Winchester 94 Conversion?
I have an old Winchester 94 in .32 Winchester Special that looks as though it spent a few years in the woods. And by that I do not mean someone carried it in the woods hunting but someone left it in the woods for a couple of years. It is quite heavily pitted and the bore is pretty rough ( I can just make out some rifling) but it still cycles okay and the gum wood stock is fine. Many of the pits on the receiver can be removed with some draw filing but some will have to remain and so while it will never be a pretty rifle again, it could still be used again after it gets a new barrel. 38-55 was a thought or maybe a wildcat based on the 30-30 case (isn't there a 7mm cartridge based on that?) I guess I while I might consider a wildcat, I might tend to to avoid them - reloading die costs are a bit steep. Then there are pistol calibers like .45 Colt and .44 Magnum or maybe even .454 Casull or perhaps one of the newer S&W big bore magnums. Would the pressures of those handgun rounds be to to much for this rifle? What is involved in getting the rifle to function with the shorter pistol rounds? Or is there anything that needs to be changed other than the barrel? I got this rifle about 25 years ago and it has been hanging out in a closet. I had to get it out to compare it with another 94 that I am trying to fix and it got me thinking. Thanks for any comments.
I believe the 94 was chambered in some small pistol shells for a brief period. I also believe that many of the internal components are different and would have to be replaced - ejector, shell carrier, etc, because of the shorter shell length. The face of the bolt would also have to be modified if the shells base was differetn from the base of a 30/30.
It is possable you could round up parts from one of these guns, but the chances of them fitting are slim. The only 94's I am farmilear with that used pistol cartrages were made well after the changes in 1964 and 32 WFC is likely to be a pre WWII era gun. It would be unusualy for parts to easily interchange between 94's of those vintages.
There is a series of books titled "for collectors only" that cover many of the winchester arms, including the 94. It goes into detail on every feature and variation of every part in the gun. That book would give you a reasonable idea of what shells would work with your existing cartrage carrier.
The 94 is not known for its strengh, and when it was chambered in hotter shells like the 375 winchester, the action was modified to handle it. I would take that as a strong hint not to hot rod. 38/55, 30/30 and 32/40 and 32 winchester special are all build around the same head size and were all used in the 94.
I sugest you take a look at the data on the 32 special before dismissing it out of hand.
It's a better shell than I thought it would be.
Wildcats based on the 30/30 case suffer from case design.
The 30/30 has a reputation of being hard to reform into other cases because the brass is rather thin.
Most reloading books advise against hot loads in bolt action versions of the 30/30 becasue the case wont take the pressure.
Here is an interesting project with a clapped out 94 over on the Cast Bullet Association Forum.
1894 Rebuild Link
The OP, Ed Harris, is a long-time contributing writer to The American Rifleman under the pen name C.E. Harris, and is the namesake for "Ed's Red" cleaning solvent. He is quite knowlegable on most things involved with shooting.
The 35/30-30 Might be an option to consider for a decent caliber for your re-build, and could be handloaded up or down and looks like it could be a fun cartridge. It will also feed through the 30-30 feed guides with no issues.
Pesonally I would shy away from pistol calibers in that action, simply because it is designed for a longer cartrige. The 1892 action would be a much better choice for the shorter cases.
Thanks for the replies. I wasn't sure if the shorter rounds would be handled okay or not without having to change a bunch of parts around. Winchester offered the 94 in .44 mag and .45 Colt at one time, as well as the .480 Ruger but do not know what changes they may have made to the internal parts. Not necessarily looking to hot rod the thing but convert to something with some useful power that is readily available.
The .35/30-30 sounds interesting but is a wildcat which I wanted to avoid because of die costs and the difficulty that would arise if I were ever to sell the rifle. I am thinking that 38-55 may be the one although I do have a .30 caliber barrel that could be made to fit and that would certainly be the cheapest way to go. Not that I want another 30-30.
I looked into this a few years back. If I remember (???) correctly, you need left and right feed guides, carrier, and "finger lever" (thats the main lever), and possibly some other parts, to do the conversion properly. Also, the parts were caliber-specific. If they were for a .44 Mag, they didn't work properly with a .45 Colt or .44-40 without some modification. It will be tough to find all these parts for a top-eject receiver. Numrich used to sell a kit for the 94 top eject made up of Winchester parts for .44 Mag, but that was more than 25 years ago and I'm sure those have dried up.
I own one of the 94 Winchesters that I bought new that was built in the 1970's and it's in .44 magnum caliber, but haven't shot it in decades. Kicked like a mule (checkered steel buttplate) using factory ammunition.
As far as I can tell the only modification (other than the barrel) was the shell carrier was modified to have a stop just long enough for the cartridge, instead of full length ... this part may even be available from one of the gun parts places like Numrich, or whatever they are calling themselves these days. If the part is not available, a resourceful machinist could probably modify a shell carrier for the 30-30 to work with the shorter cartridge length. Bolt face/extractor/ejector/ and magazine tube should require no modifications as far as I can see. If you are worried about pressure in the old action, then I recommend you use .44 special instead of magnum...
If you don't want to fuss with it, you can buy mine for $600 plus shipping to a FFL of your choice. It is used, fired about 100 times, but in really good condition. It has a 20" barrel, A williams adjustable sight in place of the standard slide stepped sight adjustable for elevation, loads 10 rounds (possibly more) and came with the Saddle Ring installed (easily removed if you would rather have it flat sided).
Thanks for the offer but I fuss with these kind of things for fun. Besides, there is no money for new guns so if I want something new, I have to fix one of my project guns that I have accumulated over the years.
I thought that maybe there was little difference in parts between the pistol round and rifle round guns. Next time I see a 94 in .44 magnum, I'll have to take a closer look at the lifter. I'm also going to look at some of my reloading manuals to see if I can come some numbers regarding pressures generated by the .32 special and the .44 magnum.
The part numbers are different for the parts with respect to calber.Guides, lever, carrier, magazine cut-offs,etc. If you are crafty, you may get it to work. This is one of the things haunting lever/caliber conversions for the last hundred years.
I would go with a rebarrel in 7-30 waters. Created by the great writer, Ken Waters. A factory round at one time. I have often thought of doing a brush gun such as this when I read an article on a gunsmith ,Dale Storey. Check my spelling on his name. I would go with an octagonal barrel with a tube magazine that ended at the forearm for a clean look. You could tig weld deep pits one at a time as long as you let it cool down between welds, I have seen this, but I do not tig weld. This would be IMHO a top gun in anyones rack with a unique nich. Good luck on your project. Alan
Most accurate (smallest groups) open sight rifle I've ever shot! It was laying in the back of a gunsmith's shop with a broken stock and the guy gave it to me free.
Nice job on the Winchester Karl and good price too!
The 7X30 Waters seems like it might be a good choice. Does anybody still make factory loads for it?
Another 30-30 based round is the 219 Zipper. It is loaded with a round nosed bullet for safety when used in the tubular magazine, but ballistically it is similar to the 222 and 223's. It is not manufactured any longer, but there are a few folks making brass from 30-30 brass. It is easily formed if you have a set of dies, just make an intermediate die to resize the neck to about .250" and then full length resize.
I converted a post 64 94 a year or so ago, it took a bit of shimming of the cartridge guides and building up the lifter to compensate fot the more tapered case of the Zipper to get it to feed, but it was not too difficult of a project.
Winchester developed the Zipper for the Model 64, based on the 1894.
.219 zipper sounds interesting. I think I have a medium heavy barrel around here somewhere as well. I did check Cartridges of the World for bullet diameter and it states that the cartridge is based on the .25-35 Winchester round which in itself seems like an interesting candidate for this project. Both however are obsolete and in that case, are similar to wildcats as far as readily available rounds go.
The Zipper, 25-35, 30-30 and 32 Win Special are all in the same family, and have the same rim diameter and base dimensions so that the bolt face and extractor will not require modification.
It is all a matter of choice, but it is better to stick with a cartridge that is close to the original chambering in overall length then trying to control feeding of a shorter, pistol length cartridge. The model 1892 has a shorter action and is a better candidate for the pistol cartridges than the 1894.
As far as the "wildcattedness" of the 25-35 or 219 Zipper, rental reamers are available, and reloading dies turn up on eBay and at shows for not too much money. It is a one time investment. 25-35 can be formed from 30-30 brass by full length resizing in 25-35 dies and trimming to length.
Gazz, after reading all the posts, I would still go for the 7-30 Waters. Based on the 30-30 case, it duplicates its energy plus shoots flatter. Federal stil loads it. Do a wikipedia search. A top round for the Contender. You should be able to find a good used 7mm barrel cheap. Check your twist rates. A 7x57 or 7-08 might have a faster twist verses a 7 mag. I like the sound of a zipper, but what would you use it on? Keep us posted. Most states have min cal. requirements on hunting big game. The 7-30 would be a nice white tail round, where shots are close. Cheers,Alan