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Close But Not Quite: Review of Uberti 1894 Carbine
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Weirdsylvania
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May 26, 2024 - 12:16 am
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First I’ll say, I doubt many of you guys would actually be interested in owning one of these, but I thought you may find interesting in which ways it deviates from The Real Thing. I have a 1930 eastern Carbine for comparison, it doesn’t have much finish left and though I really like it I wanted a pre-64 in a bit better shape that I could actually take into the woods without worrying about rust (I say this because last time I took it out, two tiny rust blips developed despite thorough cleaning). My initial thought was to get a late stage (40’s through early 60’s) in excellent+ condition, and I found a few on Guns International, but every single one of them was sold by the time I could contact the seller. 

So I started looking at Uberti. It was about 2/3rds the price of a typical excellent condition late stage short rifle, so there was that. Plus I really love the original carbine configuration and you just can’t find those with good finish at a price I would be able to pay, and honestly something that rare I probably wouldn’t want to use as a regular shooter anyway.

The Uberti is built to “original specs” ie it’s made the way Browning designed it and not the weird post-64 hodge podge like a modern Miroku-Winchester would be. I hate angle eject (I’m left handed and would never use a scope on a 94 so it’s just pointless). That lightning cut on the side of the receiver to facilitate the angle eject is just as bad as the 90’s crossbolt safety when it comes to my personal aesthetics. Tang safety too.

So if I wanted a new(ish) pre-64 and I couldn’t be johnny on the spot to buy a nice C&R, then Uberti started to appeal to me. So last week I went ahead and put down on the carbine imported by Taylor’s & Co with blued receiver. I know Cimmaron and Taylors sell a lot of them with “color case hardening” but it’s purely cosmetic (not actual CCH) so not interesting to me at all. Cimmaron actually stopped offering theirs in blue so I figured I better get the Taylors just in case they stop importing their version as well. Side note, just like the earliest 1894s my Uberti has “color cased” lever, trigger, and hammer. It looks cool, probably laquered over for preservations sake (the parts are very glossy, particularly the trigger and lever). Honestly I’d have taken it in just actual blueing but I suppose it’s kind of neat.

Where to begin. The first thing you notice when you place the guns next to each other is that the Uberti’s barrel is just a hair longer, but more importantly the barrel band is behind the front sight. All the originals I’ve seen including my own have the barrel band just in front of the front sight. Sights are a weak point unfortunately. The sight radius is just not accurate, the front site is moved up the barrel maybe a half inch (and it’s a dovetail, which is practical but I think not accurate, my original has a pinned setup). The rear sight is almost an inch further back the barrel for some reason. I can get over this from a practical perspective because wider sights should theoretically mean more accuracy, but when they are going out of their way to reproduce I have no idea why they couldn’t just do it to spec. 

This brings us to the carbine ladder sight. It has a wider notch than the original, not a big deal but it is different. This is perhaps the most disappointing part though. The way the ladder sight is milled you can’t actually get the slider down to 200 yards, the metal is thicker at that point and it just hard stops a little under the 300 mark. I highly highly doubt I would ever fire the gun at greater than 100 yards so I’ll get over it, but it has made me consider buying a different ladder that actually has full functionality at some point.

The front site is a simple blade, not the marble bead on the original. To be fair though it can be replaced, though I don’t know if much is offered. It looks functional enough (haven’t fired yet), but lets just say I prefer the sights on my original in every way possible. 

Despite the fact this is a carbine and advertised as being the earliest version possible (like made in the 1890s early), there is conspicuously no saddle ring. I knew this going in and it didn’t bother me because I’m an eastern carbine guy (I live back east and don’t ever see myself riding a horse). Still, it seems like something they should have wanted to include, especially since for the first 30 years or so practically all of them had rings. 

It is actually trying so hard to be an “early early type” that it has 10 o clock screws! This was exciting when I first saw it, what an attention to detail. Only they screwed it up. The screws are not behind the loading gate as they are on all the pics of early guns I’ve seen, they are actually just over the loading gate, ironically where the pin is placed on my 1930. Again, I’m not sure if this is just an oversight or what, it seems like a lot of trouble to put screws in where they aren’t technically needed but then to put them in the wrong place. That was an unfortunate development to say the least.

The stocks are nice, a bit red but they look good. They are glossy (but not overly so) and textureless and I’ll be honest, I like the feel of the 96 year old wood on my original much better. Probably can’t replicate that though to be fair. The only notable flaw is that the top of the stock is too angular, on my 1930 it has corners but is still rounded on top. The uberti has a squared off top of the stock, not rounded at all. It doesn’t shoulder any different really, but again, why would they?

Perhaps to cut costs is the answer. The final discrepancy I found is that the bottom of the receiver is much less finely machined. On my 1930 the bottom edges of the receiver are somewhat intricately machined and rounded, while the Uberti is only slightly rounded with a much more square appearance. I suspect this was done because they had to do a few less machining passes to not add all the facets of an original. These are expensive niche guns so maybe they didn’t want to make them any more expensive than they absolutely had to?

As for proof marks, it has “Taylors & Co. Winchester VA, A Uberti” on the top rear half of the barrel. I thought it was kind of funny that they still managed to put “Winchester” on the gun even if it’s only a coincidence. The rear tang just has “Model 1894” in a font similar to the originals, minus patent dates of course. “30-30 WIN” is stamped on the side of the barrel, which looks weird to me probably because it’s smaller and not in a font at all like an original. The serial is on the bottom of the receiver in the same place as an original but is very shallow and kind of hard to read, maybe laser engraved? There are a couple of weird proof marks down there too, can’t really see them well enough to figure out what they are portraying though. 

Good things about it include the blued finish being stellar high gloss, the action being every bit as smooth as an original right out of the box, the wood to metal fit being *almost* as nice as an original (and apparently nicer than miroku guns according to sources) and most of the discrepancies are only noticeable if you’re really looking and/or have an original to compare. It shoulders just like my original, appears to have the correct weight, points nice, overall I’m sure it will be fine as a camping/hunting/plinking gun. 

In the beginning I considered Miroku, and decided since both are foreign manufactured (Winchester in name only) I’d much prefer something built to the original pattern. Even if it isn’t perfect in every way it is fundamentally the way John Browning conceived it, half cock safety and everything, where the Miroku I have no idea what goes on inside that thing. I know they stopped with the sintered receivers long ago but I suspect many of the internals are still post-64. I almost bought a miroku takedown but just couldn’t deal with the modern changes.

I really think Winchester would be better served if they stopped trying to market the 94 as a modern hunting rifle (being that it’s cost prohibitive and debatably there are much better modern options at half the price). They should go back to basics and built them to pre-64 specs. It’s actually sad when I look at their catalogue and they are selling practically original configuration 1886s 1873s and 1892s but the 1894 is still an abomination.  

If Uberti ever offers a takedown I will probably buy it for no other reason than original takedowns are kind of beyond my price range. I just think the concept is neat and I’ve always wanted one. 

Verdict: Maybe I should have sent my original to Turnbull if I wanted a newer looking gun, but then it would have just become a safe queen so there’s that. Probably would have cost more money too. Despite some flaws I am happy with my purchase, I now have my collectable original and my “service” version that will get used without feeling like something bad could happen.

If you absolutely love the pre-64 1894 as I do and want something not cheap but definitely cheapER you could probably do a lot worse. It’s not collectable obviously, but I have a hard time justifying taking my collectables out except on rare and perfect conditions. I still prefer it to a miroku. 

Thanks for reading! I would post photos but I’m not sure how to do that. If anyone can instruct me as to how, I can show all the things I’ve mentioned 1 to 1. Cheers!

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May 26, 2024 - 12:27 am
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You have to be a paid member to post photos but I can post them for you if you email them to saxdogg “at” hotmail.com

I enjoyed reading your “review” actually…I have several newer rifles like the Ruger-made Marlins and Henrys and I like them for what they are, just like I like my classic Winchesters. I’m an equal opportunity gun owner! I don’t always look for the clones like Ubertis but I have a couple…in most cases they are conversation pieces to show someone not into guns an original 1873 compared to what a “new” one looks like, makes for interesting discussions.

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May 26, 2024 - 2:12 am
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Maybe I should have sent my original to Turnbull if I wanted a newer looking gun, but then it would have just become a safe queen so there’s that. Probably would have cost more money too.Edwin K said  

No “probably” about it.

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May 26, 2024 - 3:32 am
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I’m sort of with Clarence on this one. Unless you plan on doing a lot of shooting competitions, like in Cowboy Action Shooting, the reproductions aren’t my focus for admiring. Maybe taking it hunting as well. Money better well spent on saving up and buying the real deal. Often times we shoot our originals doing SASS. Even then some Cowboys give us odd looks when we show up with our original Winchesters and 2nd / 3rd generation Colts. 

But hey, each their own. Every reproduction we shoot always needs a lot of work and I’m not talking about things like adding short stroke kits. Just the smoothness and reliability of the action needs adjusting and breaking in. Took a lot to get my Rossi 45 Colt 92 to churn out the brass, never had the same problems with my antique 92 in 38WCF. I still always prefer shooting the originals over the reproductions.

Sincerely,

Maverick  

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May 26, 2024 - 1:48 pm
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Maverick said Every reproduction we shoot always needs a lot of work and I’m not talking about things like adding short stroke kits. Just the smoothness and reliability of the action needs adjusting and breaking in. Took a lot to get my Rossi 45 Colt 92 to churn out the brass, never had the same problems with my antique 92 in 38WCF. I still always prefer shooting the originals over the reproductions. 

Only Rossi I’ve ever shot was their 1906 repro, & it was remarkably slick & smooth; it was several yrs old (not mine), so maybe had been well broken-in by then.  Well broken-in by previous owners would also apply to 150 yr old originals.  But thank God all these repros are available for CAS!  Think how much higher prices of originals might be if CAS shooters were competing with collectors to buy them.

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May 26, 2024 - 4:37 pm
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Many years ago when Ruger came out with their Vaquero I bought one and an Uberti.  They were both gone through by a SASS gunsmith. I was planning to shoot SASS.  I never did and I sold the Vaquero because it was too large and heavy.  I still have the Uberti.  So when I feel the need to shoot a gun that is almost the exact same thing as a Colt I shoot the Uberti.

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May 26, 2024 - 9:09 pm
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clarence said
Well broken-in by previous owners would also apply to 150 yr old originals. 

Yes, but I’ve picked up and shot 99% condition 150 yr old originals, that some would believe “Were Never Fired”. And they were way better “Broken In” from the factory than anything a Uberti, Cimarron, or Rossi ever thought about being close to.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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May 27, 2024 - 12:17 am
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Thanks guys for all the replies. I actually changed “Probably” to “Definitely” in my sentence concerning Turnbull, but I lost that draft I guess. 🙂 Jeremy I’ll send you some pics tomorrow, things are hectic here tonight but I should have time. Only other repro I might ever get (not anytime soon) would be a high quality 1873, mainly because I don’t think the originals can fire smokeless powder (and please correct me if I’m wrong). Once I’m more financially solvent, let’s just say, I’ll be looking at more originals for sure! Can’t get enough of this stuff!

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May 27, 2024 - 12:31 am
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Edwin K said Only other repro I might ever get (not anytime soon) would be a high quality 1873, mainly because I don’t think the originals can fire smokeless powder (and please correct me if I’m wrong).
  

Factory ammo (EXCEPT the special HV stuff made for Marlin 1895s) is safe. 

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May 27, 2024 - 12:39 am
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Edwin K said
Only other repro I might ever get (not anytime soon) would be a high quality 1873, mainly because I don’t think the originals can fire smokeless powder (and please correct me if I’m wrong). Once I’m more financially solvent, let’s just say, I’ll be looking at more originals for sure! Can’t get enough of this stuff!

Consider yourself corrected… you can safely shoot smokeless powder cartridges in any original Winchester Model 1873 that is in mechanically sound condition.  There are a number of different ammo manufacturers that make low pressure (Cowboy action) ammo that are well below the pressure safety limits of a Model 1873.

Bert

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May 27, 2024 - 2:40 pm
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That is good to know! The only thing that would have stopped me from eventually acquiring an original 1873 was that I didn’t think they were able to be fired anymore. The cowboy loads just completely slipped my mind I guess. I know what I’ll be saving my money for next, and it’s gotta be 44-40. 🙂

I sent pictures to Jeremy, unfortunately several of them were too large a file to send, but hopefully you all can get the general picture. I don’t think I’ll be in for another repro all things considered, especially if it’s not a gun I would use in a utilitarian way anyway, I just appreciate the history so much more. 

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May 27, 2024 - 3:13 pm
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Here are the pics Edwin sent!

 

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