A New (old) Winchester 94 Ranger

Winchester 94 Ranger

Winchester 94 Ranger model in .30-30 Winchester

The Winchester 1894 was created by the design genius John M. Browning, the same man who designed the 1911, the Browning High-Power and every machine gun used by the United States military in World War II.  It was the first commercial rifle to chamber a round that used smokeless gun powder; the .30-30.  The .30-30 or .30 Winchester Center Fire as it used to be called was the first rifle round designed to fire the then new smokeless propellant.  The Winchester 94, due to its modern design and use of new smokeless powder technology became the first rifle to carry the title ‘high-powered rifle.’  With such a pedigree, why would anyone not want a Winchester 94.

I have always liked the look and feel of the Winchester 94.  It is what I consider the typical cowboy gun. A western saddle on a horse is just incomplete without the butt of a Winchester rifle sticking out of a scabbard.  The Winchester 94 is about as American as you can get.

The gun I just picked up is a Winchester 94 Ranger model.  A lower end model.  Its an older gum but looks new.  The barrel is clean and the rifle looks as if it has only been fired a few times.  No real signs of wear, handling, or shooting.  It looks and feels like a new gun.

Winchester 94 Ranger

Winchester 94 Ranger in 30-30 Winchester. Made in New Haven Connecticut from Winchester Proof Steel.

The rifle, or more accurately the carbine, is one of the last guns made in New Haven, Connecticut.  This particular rifle has the cross bolt safety that many hate.  This one has been disabled so there is no safety button sticking out and the safety is permanently ‘off.’

Winchester 94

Cross Bolt safety on the Winchester 94

Ammo for the .30-30 typically shoots either a 150 or a 170 grain bullet.  The bullets must be flat nosed as they sit end to end in the tubular magazine and you would not want a pointed bullet resting on the primer of another round.  Due to the flat bullets and mild powder charge by modern standards the .30-30 is not a super accurate round.  With the combination of limited bullets and open sights,  I have been able to shoot only slightly better than 4 inch 100 yard groups from this rifle.   Not terrible, but not very impressive either.

If this sounds like I’m putting the Winchester carbine down, be certain I am not.  I’m just mentioning its limitations.  The .30-30 Winchester is a very effective hunting rifle/cartridge combination.  The number of black bears and deer that have been killed with the Winchester .30-30 is countless.

The magazine holds six rounds and can be topped off after rounds are fired.  The tactical reload.   Hardly tactical.

Lever action Winchester 94

The Winchester 94 with lever action loading and cross bolt safety

The Winchester 94 looks harmless compared to and AR or AK.  It only holds 6 rounds.  Its lever-action loading mechanism makes repeat shots fairly slow compared to a semi-auto.  It will probably never been banned even is a state as liberal as California.  All this makes the Winchester 94 a good choice for an armed citizen.


About krasinsk1 Big John Tutorials

I've been an active shooter, reloader and gunsmith for 30+ years. I hold a Bachelor's degree from Montana State University and a Master's degree from the University of Oregon. I enjoy studying, collecting and shooting just about every type and kind of firearm.
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