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Winchester M-94
Length Overall Barrel Length Weight Caliber Action Type Magazine Capacity
37.5" 20" 6.5 Pounds 30-30 Lever 6
    The classic deer hunter's gun, the Winchester model 94 was an instant hit when it was introduced over a hundred years ago. At the time of it's release, the model 94 was a contemporary, but no longer cutting edge, rifle. The U.S. Army had recently retired it's dated single shot Trapdoor Springfield rifles in favor of a new type of gun---the Krag- Jorgenson bolt action rifle. The new rifle was soon found to be unsuitable and was replaced in service by the excellent bolt action Springfield rifle after only eleven years. The Springfield is still sought out by shooters, whereas the Krag-Jorgenson has become a mere curiosity for collectors to hang on the wall.
    This was a transitional time for firearms, and the Model 94 surely helped. It was the first civilian rifle chambered for a cartridge using the then new smokeless powder. It was also one of the few bottlenecked cartridges in use at that time. The nomenclature "30-30" stands for thirty grains of the new fangled smokeless powder behind a thirty caliber bullet. The cartridge was a real sizzler in a day when most guns fired large heavy slugs at rather slow velocities. It was also very flat shooting for it's day, making it an instant hit with long range shooters. A mystique akin to the present day magnum fever, grew up around this cartridge. It's performance is attested to by the fact that over a hundred years latter it has not only still survived but is thriving. Along with the 30-06, the 30-30 is one of the most widespread and popular cartridges in the country. Most of the other chamberings available in 1894 have long since left the scene.
    Along with introducing smokeless powder to the civilian market, the classic lever action left it's mark in many other ways. The firearms genius, John M. Browning, began his development of selfloading (what we call automatic, or semi automatic) firearms with the lever action. His first attempt was the use of a spring loaded, mechanical device fitted to the end of the butstock. When the rifle was fired, the recoil would drive the butstock into the shooter's shoulder cycling the device which would, in turn, work the lever. This proved a bit ungainly and he soon began to experiment with a way of capturing the propellant gases, as they exited the muzzle of the gun, to actuate the lever. He eventually settled on the idea of a small hole near the end of the barrel, which would bleed off a portion of the expanding gases as the bullet passed. Thus both of the modern types of automatic firearm (recoil operation, and gas operation) may trace their origin to the venerable lever action rifle.
    The gun itself is light, handy and has enough power to handle most game. It's continued popularity attests to the fact that it may be one of the ideal compromises in an all around rifle. There are guns with larger magazines, but they tend to be expensive and not as quick and handy to fire; six rounds is enough for most purposes. There are more powerful rifles, but they tend to be heavy, slower to fire, and have magazines which hold only three or four rounds; the 30-30 is enough for most purposes. Indeed, the Model 94 does not particularly excel in any category, but it does so many things well enough that the gun is a natural. It also has a subjective quality, a feel, which can not be quantified; it is the same feel that guns like the M-1 carbine, the Ruger 10-22, and the Marlin Camp gun have.