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The Winchester ’94: Take Your Hunt to the Next Level

Hunting for food may become a necessary part of survival and having the right rifle would be beneficial. Hunting enthusiast and Ready Nutrition writer Jeremiah Johnson makes a recommendation that could take your hunt to the next level.

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ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals, we wrote one not long ago on basics of hunting, and now I’m going to recommend to you an excellent rifle.  The Winchester Model 1894 (called the Winnie ’94) is an outstanding lever-action rifle in 30-30 caliber.  It is compact (technically a carbine, which is a rifle with an 18 – 20-inch barrel), and is, in this author’s opinion the finest brush gun for stalking deer.  The rifle was designed by none other than John M. Browning and (as its name suggests) began to be produced in 1894.  Browning is famous for designing the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) model 1911.

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Winchester ceased production of them when the New Haven, CT plant closed down; however, they are still readily available throughout the U.S.  The Winnie ’94 is a very nice weapon, and other firms also make lever-action models in the 30-30 caliber, such as Marlin, Savage, and Sako.  I prefer the Winnie ’94 over all of the rest, and it has (in my experience) only one drawback: as it ejects spent casings from the top, a scope must be side-tapped to be mounted.  Marlins eject from the right side and can be mounted on top with a scope.

The 30-30 round is a pretty powerful round, and is more than enough muscle to put down a large deer.  The bullets come in 150 grains jacketed round-noses, as well as the larger 170 grain jacketed flat tips that have a lot of stopping power, and are sufficient for whitetail and mule deer, as well as elk and antelope.  The 150 grain bullets have a velocity on average of about 2,000 fps (feet per second), and the 170 grain bullets run about 1,875 fps on average…a tad bit slower, as it is a heavier round.

From a ballistics perspective, a high-velocity round is not the answer to all of your challenges.  Flat-tip bullets tend to spread out and increase the diameter of the round upon impact, whereas round-tips are better for deeper penetration.  The shot also has a large bearing on it, as your primary target is either the head or low and just behind the shoulder.

The rifle has a tubular magazine that holds up to eight rounds.  The finger lever (that “loop” on the lever) has a safety that must be squeezed in order to fire, and a pop-in safety is located up by the trigger mechanism that will prevent the hammer from making contact with the primer.  As I mentioned earlier, the rifle is excellent for stalking and walking through brush, as being shorter (a carbine) it is easier to manage in areas with heavy sapling and ground cover, as well as thorns and other niceties that impede travel.

I prefer iron sights, as you are usually going to have a shot within 50 feet if you’re busting brush.  This is not to say it cannot be used in a stand, but it is optimal if you’re walking game trails or negotiating terrain with any kind of underbrush.  The 30-30 cartridge is quoted by Lyman’s reloading manual in the following glowing terms:


 “Probably no other cartridge in North America has put as much venison on the table as the venerable old “thirty-thirty.”

The cartridges can be reloaded simply and at an affordable price.  The Winnie ’94 doesn’t kick excessively and is not prone to jamming or any kind of feeding problems.  Most do not come tapped for a sling, so you may have to mount your swivels or have it done.  You can also pick up a nice elastic-type of cartridge holder that will slide snugly onto the stock for extra rounds as you hunt.  It is a really nice piece and a pleasure to shoot.  Another tip: although there are lighter rounds you can target shoot with, be sure to target shoot with the actual sized rounds you plan on hunting with.  In this manner, you’ll be able to iron out any variables that may come with your switching ammo types.  So, try out that Winchester Mod. ‘94, and I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how nice it fires and how dependable it is for a hunting rifle.  Keep your powder dry and be safe at all times!  JJ out!

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on January 2nd, 2017