Do any of you have experience with the .356 Winchester chambered in the model 94 Big Bore? What about accuracy? Are the rifles and the ammo very hard to find? What is the market price of the Big Bore in .356 Win.?
Timberwolf- I just lost out on a M-94 BB in .307, the seller said it was 99% condition and came with 2 boxes of shells all for $295. It went in two days so I think it was priced low considering the shells alone are worth $40 bucks. Kickn' myself now!!
Thanks FA18 Cub. I've noticed that nearly all of the Winchester 94 Big Bores and their cartridges are commanding a premium. I have friends who are willing to pay $450 for .356s, .375s, and 307s in 90 per cent condition. I say their "crazy". They say no, we are saavy! They seem to believe the Big Bores are headed for high priced collectability REAL soon. Do you tend to agree? If so, why? What condition was your .375 Winchester in? Is it a great shooter? Is the ammo plentiful?
I bought a .356 Winchester 94 Big Bore (pre-safety) a few months ago. I paid about $325 and got the rifle, a hard case, 100 rounds of brass, loading dies, Williams receiver sight, and Redfield scope bases. Accuracy has been so-so but I think the rifle has bugs to work out yet to get best accuracy. My best groups so far have been about 2.25" at 50 yards but most folks I have contacted seem to get better than that. Winchester still makes ammo and I have ordered it before from a local hardware store. Only the 200 grain bullet is now loaded commercially. At local gun shows I have found plenty of 200 and 250 grain loads priced below what the new production ammo cost.
To get the most out of the 356 you need to reload (IMHO). The speer manual list a 180 grain load (out of a 20" barrel) with a muzzel velocity 2654 fps. That is faster than most 308 loads out of longer barrels with the same bullet weight.
I really like the potential of this rifle and cartridge combo and I hope I can get it to live up to what I think it should do. Check out some of Paco Kelly's articles on Sixgunner.com, he has a lot of info on the 356.
Thanks for the information REB.
What's your opinion about the collectability of the Model 94 Big Bore series of rifles and cartridges? Why do you believe the demand is so high for them at this point in time?
By the way, what is the recoil like with your .356? Is your's one of the ones that had the big butt stock, or is it shaped like the regular 94s?
I remember when the Big Bores were still being produced and you couldn't give them away. The year after they stopped production they had been snapped up (around here anyway). They appear to be benefiting from "they don't make'em anymore" attitude as much as anything. Will they hold this value or increase in the long term is probably the better question. I think on average they are somewhat overpriced now but in a few more years we will be thinking, "I should'a got one when they were cheap". Ammunition won't be a problem for a long time yet and mine will feed and extract 308 brass like it was made for it, so you can fireform cases if need be or use .358 Winchester brass too.
My stock is the standard 94 style, I avoided the monte carlo thingy they stuck on them for a year or two though they may be more collectable. Recoil is not too bad from standing or sitting positions. From a bench or prone it can be a real slapper. I use a slip on recoil pad when doing a lot of shooting and take it of when hunting. Recoil with the 158 grain 357 pistol bullets is not bad and these bullets simply EXPLODE on impact at the velocities you can drive them from the 356.
I think the main reason the 356 didn't make it was that Winchester never loaded the cartridge to its full potential! By the way, I found mine on Gunsamerica.com
Thanks again REB. I spoke with a gentleman who follows the "discontinued" rifle market and he shares your opinion as to the reason for the feeding frenzy. He even guesses that within 5-10 years we may see the market price for all the Big Bore series climb to as much as $800-1000 dollars, if for nothing more than scarcity and demand. He indicates that the ONLY thing that may settle the prices down is a re-introduction of the rifles by Winchester. He also said this may actually have the opposite effect, somewhat like the "pre-64...post 64" Winchester phenomenon. One thing is sure: I do believe we will look back in 10-20 years (maybe even sooner) and say, "Man, why didn't I get one when they could be bought for $400?"
Every gun is different, so I do not expect my experience to be the same as others, but for what its worth... I've had my M94 .356 since I bought it new in 1994 (Centennial markings on receiver). With factory 200 gr. loads, it shot groups of about 1.25 to 1.50 inches - pretty good! My experience with reloading has not been as satisfactory. The Speer flatpoints and revolver bullets printed like a shotgun. I have finally settled on Hornady 200 gr. round nose bullets. They print a little larger group than factory ( about 2"), but they are very consistent. When I head into the deer woods, more likely than not I will have my .356 with me. I've got a lot of bolt action guns that shoot circles around it from the bench, but none of them carry or handle like it when it really counts. Collectors be damned! Its a hunting gun, through and through.
Harris makes a comment that's worth its weight in gold regarding his Winchester model 94 in .356, he says "...none...carry or handle like it when it really counts." I agree! The model 94 is a true classic in nearly every way. In my judgment, when young hunters and riflemen are introduced to the lever action carbine they never feel quite right unless they have AT LEAST one in their battery, and preferably three or more. I may prefer one of my bolt guns from the standpoint of lazer accuracy, but with regard to practicality, serviceability, and field performance the lever action carbine beats everything hands down! I will even go so far as to predict a "lever action revolution" with the next 5 years. I really do believe people are ready and willing to get back to the basics. The main factor that makes lever action carbines "impractical" in some areas is terrain.
I don't know if I agree with the "collectable" line of thought. I think the .307 sold because it was cheap...$250 bucks. The .375 I bought sat on the shelf for YEARS... I finally bought it when the price was dropped $50 to $345. I love them though. I am building a M-94 collection. I want all the big bores and a mid-century (1930-1960) .30-30 next.
FA18CUB, I have a friend who like you intends to buy "a set" of the Model 94 Big Bores. The only one he doesn't have is the .356 Winchester. He has Big Bores in .444 Marlin, .307, and .375...his hunt for a .356 has taken him far and wide. He's searched the web sites and has only found one or two in YEARS. When he contacted the seller, they were GONE.
You state that you are starting a model 94 collection. Which particular calibers are you seeking and why? Just for collecting or are you seeking shooters?
I appreciate a man who has a great deal of admiration for the tried and true Winchester model 94!
I bought my 356 Winchester in early 1992...still has the cross bolt safety, though. I fired it 40 times to sight in...200 grain Win. factory loads. Recoil was a bit harse from the bench as was stated, but from the seated it didn't seem bad at all...became no problem. Accuracy, once I and the rifle had settle down was excellent. In the 10 years I was having kids and gaining a degree, it has sat in my closet. But I have slowly built up the equipment to reload for it and have gathered all the advice I could in the meantime. I have a batch of 200 grain BTB FNGC's which will be my first reloading project, hope to do well with them and should be shooting soon. Also, search this site for the posts of William "Slim" Iorg...he is an extremely kind and generous soul who has helped me immensely in my search for knowledge on this cartridge. He hunts alot with this rifle. Also, my new Midway catalogue has brass for 356 and lists "Seasonal" Winchester Ammo being available in this caliber. Redding also has dies that neck down 444 Marlin Cases into 356 Win. apparently.....pretty sure. Brass seems plentiful. Just thought I would pass this along. God Bless and will be glad to share my results, once I can get cranking.
I was wondering: does anyone have a picture of your .356 Big Bore and a shell beside it that you could send the board? Hopefully, such is allowable. I think it would be kind of neat to take a "sneak peak" at the wonderful rifle and cartridge that we're talking about. Who knows maybe, just maybe this would give Winchester the incentive to manufacture ONE MORE run of all the big bore rifles!...Just Kiddin' (about another run of the rifles.)
As for the collectible status of the Winchesters, I think we should all be buying the pre-safety and/or pre-rebounding hammer models wether they are pre-64 or not. These guns have practically disappeared from the shelves of the local dealers and pawn shops, and when you do find them the are priced well beyond what I am used to paying for a levergun.(course I bought my last 94 for $70)
I don't know production figures on the .356 but it does seem to be the rarest of the big bore calibers. I looked for over a year and a half before I found mine. With the short production run of the 444 big bores they may replace the 356 as "rare" in a couple of years.
If you are looking for a neat (and rare) caliber for the Winchester, just try and find a nice 219 Zipper! And for some reason, I haven't seen many 7-30 Waters chamberings around either.
All in all, it is an interesting time to be buying (or trying to buy) Winchester 94s and leverguns in general.
Your thread is on my favorite cartridges, the .307 and .356.
"What about Accuracy?"
"My best groups so far have been about 2.25" at 50 yards..."
These big Bores can be trying to learn to shoot from the bench. I try to put the action up on the front bag. For the .307 I put my off hand under the butt bag. For the .356, I grip the forend and pull the gun lightly back into my shoulder. Watch for canting. Canting is probably the greatest threat to small groups. You can get most load combinations under two inches pretty easily, I have shot many groups under 1 1/2" at 100 yards. And just as many over that!
Recoil... Use a pad. I like the Past pad but there are others. Your groups will shrink when using a pad.
I also install a wedge under my buttplates to change the pitch. The wedge is 1/32" at the heel and tapers out to about 3/4" at the toe. You can make them from balsa or buy them from Brownells. I should mention that they slow you down a little in snap shooting. They are easy to remove and install and make a significant differance in felt reoil on the bench.
I like Frank Kelly's articles at Sixgunner but reduce his loads to start, They are about maximum.
Some of the Winchesters are set up a little different in the lock up. The .307 in particular will kick your hand with the lever with maximum loads. This is a sure sign to back off. Each Big Bore is individual in its maximum load.
I dont know or care if the rifles have become collectable. I hope when mine pass on to thier next owner that most of the blue is worn off and there is honest hunting wear on them. I have seen some Model 71's and Model 64's that way and I know they have led a happy life.
Componets are easy to buy and make. Graf & Sons and Midway have brass. You can make it from .444 brass easily. The capacity is different so reduce maximum loads. The Redding file trim .358 Winchester die works well. Use Imperial sizing die wax.
I wrote Winxhester a long letter after Ken Waters last update on the .307. Winchester wrote a nice letter back. The facts are the guns did not sell and they dont expect to make any more. Too bad for us.
Try the Sierra 200 gr. round nose, this is one accrate bullet in the .356. Also the RCBS 200 gr lead gas check cast bullet.
For the .307, try the 130 gr. flat nose. This bullet will shoot ONE inch at 100 yards pretty regularly, not every time.
Thank you, thank you, William iorg! Do you have the url/web sites for Graf and Sons and Midway that you can pass on? Also can you forward the material on to me that Ken Waters wrote about the .307? I'd appreciate it VERY much. I am including my e.mail address: [email protected]
What big game animals have you killed with your .307 and .356? Were they devastating on the game?
I have only shot deer size game with both. My father and brother lived in Fairbanks for a number of years and they used the Big Bores for Airplane guns - bear protection.
I have had the most "dropped in its tracks" kills from the .307. It is devestating on deer under fifty yards.
I have been using the Speer 220 gr bullet on deer up to this year. The 220 is too stongly constructed for our little deer here in Tx.
The 200 gr. Sierra gave much fatser kills. It opens right now on our light bodied deer, yet they still penetrate well.
Cast bullets work well in the .356 with excellent penetration, but again, our little deer do not offer much resistance.
I have shot a lot of paper patch bullets in both calibers with excellent results.
I am waiting for Chris Cash's results with his Bear Tooth bullets in his .356. I have some LBT bullets from a caster in Abiline and have had mixed results, the bullets are sized too small.
I will set up some highlights of the Ken Waters article for you. Just type in midwayusa for Midway. grafs.com gets Graf & Son. Also Try Weidners.
Have you tried the 180 grain Speer flat nose in your 356? If so with what results? It appears to be the velocity champ for many of the loads I have examined. I am currently working up to the Speer max. load with XMR-2015 with should yeild a muzzle velocity of 2654 fps. This is very near Paco Kelly's load without going into uncharted waters. Since my primary target will be whitetail and hogs, I think the 180 would be more than sufficent for such game and give added practical range to boot.
I am begining to think that my sight arangement may be opening up my groups, as well as a VERY tight forend. I have a Williams peep on the rear (without the insert) and the factory silver bead on the front. The Williams had the insert removed to gather more light but it tends to give a bit of an oblong sight picture now. And the silver bead is doing its usual number in various light conditions, making you guess just where the center of it is. What sight set up do you prefer on this rifle? As a long time 356 shooter your opinion would be greatly valued!
You should not have trouble with the 180 gr Speer on average size hogs or any whitetail where you can pick your shots. If the game is in motion and you need extra penetration you will come up short.
That said, the 180's are accurate.
For a starter try 49.0 gr. of IMR 4895. This load gives 2,445 fps from my rifle. It is a good place to start.
Ron Carmichal (sp?) used 46.0 gr of IMR 3031 and got 2,541 fps from his .356 Rimless (.35 Remington Marlin 336 rechambered to .358 WCF and loaded to .356 pressure.) with good accuracy.
I prefer the Sierra 200 gr. round nose. The Sierra opens readily and still penetrates very well. A good LBT type 200 gr. cast bullet would probably be the ticket, these .35 calibers are really easy to shoot cast bullets in.
For sights I like the Williams reciever sight and a post front sight. The Winchester bead is a joke. You can flatten it with a file.
Gary Fellers is supposed to have some of the Redfield Sourdough front sights on stock. His have the red insert, most people prefer the gold. The Sourdough is a hard sight to beat. Most people dont know but Williams made a copy of the Sourdough into the '80's. The Williams Sourdough was aluminum, I think, but it was a darn good sight.
You can find Fellers in any Shotgun news or Gun List, he does not have a real web sight. I think his sight list is posted somewhere, but not sure where.
With my eyes I shoot the reciever sights best. The flat top open rear sights with a BIG white bead are sure good for getting right up close in the brush. I dont care for the standard Winchester open rear sight.
I also like the low power, 3x or less, scopes. The variable like the Simmons or Tasco have large power change rings which really require an extended rear ring for proper mounting. the older Weaver V4 solves this with a small diameter power change ring, it still limits eye relief without the extended ring.
I prefer the stand alone floating DOT from TK Lee. I guess I'm the only one who does!
I have not used any Accurate Arms powder. I'm interested in your results.
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