Winchester Model 1894

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Winchester Model 1894

Winchester Model 1894.jpg

Lever-actionhunting rifle

Place of origin
United States

Production history

John Browning


1894–2006, 2011–

Number built


6.8 lb (3.1 kg)

37.8 in (960 mm)

Barrel length
20 in (510 mm)

.30-30 Winchester; also available in numerous other cartridges


Muzzle velocity
2,490 ft/s (759 m/s)

Feed system
6- or 7-round internal
tube magazine

Leaf rear sight, barleycorn-type front sight

Winchester Model 1894 (also known as Winchester .30-30 rifle, Winchester 94, Win 94,, .30-30 Winchester, or simply .30-30) is a lever-action rifle which became one of the most famous and popular hunting rifles. It was designed byJohn Browning in 1894 to chamber rounds loaded with smokeless powder, and was produced by Winchester Repeating Arms Company through 1980 and then by U.S. Repeating Arms under the Winchester brand until they ceased to manufacture rifles in 2006. The rifles are back in production today, being made by the Miroku company of Japan and imported into the United States by the Browning Arms company of Morgan, Utah.

The Model 1894 has been referred to as the “ultimate lever-action design” by firearms historians such as RL Wilson and Hal Herring. The Model 1894 is the rifle credited with the name “Winchester” being used to refer to all rifles of this type and was the first commercial sporting rifle to sell over 7,000,000 units.[1]

The Winchester Model 1894 was the first commercial repeating rifle built to be used with smokeless powder. The 1894 was originally chambered to fire 2 metallic black powder cartridges, the .32-40 Winchester and .38-55 Winchester. In 1895 Winchester went to a different steel composition for rifle manufacturing that could handle higher pressure rounds and offered the rifle in .25-35 Winchester and .30-30 Winchester. The .30-30 Winchester, or .30WCF (Winchester Centerfire), is the cartridge that has become synonymous with the Model 1894.[2]

It was the first sporting rifle to sell over 7,000,000 units. The millionth Model 1894 was given to President Calvin Coolidgein 1927, the 1½ millionth rifle to President Harry S. Truman on May 8, 1948 and the two millionth unit was given to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953.[3]

Variants of the Model 94 over its long history included the Winchester Model 55, produced from 1924 through 1932 in a 24-inch (610 mm) barrel, and the Winchester Model 64, produced from 1933 through 1957 in 20, 24, and 26-inch (660 mm) barrel lengths. (Note: The model number 55 was used twice by Winchester, first as a Model 94 variant introduced in 1924, and, later, as a short-lived single-shot/semi-automatic hybrid .22-caliber rifle that self-cocked the hammer each time it was fired).[4]

In mid-1964, the manufacturing of the 94 was changed in order to make the firearm less expensive to produce. Generally referred to as “pre-64” models, these earlier versions command a premium price over post-change rifles.[5] The limited number of early-1964 production models produced prior to the changeover are considered quite desirable, as they are considered by many to represent the ending of an era.[1]

The Winchester 1894’s design allowed the cycling of longer cartridges than the Winchester 1892 carbines could permit. When the lever is pulled down, it brings the bottom of the receiver with it, opening up more space and allowing a longer cartridge to feed without making the receiver longer. The mechanism is complex but very reliable. Complete stripping of the action is a multi-stage task that must be accomplished in precise sequence. However it is rarely necessary to completely strip the action. The largest cartridge that the 1894 action can accommodate is the .450 Marlin, which was chambered in some custom rifles and the short-lived Timber Carbine on a beefed-up 1894 “big bore” receiver.[6]

Decades after the Winchester 1892 was phased out, the Winchester 1894 Models were manufactured in typical revolver calibers such as .38 Special/.357 Magnum, .44 Special/.44 Magnum, .45 Colt (or .45 Long Colt), .38-40 Winchester, and .44-40 Winchester. Typically, the tube magazine is able to hold 9 to 13 rounds of the previously mentioned handgun calibers. The magazine capacity depends on the length of the barrel, as the tube magazine (located below the barrel) typically covers the entire length of the barrel.[7]

Handgun calibers are preferred by modern day Cowboy Action Shooters as it allows one type of ammunition for both rifle and handgun. A typical combination would be an 1873 Colt (Colt Peacemaker or clone) and a Winchester 1894 capable of shooting the same type of ammunition. The 1894 action, designed for smokeless rifle rounds, is much stronger than the action of the Winchesters (Models 1866, 1873, 1876) that were based on Benjamin Henry‘s toggle-link system, and can easily handle modern high-pressure pistol cartridges such as .44 Magnum.

In 1984, the Model 94XTR angle eject rifle and carbine chambered in 7-30 Waters (an improved .30-30 case necked down to a 7mm bullet), was introduced.[8] In 2003, the rifle was offered in .410 shotgun and named the Model 9410.[9]

The Winchester 1894 holds the record for best-selling high-powered rifle in U.S. history.[10]

U.S. production ceased in 2006, at the time there were 14 versions of the Model 94 in the Winchester catalog. In 2010 Winchester Repeating Arms reintroduced the model 94 in two Limited Edition models to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Oliver F. Winchester’s birth in New England in 1810.[11]


In 1964, to save money on production costs, Winchester began machining certain small parts for the Model 94 as opposed to forging them. The use of hollow roll-pins replaced solid ones. Many users felt these attempts cheapened the rifle and would only use rifles made before 1964 (pre ’64).[5]

One of the drawbacks of the Model 1894 action in relation to its main competitors, such as the Marlin Model 336, is that the Winchester ejects cartridges from the top of thereceiver and over the user’s shoulder rather than to the side. A top-ejecting firearm cannot mount a scope on top of the receiver, but instead must mount it either forward on the barrel or offset to the side, degrading the usefulness and availability of a scope.[12] Winchester alleviated this issue with angular ejection implemented in the early 1980s, which ejects shells at an angle between the original Winchester design and the Marlin’s, thus allowing receiver mounted scopes.[12] Ironically, in the 21st century, forward scope mounts have become increasingly popular due to Jeff Cooper’sscout rifle concept (e.g., Steyr, Ruger, and Savage offer them), as well as the military (for combat) and civilian (for competition) use of red dot sights.

The mid 1990s brought a change from the long-used half-cock notch safety to a cross-bolt safety like the aforementioned Marlins. Many longtime users, however, prefer the original half-cock notch safety design over the newer cross-bolt “lawyer” safety. The last Winchester 94s to leave the New Haven factory before production ceased in 2006 had tang-mounted safeties.[13]