Here's the Second earliest known 1894 src to ship from Winchester in existence today. This is a very rare 1st Model 1894 saddle ring carbine in Caliber 38-55 and one of only a small handful of SRC's to actually ship from Winchester and see the real world in the year 1894. Like most of the early 1894 production, very few carbines were produced in comparison to rifles. There were only about 30 carbines that actually shipped from the Winchester factory in the calender year of 1894. This particular carbine is serial number 791. It is one of the very first 1894 carbines ever built. It shipped on December 1st, 1894. According to the Winchester factory records housed at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, WY, there were only 3 carbines with lower serial numbers to ship on or before number 791 on December 1st. Of those, only one has been found and identified, number 787 which shipped on the same day in the same order. We purchased this particular carbine directly from Robert Renneberg, author of the book, "The Winchester Model 1894" written in 1991. At the time of publication, Mr. Renneberg's book mentions the earliest carbine known to exist was number 1296 which shipped on Dec. 26, 1894. Since 91', he obviously discovered this earlier gun after the book was already published.
Overall, this carbine is in NRA Antique Good condition with metal that has turned to a brown patina. It shows many years of hard use which is quite typical of most 19th century Winchester carbines which were regarded as working tools and were designed to be used as utility guns. The markings are all there and still almost completely legible consisting of the early 2 line barrel address, early Model and patent dates on the upper tang, and ladder rear sight with correct 200 to 900 yard graduations. Screws show wear but are generally in OK shape and all are serviceable. This is also a First Model which has an extra screw on each side of the receiver which secures the guide rails. Only about 2000 1st Models were made before Winchester mounted the guide-rail screws internally. The wood is in good condition with nice wood to metal fit that is tight and even to all metal surfaces. There is on tiny chip by the upper tang, otherwise, the wood is solid. Although the action shows a good bit of wear, mechanically, everything still clicks right on this one. The bore is in good condition, a little dark with decent rifling, and no rings or bulges.
All in all, like most early carbines, this 94 got used hard! It certainly earned its keep which is the mark of all great designs. We're just glad it survived as this little gun was a major milestone for Winchester and the Genesis of their most successful design in company history. Can you believe in this rapid world of high tech innovation, this model has been manufactured during three different centuries. From an industrial point of view, we cannot think of a single continually produced and consecutively serialized American-made product that has been manufactured longer than the Model 1894 Winchester. In the last 111 years, over 7 million of John Browning's Model 1894 have been produced and hopefully this will continue for many more to come. For the past 75 years, the carbine has been Winchester's primary configuration of the Model 94. To us, it is all the more amazing that here is one of just a tiny few guns in the original carbine configuration to have actually seen the real world back in 1894!