I Hear People Gripe That They Can’t Get a Good Deal on a Winchester 94

Used to be that North Haven, Connecticut-made Winny 94s could be had all day for $250 to $350. I myself traded a beautiful model, complete with a decent little Bushnell scope on it and a few boxes of Remington Core-Lokt, around 1998 for a gun that I valued at the time for $400 and thought I got a screaming great deal.

Then the company closed the historic plant around 2005 and just like that, old U.S. made 94s began to skyrocket in value. Today, new examples are made for USRAC by Miroku in Japan (the same people that make most of Browning’s long arms) with a premium price attached.

An overlooked avenue of fulfillment for an often truly nice 94, made in Connecticut with a ton of attention to detail, are Commemorative editions. Winchester cranked out more than 100 runs of such Commemorative Issue Model 94 lever guns between 1964 and 2005 with the largest runs made before 1985.

The guns paid homage to a historical figure, such as President Teddy Roosevelt or Sheriff Bat Masterson. Others were in honor of Native American tribes, such as the Cherokee or Cheyenne. Still, other Commemoratives showcased organizations like the Boy Scouts or Wells Fargo stagecoach service. Then some guns saluted American icons like the Bald Eagle. Events like the Golden Spike– where the Transcontinental Railroad was finally linked together in 1869– or the U. S. Bicentennial, were remembered with their own Winchester 94.

This John Wayne Commemorative, produced in 1981, is extensively engraved with a trail ride scene and the names of several “The Duke’s” classic Western films.

An Annie Oakley Commemorative, made in 1982.

The detail on the Sheriff Bat Masterson is amazing. It is little wonder why these guns were immediately collectible when issued.

And the good news is that these guns often cost less than plain-Jane models made at the same time.

More in my column at Guns.com

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