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Winchester 94 - 44 Mag


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My step-father came into a Winchester 94 in 44 Mag to keep varmints off his property.

The rifle is too hard for him to lever and the factory 44RM is far too powerful (on both ends). 

He said he had problems with the factory rounds cleanly ejecting but I've not tried it yet.  The lever throw feels like a factory rifle to me.

I can handle reloading cartridges that will be more easily handled by him, but what can be done with regards to the action?

Can the lever throw be smoothed out and lightened?

Not looking to make it a race gun, just something an older man can better handle.

He thinks my wife's '73 Carbine in .357 is heavy.

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If he think Annie’s carbine is too heavy then he may better off trading it on a Ruger 10-22. If 22 LR won’t do the job get a 22 magnum and you won’t need to reload ammo!  You know all this. Pat

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The 94 is a great gun that you need to run with Authority and deliberate force.

As Irish Pat has already stated.

He would probably be a lot better off with a Henry or Marlin or Winchester in 22 Magnum or Lr .

The action will be 90% easier to run .

And a 22 with well placed shot will dispose of most things .

Rooster 

Edited by Rooster Ron Wayne
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Simple Savage or even CZ bolt action .22 solves a ton of varmint visitation vexations.  At the cost of having a gunsmith try to lighten up the stroke of that Win 94 Angle Eject, which is probably too heavy and too much gun anyway.  Ammo will be one quarter the price, too.

 

Unless he has 400 pound varmints.... :o

GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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3 hours ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

Simple Savage or even CZ bolt action .22 solves a ton of varmint visitation vexations.  At the cost of having a gunsmith try to lighten up the stroke of that Win 94 Angle Eject, which is probably too heavy and too much gun anyway.  Ammo will be one quarter the price, too.

 

Unless he has 400 pound varmints.... :o

GJ

I think he is more concerned with the direction our country is/has taken and neither he nor my mother have a personal protection type firearm for the house.  They live in a fairly rural area and do have dogs/coyotes around.  Something got in the hen house night before last and killed five of six hens.  A semi-auto .22LR or 9mm would probably be best.

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Regardless of what you think of US police departments and state governments, neither are going to allow multiple home invasions and murders by any group of outlaws.   If someone really believes the US will not be able to enforce order in the near future, then yes, something other than a varmint gun is in order. 

 

If they are  losing chickens, then a better maintained hen house may be in order.  Rarely is the head of the house awake when a varmint hits the hen house.   Especially if they don't own a dog.

 

A shotgun will be more effective and easier to hit the target with if you are wanting to interrupt a night raid on the poultry (or stop a home invasion).  Pistols are rarely anything but noise-makers in the dark and in the hands of someone who doesn't practice much.

 

Feel-good-defense-purchases are pretty easy to make.

Effective home protection takes more planning and practice and commitment.

Best if you decide beforehand what the real need is, and what the level of ability is of the likely firearm user.

 

But that Win 94, even if a gunsmith is found who is willing to smooth up the action, is not a very conventional defense gun (regardless of how many B Westerns someone watches).   I could use one, but it would be after I ran out of ammo for shotguns, semi-auto rifles, handguns and maybe even 22 semi-auto rifles.

 

good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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The Winchester M94 was originally designed for longer cartridges, .30-30, 38-55, etc.  When they attempted to chamber it for the .44 Mangle-em, they didn't do a  very good job. (Yeah, there will be folks who disagree.)  If he is set on a lever-action in .44 Mag, then a Rossi M92 is a better choice. If recoil is a problem, maybe in .357 Mag.  For multi-purpose use...varmints (4-legged) and home defense, a Ruger Ranch Rifle in 5.56 would be a better choice (doesn't look like an "assault rifle" in case the neighbors are nervous.  If just for critters after the chickens, perhaps a Ruger 10/22.

Stay well and safe, Pards!

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I like my 94 in .44. If he is having problems working the action that is probably where the bad ejection is coming from, not enough force on the lever to throw the empty out. When I downloaded .44 magnum cases to cowboy loads I got a lot of key holeing. For reduced loads I would recommend .44 SPL cases. My gun feeds and shoots them fine, but try some in his gun. I would also try a leather lever wrap, might make levering easier on his hands, maybe even some padding under the leather.

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Hate (literally) the Win 94 I have in .45 Colt.  Never runs a magazine without a jam.  Stroke long enough to load a .300 Win Mag.  No one else wants it either.  Guess I'm picky.  GJ

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I like my 44 94. I has a lever action grow of a golf swing though. It will run 44 special really well. No recoil.

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You can slick up the lever throw a little on a 94. Basically strip it all the way down and debur the interfacing parts with fine Arkansas stones or very fine oxide sandpaper on the curvy parts. Running a nice fine stone along the bolt to frame interfaces makes a big difference. It doesn’t take much at all. 
Use Mobil 1 oil for lube. They like lube. 
 

The 94 gets a bad rap in pistol cartridges but it can be made smooth and be very reliable. Notice I didn’t say “fast”? ;) It can be fast enough for a farm gun, for sure. 

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Stripping it down is a pain.  Putting it back together right is even more so.  Be warned. 

Mine's not rough, but it won't feed very reliably. 

 

good luck, GJ

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I got the rifle home and it's a saddle ring carbine with steel buttplate. It levers just as hard as my 94 30-30.

 

Going to look at/for a 92 for him. 

 

Like a lot of people in these times that aren't really into guns, he made a panic buy without asking anybody for help. I'm just trying to minimize the expense for them. 

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Lever Action Horrors!

Virtually everyone has a horror story about 1 or more firearms that they have owned. He's my lever horror story;

In '94 I was looking for a lever in .357 because I was doing alot of .357 shooting out of my M66 and wanted a cheap and easy round that I could reload in abundance. After looking around for about 6-8 months I couldn't find one, I even phoned Winchester! The nice lady said that they didn't have enough calls to start manufacturing them again. Remember this was before Cowboy Action got bigger.

I finally gave up on .357 and found a Winchester Wrangler in .44 Magnum. Shades of John Wayne that large loop lever was kewl! Little did I realize that with 2 years, I'd start shooting Cowboy Action. I did lots of testing and came up 7.2 grains of Unique pushing a 240 grain LSWC bullet as an accurate target load.

Within the first 20 rds down range, the pot metal feed ramp broke. Off for warranty work! Eight months later I get the rifle back. After every 50 rds the rear sight elevator would fall off. So we have to install a Williams rear sight! Shooting again after every 50 rds the screws in the receiver would work loose. Locktite!! After 1,500 rds the tubular magazine spring gave up the ghost! Wolfe Gunsprings to the rescue. After this the Lever Link broke, 3 months and 5 nasty letters later, Winchester told me they would sell me the part but without warranty! They wanted me to send the gun to the warranty centre again!

That was the last straw, I found a sucker to buy the Winchester and bought a Marlin M1894S, after 8,000 rds through it, it broke a firing pin. I love the quality Marlin builds in.

P.S. My Wrangler was one of 4 Wranglers in town with the same problems.
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53 minutes ago, Bailey Creek,5759 said:

Years ago Ruger made a semi auto 44 mag. I can't recall what it was called. 

Mite look into something like that . 

The only issue I see with that is you can't download for the semi. Nice guns and I'd love to own one.

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3 hours ago, Chief Rick said:

 

 

Going to look at/for a 92 for him. 

 

 

 

This is the answer. Either a .357 or .45 Colt would be my choice over the .44. In my experience, both of those are accurate over a wider range of loads than the .44. I like the .45 Colt, it seems like no matter what I load it is accurate enough for me.

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What Pat Riot said.  Be cautious in how much metal you take off!  BTW, is this a mdl 94, or a mdl 94AE?  If the former, I'll take off you hands, it'd replace the one I had stolen...

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34 minutes ago, Griff said:

What Pat Riot said.  Be cautious in how much metal you take off!  BTW, is this a mdl 94, or a mdl 94AE?  If the former, I'll take off you hands, it'd replace the one I had stolen...

Griff,

 

I think it's just a 94 but I'll have to look when I get home.  Appears to be a saddle ring carbine but missing the saddle ring.  I don't even know what this would be worth if he wants to sell.  I'll keep you in mind if he does.

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If you want to stay with a Winchester, Hinterland Outfitters currently has a 92, 20” barrel in .44mag in stock. I have more than a few of these and they are all great rifles and smooth out of the box. 

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I had chickens, pigs, cows, goats, and ducks-- so I had varmints. They were owls, cats, dogs, racoons, and possums. Unless he plans on sitting up until 1 am with the hen house in full view, he may as well get a havahart trap. I sat up a few nights. I lost 22 chicks and one hen in one night. Racoons were the worst. They like to eat just the egg-making area of the chicken (butt) and go to the next chicken. They will find any weakness in the coop and use it.

The next worse was the neighbor's dogs but they came in during the day when the neighbor was at work. I killed six over a few years. I would talk to the neighbors and explain their dog was killing my animals. They would say that they lived in the country so that their dog could run loose in spite of a leash law and they knew for a fact their dog would never jump my fence and kill a chicken. It was the three S's for me. Shoot, shovel, shut up. The local animal control officer told me to shoot them because he couldn't be everywhere all the time. I had dogs travel six miles to my home and kill a goat and chickens. They were my kid's pets!

The last straw was when an owl would swoop in at night a grab a hen. I can combat the ground forces, but when they attack from the air and I can go to prison for shooting them I called it quits.

Use a .22 for the racoons to keep from killing a stray hen. Use a shotgun for the dogs so they drop right them and you can bury them. Give up on the owls because they are protected by federal law.

All in all, buying eggs at the store is cheaper and less frustrating.

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On 4/20/2021 at 9:13 AM, Bailey Creek,5759 said:

Years ago Ruger made a semi auto 44 mag. I can't recall what it was called. 

Mite look into something like that . 

 

Initially they called it a Deerstalker carbine.  But apparently someone else already made a rifle with that name and sued, so they changed the name to the Ruger 44 Carbine.  Real tricky name, eh? 

 

They had another one in the 2000s called the deerfield carbine.  It was similar to but completely different from the 44 carbine. 

 

I have a Ruger 44 carbine and I like it a lot.  It's as much fun to shoot as my M1 carbine.  The only thing I don't like is that it doesn't work with 44 specials.  Speaking of which, an M1 carbine is my suggestion for Chief Rick's dad.   

 

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@Griff the rifle is not marked AE.  I understand the difference between an AE and non-AE rifle, but not the significance.

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11 minutes ago, Chief Rick said:

@Griff the rifle is not marked AE.  I understand the difference between an AE and non-AE rifle, but not the significance.

I'm by no means that familiar at all with them, but because the Up the Creek Gang has two 44 magnum rifles in our current 5-gun raffle, and because someone asked if the Winchester was an AE, I looked it up.  AE's are made to allow you to mount a scope because they make the cartridges fly out at an angle toward the right instead of straight up.  The one we have in our auction is a non-AE.

Edited by Hellbender
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4 minutes ago, Hellbender said:

I'm by no means that familiar at all with them, but because the Up the Creek Gang has two 44 magnum rifles in our current 5-gun raffle, and because someone asked if the Winchester was an AE, I looked it up.  AE's are made to allow you to mount a scope because they make the cartridges fly out at an angle toward the right instead of straight up.  The one we have in our auction is a non-AE.

I wonder if one is more reliable or more desirable than the other?

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Winter Range offered a free shoot off featuring Ten X (?) ammo and a bone stock Win 94. I don't recall if there was any prize other than bragging rights, but it sure was fun and funny. It would come off your shoulder if you weren't careful it was so darn stiff. Worst gun ever. It was fun watching folks' expressions trying to work that gun.

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3 hours ago, Chief Rick said:

I wonder if one is more reliable or more desirable than the other?

Actually, the top eject version was made for only one year... 1969.  Hits hard at both ends, has problems feeding ammo other than RFN or TC shaped bullets... the one I had stolen was especially problematic with wide meplat Keith style semi-wadcutters.  As I understand it, it was the shortest run of any model Winchester 94, including all the Commemoratives.  Like all other mdl 94s, or mdl94AE, for that matter, it isn't especially slick when chambered in pistol cartridges.

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3 hours ago, Chief Rick said:

@Griff the rifle is not marked AE.  I understand the difference between an AE and non-AE rifle, but not the significance.

 

For 94s in general, if it's AE it means it was made after USRAC took over and the rifles were not well made.  At least for a while (I understand the miroku guns of today are quite nice).  They were actually of decent quality right before they made that change.  Not as good as pre-64 guns but I don't think there were any pistol calibers in pre-64 guns.  That could explain why the lever is so hard to work. 

 

Griff just brought some new info to the table (for me at least).  I did not realize the top eject 44 mag was only made in 1969.  I'm not sure what's better quality wise.  A 94 made in 1969 or an AE. 

 

And of course, for mod 94 purists, angle eject is just Wrong. 

 

26 minutes ago, Griff said:

Actually, the top eject version was made for only one year... 1969.  Hits hard at both ends, has problems feeding ammo other than RFN or TC shaped bullets... the one I had stolen was especially problematic with wide meplat Keith style semi-wadcutters.  As I understand it, it was the shortest run of any model Winchester 94, including all the Commemoratives.  Like all other mdl 94s, or mdl94AE, for that matter, it isn't especially slick when chambered in pistol cartridges.

 

They're that bad and you wanna replace the one you had stolen? 

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13 minutes ago, Ramblin Gambler said:

They're that bad and you wanna replace the one you had stolen? 

It's a "thing"... I had a fair amount of success with it and 240 gr HPs.  I actually had three guns stolen at the same time... The police recovered the Blackhawk, and I found another mdl 64A Winchester... 

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