This is THE earliest known 1894 src to ship from Winchester in existence today. That's right....with production spanning over 111 years and over 7 million units shipped, this is the earliest known example of the most popular form, the carbine configuration! This one is in Caliber 38-55 and in the scarce 1st Model configuration. It was discovered in 2001 in a small town in Maine. Like most of the early 1894 production, very few carbines were produced in comparison to sporting rifles....this balance eventually changed with carbines becoming more successful variant after the turn of the century and by the 1930's, produced almost exclusively up to today. Of those few early ones however, there were only about thirty 1st model carbines that actually shipped from the Winchester factory in the calendar year of 1894. This particular carbine is serial number 787. Technically, it's only the 2ND 1894 carbine ever built and shipped on December 1, 1894. According to the Winchester factory records housed at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, WY, there was only one carbine with a lower serial number to ship prior to serial number 787. To date, that gun has not surfaced and given the low survival rate, possibly may never be found. At the time of publication back around 1995, Bob Renneberg's book on the 1894 Winchester mentions the earliest carbine known to exist was number #1296 which shipped on Dec. 26, 1894. Since then, #791 (previously sold on our website) and now #787 have surfaced. We've been fortunate to have been able to offer both these carbines this year!
Overall, this carbine is in NRA Antique Very Good condition with metal that has turned to a light silvery gray patina with original blue mostly in the protected areas...around the saddle ring, between the barrel and magazine tube, and in the flares of the frame. Traces of silvered out case colors remain on the hammer and lever. While it shows many years of use, the metal is quite sharp with great markings and sharp edges. Nice markings are all there and still almost completely legible consisting of the early 2 line barrel address, early Model and patent dates on the upper tang, and ladder rear sight with correct 200 to 900 yard graduations. The only non-original mark is what appears to be a name on the left side of the frame and reads "Beal" over "2581"...perhaps a name or place with an early phone#...there is also a Beal Island and Beal College located in Maine. Screws show wear but are generally in OK shape and all are still serviceable. Early style widow's peak design on the hammer knurling. Being a First Model, it has an extra screw on each side of the outside of the receiver which secures the guide rails. Only about 2000 1st Models were produced with external guide rail screws before Winchester mounted the guide-rail screws internally. The wood is in good condition with an old coat of varnish added long ago that has slightly blistered in places...probably from storage in a hot attic....it can be easily removed, but I'm not going to touch it. It's never been sanded or cleaned....this was simply added to protect the wood as it has been used in 3 different centuries. No cracks, chips, or repairs. Excellent wood to metal fit that is tight and even to all metal surfaces. Nice action, mechanically, everything still clicks right on this one. The bore is in very good condition with good rifling and no pitting...it's used but well looked after!
All in all, like most early carbines, this 1894 was used for many years! These Winchester carbines were both designed and regarded as working tools to be used as utility guns....this gun was still being shot in the 21st century. It certainly earned its keep which is the mark of all great designs. We're just glad it survived as this little gun was a major milestone for Winchester and the Genesis of their most successful design in company history. However, given age and the historical significance, we don't recommend firing this gun . Can you believe in this rapid world of high tech innovation, this model has been manufactured during three different centuries? From an industrial point of view, we cannot think of a single continually produced and consecutively serialized American-made product that has been manufactured longer than the Model 1894 Winchester. In the last 111 years, over 7 million of John Browning's Model 1894 have been produced and hopefully this will continue for many more to come. For the past 75 years, the carbine has been Winchester's primary configuration of the Model 94. To us, it is all the more amazing this is the 2nd one ever produced and earliest known surviving original carbine configuration to have actually seen the real world back in 1894!