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The classic centerfire Winchester 1894 (also referred to as Model 94) lever-action repeating rifle had 6-round carbine, 5-round rifle, and 7-round musket versions. Depending on actual production year and variant, one could get it chambered for .32 Winchester Special, .30-30 Winchester and .44 Magnum and other calibers too.

The 1894 drafted in behind other famous Winchesters, such as the Winchester 1873, marketed as “The Gun that Won the West”. The Winchester 1873 launched in 1873; the Winchester 1894 launched in, you guessed it, 1894.

John Browning designed the Model 94. Winchester initially put it in production for .32-40 Winchester and .38-55 Winchester ammo, both of which were metallic black powder cartridges. This gun was also first to use the .30-30 smokeless powder ammo.

The 1894 production ran a staggering 86 years until 1980! These were the 1894s built in-house. Production even continued for Winchester by U. S. Repeating Arms for another 26 years. Thus, the total run was 102 years! While earlier Winchesters sold three quarters of a million or even a million copies, the stalwart 1894 blew them away by selling roughly 7.5 million copies. Most sold commercially, but the US Government picked up some too. So did the Canadians, French and the British.

Winchester made plenty of models over the years. All shared plenty of characteristics. One was the half-cock safety. The guns were seemingly all steel or wood. For instance, the barrel, receiver, trigger, trigger guard were all steel. The forearm and stock were American black walnut of different grades depending on the model. Some like the Model 94 “Antique” were engraved with beautiful scrollwork, but most were plain.

Winchester offered the 1894 mostly with a straight stock and in three primary sizes, a sizing strategy it adopted with other guns too. Shortest were the carbines. These had tapered 20” Winchester proof steel muzzle crowned barrels and measured 37 3/4" in overall length. These featured a hooded front sight backed up by a sporting rear sight. (Some had front bead sights, etc., as well.) Weight was about 6.25 pounds.

All 1894s had tubular magazines under the barrel. The carbine, however, was the only one where the tube extended to under the muzzle. Thus, the carbine had a 6-round tube mag (and 6+1 overall capacity), while the longer rifle 1894s had shorter 5-round tubes and lower 5+1 overall capacity.

The 1894 rifles had 24” barrels and 42” overall lengths. With increased length should have come increased weight, yet the difference was little, perhaps because its shorter tube meant less metal weight than might have been expected. Thus, weight was 6 5/8 pounds.

But the long musket 1894s were endowed with 26” barrels, 44” overall lengths and won the capacity race with 7+1 capacity thanks to a longer tube magazine than its rifle or carbine siblings. The musket 1894s set the scales to 7 1/8 pounds.

The Model 94 NRA Centennial Musket and the Model 94 NRA Centennial Rifle stood out with details such as a nice medallion on the buttstock. If you have an insatiable thirst for a beautiful piece of nostalgia and history, then the Winchester 1894 should prove extraordinarily captivating.

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