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Lowering hammer on model 94

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by happycamper374, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. happycamper374

    happycamper374 Well-Known Member


    I inherited a model 94 from my grandpa that was made in 1954 per the serial number. I've read several threads on THR about the danger of lowering hammers onto live rounds but I don't see any way around it with my rifle. I'm not going to work the action right before I shoot a deer and I'm not going to walk around fully cocked without a safety, either. So that leaves me gently lowering the hammer on the round.

    Is there something I'm missing here?

    Edit: This isn't a recently inherited gun. I've had it for a while and been doing this even before it was technically given to me when I'd go hunting with it when I was younger.
  2. Asherdan

    Asherdan Well-Known Member

    I thought half-cock was the solution to your question. But I'm not a Winchester guy and don't pretend to know if that was the option on your year and model.

    I sure would think so, though.

    That's how I creep around in the brush with my Marlins, by the way. Round chambered, half-cocked.
  3. Maverick223

    Maverick223 Well-Known Member

    The threads you refer to are are correct, do not lower onto the round. If you did so on a live round a bump could cause it to fire unintentionally. You want to have the hammer resting in half-cock (older models only, which yours is). To do so you need to: hold the hammer with your thumb while pulling the trigger, release the trigger as soon as it breaks the full-cock position (all the way back), then slowly let it come to rest (should be off the firing pin, but close). MAKE SURE AND POINT THE FIREARM IN A SAFE DIRECTION WHILE YOU ATTEMPT THIS!

  4. happycamper374

    happycamper374 Well-Known Member

    Hmmm ok, good to know. I didn't know that I had that option.
  5. Tinpig

    Tinpig Well-Known Member

    The other thing I do is automatically put my thumb or finger over the exposed base of the firing pin, just in case I lose control of the hammer while lowering it. Rather have a smashed finger than an AD.

  6. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    The real risk is dropping the hammer, while you have the trigger pulled, on the way to half cock.

    On your rifle you will just have to be careful.
  7. Abel

    Abel Well-Known Member

    Just practice putting the gun into half-cock while its unloaded. Its no science. Just do it until you feel comfortable loading the gun. Then load it and, as per always, keep it pointed in a safe direction.
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    The other thing is, if you crack the lever open about 1/2" inch the trigger safety will not allow you to pull the trigger with the hammer at full cock.

    I don't recommed you do it, but you can.

    Much better just to practice lowering the hammer to the safety notch on an empty gun while watching TV or something.
    You will find it becomes second nature to do it safely after you do it a while.

  9. happycamper374

    happycamper374 Well-Known Member

    Played with it enough that I'm pretty much there...
  10. owlhoot

    owlhoot Well-Known Member

    I used to do a lot of hunting in heavy brush, laurel thickets, and such. I liked the lever actions because they carried so easily, but I was often horrified to discover that my rifle's hammer was fully cocked. The brush would cock the thing even when I was being careful to prevent it. I mention this just to let you know of the potential problem if you intend to hunt in really heavy cover. The newer levers have safeties so I suppose that problem is eliminated with them. But your rifle, like mine, is an old one, so be careful.

    By the way, I'm sure you know that the pre 1964 Winchester 94's bring quite a premium these days.
  11. Ratshooter

    Ratshooter Well-Known Member

    The only AD I ever had with a rifle was with the 94 winchester. I was unfamalier with the gun. A buddy handed it to me and I decided not to shoot. I was going to let the hammer down and shoot later. Thankfully the rifle was pointed straight up.

    The 94 has a tab that keeps the trigger from being pulled unless the lever is hard against the stock. Kinda like a grip safety on a 1911. If you don't know this you will try to pull the trigger while letting the hammer down slowly and nothing will happen.

    You will eventyally squeeze the lever without knowing it and the the trigger will move and the hammer will go foward. If you aren't careful the hammer will jump from under your thumb and fire the gun. Thats what happened to me. I have shown this to a couple other people who accidently dry fired my 94. After explaining how the gun was set up they were able to safely lower the hammer.

    Practice with your gun unloaded and you will be okay. I think that may be the danger you have read about. Once you have lowered the hammer then move it to the half cock area or release the trigger and let it down to the half cock notch.

    Now all the "experts" can jump in and tell me all the things I did wrong. Execpt admit I had an AD and will try to prevent anyone else from having one.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2010
  12. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    Let those without sin throw the first rock.

    Thank you for telling us about your experience. I hope your sharing increases the understanding of these mechanisms and prevents someone from having an Accidental Discharge.
  13. UpTheIrons

    UpTheIrons Well-Known Member

    I've got a 1959 Model 94, and the "grip grooves" on the hammer are very "grippy", so it it fairly easy to maintain a good grip on the hammer all the way to half-cock unless you have the thickest of gloves on (or frostbit fingers).

    Like others have said (and it seems like you are doing), practice while doing something else and it will become second nature.
  14. thunder173

    thunder173 Well-Known Member

    I have hunted and carried a pre-64 Winchester 94 since ,...well,...since pre-64,..still do occasionally. Never had an AD with one,...never even seen and AD with one, maybe I've just been lucky,...and hunt with the right folks,...but imagine it could happen. You do need to be thoroughly familiar with your Winchester though. The pre-64's have the half cock notch,..which I actually prefer over the new safety on the newer 94's. That,...and the lever safety should serve you well. I'd echo RCModel's comments. Practice,... practice,..then practice some more. I have found that every Winchester 94 has a personality of it's own,...usually acquired from a lot of use,..or abuse. I suppose it could possibly happen, but I've never experienced a brush cocking the hammer either,..and I have been in about as thick as terrain can get and still be able to move through it. If I am in that thick,..it won't be slung anyways,..but carried where I can SEE the hammer. Just my .02 ...and as usual,....YMMV
  15. Phoenix_III

    Phoenix_III Well-Known Member

    Azoom snap cap? =)
  16. Mr_Pale_Horse

    Mr_Pale_Horse Well-Known Member

    Most of the above is spot on.

    I had my second long gun AD with a Model 94. I learned the hard way that you MUST put a finger between hammer and firing pin to block a falling hammer when going from full to half cock. I use my offhand pinky finger, allow the hammer to come to rest on it, remove my trigger finger from the trigger guard, the half cock the hammer with my thumb.

    My first long gun AD was with an antique shotgun with a hammer block arrangement keeping the hammer back if the trigger was not fully pulled (Ivers and Johnson). I sat down on a log, and rested the butt of the shotgun on the log and it discharged. I guess the hammers inertia was enough to pull the trigger when the butt contacted the log.
  17. Maverick223

    Maverick223 Well-Known Member

    Why on earth do you need that? You'd be better leaving it with a empty chamber (which is equally unsuitable when hunting).

  18. DPris

    DPris Well-Known Member

    It's kinda hard for some of us oldsters to understand how lowering the hammer on a 94 can become a major event.
    Muzzle in safe direction, pay attention & just do it.
    Never even thought of sticking a finger between hammer & firing pin, that seems to add an element of fumbling to an otherwise very simple process.

    I do find it much easier to lower it to fullcock & then bring it back to halfcock. Simpler for me than trying to coordinate trigger & hammer going down while looking for that halfcock notch.
    Pull trigger, keep it fully to the rear while lowering the hammer, when the hammer bottoms out release the trigger, pull hammer back till it clicks, everybody's ready to go.
    Done that for many years with all sorts of leverguns in all sorts of calibers.

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