Sunday, March 02, 2008

Winchester 1894 Flat-band Carbine

Once upon a time I lived in a land far, far, away aka California and was about to move. Sometime during my stay in that land of altered dream states, I had acquired a sofa on which to sit and watch Leon Panetta run for Congress. That sofa would not, could not fit into the cargo compartment formed by the topper on my Datsun pick-up truck. I had, or rather my then wife had, in a fit of generousity paid $55 for the sofa and that was what I was using as the asking price when trying to sell it to newly arrived soldiers in our apartment complex. Alas, like me, few had the ready cash to pay that for this thing. So it came to pass that one fellow spec four came to me with a "deal". His old winchester M94 carbine for my sofa. Well the gun was much easier to pack into the truck than the sofa and so the deal was done. I'm sure he felt like he got the better part of the deal. I know I felt like I got the better part of the deal. After all, I had a gun and all he had was a sofa in pretty good condition.

Of course he might have been taking the condition of the gun into consideration while I didn't. You see this gun came with a rather unique adaptation of the standard 2x4 as a buttstock for the carbine. Yes, it was pine, no it was not even varnished but it did have the original buttplate! Hey, that's a good deal, right?

Of course, the stock wasn't acceptable and neither was the lack of a good receiver sight. It wasn't long before I glass-bedded a replacement wood stock and had the gun drilled and tapped for a Williams Foolproof 94/36 sight. This gun is now a babe.

So, that gun which was, to me, worth a $55 sofa is the 1946 manufactured (according to the stamping on the barrel) flatband Winchester 94 herewith presented. A wonderful gun which has taken deer and groundhogs, the first .30-30 that my son ever shot (but hopefully not the last), this is a gun to keep.

A good load for the .30 WCF (aka .30-30) isn't hard to find. Just go to your local ammunition purveyor and buy the desired quantity of 170 gr. bulleted ammunition from any of the major manufacturers (Remington, Winchester or Federal). All seem to shoot to point of aim in this gun and all function slick as snot through the action. Want to reload? I use 30 gr. IMR 3031 under any standard 170 gr. RN or FP ".30-30" bullet seated to crimp in the cannelure and lit with a standard primer (I always use CCI). However if you're using one of the newer lots of IMR 3031 you might want to work up to a max of 29 gr. Other suitable powders include IMR or H 4895 and W748. Consult your loading manual for data on those.

As to accuracy, well I get what seems to be the standard for me of 1½-2" groups at 100 yards. That's more than accurate enough and probably more accurate than most future shooters will ever need. I'm glad I'll be able to pass this one on.

What's it worth now? Don't ask. I know I don't care but I will tell you this, it is worth considerably more than $55.

The "flatband" is third from the top. You might notice that I prefer a certain configuration for my lever-action rifles...

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