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Rare 21.5" Model 94 Special Short Rifle or Texas "Border Rifle"?
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July 19, 2023 - 12:08 am
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Folks, I thought I’d share this story with everyone in the spirit of learning.  Not everyone has decades of collecting experience and I bet all of us have made mistakes from time to time.  I’d been admiring this gun at a local gun shop near my home for several months.  I don’t usually buy from gun shops, preferring instead to make the majority of my purchases at gun shows.  However, this was an exception as I thought I’d found a rare example of a Model 94 Special Short Rifle with a 21.5″ barrel.  I’ve read about odd and half-size barrel lengths in Bob Renneberg’s book, but I’ve never seen one.  This gun was old, rusty brown, and crusty and had “that look” of a well-used hunting rifle that probably spent its life on a south Texas ranch killing deer and hogs.  Notice the notches carved in the forearm forward of the receiver in the third photo.  I also noticed what appears to be a numerical stamp and someone’s initials carved in the stock.  Interesting…but a 1920s serial number so too late to letter.  

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What really got my attention was the barrel length of 21.5″.  Magazine tube was too short though, maybe a sign of previous damage?

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First, I checked the muzzle end for obvious signs of tool marks indicating that the barrel had been cut.  I couldn’t see any.  I also looked for the slight chamfering around the bore.  It appeared to be there.  There was also a slight ding on the edge of the barrel, further supporting my theory that the barrel and/or magazine tube had been damaged at some point.

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Original magazine tube end cap screw hole measured 3/8″ from the muzzle end, just like it should be.  Maybe the barrel hadn’t been seriously damaged, just the mag tube?  Someone had drilled a new screw hole in the barrel to accommodate a 20″ mag tube replacement.  What was really interesting was that both the barrel and the mag tube had the same patina.  Maybe really old damage from the early life of this gun?     

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Last week I told Bert about this gun at the Cody show.  He encouraged me to examine it further.  Bert encouraged me to drift the front sight out and see if the barrel was blued under the sight.  Most barrels that have been cut down and the front sight dovetail recut will not be blued underneath the sight.  A couple of quick strikes from my Wyoming Sight Tool didn’t move the front sight at all, so I had to break out the Brownell’s large brass front sight drift and give it a couple of hard hits.  It finally moved and this is what I found.  Too bad I couldn’t have done this at the gun store.

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This was definitely not what I wanted to see.  In hindsight, I made a key mistake when I examined the gun at the gun store yesterday before I bought it.  I forgot to measure the mag tube retainer to see if it was 3.5″ from the muzzle to the front edge.  As you can see, this one is not (off by about a 1/4″) and that was my mistake when I looked at this gun before purchase yesterday.  I got way to excited when everything else looked/measured right.  

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Now the gun shop I bought this gun from has a 30-day return policy.  Although it’s not what I thought it was, I won’t be returning this gun and here’s why…  First, I like the way it looks because it reminds me of my late Uncle John who got me into collecting these old Winchesters almost 12-years ago.  He would have absolutely loved the rusty, brown, well-used look of this one.  His Winchester Model 94 Border Rifle is what got me really interested in these old guns all those years ago.  Ironically, he made a similar mistake when he purchased his.  Second, the gun store manager took an additional $100 off the asking price of the gun (it had already been reduced in price by $100 since I looked at it last month) and threw in this vintage leather gun case to carry it in. I’m confident that old leather case is worth something too.  Finally, I like the look of this gun.  It may not be a collectible Winchester, but the rifling is a strong 8-8.5 on a scale of 1-10.  I think this old dog will kill deer and hogs all day and it’s just begging for some tender loving care.  I’m not going to do much to this rifle, other than fix a broken screw and do some Acraglas bedding inside the stock to ensure a strong fit and no future stock cracks/damage.  What do you guys think?

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Chris

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July 19, 2023 - 12:48 am
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92TXAG said  A couple of quick strikes from my Wyoming Sight Tool didn’t move the front sight at all, so I had to break out the Brownell’s large brass front sight drift and give it a couple of hard hits.
  

My experience, too: worthless for any old sight.  If you haven’t had experience working with Acraglas, I’d forget that.  Case is relatively modern.

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July 19, 2023 - 1:17 am
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clarence said

92TXAG said  A couple of quick strikes from my Wyoming Sight Tool didn’t move the front sight at all, so I had to break out the Brownell’s large brass front sight drift and give it a couple of hard hits.

  

My experience, too: worthless for any old sight.  If you haven’t had experience working with Acraglas, I’d forget that.  Case is relatively modern.

  

Unless the sight is pretty loose, it’s not going to move it.  I’ve had better luck with regular punches.  Yes, lots of experience working with Acraglas…mostly learned lessons the hard way.  

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