This is a nice early Antique example of a standard Winchester Model 1894 saddle ring carbine. Caliber .30 WCF, 20" round barrel, full magazine, crescent carbine buttplate, saddle ring, and ladder sight. Serial number is in the 41,000 range and dates to its manufacture to 1895 which was the first year the smokeless 30-30 cartridge was offered in this model. Although in the later years, Winchester produced lots of carbines, during the late 19th century the company seemed to focus on producing the Model 1894 in the sporting rifle configurations. This is part of the reason its so hard to find early carbines in antique serial ranges. The few that were made were most often used as utility guns and they rarely survive in nice condition.
I bought my first antique 1894 carbine in around 1987 for about $350 and it was like most you see.....just about completely worn out with saddle worn wood and not a speck of original finish remaining. The lever had been broken by some old cowboy who creatively brazed on the back half of a square-looking Marlin lever. As much as I liked that carbine, I remember whimsically hoping to find a nice antique one some day just to know what it would have looked like back in 1897. For those out there who aren't Winchester addicts, let me warn you. That's how this Collecting disease starts...you find one gun....and then the wheels start spinning. Suddenly you're on a quest to find a better one! I guess I probably could have found one sooner if I had gone to more shows back then, but college, working, and bills have a way of keeping you from pursuing those sorts of dreams.
It wasn't until just a few years ago that I stumbled onto this gun late one night surfing on the internet. I can remember the pictures being terrible (back then, you were lucky if you even got a picture w/an ad)...the caliber wasn't even mentioned but sometimes you just know when something is a screamer! I hardly got a wink of sleep that night waiting for morning to call the dealer who owned it. Fortunately, it was available so I sent off payment and kept my fingers crossed. About a week later when it arrived, I found myself feverishly unpacking a box like some 6 year old kid on Christmas morning. By the time the pieces of wadded-up newspaper and styrofoam peanuts had settled all over the floor, this little gem of a carbine had emerged from the box. I just sat there and stared at it for what seemed like days! I couldn't take my eyes off of this little gun. I had never seen an antique carbine with that much original blue, case colors, and fire blue on the springs must have had me in a trance. Its kind of hard to appreciate moments like that unless you've had to look for one for so many years through countless late model 1894 src's. The quality was so much better than any post 1900 carbine I'd ever seen and the wood to metal fit was so nice, it was hard to believe. It has since been carefully stored and packed away for the past 7 years. I'm re-arranging my collection a little bit these days and something must go. Itsup for sale for now....that is unless I find another way to keep it.
Overall, the condition is NRA Antique Excellent with 97 to 98% original blue on the frame with a few small freckles. This gun shows very little wear as even the upper tang still shows 95% original blue. Bolt has 99% blue with extractor showing 95% bright fire blue. The lever plate on the bottom of the frame is the only part showing significant loss of finish w/50% original blue remaining. The loading port has 80% strong bright fire blue and is sort of the focal point on this gun...at least for me. Lever still have 60-70% original case colors. Barrel and magazine tube show 95% original blue with some light wear and a few light scattered pits from poor storage on the barrel just forward of the rear sight. Even the barrel bands show 60% original blue. The screws are perfect. This gun has all the correct early style markings with the 2 line Winchester barrel address, Model and Patent dates on the upper tang, and decorative dipped border to the checkering on the hammer. The wood is just fantastic...in fact this is the best wood I've ever seen on an antique 1894 src. Sure there are a few light nicks and dings but I've never seen wood this sharp and crisp. Its completely untouched and has perfect wood to metal fit. No cracks, chips, or repairs. Sights include the early style ladder with the old style 200 to 900 yard graduations...these found only on the very earliest 30 cals....after a couple years, they used Smokeless 2 leaf Express sights....and after the turn of the century shift back to the ladder w/0 to 200 yard graduations. The front sight has the early style German silver blade that's never been trimmed or cut back. Excellent action. Excellent bore...bright and shiny with sharp rifling and no pits.