Modernize pre-64 Winchester Mod. 94 - am I a heretic?


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campergeek
December 8, 2006, 05:07 PM
A few years back I inherited a Winchester model 94 when my father-in-law passed away, and after a bit of research I learned that it was manufactured in 1956. At one time I tried to sell it, but found that I couldn't get what I wanted for it, so decided to keep it - besides, one day my son will enjoy shooting Grandpa's rifle. Lately, I've been thinking about making it into more of a shooter than a safe queen.

As it is, the rifle isn't really in "new" condition anyway. The wood shows normal wear. The original rear sight is gone and a Redfield peep sight was put on in it's place. The front sight appears to be original. I've never had good results shooting with this combination, although that could be either the sights, the rifle, the ammo or the shooter.

I'm considering adding a side-mount scope to the rifle, as well as sling swivels, basically making it more purposeful as a deer rifle. I've also thought about re-finishing the wood, just for looks. Because I don't have any plans to sell the rifle I'm not terribly concerned about ruining the value (which I found wasn't terribly high in the first place), but I am curious about what others would do in my shoes.

Would making such changes to the rifle increase or decrease its value? In your opinion (FWIW) would this ruin such a classic old rifle? Going a step further, do you have any additional advice on how to improve the rifle?

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Lonestar.45
December 8, 2006, 05:53 PM
If it were me, I'd make it more shooter friendly. BUT, only in such ways that I could undo later. I would not re-finish the wood or metal at all. But adding a side scope mount would be no problem, as many of that era started wearing them, and you can take it off with no ill effects. You can also put a sling on it that would not require drilling or messing with the wood or metal. Change out that rear sight to an original one. Or, I believe you can get a "scout mount" that mounts in place of the original rear sight, putting the scope directly above the boreline and in front of the action. You can easily take this back off later if you don't like it and want to return to it's original state.

A friend of mine inherited one from his dad. It has a side scope mount and a Weaver scope. Anyway, he bought a brand new Remington BDL in 7mm mag and wanted me to help him sight it in. So off we go to the range with his new Remington, and we brought along the 30-30 just for fun, as he had never shot it.

We got that Remington sighted in, but we had a BLAST shooting that old 30-30, and let me tell you, it outshot the heck out of that 7mm mag, with quarter sized groups from 25 to 100 yds every time. They're definitely better shooters than people give them credit for. I would also definitely not make any permanent changes to the one you have, you may end up regretting it later.

Jackal
December 8, 2006, 05:58 PM
Do everyone a favor. Instead of depriving the world of another old, collectible rifle, why not just buy a new one? Hell, sell the old one, use that money to buy a new one with the features you want and pocket the leftover money.

Cosmoline
December 8, 2006, 05:58 PM
For the love of Pete, go buy a Marlin! A scope no more belongs on a '94 than you-know-whats belong on a bull. The ejection is straight up, and the only way to mount a scope is in a weird side mount that will look like hell. It's an INHERITED 94, to boot. LEAVE IT ALONE. If you don't like it, you can find many eager buyers who appreciate the days when we didn't need a #%@! scope to hunt with. The Redfield peep sight does not decrease value. Indeed it may be worth a chunk of change itself.

Sistema1927
December 8, 2006, 06:53 PM
I don't like scopes on Lever Actions, but I am probably about to tick off a bunch of people here:

Do whatever you want to it, it is yours. Also, while pre-64 Winchester 94's are more desirable than post-64, it isn't as if they only made a handful of them.

Freedom, it is a wonderful thing.

Ray P
December 8, 2006, 07:06 PM
What is so special about a pre-64 Winchester 94?

As far as I understand it, the driving force in the collectability of pre-64 Winchesters was the Model 70. Per Wikipedia;
The pre-'64 Model 70's were manufactured from 1936 through 1963 after which time significant changes in the design and manufacture of the rifles were made. Pre-'64 Model 70s bring a very premium price due to a public perception that they had several desirable features (controlled round feed, cut checkering) that the post-'64 did not have. Pre-'64 Model 70 Winchester rifles can best be identified by serial number. Model 70 rifles with serial numbers below 700,000 are the pre-'64 variety.

What does "pre-64" have to do with a Model 94?

Although I must admit, with the close of USRA this year, ANY Winchester 70, 94 or 1300 is far more collectable now than they were in December 2005.

Edited to add: +1 on Marlin 336 (or a Glenfield). Save the legacy rifle.

mustanger98
December 8, 2006, 08:38 PM
A few years back I inherited a Winchester model 94 when my father-in-law passed away, and after a bit of research I learned that it was manufactured in 1956. At one time I tried to sell it, but found that I couldn't get what I wanted for it, so decided to keep it - besides, one day my son will enjoy shooting Grandpa's rifle. Lately, I've been thinking about making it into more of a shooter than a safe queen.

Let's see... it's your FIL's rifle and your son's grandpa's rifle. That, to my mind, says keep it as he left it to ya'll. I have a semi-sportered British Enfield I feel that way about too. And yeah, shooting Grandpa's rifle is quite enjoyable. I also have a Winchester '94 from 1971 I won't part with and I'll base most of my further comments on my relationship with this one because I/it ran with the buffalo rifles in a local match and killed a deer on Thanksgiving evening this year. This old Winchester was used when I got it so I don't know where its story began and don't yet know when/where it'll end.

As it is, the rifle isn't really in "new" condition anyway. The wood shows normal wear. The original rear sight is gone and a Redfield peep sight was put on in it's place. The front sight appears to be original. I've never had good results shooting with this combination, although that could be either the sights, the rifle, the ammo or the shooter.

Not in new condition. Right. My .30-30 has wear on the stock... looks like somebody took it hunting and had the habit of leaning it on a tree on wet ground. I personally changed the factory semi-buckhorn off for a Lyman #2 tang sight. The accuracy was greatly enhanced. Sometimes, it's not the sights or ammo, but rather how the shooter holds the rifle. A '94 requires us to hold it out under the forward wood to support the barrel. It's not a flaw so much as an intricacy in a '94's personality. To do well with the aperture sight, you just have to understand what that system's doing. And to shoot a deer with it, it's advisable to get a good rest on a rock, log, or tree and breath and try to counteract the effects of adrenaline. And focus on the front sight.

I'm considering adding a side-mount scope to the rifle, as well as sling swivels, basically making it more purposeful as a deer rifle. I've also thought about re-finishing the wood, just for looks. Because I don't have any plans to sell the rifle I'm not terribly concerned about ruining the value (which I found wasn't terribly high in the first place), but I am curious about what others would do in my shoes.

From everything I've heard about those side mounts, don't bother. They're nothing but trouble. On the other hand, a lot of guys have used 'em. It won't make it any more purposeful as a deer rifle than the Redfield sight it's wearing now.

Would making such changes to the rifle increase or decrease its value? In your opinion (FWIW) would this ruin such a classic old rifle? Going a step further, do you have any additional advice on how to improve the rifle?

Since I'm kinda advising you to keep your rifle as it sits right now, it's not going to ruin its value. I'm not advising you not to re-blue and/or refinish the wood. I've done both... my Winchester's liable to be next.

If you really want to scope a .30-30 levergun, do like somebody else already said and get a Marlin. The scope'll set up over the receiver. I grew up with both ideas- the iron sighted Winchester and the scoped Marlin. I'm not prejudiced between the two, but my Winchester just happens to be my go-to deer rifle.

JackOfAllTradesMasterAtNone
December 8, 2006, 08:51 PM
I'm in the crowd that doesn't have a scope on either of my lever action rifles..

Mine, a Marlin 30-30. It has taken 7 Blacktail deer with open sights. It is accurate enough to take Pepsi cans at 100yds off hand. And repeatedly hit a 10" plate at 200m off hand. I've owned it for nearly 10 years.

I inherited my dad's 1957 Win94 32spl a couple years ago. I know it has taken countless deer over the years. Open sights. Now... It's been a closet queen for quite a while. So, I shot some of dad's ammo. Groups where nothing compaired to the Marlin. I gave it a thorough cleaning. Very thorough!. Now it's capable of deer hunting accuracy with new ammunition. One of my boys will inherit this rifle. And I hope they hunt with it. AS IT IS.

You should respect that it is a leveraction. A brush gun if you will. Don't hunt with it in open country. It's not up to that. But, if your ranges are out to 150yds, then practice with it. It's capable -if you are. So don't blame the rifle design. Each design has it's optimum conditions. I certainly don't hunt with scoped long range rifle in dense brush. Do you?

Don't let us control your actions. Let your heart remember where this rifle came from. Preserve it for your children. But remember that it's quite servicable just the way it is.

-Steve

.38 Special
December 8, 2006, 11:28 PM
Were it mine, I'd consider a quality refinish of the wood and/or blue, if it merits it. I say "quality" because I have seen an awful lot of pretty nice guns that were made to look like trash by backyard refinishing. And as has been pointed out, the 94 -- pre or post '64 -- is not exactly the holy grail. If it's showing more wear than you like, a careful refinishing will probably add to the value, if anything.

As for the scope? I wouldn't, if it were mine, especially not if there's any drilling and tapping involved.

Cosmoline
December 8, 2006, 11:29 PM
Remember... special place in hell!

bellystalker
July 6, 2008, 11:50 PM
i also have a pre 64 its a top eject that i inherited from my granpa i took it 2 a gunsmith 2 mount the scope and he was nice enough 2 laser sight it 4 me last deer season i was using the iron sights and missed evey deer i shot at but now i can hit a shotgun shell at 100 yards every time find a good gunsmith u will be happy

Onmilo
July 6, 2008, 11:58 PM
I am in the camp of, it's your rifle, do what you want with it.

3pairs12
July 6, 2008, 11:59 PM
Do what you think your father in-law would have wanted you to. If you think he wanted you to scope if thats what you want then scope. If you don't think that than leave it. Simple as that. There TONS of pre64 94s out there.

ltetmhs
July 7, 2008, 12:28 AM
For the love of John Moses Browning and your poor Father in Law. No! No! Please No! (But if you must turn your back on all good judgement, please have a good gunsmith do any modifications).Please!!!!!. But by all means use it.

On the other hand it is your rifle and who am I to tell you what to do.

.38 Special
July 7, 2008, 12:39 AM
This thread is coming up on its second birthday. I figure the OP has already done whatever it was he was going to...

CB900F
July 7, 2008, 03:13 AM
Camper;

In 1963/64 the Winchester company decided to "modernize" production techniques in order to lower costs. It can be said that some models became a different firearm that wore the same model designation, the model 70 in particular. The model 94 was affected also. Because of the production decisions, the value of a Winchester firearm is very considerably affected by its manufacturing date, ie pre or post 64. Books have been written on the esoteric minutia of the subject, but the above is the Rubicon for Winchester

900F

jmr40
July 7, 2008, 08:59 AM
Model 94's made prior to 1964 do not have the same status among collectors as the model 70's but they do bring a fair bit more money than post 64 rifles. Winchester not only changed the model 70 that year but they also cheapened the 94 as well. The 94 was always a budget gun so fewer people noticed for a while.

Any older Winchester will bring a premium but the ones made prior to WW2 are the ones that bring the big bucks, and are usually put up and not fired. Post WW2 guns are still highly sought after among guys that want one they are not afraid to actually take out and use.

If it were mine, and I do have a 1958 model, I would not even think about refinishing. If you want to put sling studs on it to make it more useable I would do so. I do not care for scopes on 94"s. Every 94 that I have ever seen that had a side mount on it had damage to the finish on receiver when it was removed
Most importantly don't ever sell it and don't be afraid to use it.

2 year old post, hate it when I do that

davera
July 7, 2008, 10:49 AM
In comparing my 1956 model 94, to a friends angle eject (late 80's I think) 94 I notice a higher degree of fit and finish in the 1956 model. From everything I have read, the side mounted scopes are problematic when it comes to a proper zero. My opinion is to stick with the peep sight and learn to use it.

As for the sling swivels - my 1956 model had them added at some point in its life and they don't bother me too much. The 94 is really easy to carry and can go without a sling pretty easily. But this is something I could live with.

Harve Curry
July 7, 2008, 12:14 PM
campergeek ,
You asked. I'd stick with the peep or iron sights. The power of the 30-30 is pretty mush limited to ranges that can be done with those sights anyhow.
Enjoy the challenge of iron or reciever peep sights and that easy carrying, good shooting rifle.
, Bill Weddle

Mr White
July 7, 2008, 12:57 PM
Campergeek,

You have the same situation as me. I inherited a 1954 Model 94 in .32 Win from my FiL a few years bac.k also.

He had oiled the wood and the metal has some normal wear on the edges. The gun was well used but very well cared for. I put a few more coats of oil on the stock and left it at that. It does have some collectors value, which will only increase. Of course I'd never sell it. Maybe someday my kids or their kids might.

I would never drill it to scope it. I've learned to shoot the buckhorn sight and the guns is far from a safe queen. It gets shot throughtout the year and makes its way into the woode every deer season. I got a set of dies for it last Christmas and will develop a good load for it before this deer season.

But that's just me. If you're asking for advice, I'd advise you to leave it as is, but in the end, its your gon to so with as you please.

Vern Humphrey
July 7, 2008, 01:52 PM
What does "pre-64" have to do with a Model 94?
Winchester began reengineering it's line with the Model 94 in 1963. Among the changes to the Model 94 were stamped parts and a receiver that cannot easily be reblued.

If you compare a pre-63 Model 94 with a post-63 gun, you can easily see the difference.

rcmodel
July 7, 2008, 01:57 PM
ID a Post-64?
Just look for the roll-pins and stamped sheet-metal follower.

Or shake it and listen to it rattle!

rcmodel

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