The Winchester 94 in WWII

Canada’s western coast was sparsely populated and the concern was that the Japanese would take advantage of so much untamed wilderness to invade. The citizens of British Columbia and the Yukon territory were convinced that they would be the best defense against the impending invasion due to their familiarity with the land. Hundreds of volunteers, primarily hunters, trappers, and ranchers, from these territories came forward. This group became known as the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers (PCMR) and received official sanction from the Canadian government in 1942.

Though they were operating under government orders, these men were not fully integrated with the military. They were issued simple arm bands and cap badges in lieu of uniforms and used either their own weapons or surplus rifles.  However, by mid 1942, the government approved the purchase of rifles and these frontiersmen went with the good old 1894. Somewhere between 2,000-3,000 Winchester 94s in .30 W.C.F (.30-.30) were bought.

PCMR Winchester 1894 Full small These Canadian Winchesters were property marked with a “C” and broad arrow on the left side of the receiver, at the back of the fore stock, and at the base of the butt stock. All known examples are within the 1,300,000 serial range and were manufactured in 1942. They were also outfitted with special sling swivel bands and British web slings.

Canadian Rifle Winchester M1894 Crest

With the conclusion of WWII the PCMR was disbanded in 1945 and the volunteers were given the option to purchase their rifles from the government for $5. Those not purchased by the men were re-issued to other government departments and used until 1962 when they were destroyed due to high maintenance costs. As a result, there are fewer surviving examples of these Canadian Winchester 94s today.

Canadian Rifle Winchester M1894 POV


Othais is practically useless with modern firearms. That’s OK though, because he specializes in Curio and Relic military pieces and has agreed to decorate The Firearm Blog with a little history. He maintains his own site, C&Rsenal, with the help of his friends and the collector community.


  • SD3


  • Jayne

    I own one of these PCMR Winchester 94s. It was manufactured in 1942. It belonged to my great-grandfather and come to me via my grandfather, great-uncle and my mom’s cousin (its a long and convoluted story!). I just inherited it in May. It had not been shot since the 1960s. I took it out to the range and it performed flawlessly. It is in great shape and still has the original sling.

    • Pete Sheppard

      A true bit of history and an heirloom. Treat it well, and enjoy it safely! May it be passed down to further generations.

    • David Sharpe

      Wanna sell it?

      I think I know the answer, but I thought I’d ask anyways.

      • Jayne

        Not in a million years…this baby has been in the family for 72 years. I have already made arrangements for another family member to inherit it when I die. Sorry, you are out of luck!

  • Mountie1974

    Great article, nice photography. Can I request maybe an article about Enfield no. 4 rifles still used in Canada today by the Canadian Rangers. It pertinent because after so many years of the trusty Enfields they’re switching to Diemaco AR rifles. And it would pain me to know after they’re done with the Enfields they’d destroy em’ just like they did with the aforementioned 94′ lever rifles. It’d be cool if the Canadian ranger Enfields were surplused to the USA but I’m sure Obama would block it under the pretense of keeping the Enfields “out of the wrong hands”. Yeah right

    • floppyscience

      I don’t see why they couldn’t sell the surplus SMLEs on the domestic market. They’re bolt-action rifles, so the media shouldn’t flip out like they did when the subject of surplus Hi-Powers came up.

    • Othais

      While those are interesting I write about what I find as I find it. So I’m afraid I don’t think I’ll be bumping into one soon.

    • Joshua

      well, if they surplussed in the US I’d be very put out, I want one, so I want them to stay in my country thank you

    • GreekPreparedness

      Just found this video…
      A new rifle for the Canadian Rangers (don’t worry it will be bolt action)

  • Othais, excellent write up. It is a treat every time you post!

  • mosinman

    nothing sweeter than guns with history

  • Fred Johnson

    Nice bit of history!

  • iowaclass

    Gotta believe these would have been superior to bolt-actions under the battlefield conditions of both World Wars, or at least equal. Definitely would take one of these over a Mauser or Enfield if I had to go to the front and had a choice.

    • Zachary marrs

      No they weren’t look at the Russians that had to use them in ww1, lot easier to jam than a bolt action

      • Wetcoaster

        The Russian rifles were Winchester 1895s with stripper clip guides and provision for mounting bayonets. It couldn’t have been 94’s since like other .30 military rounds of the time, 7.62 x 54R had spitzer bullets so the box magazine would have been a necessity.

        Wouldn’t have taken much longer to reload, but I imagine you’d be right on the jamming. Opening the action on an 1895 causes the trigger assembly to drop out too. Can’t imagine much good happening when dirt gets inside there.

        • Zachary marrs

          The open internals is why I brought up the 1895. I still want one though

          • Russian Winchester 1895

          • Wetcoaster

            Lever rifles with full length wood are gorgeous in their own bizarre way

          • Zachary marrs

            Dont show me a gun I will probably never own, it makes me feel bad

    • Luc

      It’s a more complicated, less reliable action & is a lot slower to load.

    • iowaclass

      screw that, it shoots faster — I’ll do what I gotta to keep it clean, and top it off every chance I get

      • Cymond

        uhhh … I must have missed something. As far as I know, you can’t “top off” a Winchester 94.

        The rounds in the tubular magazine slide back, behind the loading gate. As soon as that happens, you cannot load any more rounds until the magazine is cleared.

        • iowaclass

          well then screw it — Mauser it is until you find a dead guy’s M1

        • David Sharpe

          Are you saying that where is no possible way to “Shoot one-load one” if the mag is less one? I do not believe you are correct, I see no reason that they would have been designed that way. I may have to try it however.

          • Cymond

            As I understand it, the loading gate is directly in-line with the magazine tube. When the magazine is loaded, the rounds slide backwards, towards the action. The round that is sitting in place for the lifter is actually blocking the loading gate.

            Maybe it’s not supposed to be that way. I’ll admit that is was an OLD carbine. It had finish damage from battery acid when the original owner’s Model A rolled over. Unfortunately, I can’t examine it now, it’s been 13 years since I saw that little saddle ring carbine due to difficult family relations.

            A little crude work in Paint should help clarify what I’m trying to say.

          • Zebra Dun

            Nope definitely for sure just tried it with my M-94 30/30 1973 made Winchester rifle and it can take a full magazine load with one in the chamber and shoot, load another round, shoot and load another, refilling the magazine as you shoot one or two shells at a time.
            The magazine and the rifle need to be in good clean condition and oiled slightly to assist in the process but you can top off the magazine after each shot.

          • Cymond

            huh … interesting. On ours, the gate wouldn’t even open enough to get the nose of the round started.
            It could have a lot of causes. Maybe ours was a very early version, and they made a revision later. Maybe our ammo had a non-standard OAL, causing rounds to align with the gate differently. Or heck, maybe it was just broken somehow. As said, it was an OLD carbine.

        • Zachary marrs

          If you have trouble with that, inspect the loading gate for burrs/defects, clean the mag tube, and make sure the spring length is correct

        • Zebra Dun

          Hmmm, Load up the magazine, shoot a round and load a round, shoot two rounds and load two rounds, works fine with my rifle.
          And it’s a Winchester 94 lever action.

      • Zachary marrs

        A lee Enfield has a capacity of 10 rounds, is accurate and reliable, and is one of the fastest turn bolts to this day, plus the .303 can use spitzer bullets

  • dan citizen

    I have no doubt that in skilled hands coupled with knowledge of the terrain, the frontiersman could have held their own with these rifles.

    Never underestimate the advantage of local knowledge…

    I was once in the position of driving a charter bus full of japanese tourists. We were at the north overlook for the golden gate bridge. Extremely large, fat, and tame raccoon live there and the tour guide had brought bread to feed them. The guide had explained how these funny little creatures were related to pandas, etc. etc.

    The tourists did not want to stop feeding them and get back on the bus, but I had a schedule to keep….

    So I told one of the tourists, These are cute because they’re newborns, The mother bear is the size of a car…

    They were back on that bus in a couple minutes.

  • Wetcoaster

    Not the first time home guard units were issued commercial rifles either. The Montreal Home Guard were issued 2500 Savage 99’s in .303 Savage back in WW1

    • Michel_T

      Nice… Wichester 64’s were also issued


    During WWII, the Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG) “Eskimo Scouts” fulfilled a similar role. There were 6,389 ATG members (29 were female Scouts) with as many as 20,000 Alaskans operating in support roles up through 1947. All but 21 were unpaid volunteers with the rank of Private! They were superb riflemen who supplied their own weapons and placed numerous caches along the Lend Lease air route to Russia. They also built many structures and developed a clandestine infrastructure. How quick;y we forget! Belatedly, in the year 2000, ATG members were accorded Veteran status with Veteran’s benefits.

  • schizuki

    This is why I love TFB.

  • Zebra Dun

    My personal go to rifle for SHTF situations, canoeing, home defense and hunting is a Winchester M-94 in 30 wcf- 30/30 I would advise anyone to look at a good 30/30 lever gun for this agenda but for strength of the rifle would recommend a Marlin.
    Me? I’ll take the old 30/30 Winchester.

  • Core

    The 30-30 doesn’t have the range and energy to compete with most infantry rifles calibers of the era. The CQB characteristics and short length would have gained it the advantage in the brush and thickets. The 94 is a capable platform the cartridge was the weak link. I had a 44 magnum 94, that would have been a great close quarters weapon as well. If they had chambered it in 30-06 or .308 it would have been a hell of an adversary if the Japanese had ever invaded.