of a purchasing officer for the army in the northwest and the date of the contract was 1917. (i.e.: “"J.C" might stand for U.S. Captain James Van D. Crisp, who was assigned as Disbursing Officer, representing the Finance Dept. of the Equipment Division of the Signal Corps at Vancouver Barracks on October 28, 1917.”) The original source of that conjecture is not clear.

The serial number of the gun is 839539

It is marked beneath the serial with “J. C. ‘17”

It has a 20” barrel

The original rear sight has been replaced by a Marble sight

It has a knob installed into the SRC stud hole that appears to be of the same age as the rifle, but I can’t seem to find any pictures on-line that resemble it. Could it have been for a leather fob in place of the ring to aid retention and reduce noise while stalking? Was it a common aftermarket item? Did Winchester offer it as an option?

Any assistance or observation are greatly appreciated. I need to nail down exactly what this rifle is and what I can sell it for.

Thank you in advance,

Kyle

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June 27, 2014 - 7:55 am
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There used to be an excellent article written by Rick Hill regarding the Spruce guns posted on this site, but I think it went away with the new website design. It would be great if it could be added back to this site along with an updated list of serial numbers for reference.

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June 27, 2014 - 9:22 am
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Kyle:

Current thinking is that the "J.C. ’17" marked 1894 carbines, in the appropriate serial number range, are probably Spruce Guns. These may have been procured locally from civilian dealers prior to the receipt of the 1800 carbines through the Ordnance Dept. channels.

It is my speculation that the J.C. stands for James Van D. Crisp. Here is what I wrote in my articlle:

"Note: The significance of the "J.C. ’17" stamp on the bottom of the receiver beneath the serial number is unknown at this time. However, the initials "J.C" might stand for Captain James Van D. Crisp, who was assigned as Disbursing Officer, Representing the Finance Dept. of the Equipment Division of the Signal Corps at Vancouver Barracks on October 28, 1917."

If you send me a P.M. with your e-mail address I will send you a copy of the article.

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July 8, 2014 - 6:29 pm
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Rick and Bert,

Thank you for all your help with this. I have listed the Spruce Gun for sale on GunBroker and I hope that it finds a home with somebody who can keep it safe and secure for future generations to appreciate the role it played in America’s history.

I wish like hell that I could take this rifle into my personal collection.

Kyle

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