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The 1894's rifles with octagon barrels generally don't have checkering while the round barreled 1894's do. The octagon barreled 1894's are geared more towards the cowboy action shoooting crowd, while the round barreled 1894's are geared more towards the hunter.
 

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Checkering on an 1894 only showed up a few years ago. I don't know exactly when, but I have a 1990 standard model 1894 which is not checkered. It may have started in the 2000s.
 
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