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After watching many seasons of Longmire I find I just have to buy a Winchester 94.
I decided I want a pre-64 production model.
As I search through Gun Broker I see many rifles produced during WW2 years. This started me wondering if quality standards were as good during the War than before and after the War years, this would include the WW1 years.
My feelings lean toward so much production effort during those years focused on the War effort that civilian manufactured items would take a back seat in quality, materials, and labor.
Someone please correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that during WWII production of civilian firearms was ceased by the major weapons manufacturers. You can get a wartime Winchester M-1 Garand (nice find if you can) but not a war dated M94.........dj
Remember, this is all supposed to be for fun...................
|Age Quod Agis|
Production did not wholly cease. I own two guns from the WWII period; one a double barrel "Ranger" 16 ga. that was sold through Sears and Montgomery Ward and the other a .22 84 C Stevens-Springfield bolt rifle.
Both were made between '41 and '46. Since neither gun is serialized, I can't find exact manufacture dates for them. These were utility farm guns in calibers not needed for war use, but obviously took production line space and laborer time to produce.
I don't know now much civilian production there was, and I suspect that it was weighted to the early years of the war before war contracts were let, and the end years of the war when inventories were high and the economy began to transition back to civil production, but I don't really know. I would think that a '43 civilian firearm would be kind of rare...
Neither gun is a Winchester, so this isn't directly an answer to your question, but it's pretty clear that civilian guns were still produced in some numbers.This message has been edited. Last edited by: ArtieS,
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|Hop head |
Winchester collector says 94's were ceased in 1943, not sure when they were restarted, guessing late 45 or 46
Winchester is a highly collectable, as far as military stuff, it most always brings a bit of a premium..
however as far as quality, they were 'rushed' and to be rushed,
Winchester also had some parts interchangeability issues early on,,
remember to, Winchester sold a lot of the commercial stuff to various govt agencies, police depts. and foreign gov't as well
Colonial Heights bought model 12's, in 16ga for their civil defense force during WWII as an example
All the Winchester guys I know want Pre War (WW2) guns more than any other.
Then after that, pre '64.
After '64 they generally don't even bother looking twice at them.
Sliced bread, the greatest thing since the 1911.
|Like a party |
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So, do you think there is a "sweet spot" for Winchester production as far as quality goes?
Production before WW1?
Production after WW1 but before WW2?
Production following WW2 till 1964?
Would production in the years just prior to 1964 benefit from newer machining and by then a longer line-up of skilled workers operating the machinery and hand labor skills?
|Gracie Allen is my |
Didn't Winchester wind up shipping a stinkload of .30-30 94s over the Brit home guard early in the war?
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So what are you after a collector or a shooter?
Just because it is a pre 64 does not mean it will be perfect. Older 94s can have issues with corrosion, springs, and also head space. If you can fire it before buying you are better off. The ones with head space issues will back the primer out part way when firing. Were talking around .025 - .040 on the ones I have seen. If you are just firing factory loads they will be ok they seem to shoot ok but I would not reccomend one of these if you handload for one.
Growing up in a logging town way back when just about every teenager that hunted got a 30/30 for their 1st deer rifle. More than a few were well used. For what ever reason The ones I seen with headspace issues were always the pre 64. Avoid ones that have been worked on when you see the screw heads fucked up (it is a bad sign) and also refinished. Very few gun smiths were actually good at working on these rifles. There are a few areas in 94s, parts were hand fitted and adjusted. Some springs need just the right tension (narrow range). Look the bore over well especially if it is pre WWII some of these had nasty looking bores from corrosion. Kind of like gun oil was not used in bores much before WWII.
I've had a number of 94s over the years. The ones made from around 1950 to around 1957 would be what I would look for in a pre 64 94. Part way through 1964 they really messed up the 94 with lots of cost cutting. Through the rest of the 1960s they were not very desirable even though most functioned ok. Fit and finish varies a lot. Around 1971 or 1972 till they came out with the rebound hammer set up to around 1977 are not actually that bad as purest collectors make them out to be. You can find some that are very clean that are good reliable shooters for a resonable price. About 8 years ago I picked up one made in 1973 that looked like it had never been used for $400 at a LGS. It is only slightly less accurate than one I had made in 1951 that was the best of the pre 64 30/30 that I ever owned. Fit and finish on the one made in 1973 is actually pretty darn good.
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The big killer of firearms barrel bores was originally blackpowder and later the primers that also produced corrosive residues. I’ve found it difficult to determine exactly when noncorrosive primers were introduced in commercial ammunition, but it was evidently not before the 1920s. I suspect the failure to properly clean the guns after firing corrosive ammunition was the reason for so many bad barrels on pre-World War II guns.
Hot, soapy water followed by gun oil was the recommended method for removing corrosive residues and had to be done without delay. That’s where the admonition, “Don’t go to bed on a dirty gun,” came from; if left overnight, rust would start to form, and once it did, the damage was done. Oil by itself wouldn’t remove corrosive primer residues, and because the proper way was messy and time-consuming, especially with a gun like the 94, it’s easy to see how it often got neglected.
“... try not to shoot any friendlies ….”
|Hop head |
and according to the Winchester collector website, lots to US based security as well, it mentioned the pacific north west as well
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I'm looking for a "nice" shooter, not quite at a collector level, but something that will retain value.
Thanks for your help and knowledge input. I will concentrate on a a gun manufactured closer to 1964. It would look nice next to my 1928 model 12 and 1930's made 410.
I'm also a Longmire fan and the Winchester definitely shines in the show and makes you want one.
Although I do not have any experience with their lever actions, I do know that Winchester Garands are widely regarded as the third in terms of quality of M1 production behind HRA and Springfield Armory.
I read that early Garand barrels produced by Winchester would often gauge at 4 or 5 at the throat BRAND NEW. Not exactly awe inspiring.
Oddly enough despite being such a highly regarded arms manufacturer in both WWI &2 they had a reputation for rough builds. At one point Gen Pershing in WWI requested Winchester 19-7’s not be shipped to the front because of functioning problems and some non interchangeable parts. Most Winchester M1’s when compared to Springfield WW2 production while functional are noticeably rougher in machining and finish. Winchester never fully stopped civilian production in WWI and there was a mere trickle of finishing up started commercial guns in WW2 when production ceased for full war production. Some commmercial models were produced but were utilized by the war department such as shotguns and .22 trainers. I cant recall if 1 or 2 but 94’s were built and issued to troops for guarding some domestic facilities and resources. Specifically the 94, all generations were functional and reasonably accurate ( within the limitations of the design) and you will of course find post 64’s much cheaper.
The Garland Winchesters were, from my observation, rougher in machining than similar period Springfields. While completely functional, the efforts spent on fine finish were not comparable to those of the US Armory. A friend pointed out that one (Winchester) had profit margins to meet, while the other could produce at a loss. I thought this to be a valuable point.
My best shooter is a 1975 made Model 94. I grew up shooting post-64 Winchester lever guns and have never had issues with any of them. Mine is in nowhere near collector grade anyway, it was some farmer's truck rifle before I bought it and cosmetically it shows. She sure shoots great and the bore is in excellent shape.
But, then again, I wanted a rifle I could shoot and not have to be worried about collector value. I bought this rifle and carried it daily on the farm for years and have no problem staking my life on its function.
I am a far better shot with this Model 94 than I am with an AR-15 or bolt rifle.
I think there are great post-64 guns out there, but my opinion is definitely in the minority.
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