For trivia buffs, who was Chuck Connors? Second prize for
answering one of two possible questions, a gold star for answering two.
OK, he was one of a dozen athletes to play both in the NBA (Boston Celtics)
and major league baseball (mostly with the Cubs as a first baseman). And he was
the star of a 1960s TV show called "The Rifleman" where he sported a customized
Winchester Model 94 rifle, flipping it like a drum major with a baton.
But one of those other guns has a well-documented quirk that allows it to
fire accidentally (one woman killed her son when the gun fired completely
through a building and hit him on the other side). I'm not a fan of guns that
fire spontaneously. Mine went off when I closed the bolt one morning. Scared the crap out of me. I retired that gun to the gun
safe where it gathers dust, and brought out my Model 94, as reliable as a
vintage cow pony.
The 94 has three safeties. There is a half cock, a push button safety, and
the lever must be depressed against the stock before the gun will fire.
Frontier types had no such thing as a modern scope, but I wanted the advantage
of one, even though most shots in my brushy Missouri are less than 100 yards.
A major drawback is that the Model 94 ejects spent cartridges from the top
making it impossible to mount a scope atop the gun (a redesign in 1982 ejected
cartridges at an angle, permitting a top-mounted scope). Mine has an offset
scope, mounted by a gunsmith who should have spent more time in class -- the
scope does not fit my eye and is almost impossible to use efficiently. But once
mounted it's there for life, so I'm stuck with
awkwardly leaning forward to fit my eye to the scope. Frontier shooters
used only the open sights. And use them they did -- right up until now. The "thutty-thutty" is credited with killing more deer than any
If you want to back up even further, the 1860 Henry is almost as famous as
the Model 94 and looks enough like it that most couldn't tell the difference.
Today you can buy a well-made replica of the Henry from about $300 to $1,500.
New Haven Arms, which made the Henry, became Winchester. The Henry was mostly a Union
weapon in the Civil War, cursed by muzzleloader-armed Confederates as "that
damn Yankee rifle that shoots all week."
Over the years Winchester
issued many commemorative Model 94s, celebrating everything from John Wayne to,
in the case of mine, the National Rifle Association. Several, in severely
limited editions, now sell for thousands of dollars.
To date, at least 7 million of them have been sold. The 1-millionth went to
President Calvin Coolidge. Harry Truman, my fellow Missourian, got No. 1.5 million and his successor, Dwight Eisenhower No. 2 million!
Nobody gave me mine. I bought it, but it kills deer just as efficiently as
does those of Presidents.
For a fine assortment of Shooting Accessories, click here.