Long a favorite with outdoorsmen, the 1894 rifle boasts powerful hunting loads, rapid-fire capabilities and ease of handling. It’s been considered by many as the ultimate perfection in a lever-action rifle. This photo, taken in a Tacoma, Washington, studio around 1900, shows a man and his ’94 model, ready to venture into the cold north country.
– Courtesy Herb Peck, Jr. Collection –

It’s been called “America’s Deer Rifle,” and has stood the test of time. John Browning’s 1894 lever gun has enjoyed almost continuous production by various companies up through the present. However, through the years, it has gone through some minor changes, such as the current production’s replacing of the original top cartridge eject feature to an angle eject, that allows for the mounting of a telescopic sight. It has also had the addition of a cross bolt safety, rather than the original half-cock safety notch in the hammer. Nevertheless, the rifle is a classic that’s been enjoyed by millions for 126 years.

Cimarron’s 1894 rifle is a spitting image of the John Browning-designed Winchester lever-action of the 1890s. The 26-inch, octagon-barreled rifle features a handsome color case-hardened receiver, like the ‘94s which were discontinued in the mid-1930s. It is offered in .30 WCF (.30-30) and .38-55, with plans on adding .32-40 WCF, and .25-35 WCF to the lineup.
– All Photos Courtesy Cimarron Firearms Unless Otherwise Noted –

For purists who want to enjoy the 1894 model as it was originally manufactured, Cimarron Firearms has brought out a handsome Italian-import replica of the 1894 lever-action rifle and carbine that looks and functions exactly like a ’94 that would have left the factory before 1900. This Fredericksburg, Texas, outfit is offering its old-style 1894 rifle in either .38-55, or .30 WCF (.30-30)—both currently smokeless powder rounds, with .25-35, and .32-40 versions scheduled for the near future. The rifle features a 26-inch blued octagonal barrel, nose cap and butt plate, and a color case hardened receiver, hammer, lever and trigger. The carbine wears a blued receiver, butt plate, and a traditional 20-inch, blued round barrel, with a color case hardened lever, hammer and trigger. Stocks are European walnut. A dovetailed blade front sight and an adjustable buckhorn rear sight complete this handsome package.

The carbine sports a 20-inch round barrel, and all metal parts are blued, except the color case-hardened hammer, trigger and lever. Patterned after 1894 models manufactured in the early years of this lever gun’s production, Cimarron’s 1894 rifle and carbine both feature top cartridge ejection and a hammer safety, rather than the side cartridge eject and cross bolt safety of today’s ’94 rifles.

I had an opportunity to give one of Cimarron’s 1894 carbines in .30-30 caliber a good workout while hunting on its Blue Moon Ranch, just outside of Fredericksburg. On my first day out, I bagged a nice little 6-point whitetail buck with a 40-yard shot, while using Federal’s 150-grain soft point ammo. The next few days I spotted virtually no game! However, on the last afternoon, I decided to hunt one more time. For this final quest I used Remington’s 170-grain, soft point loads. Holing up in a blind that faced an open pasture, I waited for a considerable time with no game sightings. About the time I figured it would be another “dry” day, a pair of does appeared, browsing about 175 yards from my blind. Although I had doe tags, I decided I still had plenty of daylight to give it a few more minutes to see if a buck might appear.

Using the Cimarron 1894 carbine in .30 WCF, stoked with Remington’s 170-grain Soft Point ammo, the author bagged this eight-point whitetail deer from a distance of 101 yards. A second six-point buck was also taken at 40 yards with this carbine, using Federal’s 150-grain SP loading. Plenty of tasty venison resulted, thanks to Cimarron’s 1894.
– Phil Spangenberger –

Sure enough, from a large clump of mesquite bushes, out walked a nice buck. Carefully checking out his rack, I decided to go for him, but he was a bit too far for me to risk a clean shot with open iron sights. Slowly, all three deer worked their way back and forth across the open ground, angling ever closer to me. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the buck started browsing near a live oak tree, at what later measured 101 yards distance. Noticing the does starting to work their way farther from me, I decided it was now or never, as I knew the buck would follow. Carefully, as he shrank behind those iron sights, I settled them right in his heart/shoulder area, I gently squeezed the five-pound crisp trigger of the Cimarron, and fired. The buck jumped straight up, turned and ran back into the mesquite. Quickly, I exited the blind, walked carefully toward the bushes, and there he was, lying there with a clean heart shot. I was ecstatic. I and the Cimarron ‘94 had both done our part, and I wound up bringing home plenty of fresh venison from my hunts.

If you’re a fan of the old 1894 model lever-action, or would like to give one a try, give the Cimarron 1894 a look. It’s made in the configuration of the original 1890s rifle and I honestly don’t think you could do any better.

Phil Spangenberger has written for Guns & Ammo, appears on the History Channel and other documentary networks, produces Wild West shows, is a Hollywood gun coach and character actor, and is True West’s Firearms Editor.

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