Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Favorite shooter--Thanks, Old NFO.

So in part due to Old NFO's interesting post on which firearms would you take as you run out the door, never to return...

Pick a Pair

I took my old Winchester 94 .30-30 out to the range today, since I'm getting ambulatory again and I had business down near the range.
I like this old Pre-1964 rifle, made back in 1949, but I bought it as a project some 15 years ago and once I fixed it I think I might have shot it twice, once just for a function test. It's been a wall-hanger the rest of that time. But something beckoned it out to the range with me today, so I took a box of old factory 180gr. Remington Soft-point(How old? The sticker price on the box was $5.99.) and a bag of 15 year old 150gr. reloads that I made, and off I went.

I brought targets, but someone obligingly left a bunch of sporting clays set up on the 50 yard berm, so I figured I'd try for those and see what happens.
The first shot fired in recorded memory broke a clay. An eyebrow raised. Maybe this old thing really could shoot. A second shot fired, and another clay vanished. Then a third, then a forth...and eventually all the clays went down, all but one with one shot, and the near-miss came because the rifle was getting hot and I touched the hot barrel and flinched as I was taking up the trigger slack on one of the last clays. But I picked it up with the next shot after relocating my fingers on the forward handguard with a bit more care. This old rifle definitely lacks the heat shields of an AR. (John Wayne and Randolph Scott never seemed to burn their hands when going rapid-fire lever-action. I wonder why mine gets hot and theirs didn't.)
Next I took it over to the 100-yard line, and someone had obligingly left me a 2-liter plastic Mountain Dew bottle full of sand down there which, according to my spotting scope, was un-holed. But just like on the 50-yard line, this old lever-gun was dead-on and I used the rest of my ammo up knocking that bottle all over the place. I didn't even try to shoot for group size, but just shot for fun, and by the time my ammo supply was all reduced to a pile of hot empty brass cases, I was smiling and pretty confident that this rifle is accurate, consistent, reliable and that it shoots true to actual point of aim. I was impressed; I've got a lot of old military surplus rifles that won't shoot this good, including a few that I paid some fair coin out for.
Winchester made them good back then, actually smithing the guns instead of just slamming them together. I found a new love for this old rifle today and I've got enough components in my reloading area to knock out about 600 rounds of reloads for it just like the ones that it shot so well today. And after today's range trip, I'd say that it rates as being worth the effort, as this appears to truly be a rifle that I could run out the door with and trust to keep me alive and fed.

So thanks for the cool topic idea, Jim...and later tonight, I'll shamelessly replicate it after taking a look around my own gun room.


  1. But...but... my 'spare' ammo... :-) And yeah, they're DAMN good shooting guns!

  2. My future step-daughter-in-law's (that's a mouthful!) brother had on when we went shooting on our Colorado trip.

    I was hitting steel at 200 yards with it, no problem!

  3. I'm probably in 2nd place behind you for cases in that caliber - I'm thinking in the 400-ish range. Several coffee cans and 25# shotbags full of tumbled cases.

    Oh to have the saddlebags packed with a Lyman 310 tool and dies, about 12# of 150 gr GC pills, an appropriate quantity of primers, and about 3# of 4064 with a Lee 2.5 dipper shaved down ever so slightly (or better yet, one custom made from a cartridge and some brass rod). Plenty to keep busy whiling the time over a winter in Kevin Costner's mud fort - even better if 'Stands with Fist' (and not Kevin Costner) were there to, uh, help guard against the bitter cold, and maybe make some sammiches.

  4. BTW, that's a gorgeous '94 - beautiful patina. While I tend to be a Marlin snob, I sort of have a Winchester, as well. But yours puts my post '64 Ted Williams 100 to shame.

  5. John Wayne and Randolph Scott were usually wearing gloves when they were shooting theirs!

    I had my pastor out this week shooting my Marlin 336 .30-30 this week - he really liked it!