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Old July 15, 2019, 09:19 AM   #1
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Which Winchester 1894s are must haves?

I'm wanting a 1894 Winchester in 32WS but I'd like to get one that can be a shooter but is also a collector. Not knowing too much about them I figured I'd ask what are some of the ones to look for? I'd like a real early one but I've read a lot about the "flat band" ones.

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Old July 15, 2019, 01:19 PM   #2
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Ain't no such thing as a shooter that is also a collector piece. Shooting any collector grade firearm of any kind drops the collector value by at least half.
Probably best to find a source of ammo and/or brass, locally, first too. That'd be called doing "the Walmart Test". .32 Win Special will not be everywhere. Midway lists 3 brands with 2 bullet weights, only. Winchester doesn't load it unless they feel like it. Buying ammo on-line gets expensive quickly too. Shipping and hazmat fees do it.
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Old July 15, 2019, 04:05 PM   #3
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I guess i'm curious why and how much use you expect to give it. This is my take on the 32. My dad has one but we both have 30-30's. We shoot the 30-30's a ton because shells can be had for $13 a box and I think the last box of 32 I bought was $28+.

If you reload you can find brass or convert 30-30 so it's no problem to make cheap rounds.

But if I was going to collect a perfect specimen I might shoot it a few times and buy a $300 30-30 and shoot the snot out of it.
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Old July 15, 2019, 08:18 PM   #4
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If you don't reload, get a 30-30 instead. Probably everyone that prefers the 32 Winchester Special is an avid reloader. The model 1894/model 94 has been made for so many decades that there were over 7 million made and there were lot's of minor and not so minor changes made over more than a century of production. Find one that you like at a price you can afford and have at it. There has been a lot said about the pre-'64 versions versus later specimens.... but there were changes being made long before 1964 that I don't like. Thus, the carbine version that I like the best were made from about 1937 to 1948 or so. Beginning about 1949 or so, the hammer got changed to a serrated style that was no doubt cheaper to make than the previously checkered hammer. And by about 1951 or a little before, the shortened the forearm wood. Functionally, these were still great guns, but for me, the are esthetically less pleasing to my eyes. Somewhere along the line, the Winchester roll-stamp on the tang disappeared; I think I've seen 1948 guns that didn't have it.
Everybody has different preferences, so go out and handle a bunch of old guns and get the one that charms you the most.
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Old July 15, 2019, 08:48 PM   #5
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Flat bands were made for just 2.5 years, from mid-1946 through the end of 1948. Well over 200k were made, so they aren't rare, but collectors will pay a reasonable premium for a nice one.

I've had over a dozen Winchesters in at least 5 different calibers, from antique sporting rifles, through takedowns and saddle ring carbines. Sold most of them, the antiques brought good money, $1,500-2,500. I still have two carbines, one in 32 WCF and the other in 30-30 WCF, both from the early 1950s.

Never got the urge to fire a single one. Not sure why I still have two?
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Old July 15, 2019, 11:13 PM   #6
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The only thing I like about the, "flat band", is the rest of the gun. It just doesn't look quite right to me, but it's not a deal-breaker as much as the switch to the short forearm is. Again, everyone has their own preferences. In the rifle version, the one I find particularly appealing, is actually called the model 55, especially if it has the solid frame; but those are hard to find since most were built in take-down format.
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Old July 16, 2019, 06:56 AM   #7
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Any model in 25-35,32-40 and 38-55 are collectable. If in good shape.
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Old July 16, 2019, 01:05 PM   #8
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You can buy a nice 38/55...shoot the beans out of it, and still have a good investment firearm. Just take reasonable care of it, and they will hold their value and possibly increase value. Reload your own ammo, and they can be pretty cheap to shoot.
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Old July 17, 2019, 03:20 AM   #9
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Look for a pre-war rifle (not carbine) if you want a collectible. Best would be a deluxe lightweight rifle with premium wood. Look at spending $2000-$3000 for a nice one. Post-war model 55s and 64s are also desirable.

If you are just looking for a carbine, pre-war is still the way to go, ideally early 1900s vintage.
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Old July 17, 2019, 11:32 AM   #10
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I have my granddad's 1941 '94 in .32 WS. As Blindstitch said, ammo for it runs around $28 for 20 rounds.

30-30 is much cheaper and readily available year-round, where I've really only seen .32 WS in stores and online just before hunting season starts, and then it's mostly gone until the next year. And during times of ammo shortages...well...let's just say you'd have better luck finding a unicorn or a jackalope.

I was on one of the Winchester forums a couple years ago, and someone said that you can run 30-30 though a .32 WS rifle, but obviously accuracy is going to suffer. I've never done it myself.

When it was being developed, .32 WS was supposed to be a better alternative to 30-30, but in the end, it wasn't.

Personally, I wish granddad had bought a 30-30.
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Old July 17, 2019, 11:45 AM   #11
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Shooting any collector grade firearm of any kind drops the collector value by at least half.

This statement is simply not true. The use of "any" making it a blanket statement renders it false and invalid.

There are a lot of collector grade firearms that have been shot, there are even some that are collector pieces because they were used.

Shooting an UNFIRED collector grade firearm does reduce it's market value, and it can be by half or even more. Particularly when a significant portion of its collector interest (and hence, market value) is because it is unfired. (aside from factory proof, which isn't counted as "fired" by collectors, or sellers)

The reason unfired collector pieces are as prized as they are is their rarity. Shoot an unfired gun and it moves from rare to common, within its collector niche.

Shooting SOME collector grade firearms can drop the collector value by at least half. Shooting others, done with care, so no additional damage or finish wear is done to the gun, literally, affects nothing.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old July 17, 2019, 01:34 PM   #12
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Out of curiosity, about what year was the best quality for 94 Winchesters?

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Old July 17, 2019, 04:34 PM   #13
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1894-1942 best then post war to 1963
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Old July 17, 2019, 09:33 PM   #14
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Which caliber to buy. "All of them." Once you buy one you'll want another then another. Years ago I started collecting mine one after the other here and there across this State. Funny thing? you'll never loose interest in shooting them. There just simple old school rifles that are fun to shoot. Especially if you intend to paper-patch a cast or shoot G/c leads which beats the he# out of shooting that boring 06 or 308 all the time.
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Old August 2, 2019, 07:54 PM   #15
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Any pre 64 Win will always be more desirable than later models. A high condition shooter kept that way will retain if not increase in value. A gun is a collector's item or not. Unless a very scarce model, NIB or documented to a notable it's not what you call a collector's item.
I have several Win levers turn of century. None true collector items but original high condition. I shoot and hunt them and they haven't decreased in value a dime.

Unless you have a reason to buy a 32 I would go with 30/30 just on basis of ammo. As far as practical use there isn't enough difference to argue about. You will find those who want to. I've killed deer with both at same ranges and conditions. The deer had the same thing to say, nothing they were dead.
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Old August 2, 2019, 08:10 PM   #16
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94 Winnie

I saw a 94 today chambered in 32-40 with either a 26 or 28 inch barrel not sure which. Shop said it was a 1900 year production. There was the regular patina that would be associated with a rifle 119 years old but the wood was not cracked or broken in any way. They are asking $1200 for it. Not sure it's worth that much.
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Old August 2, 2019, 08:29 PM   #17
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A used 94 in excellent condition can be shot without hurting the exterior finish, which is what the values are judged by.

Take-downs are more prized than standard models.

So: I'd go looking for an octagon take-down in .32 WCF.
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