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09/11/2003 Entry: "My Winchester '94"

The story goes something like this. (Dad, help me out here.) There was a guy who lived across the street from my grandparents. (Later, my Uncle Ted and Aunt Grace bought his house. My cousin Melissa live in it now.) He was dying of cancer. He sold to grandfather a Winchester 1894 in caliber 30 WCF. He sold it to him, the story goes, for the same price he paid for it. From my grandfather it went to my father, with this clause: the gun was to NEVER be sold. Never. There's a little oath you have to take. Well, not really. But when the gun was handed down to me, it was impressed upon me how special this tradition was, and that the gun was to never be sold. And, if I have a son, I will impress upon him that he may never sell it either.

The gun itself was manufactured in 1897, as determined by its 5 digit serial number. (Winchester has now made over 7 1/2 million. Mine's under 100,000.) The Winchester 1894 was one of the first firearms designed to shoot the then new smokeless powder. As such, it's still safe to shoot. Mine has an octagon barrel, nickel steel receiver, full length magazine (it holds 11 rounds, I think!), and crescent butt-stock. In its lifetime, this rifle has shot about 45 deer, if the tally is correct.

The last guy to drop a buck with this rifle was my brother-in-law Dwane. Big buck, too--over 200 pounds! But he had to empty quite a few rounds before he got him. We all kidded him about that. Then, last year (or maybe the year before), Dwane said he tried to sight the rifle in, and it was shooting about 6 inches too high. I never remember it shooting high, and neither did my father. (Dad in fact used it to kill a raccoon once. That's a funny story I should tell you sometime...)

I took it to the company picnic last week, and shot it at 50 yards or so--maybe a little longer. It was 3 feet high. No joke. And the sights were all the way down. I couldn't sight her any lower. So I took it too my local gun shop. A crusty guy in there, perhaps old enough to remember when the gun itself was made, said the front sight was not original, and way too short. And that short front site was causing it to aim high.

Art Adolphsen works here in the office. He's got a couple of sons who make reproduction black powder rifles. They do a good job too. In fact, they made some rifles for Disney's "Alamo" movie. I asked Art if they would do a little gunsmithing for me. He gave me their phone numbers, and I called Alan today. Not only will he fix it for me, but it will only cost about $40, and he can turn it around in a week or two. And, I'll feel safe knowing my family heirloom will be going to a trustworthy family. I'll let you know how things go.

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