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Old March 9, 2012, 07:50 PM   #1
30-30remchester
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Differences between a Winchester rifle and carbine

In another thread started by PAHOO, a question was asked what the differences were between a Winchester model 94 rifle and carbine. In the spirit of education, I will describe what the differences are. The 94 action stays the same and all action parts are interchangable. A carbine which most are familiar with, has a normal barrel length of 20" maximum and can be as short as 14". All carbine barrels are round, no exceptions. Most carbine buttplates are flat "shotgun" type, made of either metal or plastic. Early carbines had a curved metal buttplate similiar but not the same as a rifles cresent butt. A carbine had a band that went completely around the barrel and forend that holds the forend on. The magazine tube is held to the barrel by the same type of band. A RIFLE has a standard barrel of 26" but could be had as short as 18", these were known as short rifles. Barrel could be ordered as long as 36", these were known as extra long rifles. Barrels on rifles could be either round, octagonal, or half round and half octagonal. A rifle was issued with a curved steel buttplate called a cresent butt. The forend is attached to the barrel not by a band but by a metal cap screwed to a dovetailed wedgemilled into the bottom of the barrel. The magazine tube is attached to the barrel not by a band but by a hanger dovetailed into the bottom of the barrel. Of course Winchester offered many options, however these are the difference collector recognise.
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Old March 9, 2012, 08:12 PM   #2
jmr40
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I read an article by Mike Venturino several years ago. According to Mike the differences are very simple and it has nothing to do with barrel length. If the gun has barrel bands, it is a carbine. If it has no barrel bands and an endcap, it is a rifle. If you pay attention, most longer barreled leverguns did not have barrel bands. This supposedly helped make them more accurate. You will find exceptions according to Venturino. If you find a gun with no barrel bands and a shorter barrel he says the correct terminology is to call it a short rifle.

Not many current production Wichesters but you can compare Marlins much easier. The discontinued 336-A was a rifle because it did not use barrel bands, but did have an endcap. Barrrel lengths varied from 20-24". The standard 336 is a carbine. The 1895 and 444 are rifles, The 1895 guide gun is a short rifle since it does not use barrel bands and has a shorter than standard barrel length.
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Old March 9, 2012, 08:52 PM   #3
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jmr40, you are correct about the barrel bands as a QUICK reference, but the other features also are nessasary differences between the two firearms. I am just studying and learning Savage 99's. Savage as well have same lenght guns that differ from carbine and short rifle. I hope to be educated by an advanced collector of this model. When PAHOO sugested this thread, it reminded me of the questions I asked of advanced collector 40 years ago.
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Old March 10, 2012, 08:23 AM   #4
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I go by "accepted use" for terminology. What most folks are thinking when they're talking and using certain terms.

In general, when folks say, "Carbine," they're talking about a short-barrelled rifle. Barrel bands are not part of the equation.

Hang around a gunshop. If a guy says, "Lemme look at that carbine," he's gonna be pointing at a rifle with a barrel around 18". One up around 22" or 24", he's gonna say, "That's a pretty good ol' rifle." You start talking about barrel bands and he's gonna look at you like you're covered all over with weird.

All this reminds me of the arguing between a mechanical engineer and an electrical engineer about whether an automobile has an engine or a motor. The ME hollers, "Engine!", not knowing that a hundred years ago they were "motorcars". The double-e is focussed on electric motors vs. internal combustion engines. And the mechanic who actually gets greasy hands doesn't care one way or the other.
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Old March 10, 2012, 11:01 AM   #5
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ART, you are correct, sorta. When you are discussing Winchester lever guns, there is a definate distinction between carbine and rifles. Other lever guns are the same according to experts in their fields. While there are a number of specifications differences between rifles and carbines, the barrel bands are THE decieding factor. That being said, their are quite a few different makes and models that have both short versions and long versions of the same rifle. These the manufacturer classify their shortened rifles as carbines. For instance 20" barreled Winchester model 54's and 70's. However when leverguns were king, there were so many variations that STANDARDS were set for the differences. The rifle version of the lever guns had a reputation of being more accurate than carbine models with their barrel bands. Customers liked the accuracy of the rifle and also the balance of the heavier longer barreled rifles. However the handiness of the short carbine was a great selling point. Thus a knowledgeable consumer could order the more accurate and better balanced rifle with a barrel as short as the carbine, but still have the extra weight of the rifle barrels greater diameter for better balance and the enhanced accuracy.
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Old March 10, 2012, 12:05 PM   #6
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Semantics aside, according to Winchester, they made the Model 1894/94 Rifle & the Model 1894/94 Carbine, in both solid & takedown frame versions.

The only consistant differences between the two Winchester models were that:

1) Carbine Model 1894/94's always have barrel-banded forend wood (3 types of forends); Rifle Model's have a forend cap.

2) Carbine Model's always have one of the 6 different standard Carbine Model buttstocks (3 early versions, 3 late); Rifle Model's had a crescent buttstock.

Of course both models had several changes/variations of "Standard" each for receivers, receiver/tang markings, bbl markings, bbl contours, hammers, & buttplates.

Factory optional on both models, some at no cost, were: barrel length, magazine tube length, forend length, buttstock type, sight type, and extra-finish embellishments like several grades of wood checkering / metal inlaying/engraving.

Taking also into consideration Custom Shop Special Order Winchester's - It's better to get a particular example officially authenticated (lettered) than to presume any feature (making one model look like the other model) on a particular example was Standard.

.
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Old March 10, 2012, 12:18 PM   #7
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Another plus one for Art. You can pull out all the old articles and discriptions you want but in today's world it's almost 100% dependant on barrel length.

LK
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Old March 10, 2012, 12:24 PM   #8
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NIMHO, since Art was opining about "carbines" in general; and the OP (and I) were speaking to Winchester Model 1894/94 Rifle/Carbine's differences specifically.

Right church, wrong pew.................

.
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Old March 10, 2012, 12:44 PM   #9
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While these are Rossi copies of a Winchester '92, they demonstrate the most common differences between the rifle and carbine. These are: Rifle has curved buttplate, longer stock, longer forearm and endcap, usually longer barrel. Carbine has shotgun buttplate, shorter stock, shorter forearm and barrel band, usually shorter barrel.

Rifle on top, Carbine on bottom.

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Old March 10, 2012, 04:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
I go by "accepted use" for terminology. What most folks are thinking when they're talking and using certain terms.
That's safe in most circumstances but unfortunately, it is a far too simplistic view when discussing leverguns. For there IS a distinct difference between "short rifles" and carbines. Whether you want to accept it or not. As stated, the difference lies not in the barrel length but the method of magazine retention, magazine style, buttplate, grip, barrel profile, etc.. Similarly, it has nothing to do with the chambering either.

Rifles always have a forend cap. Barrels can be round, half round or octagon. Butts can be straight or pistol grip. Rifles always have either a crescent or shotgun butt plate. Barrel length is immaterial and can be anywhere from 14" to 32" or more.

Carbines always have barrel bands. Barrels are always round. Grip is always straight. Buttplates are unique to the carbine. Barrels are usually 20" or less.

Here is a fine example from Cimarron's site. Note the differences between the rifles, short rifles and carbines.



I would think folks would be a little more open to learning something new.
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Old March 11, 2012, 12:37 AM   #11
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Nice thread and 30-30remchester (OP) and newfrontier45 especially good posts.

More rifle vs carbine minutiae: I know this is mostly about 94s, but the same "rules" largely hold true with the 92/1892...with the barrel band exception being - front mag tube securement on small bore carbines--inherently all Pre War .32-20s and 25-20s-- was via hangar (still with barrel band on the forearm/forend). For both 92 and 94, which shared a lot of the same furniture btw, the "typical" (majority) rifle, whether short or "long," round, half round or octagonal, is chracterized by the *combination* of forend cap, front hanger and sharply curved "crescent"--aka "antique" in some circles--buttplate..though many were ordered with the flat "shotgun" butt. Conversely, a carbine had round barrels of 20" or less, with the barrel bands (at least one band again on the 92s, depending on caliber, and two on 94s) and pre 30s models almost always the more gently curved buttplate (profile shared very closely with 66, 73 and 86 and 92/94 carbines), though again some were ordered with the shotgun type and they became more and more prevalent from the 30s-on. The carbines also had a (largely) unique folding ladder type rear sight, though many were equipped with the stepped leaf type common on rifles and that became so ubiquitous with the 94 from the 30s on.
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Old March 11, 2012, 07:15 AM   #12
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Ive got a winchester 86 carbine. It has a 22 inch barrel. Carbine is a word that is used very loosely just to describe a gun with a bit shorter barrel then the standard rifle barrel fo that model. It has nothing to do with having a barrel under 20 inch. Even look back to the original carbines. the old trapdoor calvery guns and youll see they too had barrels longer then 20 inch. It seems that when winchester came out with the 94 carbines that about then everyone figured a barrel 20 inch or shorter became a carbine. Id bet if you looked it up in the dictionary it wouldnt say a thing about shorter then 20 inch.
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Old March 11, 2012, 10:03 AM   #13
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Lloyd Smale said:
" Ive got a winchester 86 carbine. It has a 22 inch barrel. Carbine is a word that is used very loosely just to describe a gun with a bit shorter barrel then the standard rifle barrel fo that model. It has nothing to do with having a barrel under 20 inch."

You're absolutely correct. I have same. The 20" comment is mostly made relative to the 94 (and 92 etc). It's all, uh, relative. and yes, as a functional definition for those smaller (to begin with) guns it has everything to do with 20" and under, combined with barrel band(s), etc, etc.*

Edit: and dictionaries have little to do with practical definitions. Neither does a "dictionary" prescribe round barrels, a certain type of curved buttplate, etc, but these are all features or aspects that--as standard equipment--characterize the predominate volume of 73/92/94 and--barrel length aside--86 carbines for that matter...And is therefore how Winchester apparently "defined" their carbines...practically speaking.
* Also, should be added that, among commonly produced guns over the past century plus, the '86/carbine is somewhat of an anomaly. MOST guns' carbine variants are 20" or under, again as (part of) a practical definition.

Last edited by gak; March 11, 2012 at 10:21 AM.
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Old March 11, 2012, 10:25 AM   #14
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It's still a learning curve !!!

Some time ago, I read an article on what properties constitute a Carbine. There were quite a few and do recall they mentions of barrel bands. I also recall they listed the existence saddle rings as another. Given that measure, a given "piece" could go either way. .....

So far, I have faced no issues on the "listed" terms". I will choose one attribute and that will be the presence of a barrel bands. If faced with any future terminology issues, will go back to my old ways. ......

Do appreciate the expertise and really enjoying the replies. This is turning out to be an excellent thread. ......


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Old March 11, 2012, 11:48 AM   #15
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There are always anomalies and exceptions to "rules," official or otherwise, including the barrel band criteria most of us here have agreed to (among the lever action Wins etc). Back in the Winchester XTR days (80s) there was a 7-30 Waters, round barreled, full mag tube with (traditional "carbine") front and rear barrel bands--in all other regards a standard "carbine" but 24" barrel. IIRC, USRAC repeated this theme with some similarly featured Long Trail guns later on. I would not call these "carbines" despite the fact that all criteria except barrel length (for the basic model--94--they were variants of) were met. I forget what Winchester called them, but I'd call them RWMOCLFs - "rifles with most other carbine-like features." How's that for an awkward model name? The point being, despite all those other features, in no way were they carbines IMHO. So, relative to the Winchesters discussed here, it's the *combination* of charcteristics specific to a particular model of gun. In this instance, IMO, just the presence of barrel bands and round barrels did not render these models "carbines." IOW, a long carbine is a non-sequitir. OTOH, relative to the overall size of the '86 (as an otherwise traditional Win lever), the 22" round-barreled and banded variant was a true carbine. Even though the majority of 86 rifles did not exceed 26" barrels, just like their later and smaller 94 rifle cousins, their OAL practically dictated distinctions in model nomenclature.
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Old March 11, 2012, 12:04 PM   #16
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Here's an example of a short rifle that's shorter than some carbines. The 18½" half round/half octagon, 1873 Texas Brush Popper. The buttplate, forend cap and dovetailed magazine hanger make these "short rifles".



Here is one of those tricky ones. This Winchester 94 7-30 Waters has a 24" barrel, forend band but dovetail magazine hanger.
http://www.gunauction.com/buy/102665...iber-lever-loo
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Old March 11, 2012, 01:33 PM   #17
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Newfrontier45,...that's a variant I had not seen of the 7-30. The ones I've seen have been all double banded--both "legitimate" carbine and the 24" type. Tried to post a pic of my friend's gun for sale of latter variety but too poor quality resolution. One of the nicest guns I've handled btw. Just seems "right" in all respects--and I'm usually more a carbine type when it comes to the levers.
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Old March 11, 2012, 01:47 PM   #18
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I was thinking about leverguns, looking at the new 94's and remembered that lovely long barrelled 7-30 and its banded forend. What I did not remember was that it had the dovetailed magazine tube hanger. The one in the auction is a really nice one too! Then I remembered how much I wanted a Chief Crazy Horse .38-55, started searching for them and got distracted.
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