New More Practical Winchester '94 Sights


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Cosmoline
May 22, 2006, 11:44 PM
I decided to turn a Winchester Canadian Centennial '94 with a long 26" barrel into a hunting rifle after finding a bunch of hidden rust on it. One problem is, the existing sight combination of bead front and buckhorn rear are quite possibly the worst iron sights ever designed. The bead front sight is extremely fragile and prone to getting busted off, and trying to balance the bead in the buckhorn is time consuming and difficult to do off hand.

I swapped the front sight for the "sourdough" style Elmer Keith always liked. Brownells carries some that fit standard WInchester dovetails and come in a variety of heights.

The rear sight is now a three-leaf express style instead of the buckhorn. It was harder to find and more $$, but I found one at Buffalo Arms and put it on today.

The sight profile is about ten times easier to manage than the old ones. Target acquisition is fast and though I haven't put it through the paces at the range I'm sure my accuracy will improve.

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b52/Gussick/rear.jpg

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b52/Gussick/Fronts.jpg

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b52/Gussick/sights.jpg

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b52/Gussick/full.jpg

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hoghunting
May 23, 2006, 01:23 AM
Nice job on the sights, it definitely should be better than the factory sights. Very nice looking rifle also.

Preacherman
May 23, 2006, 02:06 AM
Where was the rust, Cosmo? Under the fore-end? Inside the receiver or mag tube?

Did you manage to get it off? (The rust, I mean! :D )

Cosmoline
May 23, 2006, 02:45 AM
Inside the mag tube, which the previous owner never bothered to check. Also, the underside of the front sight was badly rusted, presumably from ambient moisture that got in there and was never cleaned. The mechanisms and barrel are minty, though. And it shoots very well. It also balances better than I expected and swings easy.

Sylvilagus Aquaticus
May 23, 2006, 03:02 AM
That's really nice. I picked up a '79 vintage 94 a few months ago that needs a lot of TLC. If you'll share the part number of that Express sight I'll know just what to put on mine.

Sure does look a lot smoother that way. I was thinking about an aperture sight, but I think you changed my mind.

Regards,
Rabbit.

Cosmoline
May 23, 2006, 03:25 AM
Here's the express sight:

http://www.buffaloarms.com/browse.cfm/4,4686.htm

Here's the sourdough sight:

http://www.brownells.com/aspx/NS/store/productdetail.aspx?p=20507&s=

Be careful to get the proper height, measuring from the bottom of the dovetail. The more recent USRAC '94's usually have the ramp up front and call for a shorter sight.

Nhsport
May 23, 2006, 10:29 AM
Very interesting. I also find it interesting that you find this gun to have beter ballance than you expected. In this day and age seems everyone is hot about the short barreled guns like the trappers and the guide guns. I have a marlin 44mag cowboy,this is a fairly long gun with a beefy barrel and I shoot it pretty good (for me) offhand. To me it just seems a gun that is lighter forward just wanders around and is more dificult to shoot. More times than not the old time or old style guns were set up in certain ways because that is what worked best.
I have long thought that many people who think they are unable to shoot iron sights well just have never had a decent set of iron sights. Looks like you have choosen a nice set.
Gun writers come and go and many are just shills for the advetisers,but if Elmer Kieth had a preference or opinion I will give it a good hard look.
I also think folks in general are way too fast to throw a scope on a lever gun,and usually that choice causes more problems than it solves. My 52 year old eyes generally work beter with some type of peep than the barrel mount open sight but I do like your setup and sure would like to lay my hands on a gun set up like that to try it out for myself.
What type of hunting do you plan? Have you considered cast bullets? I have found the 30-30 to be a great cast bullet caliber but then I am not really a hunter (I did a hog hunt with a S&W 629 ) and don't know how a 30 cal lead would hunt. The trajectory of the cast bullet (not as flat) takes more skill to make a hit but I suspect it would kill just fine.
Perhaps I am thinking with one foot in the past. The hunt I am considering is hogs with a trap door springfield carbine. If my S&W 629 (cast 240gr @1250fps) worked well the 45/70 (cast 405 @1250fps) should work great!
I am not a fan of most of the model 94 commemeratives but yours looks to be a sharp looking useable rifle,have fun!
Could you take a full sized picture of the whole gun? thanks

Firehand
May 23, 2006, 03:41 PM
On my model 94 carbine, replaced the front bead with a post, and stuck a Williams aperture sight on the receiver. MUCH better for me.

Cosmoline
May 23, 2006, 03:53 PM
Gun writers come and go and many are just shills for the advetisers,but if Elmer Kieth had a preference or opinion I will give it a good hard look.

Specifically, the article I read was from January 1974 called "Iron Sight Roundup." He writes "I have found nothing as good or quite the equal of the old Redfield 'sourdough' front. It will hold elevation perfectly at long range where a round bead will not. It will stand up to hard knocks that would ruin any bead sight. If it gets battered in a bad fall it can usually be filed to a straight blade again and you are still in business."

He's absolutely right about the bead sight. Indeed one stray knock with a mere brass punch was enough to snap mine in half. No great loss. I have no idea why Winchester ever started putting those on its rifles to begin with. A stray tree branch is enough to snap them off.

For rear sights he recommends the aperture rear sight for long range and the wide angle English "V" express folding sight for more close range shooting, esp. dangerous game.

Personally, I have a much easier time aiming with open sights instead of apertures, and I don't think even with leverevolution the .30-30 is a long range proposition. So the three leaf folding sight should be just fine.

I also agree with Keith that scoped rifles should also have a good set of irons on them as backup, though I think I'm in the minority these days. Oh well, it's a good minority to be in :D

What type of hunting do you plan? Have you considered cast bullets? I have found the 30-30 to be a great cast bullet caliber but then I am not really a hunter (I did a hog hunt with a S&W 629 ) and don't know how a 30 cal lead would hunt. The trajectory of the cast bullet (not as flat) takes more skill to make a hit but I suspect it would kill just fine.

I'm planning black bear and possibly moose. I've got some hardcast 170 grain FN's but so far my efforts to work up an accurate load have failed totally. The Barnes X 150's will shoot one inch groups at 75 yards out of that long barrel, as will the Leverevolutions. But the heavy hard casts are all over the place. I've been using 3031 and 4064 so far.

Terrierman
May 23, 2006, 07:35 PM
Damn son, that looks nice!

Cosmoline
May 23, 2006, 08:42 PM
It'll look really good when I finish painting it and put the red dot on top.

Terrierman
May 24, 2006, 09:19 AM
Camo!!

Nhsport
May 24, 2006, 10:22 AM
I didn't do a lot of load development. I had some 155 fn gc bullets I had picked up somewhere (bought them for 30/06 loads) and ended up trying them over 29.5 gr of win 748 with a winchester primer. With my so so eyes I am getting about a 3 " group at 100yd with the factory sights and a rest . I didn't mess with the load as I am thinking it is outshooting my eyes and my ability with the factory sights.
I have a decent supply of a 170 fn gc bullet I bought cheep (6 or 8 boxes) so I guess I should see what I can do with them. I usually start by reaching for tha LYMAN CAST BULLET HANDBOOK...They recomend (with 748) a starting load of 24.8gr on up to a max of 35gr. (do your own research and use standard safe reloading practise!!)
748 seems to generally perform well with a wide range of cast bullets (and jacketed also) and meters very well.
This book doesn't pick an accuracy load for the 170gr bullet but for a different 173gr bullet they (lyman) highlight win 760 powder as the most accurate load although they pick the starting load which =1625ps, might not be the best bet for hunting.
My rule of thumb for cast bullet use is to give the bore a heavy duty cleaning with much soaking with a heavy duty copper solvent (sweets 7.62 is one I use) .You want a nice copper free barrell before you start messing with cast bullets
Hope some of this helps you.

Cosmoline
May 24, 2006, 05:04 PM
Ah, that may be my problem. I'd been shooting a lot of copper through the bore before I put the cast in there.

Poodleshooter
May 24, 2006, 05:41 PM
What loads are you using?
I had to run my 170gr RNFP loads up to about 2100+fps before I started getting good groups. Reduced loadings with H335 and 4895 were ridiculously poor,then tightened up suddenly as I approached standard factory velocity.

Cosmoline
May 24, 2006, 06:27 PM
That's interesting. I was using a very conservative load of 3031--25 Grains IIRC. I just assumed they'd work better moving more slowly. But they are gas checked so I don't think I'd have excess leading cooking them up to standard velocities.

CZguy
May 24, 2006, 06:46 PM
I really like the looks of those sights. Normally I'm a big fan of Lyman receiver sights but that set up looks really nice.

What range do you anticipate shooting at? (while hunting)

Cosmoline
May 24, 2006, 06:48 PM
Nothing further out than 150 yards max. In the Chugach jungles there's fat chance of seeing further than that anyway. Visibility usually ranges from zero to 25 yards.

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