A look back at the history of the Winchester Model 1894
By Jacki Billings
The Winchester Model 1894 was the first commercially produced smokeless powder lever action rifle for Winchester. (Photo: Winchester)
A lever action rifle developed by the illustrious John Moses Browning, the Winchester Model 1894 is one of the most successful smokeless powdered lever action rifles in history — having sold well over 7 million units since its inception in 1894. How did this rifle come to be and what has driven its success for the past century?
How it all began
In 1893, Winchester’s ammunition division began experimenting with a new smokeless powder, loading cartridges with the powder which was less corrosive than the more traditional black powder. The smokeless powder contained more energy that allowed bullets to travel further, offering flatter trajectories and allowing hunters to tackle bigger game and much further ranges. The problem was, Winchester needed a rifle capable of handling the new smokeless powder.
John Moses Browning developed the Model 1894 at the behest of Winchester’s ammunition department. (Photo: Winchester)
Browning, at the height of his career, was tasked with developing a new firearm designed around the new powder. Additionally, Browning was asked to make the firearm both simple to manipulate as well as easier to manufacture. Doing what Browning did best,