View Full Version : not hitting squat with Winchester 94

October 5, 2012, 09:35 PM
Took my .30-30 out today. At 75 yards, I'm completely missing an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. I'm hitting it at 25 and at 50, it's not where I'm aiming. I was hitting the center at 100 yards with a Swedish Model 38. The ammo I'm using is circa 1996. I'm shooting off a sandbag and I'm pretty sure my sight picture is correct. Any ideas? The rifle is a flat band dating from at least 1941.

James K
October 5, 2012, 09:54 PM
A couple of thoughts.

Check the ammo; is it factory or handloads? If the latter, how good is the loader? How good are the components?

If there is a scope, check the mounts for tightness and if possible try another scope. (Remember, you are shooting for a group size; adjusting the sights can come later.)

If there is no scope, check the barrel to see if the crown is good and the rifling is good.

If OK there, take off the foreend and the magazine tube and rest the rifle on the receiver (not on the barrel) on a sandbag. The reason is that the way the the tube and forend are put on that rifle, the forces warp the barrel every which way. Most 94's will shoot very well if all the stuff hung on the barrel is removed.

If any of the suggestions, work, we can see how to go about correcting the problem.


October 6, 2012, 09:50 AM
This is really off the wall, but are you sure it is a 30-30? I remember a guy bringing in a Winchester .32 Special telling me the same symptoms.

Willie Sutton
October 6, 2012, 11:10 AM

Yeah, that would do it! :rolleyes:



Old Grump
October 6, 2012, 04:09 PM
Tape 3 sheets of 8x11 paper together vertically and shoot at the center one to find out where your bullet is going. Next try shooting with your hand under the forearm instead of resting the forearm on the sandbag and see if it makes any difference.

October 6, 2012, 06:34 PM
I guess us old grumps think alike - I'd NEVER shoot a rifle with a 2-piece stock directly off ANY rest other than a part of my body - like my hands/shoulder, with the body parts on the rest.

FWIW, I've gotten a LOT of leverguns to shoot/group just fine, and have never taken a single mag tube, etc, off to get one to do so - after all, I wouldn't use one in the field that way.


James K
October 6, 2012, 08:51 PM
Just FWIW, I wasn't blowing smoke about the foreend. The 94 carbine has a screw that goes through the rear band. That screw goes between the magazine and the barrel, through a hole that takes metal from both. Of course, it also goes through the foreend as well. On later carbines, that screw was driven into the hole at the factory, bending it as needed to line up with the other hole in the band. That distorts the band as well as the magazine tube. As it binds the barrel to the band, the foreend and the magazine tube, any heating of the barrel causes the barrel to warp and send bullets off in unpredictable directions. When the barrel is freed up, the guns can be tack drivers. That can be done by some careful work on the foreend and the screw to allow the barrel to be free to expand as necessary. Some work on the front band will probably also be needed.

It is a great example of superb barrel making being brought to naught by "hammer it together" bean counters.


October 6, 2012, 09:16 PM
I'm pretty sure it's a .30-30. Marked 30 W.C.F. I guess I wasn't clear. The rifle is resting on my hand, which is resting on the sandbag. I'm shooting factory ammo. I'm going to take it out again in a couple weeks and see if I can get a more contrasting target. Should the front sight be dark or shiny?

October 6, 2012, 09:47 PM
Go with Old Grump. Lots of paper. We did not have bore sighters years back and I used a HUGE piece of butchers paper at 25 or 50 yards.

October 6, 2012, 10:38 PM
...I'm hitting it at 25 and at 50, it's not where I'm aiming... It sounds to me that you do not know how to adjust the sights to have it hit where you want it to. First you want it to shoot a group. Then you want to move the sights to get the group to hit point of aim.

October 7, 2012, 01:41 PM
Nice thought, but since they are fixed sights, it's not an easy operation. Have you ever looked at a 94? I know how to zero a firearm. Wouldn't have made it very far as a Paratrooper if I didn't.

Old Grump
October 7, 2012, 01:45 PM
I'm pretty sure it's a .30-30. Marked 30 W.C.F. I guess I wasn't clear. The rifle is resting on my hand, which is resting on the sandbag. I'm shooting factory ammo. I'm going to take it out again in a couple weeks and see if I can get a more contrasting target. Should the front sight be dark or shiny? Assuming you have a bucjhorn sight you have a brass bead and it should be visible under most conditions. As I aged it got harder to see and I went to a Williams aperture sight in the rear and that took me along a few more years. The last 2 years I have had to paint the front sight either chartreuse or florescent rode depending ion the lighting conditions I was shooting in. Only way you will know what your eyes like better is to try a little white out then a little fingernail polish of various colors till you find one that makes you happy. Depending on thr rods and cones in your eyes and your astigmatism you will see color differently than the man next to you so what works for me may7 not work for you, Gotta get out there and try different things.

Note on your hand position, your face position counts for a lot too. Most people crawl up the stock when they shoot from a bench and that gives you a whole nother look at the sights. You might want to consider shooting offhand next time or raise the rest of the rifle so you are not bent over to shoulder the stock. You can get away with it more with a scope but you need to be consistent with iron sights. .

October 7, 2012, 02:26 PM
Nice thought, but since they are fixed sights, it's not an easy operation. Have you ever looked at a 94? I know how to zero a firearm. Wouldn't have made it very far as a Paratrooper if I didn't.

It is a pretty easy operation really. The elevation is simple and self explanatory when you examine the rear sight. Windage is adjusted by drifting the rear sight. Use a brass rod and a hammer. Right to move the group right, and left to adjust to the left.

Your sights are off, that's why you are not hitting where you are aiming. Adjust the sights. The real issue is whether you are getting an acceptable group.

October 7, 2012, 08:02 PM
Another thing you might try is have someone else shoot it. Do they get the same results? It's a rifle problem. Do they get different results? It's a shooter problem.

October 8, 2012, 09:40 AM
Nice thought, but since they are fixed sights, it's not an easy operation. Have you ever looked at a 94? I know how to zero a firearm. Wouldn't have made it very far as a Paratrooper if I didn't. I have had several. Two 38-55's, two .32 Specials, a 30-30. All of them had the capacity for adjusting the sights (drift left-right, "ladder" elevation), is not rocket science. What you posted: "...it's not [hitting] where I'm aiming...", as opposed to not grouping indicates, not sighted in. "...not an easy operation...", indicates ignorance (we can fix that here). The rest of if indicates immaturity (that will take time) :)

October 8, 2012, 10:34 AM
How far off center were the hits at 25 and 50 yds?
Doesn't it sound like it's just a very old gun, with an equally old barrel, that's the cause of the inaccuracy?
An off center hit at the shorter distances can easily be off of an 8" target at 75 yds.
You're only talking about maybe two to four inches.
And that isn't all that strange at 75 yds, if the barrel isn't in pristine shape.
Maybe just using slightly larger diameter bullets is the cure.

October 8, 2012, 01:13 PM
At 25, it was 5" to the left and 5" high - 2 different shots, same sight picture. At 50, not on the paper. I wouldn't call needing to drift sights easy - not exactly like clicking the sights on an M-4. I'm hoping it's not the barrel, but it did sit in a closet in IN for at least 30 years before I found it, and since the last owner died in '70, it was probably longer. Maybe fresh ammo and a better range will fix it.

October 8, 2012, 06:39 PM
This is not an ammo, or bad range or bent barrel issue. Bad ammo will give erratic groups, not good groups but off the paper. This is a rifle that needs to be sighted in by someone willing to do a slight amount of work. Folks have been drifting rear sights for windage as long as there have been rear sights. I am sorry it is not as easy as clicking something, but the rifle you have is a 19th century weapon designed by and for folks who had a bit of self reliance skill.

Go to the range with a box of ammo from Walmart. Put up a target. Put up another target to catch the bullets since they are not going to impact on the one you are aiming at. Or use a big patch of butchers paper. You can undo a couple of brown paper grocery bags if there is no one left in your area with butchers paper since buying pre-wrapped meat is easier. Shoot a three round carefully aimed group off of a sandbag.

Use the notched doo hickey that holds up the rear sight and let it down a notch, this will lower the group. Shoot another group and repeat until the elevation is where you need it.

Place a dab of white out on the barrel and rear sight in such a way that you can make a witness mark. Or use tape. Drift the rear sight a slight amount and shoot a group. Repeat as necessary. With most 30-30 loads if you are on at 50, you will be on at 100 and a tad further.

This is simply the way it is. Do this, or some variant thereof, or get rid of the gun. There is no other way with those sights.

An option is to order an aperture rear sight, Lyman or Williams, from Brownells. Some of those are click adjustable. I have a Williams on one of my 30-30's and like it, but it is not click adjustable. You loosen screws and slide the sight. It's more streamlined.

October 8, 2012, 08:29 PM
adjust the sights and be done with it

moose fat
October 10, 2012, 03:15 AM
Another little bit, after you have drifted the rear sight, try something in 170 gr. bullet wt. My m94 made in 1948 hates 150 gr. bullets and shines with the 170's.

Sounds like the story behind mine. My father got it from an older gentleman in the early 80's. He put six rounds through it and put it away, in a fabric gun sock, in his closet. When I got it the gun sock was rotting away, but the rifle was in pristine shape.

October 10, 2012, 06:02 AM
You are getting good info.

If you divide the sight radius into the range you are shooting you will get a number that is the multiplier of any sight adjustment you make.Of course,you must convert to the same units..I'll give you an example(I do not have my calculator handy,so I'll use simple numbers)

Suppose you have an 18 in sight radius.We can call that 0.5 yd.If you are shooting at 50 yds,0.5 yds goes into 50 100 times.So,with these numbers,if you need to move the group 5 in at 50 yds,it would be 0.050 at the sight.

I'm telling you this so you can have an idea how much to move it.The brass punch and tapping hammer are correct.Of course,you do the tapping on the dovetail part of the sight,not the leaf spring the sight blade is on.

Before you start whacking,however,I would consider this.Those dog leg stock older guns with lower velocity rounds are a bit "dynamic" when fired.Recoil is starting before the bullet leaves the barrel.

So,as has been suggested,a benchrest group point of impact may not be the same as the sort of shot you might typically take with a 30-30.

You migfht,for fun,see how it shoots standing on your hind legs at 50 yds.Shoot 10 real careful and find the center of the group.See if it is still off that much.

Its not real easy to get a good spot weld on that rifle on a bench.You are also dealing with a slow lock time,and open vs peep sights.Try sight black on your gold bead,focus on the front sight but really concentrate on a perfect sight picture as you squeeze,then follow through and call the shots.

If the barrel is in good shape,that old 30-30 will likely give "minute of battle rifle" 3 inch groups or so at 100 yds. IMO,they are about a 150 yd rifle.

Be a little patient.Its not an M-4.Have fun!

October 19, 2012, 08:18 PM
Shot it yesterday. Looks like it was a combination of the shiny sights and the lighting of the target. It was overcast here, so no shadow going across the target. At 75 yards, it's printing 2" above center, dead in the middle laterally.

October 19, 2012, 09:16 PM
Glare on the sights can sure make a difference. On open sighted rifles it is always something to pay attention to and guard against.

James K
October 19, 2012, 09:17 PM


October 21, 2012, 03:44 AM

I rather had a hunch that old rifle had a whole lot of experience and knew what it was doing.
Its like an old horse.
Glad you are getting aquainted.Have fun.