American Rifleman Online Edition -- Excerpts used with permission.
"Nearly five years have transpired since the closing of the Winchester factory, and this limited edition pays tribute to the New England shirt maker whose name has come to personify the first successful lever-action repeater. But the saga of the Model 94 has been a much longer journey, one that began when Oliver Winchester paid John Browning $15,000 —the same amount he had received for his Model 1886 and 1892 patents—for rights to manufacture what was destined to become the first repeating rifle adapted to smokeless-powder cartridges."
"Just as there are extraordinary individuals who have, in the words of Hamlet, “shuffled off this mortal coil” to become enshrined in immortality, certain guns have transcended their physical trappings of wood and steel to become legendary in the annals of firearm history. Such a gun is the Winchester Model 1894, John Moses Browning’s ingenious culmination of the lever-action rifle combined with a tubular magazine.
"While the Winchester ’73 may have been ‘the gun that won the West,” the Model 94 was the gun that galloped past the closing days of the frontier and maintained Winchester’s lever-action lead throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. That historic ride lasted for 112 years, thus making the Model 94 one of the longest continuously produced rifles in the world. But it was abruptly reined-up short on Jan. 16, 2006, with the announcement that the Winchester factory in New Haven, Conn., would be closing within three months. With more than 7 million guns produced, the Winchester 94 was to be no more.
"Winchester lever-actions are some of the most collectible and fastest-appreciating firearms. Consequently, 24 hours after the news media broke the story of the factory’s closing, there wasn’t a Model 94 left in Winchester’s warehouse; dealers had snatched them all up almost as rapidly as consumers were buying them.
"For many of us, knowing that the Winchester 94 was no longer in production was like losing an old friend. My first hunting rifle was a used .30-30 Win. flat-band 94 purchased as a teenager in 1960 at Pinney & Robinson’s Sporting Goods in Phoenix. Later that year, I took my first deer with it, and it accompanied me on many a desert and mountain jaunt. Even when not hunting, it felt good just having it along. The carbine came with a saddle scabbard stamped “Marfa, Texas.” Although I have acquired numerous Winchester 94s since, I still have that carbine and scabbard.
"Not surprisingly, the factory’s closing increased demand for the Model 94, but it was too good a gun to go away forever. However, there needed to be a reason to bring it back."
To read the rest of this great article go to the American Rifleman online edition.