Originally Posted by buymore
I was looking at one once and I was told by a former owner that all the lever guns in pistol cartridge seem to need a swift leverthrow to make them work right. He said they just weren't very reliable unless you really jacked them EVERY time. Seemed to be the consensus from about everyone who ever owned one. Even my Marlin 30-30 didn't want to work well if I didn't make it a swift leverthrow.
That pretty well mirrors my experience, even with the .30-30 calibers. The Winchesters like it best when the lever is operated robustly. At the very forward part of the lever throw, the lifter "snaps" up to correctly guide the cartridge into the chamber. "Short-stroking" it leads to problems.
All this is not to say that the rifle might not have mechanical problems. If you've got a bent lifter, you'll have to replace it. And, some pistol-caliber 94s have more trouble than others. The action was designed for the .30-30 class of cartridge and some have trouble with pistol length cartridges.