Spirit of ’76: Another 94 Winchester
Happiness is a blue-worn, 1976 Model 94 in 30-30 Winchester for $200 out the door of my favorite pawn shop. Finish was gone off the receiver, which I see as a plus. The bore was excellent, lever was a little tight at the end of its travel. I took 20 rounds of old mixed 150 grain reloads and ran them through it, just to get the sights on well enough for junk critter shooting. The old rifle easily holds an inch at 50 yards. Temptation got the best of me and I fired the last two rounds and the 4×6″ head of my steel torso target from that distance, standing unsupported. Note to self: do not head-shoot this dinger with rifles, even old, supposedly ‘obsolete’ ones.
The old 94 showed potential, so I tore it down, cleaned the guts out and applied some much-needed oil. This rifle is a transitional model with the flat mainspring, which I thinned just enough to get a crisp, 3 1/2 pound trigger pull. I polished some nasty machine marks away from the underside of the bolt, contoured & polished the top of the hammer and rounded up its sharp edged, post ’64 thumb-piece.
It runs downright slick now. I also flat-topped the rear sight and installed an old Marbles 1/16 white bead. A word on on sights… I believe most of the ‘missing’ ever done with these guns is attributable to a hurried sight picture that results in the bead being level with the top of the sight, instead of the top of notch. Flat-topping the rear sight eliminates that problem and it is a boon to old pistoleros who are used to handgun sights.
I actually took most of the blue off this old rife and would have been happy to leave it like that, except for this. I love old guns that show honest use but this one got put up wet sometime in its life; so in this case a dose of cold blue was doing it a favor.
I believe this is going to make an excellent old working gun and so far, I am happy with it. I shot this 94 a little at 200 yards and with a very light tap of the rear sight to the left, it was keeping two of out of three 150 grain Federal soft-points on a 7 1/2″ paper picnic bowl. I’m declaring it ready to hunt.