This is an untouched example of an early Model 1894 Sporting rifle in Caliber 38-55. 26" Octagon Barrel, Full magazine, and Crescent buttplate. Antique Pre-1898 Serial number is in the 42,000 range which according to the Madis Book, dates this rifle's production date to 1895. It has all of the early style markings including the 2 line Winchester, New Haven barrel address on the top flat of the Octagon. The caliber is also marked correctly on the top flat just in front of the receiver and has no proofmarks...which is also correct on pre-1900 Winchesters. The upper tang is nicely marked with 3 line style which includes the Model, Mfr, and John Browning August 21, 1894 patent dates. Hammer has the early style knurling with decorative Victorian-era dipped border.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Excellent in terms of wear but numerical percentages of finish probably pull it back to about Fine+. Still, for 111 years old, its in remarkable condition and leaves you with no pretenses of know what it used to be. The metal has nearly full coverage of its original blued finish showing little loss due to wear but the blue is speckled and/or hazed lightly with a light patina. Note: the metal is not pitted....if someone had simply oiled it, it would probably be a 97-98% gun. Even the the frame shows blue from one end to the other (including areas normally prone to wear), due to the speckles, its probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 75-80% and still reflects light like a mirror. There are some light scratch marks on the left side of the frame. Loading port retains 80% fire blue. Bolt has 85% strong but lightly speckled blue with traces of fire blue on the extractor. Lever still shows 20% original case colors with the balance turning to a light patina. There strong flashes of green, blue, and salmon hues at the top of the lever. Hammer shows 65% case colors. Excellent screws and pins throughout...most look unturned....there isn't a bad screw to be found on this rifle. The barrel and magazine tube have great coverage but have hazed to about 60% original finish. Even the magazine tube retaining band and forend cap (high point areas prone to wear) have much of their original blue remaining...just hazing.
Aside from some minor scratches and nicks, the wood is in Excellent condition and still shows 95% original varnish overall. Usually when you find a 100+ year old Winchester lever action, the forend has very little original varnish remaining due to carry wear..this varnish was very fragile and it wore pretty fast....something you'll notice even on guns that are 95%+. This little gun however, still has nearly all of its original varnish on the forend. When I do descriptions, I usually have to break down the finish two what's left on the stock and then the forend...I can't recall the last time we had something this consistent without being close to mint. Like we said, it doesn't show much wear...just less than ideal storage which speckled the metal but didn't bother the wood at all. Of course, the wood to metal fit is perfect with the wood standing slightly proud of the metal...like it did when it left the factory. The stock appears to have never been pulled off the rifle as there are no chips in the wood along the flare of the upper tang. The wood is very fragile and thin in this area and almost every Win Model 1892, 1894, or 1895 has a little bit of wood missing here regardless of condition. One minor gouge on upper left side of the forend but No chips, No cracks, and No repairs. Just beautiful untouched wood! Nice mechanics....it looks like under a light layer of dried grease, the carrier still has most of its original blued finish. Even the tip of the extractor which presses into the back of the barrel/frame has most of its original fire blue. The bore is Excellent...still bright and shiny with no pitting. Nice sharp lands and grooves with no rings, bulges, or rough spots.
A nice, attractive untouched example of the Model 1894 rifle in the biggest caliber, an octagon barrel, with one of those elusive Pre-1898 serial numbers that have become very dear to collectors in the past 10 years. Personally, I've always liked to find a good Winchester that let you know its age but still looks great....it makes things more interesting as time melds with 19th century technology and craftsmanship into a piece of art. This rifle deserves a good caretaker. Take good care of this one, and it will take even better care of you when time comes to sell it!