North American Auction Company
Live Auction

Fine Montana Collector Sale - April 2023

Sat, Apr 22, 2023 11:00AM EDT
Lot 72

Winchester 1894 .Deluxe "Short Rifle" .30 WCF

Estimate: $6,200 - $7,200

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$50 $10
$100 $25
$500 $50
$1,000 $100
$2,000 $250
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$50,000 $2,500

This lot features an exceptionally rare and documented antique Winchester Model 1894 special order semi-deluxe “Short Rifle” in .30 WCF (.30-30) caliber. This unusual rifle with serial number 65961 varies greatly from the standard configuration for a Model 1894 rifle which normally features a straight stock with crescent butt plate and 26” round or octagon barrel. Any single deviation from this standard is considered unusual and often rare depending on the feature. This example has a multitude of features that differ from a standard Model 1894. First, it has a 22” round barrel which is 4” shorter than standard. Along with this short length, it has the correct 1” shorter forearm used only on “Short Rifles.” The 22” is a rare length as most short rifles have a 20” barrel, and these are considered rare and desirable seldom seen variations. Additionally, the 22” barrel is listed in the factory records as being “Extra Light” in weight and contour. In fact, these almost never seen lightweight barrels are actually smaller in diameter at the muzzle than the magazine tube. Since the front sight on standard barrels is dovetailed in place, the extra light barrels are too thin to use a dovetail and the front sight is always placed on a small base affixed to the barrel top. Additionally, this rifle was special ordered with a full magazine which is standard but rarely seen on an extra light rifle. Generally, extra light rifles were fitted at the factory with half-magazines. If the records do not mention the magazine, it means it is a full length magazine tube running nearly to the end of the muzzle. Furthermore, this Model 1894 was special ordered with a plain (non-checkered) pistol grip and shotgun butt. Rarely are sights mentioned in the factory records, yet this one is documented as being factory fitted with a Lyman front sight which is still intact. It is also fitted with a matching folding tang sight with folding buckhorn rear barrel sight. A “factory letter” accompanies this rifle as issued by the Winchester Arms Museum located in Cody, Wyoming where the Winchester records are housed. This serial number was located in the records and recorded as “Rifle, .30 caliber, 22 inch round barrel, plain trigger, plain pistol grip, Lyman front sight, shotgun butt, extra light, received in the warehouse on October 4, 1899 and shipped from the warehouse on October 5, 1899. According to the standard reference The Winchester Handbook by George Madis, this serial numbered receiver was manufactured in 1896 making this rifle an antique and requiring no FFL or C&R for purchase. Also, according to Madis are the statistics by number manufactured concerning special features for the Model 1894. Pertinent to this rifle are the following: rifles with barrels shorter than standard- 978; Special butt plates- 2,179; pistol grip 2,983; special sights- 5,791; Madis does not even mention “extra light” barrels and one can assume very few were manufactured. Taken together, the combination of unusual special order features of this rifle put it in a category all its own. Considering caliber, unusual barrel length, contour, extra light weight, pistol grip, shotgun butt and sights, it may be truly a one-of-a-kind Model 1894. To put these numbers in perspective, by the mid-1920s, Model 1894 rifles and carbines hit serial number one million and continued on from there. By World War II, Model 1894 production had reached over 1,317,000 units. This extremely rare factory short rifle still retains fine deep barrel blue with excellent markings. The magazine tube blue is aged to a brown patina on the bottom portion with good blue on the top portion below the barrel. The receiver has aged to gray with good blue on the rear portion of the right panel and extreme rear of the left panel. There is also fine blue on the loading gate and in the more protected areas of the receiver. The correct shorter than standard forearm is in generally fine condition with one very minor hairline crack running along the right upper side. The butt stock is also in generally fine condition. The pistol grip has the correct Winchester embossed hard rubber grip cap with correctly engraved retaining screw head. The receiver screw heads appear mainly unturned. The action is tight with strong springs and secure safety half-cock notch on the hammer. Remarkably, the bore is in excellent condition with sharp rifling throughout. The Model 1894 was a popular arm both east and west of the Mississippi River. Theodore Roosevelt, among others, was an ardent supporter of the model. It was and still is one of the most successful and popular of all Winchester lever action rifles. In all forms, it is highly sought after by arms collectors with special desirability and value placed on unusual examples. This rifle would be the prize of any Winchester collection with the probability of never encountering another with identical features. A rare opportunity to purchase such an unusual antique Winchester with full documentation from the Winchester Museum records verifying all of its features. Serial Number: 65961. This firearm qualifies as an antique and does not require FFL Transfer or NICS Background Check.*