Which Winchester 94?


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Clark2
December 4, 2006, 10:17 PM
Hi all-

I'm thinking of picking up a Winchester 94 lever action, but am stuck on some questions. The first is which round to chamber it with, the second is which length, the third is round / octagon barrel.

1) I'm torn between 30-30, 45LC, and 44 Mag.

2) On the length, I'm partial to the shorter 16", as the longer 20" won't add much in accuracy/energy. I can answer this question mostly by just handling them side by side, but if anyone has experience with the 16" I'd like to know what you thought of it's balance.

3) round versus octagon barrel. There is a huge price difference. Is there a huge practical?

So which would you go with? Being honest, I'd say 95% of the time-use of this rifle will be plinking at cans, but the 5% utility purpose will be for back packing. I live in black bear country...

thx in advance for any advice,

-C

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mustanger98
December 5, 2006, 12:16 AM
Clark2, My first question for you is... do you handload? You can't go wrong with either of those three chamberings and if you handload, you can make ammo for plinking or bear defense.

Barrel length... what's the best combination in a barrel for length and burn time? You can't answer that just by getting a rifle in your hands in the shop. If you handload, you can match the load to the barrel.

Octagon vs. round is just a matter of what you like aesthetically. I like both, but my round 22" barreled .30-30 gets more time in the woods (as my #1 deer rifle with 2200-2400fps softpoints) and at the range plinking or shooting matches requiring slower cast lead bullets. However, given your location in black bear country, you may want 10rds of .44magnum ready to go in a carbine. Besides, a saddlering carbine... IMO, you can't beat the cool factor. But, if you handload, you can stoke up some .45Colts that'll run with the .44magnum. Hornady's 5th Edition manual lists some 250gr HP-XTP's running 1250fps. (I'll have to look back and see, but I think that's the same data on that load between rifle and revolver. If so, it'll gain about 300fps from a 16" barrel.)

To my mind, the only questions beyond this are which rear sight and lawyer-mandated safety vs. the safety between your ears.

enkindler
December 5, 2006, 12:23 AM
I would tend to go with a 20" 30-30 for two main reasons

1) this rifle was made for longer cases, if you want 45 colt go with a 1892
2) the 20" rifle has the front site in a dovetail in the barrel vs. being integrated with the barrel band, this allows you to "upgrade" if you want to in the future.

Sorry, I haven't touched one of the octagon 94s

mustanger98
December 5, 2006, 12:30 AM
1) this rifle was made for longer cases, if you want 45 colt go with a 1892

I have a 1971 '94 top eject in .30-30. I also have a 1990's '94AE in .45Colt. Beleive it or not, the .45Colt's (and other revolver chamberings) reciever was made shorter. I won't say the 1892 is a bad model, but I've not had problems with my '94's.

2) the 20" rifle has the front site in a dovetail in the barrel vs. being integrated with the barrel band, this allows you to "upgrade" if you want to in the future.

Actually, the newer 16" barreled '94AE carbines are configured more like short rifles with their front sights dovetailed into the barrel. That's how mine are. The front sight on the barrel band was a much older configuration and it caused problems with accuracy.

enkindler
December 5, 2006, 12:44 AM
Ga...Guess I need to look at rifles newer then the 50s :what:

roscoe
December 5, 2006, 01:58 AM
You need to decide what you want from your caliber. The 30-30 benefits from the longer barrel and gives you range out to 250 yards, with the newer Hornady LeverRevolution Ammo.

For the .44 and .45, you get very powerful short-range efffectiveness. Range is down to 100-150 yards with the pistol calibers, but you can get away with the shorter barrel, and get a bigger magazine capacity. They are virtually the same ballistically, but .44 ammo is cheaper and easier to find.

I have both a 16" .45 and 20" 30-30. They are different animals. The 30-30 just has such better range, but I have the .45 for a short, handy self-defense gun in bear country. Nowadays you can get some amazingly powerfu .45LC ammo, just don't put it in your cowboy action six-gun.

mustanger98
December 5, 2006, 10:55 AM
You need to decide what you want from your caliber. The 30-30 benefits from the longer barrel and gives you range out to 250 yards, with the newer Hornady LeverRevolution Ammo.

Larry Weishun (wrote for Shooting Times, now with Bass Pro- Hunting) wrote that he stretched .30-30 out to 200yds along the breaks of the Canadian River in Texas for whitetails. Actually, the Hornady LeveRevolution ammo or handloading Hornady spitzer types will stretch it to 300yds. The spitzer handloads... Layne Simpson had an article about his use of those on deer at 300yds in Shooting Times a while back, but he was dealing with a TC Contender or Encore which is single shot. You don't want to run the average spitzer in a tube magazine for fear of chain firing, but the new Hornady stuff's safe that way.

For the .44 and .45, you get very powerful short-range efffectiveness. Range is down to 100-150 yards with the pistol calibers, but you can get away with the shorter barrel, and get a bigger magazine capacity. They are virtually the same ballistically, but .44 ammo is cheaper and easier to find.

For distance on the .44magnum and .45Colt in a levergun, 150's pushing it for energy, but if you can hold it steady, from experience plinking I don't doubt it'll hit. I'd consider the 16" barrels in .44mag and .45Colt to be more suited to the "brushgun" role then .30-30 is. I wouldn't say .44mag and .45Colt are always ballistically the same, although I'm sure I can come up with some factory loads that run real close together. Trouble with that though... I haven't bought factory .44mag and .45Colt in a long time in favor of handloading what I like. That's even cheaper.

I have both a 16" .45 and 20" 30-30. They are different animals. The 30-30 just has such better range, but I have the .45 for a short, handy self-defense gun in bear country. Nowadays you can get some amazingly powerfu .45LC ammo, just don't put it in your cowboy action six-gun.

That buck I killed Thanksgiving evening... I used a .30-30 at near 100yds by my Daddy's estimation (he was right there when it happened... yeah, I know; I'm 32 years old, BTW). That deer was dead soon as I pulled the trigger (figuratively speaking), but he didn't know it for just a few seconds worth of running before I heard him pile up.

I've been thinking my .30-30's barrel length was 22" but now I'll have to measure it again to be sure. That said, I've seen where Marlin has updated the 336 in stainless with a longer barrel to "take better advantage" of the new Hornady ammo.

The .45Colt ammo... you can use the hot stuff if you're sixgun's a Ruger Blackhawk or Vaquero. They'll take a load that'll blow up a Colt or SAA clone. That higher pressure... that's why when Elmer Keith was trying to improve performance, he went to .44 sixguns because of the .45's thinner cylinder walls. Mr. Keith started with the older .44Special S&W guns and loaded 18grs of 2400 under a 250gr bullet of his own design and that scared the ammo manufacturers. That's why .44 Remington Magnum is a 1/10" longer case than the .44 S&W Special... so pressures wouldn't be so drastically increased in the older guns. But, and I know this wasn't part of the original answers sought in this thread, get a .44mag Winchester and you can run either cartridge safely as you can in most any .44mag sixgun. As for .45Colt... Hornady's 5th Edition manual has listings for ".45Colt" and ".45Colt- Ruger and T/C Only"

streakr
December 5, 2006, 11:50 AM
The 1894 Winchester is designed for a rifle length cartridge and is a good choice for 30-30, however the pistol cartridges (44, 45) cycle poorly and frequently break the cartridge lifter (the cast metal type).

If you really want a Winchester get it in 30-30. For pistol cartridges the Marlin 94 is a far better choice.

Having owned and used Winchester 94s exensively in cowboy action (30-30, 38-55, 44 and 45) I am glad I got rid of them! Many other CA shooters agree but some still love the Winnys!

Marlins are simply better in all respects. My Marlin 336 (both 30-30 and 38-33) are far smoother than any Winchester.

That's my opinion but I have alot of experience...
streakr

mustanger98
December 5, 2006, 02:22 PM
The 1894 Winchester is designed for a rifle length cartridge and is a good choice for 30-30, however the pistol cartridges (44, 45) cycle poorly and frequently break the cartridge lifter (the cast metal type).

Pistol cartridges cycle poorly and break the lifter? Not in my experience, they don't.:scrutiny: You need to read back up the thread where I said the newer revolver-chambered carbines are built on a shorter receiver. Also, notice where this rifle or carbine will be used in plinking and bear defense; not CAS.

If you really want a Winchester get it in 30-30

I'm not the only one who said Winchester .30-30's are good. This looks to be about the only point I agree with, although not totally since I own and shoot both .30-30 and revolver-chambered '94AE carbines.

Having owned and used Winchester 94s exensively in cowboy action (30-30, 38-55, 44 and 45) I am glad I got rid of them! Many other CA shooters agree but some still love the Winnys!

My info says many CAS competitors went to the Italian repros of '60 Henry, '66, '73, and '92 Winchesters to get further into authenticity. Otherwise, many will get a Marlin 94 in .357mag and load light .38specials. To have used .30-30 and .38-55 in CAS, those are in long range side matches. A long range gun, in this case, probably won't get the wear a revolver-chambered carbine gets.

Marlins are simply better in all respects. My Marlin 336 (both 30-30 and 38-33) are far smoother than any Winchester.

I've heard all this before from brand bigots who just want to talk down about somebody else's rifle, but I've never heard of a .38-33 much less knew Marlin offered one.

That's my opinion but I have alot of experience...

Why'd he have to go and say that?:scrutiny:

____hoot____
December 5, 2006, 03:35 PM
For bear defence I would go with those 10 rounds of 44 mag in a short barreled Marlin. That said, what I have is a very weird Winchester 94. The serial number says that it was made in 1898[101,xxx], but It has been extensively worked over into a "boy's rifle" at some time. It has a 17 1/2" barrel with a ramp front sight and, I think, factory mid production rear. A shortened 3 round magazine and is in 32 Special. The stock is of the SRC type but has a recoil pad and only a 12" pull. The gun weighs 5 1/4 pounds. From the age of the recoil pad, I would guess that the rework was done in the 1950's and maybe in the Winchester custom shop. The gun was pretty before spending 8 months on the bottom of the PM river here in Michigan after a canoe hunt dumping. Very pitted now and I have painted it almost black with a moly finish. The barrel got filled with mud and was OK though I did have to replace the extractor spring.

streakr
December 5, 2006, 03:41 PM
Mustanger:

Chill out man! :D Don't think I hate Winchesters. I currently have 2 1897s (1910 and 1922), 1 Model12 (1916) and an 1894 (1902) in 30-30! In addition I have 1 replica 97 and an 87 (lever). Have owned many others! I use all of them!

I currently have 10 Marlin levers (Model 94's in 38/357, 44Mag, 45LC, 44-40, Model 1889 in 38-40, 2 Model 1893/1936 in 32-40 and 30-30, Model 1881 in 45-70, Model 336 in 30-30 and 38-55). Add a couple of shotguns too. I use all of them!

Cowboy shooters use the lever actions for thousands of rounds per year. The Marlins function, disassemble and clean up more easily than any Winny. Although Marlin has had several owners they have made firearms continuously since 1871. Winchester went out of business (not sure tho) in the 1970s. USRAC was not Winchester! Go to www.sassnet.com You can ask the Marlin vs Winchester question there.

The pistol caliber 94's are the same basic action as rifle cartridge. The shorter action you're thinking of is probably the 1892 model which was designed for pistol caliber! Winchester doesn't make (what a sham too) those models; they are made by Browning (Miroku, Japan) and Rossi (Brazil). They are fine rifles and with an action job are really fast and accurate.

I know dozens of shooters in south Florida who broke the lifters in 94s; I replaced 4 in two rifles (44 and 45) in two years. The newer ones are somewhat better but in the last 3 years I have seen exactly two Winchester 94s used in matches, mainly by new shooters who, bless their hearts, don't know better!;) We routinely have 60-90 shooters at our matches!

The Italian (mainly Uberti) copies of the 1860, 1866 and 1873 are generally excellent for CAS. Many shooters begin with Marlin or Winnys but use the clones which are more authentic. But don't try to put a modern hunting load in a 66 or 73 clone!! I have one of each of these and use them both!

Marlin are all side ejectors (except 1881 and 1888). All the Winchesters and clones throw hot brass straight up! Women in CAS with low cut outfits learn to avoid using them or dress differently. :what:

Marlins can shoot blackpowder, CAS loads and the stoutest modern ammo with few or no problems.

Mistyped: 38-33 means 38-55!

Marlin made a run of 336s in 38-55, both in 24" and 20" a few years ago. Older models (1893s, 1936s, 36s) can be found You can send your 30-30 to the factory and they will convert it to a 38-55 Cowboy for about 300 bucks! I had my old 44 mag carbine converted to a Cowboy model about 7 years ago.

Of course we have LR CAS! You need to go to a CAS match and learn.

Not a brand bigot at all. Having wasted money before I know better!

streakr

mustanger98
December 6, 2006, 09:03 PM
Let's go back to the original question of...
Which Winchester 94?

Notice it's "which Winchester 94?" and not which other than that for CAS.

So which would you go with? Being honest, I'd say 95% of the time-use of this rifle will be plinking at cans, but the 5% utility purpose will be for back packing. I live in black bear country...

Notice that this quote mentions plinking, backpacking, and bear defense. No mention of CAS.

Of course we have LR CAS! You need to go to a CAS match and learn.

I've been to Mule Camp twice. I've also shot a couple of matches with my local club. I shoot what I know and like. That effects the advise I give. I learned I can shoot my '94AE carbine in .45Colt and keep up with anybody on that line. At the level I've shot, I found out fast I'm not having to keep up with Evil Roy and them. I learned my rifle will do just fine for anything I do with it which, when I discount those CAS matches, isn't too different to the original poster's purposes, except that I'm a hunter not having to deal with bears.

Clark2
December 6, 2006, 11:21 PM
thanks everyone for their replies. I still don't know which way to go, but at least I know more about the thinking behind the options. -C p.s. In case it matters, I'm leaning towards the shorter 16" chambered in 45LC.

roscoe
December 7, 2006, 01:22 AM
A fine choice. Check out the ammo from Buffalo Bore and DoubleTap especially. Very powerful stuff! Frankly getting near .454 Casull.

mustanger98
December 7, 2006, 01:30 AM
roscoe, That Buffalo Bore and Double Tap ammo... is that rated for a levergun? Reason I ask is the same reason they tell you not to hotrod .30-30 handloads so as not to bind the action. I know a Ruger's Vaquero will eat it and come back for seconds and thirds.

Clark2, That 16" .45Colt... I believe that'll be a more handy kind of deal for your stated purposes. Good luck.

roscoe
December 8, 2006, 01:28 AM
I fire the hot stuff in my Trapper without problem. Their website says explicitly that it is safe for the leverguns. Given the range of cartridge powers available for those pistol-caliber leverguns, I think they are pretty dang versatile.

With the hot ammo, they approximate the original 45-70 load. I have been meaning to put one of those long-distance syle peep sights on and see about lobbing some rounds in from long distance. A little Quigley-style shooting, or Augustus McCall, if you prefer.

mustanger98
December 8, 2006, 01:32 AM
My .30-30's wearing a Lyman #2 tang sight. I really enjoy it. I don't know if you've seen my posts where I mentioned the deer I killed Thanksgiving evening... I nailed him through the lungs at near 100yds looking at him through the wider hunting aperture. I've been thinking seriously about putting a ghostring on my trapper in .45Colt. It'd be a lot easier to see than the factory semi-buckhorn I still have on it since I bought it new during the Klintoon misAdministration.

Cosmoline
December 8, 2006, 01:47 AM
AFAIK, there are no Winchester '94's in .45 Colt or .44 Mag. There are USRAC '94's in those chamberings, but I would never buy one. The '94 was never intended to chamber short handgun rounds, and USRAC's efforts to make it fill these roles were a big mistake. I owned a series of USRAC '94's in .45 Colt, each with serious defects. I absolutely hated those pieces of garbage.

Buy a real Winchester '94 (NOT a USRAC angle eject POS) in .30-30 or any of the many other cartridges designed for that rifle. If you want a pistol caliber Winchester, get a '92! The action is faster and Puma even makes a clone that can take the .454 Casull.

The 1894 Winchester is designed for a rifle length cartridge and is a good choice for 30-30, however the pistol cartridges (44, 45) cycle poorly and frequently break the cartridge lifter (the cast metal type).

One I had would send .45 Colt shells flying UNDERNEATH the carrier in recoil, jamming the whole stinking rifle so badly I had to take it apart on the bench while everyone on the line waited. You better believe those cheap so-and-so's at USRAC got very nasty thoughts directed their way.

If you really want a Winchester get it in 30-30. For pistol cartridges the Marlin 94 is a far better choice. Having owned and used Winchester 94s exensively in cowboy action (30-30, 38-55, 44 and 45) I am glad I got rid of them! Many other CA shooters agree but some still love the Winnys!

I don't even consider USRAC's to be Winchesters. I've owned several pre-USRAC '94's and they're a different breed of animal entirely.

So which would you go with? Being honest, I'd say 95% of the time-use of this rifle will be plinking at cans, but the 5% utility purpose will be for back packing. I live in black bear country...

All the more reason to go with tried and true, proven iron. The real Win '94 in .30-30 is a proven black bear killer.

roscoe
December 8, 2006, 02:34 AM
How long ago did you own those USRAC rifles? Mine in .45 is only two years old and it has never missed a stroke. Granted, I have fired only 500 rounds or so, but it has been dead solid reliable, heavy ammo or cowboy stuff. It does not feel as tight as my brother's Rossi 92, but it as reliable and accurate.

Cosmoline
December 8, 2006, 04:05 AM
I went through them from about '98 to about '00, then never got another one.

Essex County
December 8, 2006, 02:42 PM
For pistol cartrides get the Marlin. I'm still having nightmares about a .357 model 94 I used to own........Essex

mustanger98
December 8, 2006, 07:46 PM
The USRAC horror stories being told here are not consistent with my experience. My USRAC '94AE's in .45Colt and .44magnum were bought after 1994. They are quite reliable. I do not consider them to be garbage.

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