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Old May 20, 2012, 09:18 PM   #1
tkglazie
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1963 Winchester Model 94 .32 Special - what should I expect from it?

Hi all,

First off- I am not a great shot. You will not hear me bragging about my great groups or offhand one-shot kills. What I am is a huge fan of shooting, reloading and great American guns.

I have a 1963 Winchester Model 94 .32 Special that my dad handed down to me. It has under 100 shots through the barrel- less than 10 shots put through it in the 60s, about 30 in the 90s and another 40 this year.

As for why I am OK shooting it and not mothballing it, A- I like shooting any gun I own, and B - this gun is in excellent shape but the wood finish is not perfect (neither my dad nor I knew back in the day that gun oil was bad for a stock).

I have a good, inexpensive no holes-drilled side-mount scope mount (Wideview model WSM-94, great company, great owner/staff, great product), along with a cheap but clear NcStar 3x-9x 40mm scope. As a rifle shooter, I have only ever shot this "real" rifle. I have shot many .22s.

I want to do three things- become a better shooter and a better reloader, and use this gun (and an old JC Higgins 101.13, Stevens model 86-7, 24" barrel .22 LR to do it.

My question for those that have or have used similar guns is, how good is good? What kind of accuracy and consistency should I expect from the bench at 100 yards from a gun like this- now, and as my skills improve? I have a supply of factory ammo (Remington 170 gr) and reloading supplies on hand (Win brass, Fen Primers, H4895 powder and many many Hornady Interlock FP 170 gr bullets).

Thanks

Last edited by tkglazie; May 20, 2012 at 09:24 PM.
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Old May 21, 2012, 07:59 AM   #2
Willie Sutton
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Our only center-fire "Farm Rifle" when I was a kid was a Winchester 94 in .32 Win Special, just like yours. I've shot everything from deer to woodchucks to the odd turkey with it, starting at age 12, so....

Cartridge: The .32 Win Spl is just a .30-30 Win necked up a few thousandths of an inch to .32. It's an oddball, but was a very popular cartridge in these rifles for many years in rural America. Why? No clue... it does exactly what a .30-30 does. You have what you have, and it's a classic.

Rifle: These are great brush rifles, able to hit a gallon sized milk jug reliably at 50 yards when shot by the "average" annual deer hunter, which is pretty much all it takes to reliably put venison on the table in much of wooded America. More deer have likely fallen to the Model 94 Winchester than any other rifle built.

Are they accurate? Yeah... someone will argue with me as to how their rifle will print an inch of accuracy at 100 yards, but the real answer is "not really" by "bolt action rifle standards". They are what they are: A carbine designed to be effective on moderate sized animals at reasonable range. These are not shot from a bench... they are shot standing on your own two legs, with both eyes open, at something 50 yards away. If you can hit a milk jug at that distance you're doing your part. You should be able to hit a milk jug at 100 yards in a 5 second time frame from "port arms" every time after a bit of practice. That's pretty fair shooting for one of these.

I would not put the scope on it. It will bady unbalance the rifle, make you place your head where you cannot cheek-up to the rifle well, as a result of that you will see more felt recoil, and it may lead to ejection jams as the cartridges eject more or less straight up out of the action. If you want to make a "period correct" improvement, search around for a Lyman Tang-Mounted aperature sight. These are attached to the tang that runs from the rear of the reciever to attach the stock to the rifle action, are held on using original screw locations (slightly longer screws are used), fold down when not needed, provide a VERY fast and VERY accurate sight picture, and fit the contextual history of the rifle perfectly. Williams probably made these as well. A little searching will find one.

Would I want to "learn to shoot with one": Probably not. Get a good .22, shoot the crap out of it, and then enjoy the 94 when circumstances are right. Find a nice Winchester 94-22, which was the .22 caliber cosmetic clone of the 94 and you'll have a wonderful pair.

Whatever you do, take care of it and NEVER alter it in any way. It's a true classic and it'll be around long after we all are dead. Be a good custodian of it while you have it, and pass it along unharmed when you are done with it.


Willie

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Old May 21, 2012, 07:59 AM   #3
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I get 6" offhand at 100 yards and 2" on a good shooting day from a bench rest. From my stand at 60 yards shooting from the rest in front of me I can shoot a single jagged hole in a bullseye target. My gun was a coffee can gun when I bought it, all the parts except stock and barrel were in a coffee can. It's over 60 years old, I don't know how many rounds went through it before I bought it but from the condition of the stock and barrel it had a lot of woods time. I have well over 2000 rounds through it in the last 12 years and it is my favorite woods walking gun, one of my favorite plinking guns. If your gun is anything like mine it will be a good gun to learn with, a lot of fun to shoot and you can do anything with it you can with a 30-30 but with a tad bit more power.

It helps that I took off the old rear sight and installed a Williams aperture sight. A little Testor's paint on the front bead to help me see it and I am good to go out to 200 yards. A little Kentucky elevation and I can hit a 5 gallon bucket on the 200 yard berm all day long or till I run out of bullets. Expect a lot from the old gun, it will serve you well.
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Old May 21, 2012, 08:40 AM   #4
Art Eatman
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.32_Winchester_Special

Note the comment about the slow twist of the rifling.
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Old May 21, 2012, 09:12 AM   #5
Willie Sutton
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Hi Art, that's a great article.

This is most interesting:



"This cartridge is based on the .30-30 Winchester cartridge of 1895, but differs from the .30-30 in bullet diameter. More significantly, Winchester decreased the rate of rifling twist in their Model 94 rifle, from 1:12 when chambered for the .30-30 to 1:16 when chambered for the .32 Winchester Special.Winchester used the slower twist to reduce fouling retention when creating a new cartridge for sportsmen who wanted to reload their own ammunition using black powder and cast bullets"



When that is taken in the context that the .30-30 was never factory loaded with black powder, never mind what appears to be a black powder caliber designation (nominally the designation would mean a 30 caliber, loaded with 30 grains of black powder). As far as I remember, the .30-30 was the first "all smokeless" cartridge sold for lever action rifles?

It's interesting to note that Winchester soon recognized that they needed to provide an option in a rifle for those who were not quite yet ready to stop using black powder. Well done sir!


Willie

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Old May 21, 2012, 07:47 PM   #6
Art Eatman
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Remember that in the 1890s and on toward WW I, remote rural areas didn't have ready access to gun shops with semi-smokeless and smokeless powders. You could make your own black powder from drugstore or hardware store items--or from your own nitrate, charcoal and sulfur. All you need of "store-bought" would be primers.
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Old May 21, 2012, 07:57 PM   #7
tkglazie
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Wow. I feel like I learned more reading these posts than in the 30 years prior.

Thanks Willie, Grump and Art. Great info.

and Willie, your advice has fallen on good ears. Nothing is going to be done to alter this gun permanently, at least until it passes from my hands

Last edited by tkglazie; May 21, 2012 at 08:07 PM.
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Old May 22, 2012, 07:24 AM   #8
Qtiphky
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I own my grampa's Win 94 30-30 and for my 13th birthday, which was many moons ago, my dad put a side mounted scope on it for me. My grandpa had already shot the octagonal barrel out and replaced it with a longer non standard barrel so the gun was not worth much. Just like what was said, it made the gun unbalanced and difficult to shoot accurately. It also made the shells difficult to eject. I also have my dad's 32 Win Spcl in original condition, which is really fun to shoot and very accurate as well. Haven't started loading my own for it yet, but I suppose I will have to as the rounds are getting harder and harder to find. But that gun is so light and short to carry when walking in heavy cover that I don't know if it will ever get retired.
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Old May 22, 2012, 08:01 AM   #9
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I'll take a 32 Win Spl over 30-30 any day, especially with a 170 grain cast bullet. The 16 twist is ideal for cast, and performance can easily match or exceed factory loads if hand loaded. The RCBS 32-170-FN is perfect. Another good one is the Ranch Dog 32-170-RF.
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Old May 22, 2012, 09:03 PM   #10
ghengiskhan
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I have a pre-64 in .32 Win Special as well. I can slap 16" steel gongs at 300 yards from a bench rest pretty reliably, mine does have a rear peep sight.

Even my father who isn't a particularly great shot finds it easy and gratifying to hit the same targets at that distance. Probably one of my most enjoyable firearms. You'll enjoy yours and I hope you find the same value out of it as I have.
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