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Winchester 1894 - pre-war vs pre-64 quality / differences?
Posts: 37
February 20, 2022 - 11:24 pm


Hi forum, 

I’m aware of the significant manufacturing changes Winchester implemented in 1964, and I’ve also read accounts of the quality of pre-war models (pre-1939).

What are some differences in quality or style between a pre-war (made before 1939) Winchester 1894, vs a “transition period” Winchester 1894 (made in 1945-1964)? 

I understand that differences may not be applicable to all models. For example, Wayne Miller said that 1945-1964 Model 70’s retain the quality of pre-war models (link). This may not be too much a surprise since there are only 3 years of pre-war Model 70’s.

BUT collectors seem to designate pre-war Winchester 1894’s with their own status, it appears more exclusive than pre-64. 

Are there substantive quality differences for Model 1894’s in these eras? (before 1939, vs 1945-1964)?

Thank you. 

Posts: 1053
February 21, 2022 - 12:43 am


Yes there are a few subtle differences, pre war/ post war pre ’64, eg; long wood/short wood, but I think the quality of the 1950’s guns are every bit as good as the the 1930’s guns, 1894’s anyways

W.A.C.A. life member, Marlin Collectors Assn. charter and life member, C,S.S.A. member and general gun nut.

Posts: 6107
February 21, 2022 - 2:06 am


Ron P said
 For example, Wayne Miller said that 1945-1964 Model 70’s retain the quality of pre-war models (link). This may not be too much a surprise since there are only 3 years of pre-war Model 70’s.

Ron,  I read the piece but don’t see that he said that at all, & it would be absurd if he did.  Production began in 1936, & by the end of ’41, almost 42,000 had been mfgd.

Kingston, WA
Posts: 10554
February 21, 2022 - 8:50 am



The “Pre War” production for the Model 94 ended in late August, 1942 versus 1939, and the “Post War” production began in September 1945. There were a number of production changes that Winchester made, and the fit & finish was noticeably of lesser quality after the war.


WACA 6571L, Historian & Board of Director Member

Posts: 262
February 21, 2022 - 12:53 pm


Prewar 94’s look like they are custom made by a master gunsmith compared to the excellent assembly line quality of post war guns. But you have to be very attuned to nuances of fit and finish and parts to see the difference. Beginners won’t see it. 

Posts: 347
February 25, 2022 - 10:03 pm


Effort to breath life into a Page 2 Thread concerning Model 94 quality! 🙂  I’m not that Model 94 experienced in general or by any means ‘on par’ with the experts here concerning the Model.  But still to concur with the precept of afterwar production resumption of a differing quality.  The war production itself as much about do more with less and my belief with definite ‘lessons learned’.  Although speaking of bolt action arms…  The Germans most notably in the diminished quality of their indigenous Model 98 rifles across the European defined WWII years from 1939 to 1945!  The so-called “flat band” also a clue portending wartime necessary as later civilian production also requiring ‘commercially acceptable’ rifles. Witness the Postwar (& overdue) moving from bolt Model 720 largely milled to Models 721 & 722 based extensively upon stampings 1948+ vintage high-power bolt rifles.  The fact of Winchester “lever action” models as ‘almost’ strictly civilian, didn’t exempt them from bolt & semi-auto lessons learned in production and materials composition, design, fitment and finish, amended techniques.  The Models 94 by the fifties weren’t the same quality to me as definitely the prewar ’42 designed & earlier rifles.  But frankly my self-designated ‘sweet spot’ Model 94 as I’ve harped before as with the new integral ramp and residual “carbine” wrap-over toe butt-plate.  The Model 55 Serrated buttplate a few clicks below my described carbine type. Returning to postwar, the Model 64 in my amateurish opinion retained prewar characteristics of quality somewhat longer as into the early fifties mostly undisturbed.  Validity of my experience questionable but my – as I recall – ’51 vintage Model 64 ‘seeming better than 94 rifles of same era.  

Moving to the Model 70 where I’m more comfortable speaking even as yet a non-expert.  My observation that the prewar components particular as exemplified clip loading bridge feature, remained much the same.  In perhaps with the 1946 entrée of the ‘new clip free receiver bridge some diminution of “Prewar” heralded quality in terms of finish and ‘perhaps’ of tolerances, to have been effected.  My observation as into the early fifties as obvious changes with the elimination of milled-integral front sight bases, as indicative of the ‘new & improved’ genre as to me esthetically simply not the same quality of fit or finish!  Finish is a component of a nice gun to my mind, but ‘primo’ in the grand scheme of a desirable rifle. 

Yet another principle too.  Those gun show overpriced Winchesters, Sunday afternoon yet ‘lying in state’…  All lookin’ prettier at closing time! 🙂 🙂 🙂 

Just my take!


Posts: 197
February 25, 2022 - 10:56 pm


Besides externally, a comparison of the internals will clearly show that the pre-war guns are of a much higher quality than the post-war guns.  That whole fitted by a master gunsmith vs. assembly line thing.

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