March 20, 2019
The name Winchester and the most famous rifle to emerge from its factories, the Model 1894, are written in large letters across American history. With more than seven million rifles made for everyone from Southern deer hunters, to Western lawmen, to at least three American presidents, the Model 94 redefined the meaning of success, and once again showed the almost magical touch of John Moses Browning.
In a world of synthetic guns and exotic cartridges, it's easy to forget how revolutionary the Winchester 94, with smokeless .30 caliber cartridge, was. It harnessed this vastly increased power in a package that Americans understood, a light, fast-handling lever-action rifle.
In 1927, the one millionth Model 94 was given to President Calvin Coolidge, number 1 ½ million to President Harry S. Truman in 1948, and the two millionth was given to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. With three presidents and countless lawmen, hunters, and shooters across the country, the Winchester 94 had truly taken over the sporting world.
By 1964 the cost of producing a turn-of-the-century design was becoming prohibitive. Winchester took steps to modernize the manufacture of the rifles including machined parts, hollow roll pins, and unfortunately, an inferior finish to the gun. To many this marked the end of an era, and the new method of manufacturing wasn't received well by longtime Winchester collectors. Original Winchesters were sought at premium prices and the term “pre-64” was hammered into the collectors’ lexicon.
In January of 2006 the US Repeating Arms Company shocked the gun world by announcing the end of production for the Model 1894. Rifles that had been languishing on dealers’ shelves flew out the doors, prices soared. It seemed the classic American rifle had finally run its course, but the future of the .30-30 was far from over.
In 2010 Winchester released two exquisite models of the Model 94 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Oliver Winchester. And although these were high-end, limited-run custom rifles, the Model 94 was officially back in production.
At the National Rifle Association show in 2011, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company introduced two new rifles to lead the company into the 21st century. The Model 94 Sporter and the Model 94 Short Rifle, making sure that America's rifle will be available to the next generation of Americans.
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