Today we’re going to talk about a reproduction of one of the most popular sporting rifles in American history: the Cimarron (well, really Uberti) reproduction of the Winchester 1894.
The Winchester 1894 is perhaps what most people think of when the term “.30-30 rifle” comes to mind.” Having sold over 7 million units (and counting, the Winchester 1894 is one of the best selling rifles ever produced. It’s every bit as American as the 1911 pistol and the AR-15, and possibly has dropped more deer than any other centerfire rifle as well (although this is purely a matter of speculation).
Cimarron has released what appears to be a very faithful reproduction of the Winchester 1894 as it would have originally been released from the Winchester factory in the 1890s and early 1900s.
I had been curious about the Uberti/Cimarron 1894 rifles for a while, and when the time came to start shopping for a .30-30 lever gun, I decided to give the Cimarron a shot (pun intended).
So how did Cimarron’s 1894 turn out? Let’s find out.
Why a .30-30 Rifle?
The .30-30 lever action carbine truly is one of the most pragmatic rifles a person can own. There’s a reason why they have been popular for over a century and a quarter.
1894 carbines are lightweight, nimble, and easy to carry around. Along with the Marlin 336, they are the ultimate ‘brush gun’.
It’s relatively short, lightweight, and handy. Since it has no boxed magazine sticking out of the gun anywhere, it’s very nimble, fast to bring to the shoulder, easy to pack around, and super easy to stash in the back of a truck or SUV.
So long as you keep the .30-30 to within the limits (the cartridge shouldn’t be used out to past a hundred and fifty yards or so), it can be the ultimate ‘brush gun’ and ‘deer gun’ within those aforementioned distances.
It’s for these reasons that earlier this year I felt it was time to add a .30-30 rifle to my arsenal. After a few months of research and shopping around, I settled on a brand new Cimarron 1894 in the carbine configuration.
What Led Me to the Cimarron 1894
Cimarron is an importer of reproductions of firearms from the Old West period. The company contracts Italian arms manufacturers Uberti and Pedersoli to build their revolvers and rifles to their specifications before having them shipped into their headquarters in Texas for distribution.
In the late 2010s, Cimarron unveiled a reproduction of the venerable Winchester 1894 rifle. The company had long been releasing reproductions of other Winchester lever guns (such as the 1866, 1873, 1876, 1886, and 1892) so releasing an 1894 was long overdue.
I had used a variety of Winchester and Marlin lever actions owned by my family members growing up, each of which were older rifles that lacked thumb safeties. We always treated the half-cock position of a lever action rifle as the hammer. In the half-cock position, the hammer is neither resting over the firing pin (which would possibly cause an accidental discharge) nor can it pull the trigger.
The Cimarron 1894 has a beautiful laminated wood finish for the stock and the forend.
Lever action rifles across a variety of manufacturers in recent years, however, have had manual safeties added to them. For instance, a number of years ago, Winchester (who now outsources their lever guns to a Japanese arms manufacturer called Miroku) started adding manual tang safeties to the 1894 lever rifles. In the 1990s,, they had added an even uglier safety to the side of the receiver.
While the Miroku-made Winchesters are exceptionally well made (I’ve ) the presence of the tang-mounted safety always bothered me. Likewise, the new Marlin 336s released by Ruger also have developed a solid reputation for quality but the presence of the manual safety bothered me again as well.
What stood out to me about the Cimarron 1894 was the fact it was built like how the 1894s originally were produced and lacked a manual safety of any kind. While I have nothing against manual safeties in general, on lever guns I just prefer the ‘old way’ of using the half-cock hammer position as your safety. That way, when you need to bring the gun up fast to your shoulder to fire, all you have to worry about is pulling the hammer back rather than messing around with a safety button or switch.
I contemplated purchasing an older pre-safety Winchester 1894 or Marlin 336, but the idea of having a brand new .30-30 lever gun with no manual safety was too tempting to pass up.
I also felt comfortable buying a Uberti-made product, as I had purchased and owned a number of Uberti-made Single Action Western-style revolvers, all of which had been very well made with deep blued finishing and smooth actions.
I expected no less for the Cimarron 1894 and went ahead and placed the order.
First Impressions of the Cimarron 1894
The first impressions of the Cimarron 1894 were nothing short of what I expected. The rifle has a deep blued finish throughout the gun, a color case hardened lever, and beautiful laminated wood furniture. The gun is simply gorgeous and pleasing to the eye to look at.
The fact it lacks a manual safety of any kind further contributes to its aesthetic appeal just like the original Winchester, but that’s just me.
The Cimarron 1894’s color case hardened lever was a bit stiff out of the box but it soon loosened up after a few days of use.
True to the form of the original 1894 as well, the Cimarron is very lightweight and well-balanced. If you grasp your hand over the middle of the weapon and then extend your arm out, the two sides will balance perfectly. The 1894 is simply a very easy rifle to tote around, which is one reason why it’s been so popular.
All in all, I was very impressed with the fit and finish work of the Cimarron.
Working the lever was a bit stiff out of the box, but it has since loosened up considerably since working it back-and-forth a lot and especially after shooting the rifle at the range.
Speaking of which…
Shooting Performance of the Cimarron 1894
I knew the true test of the Cimarron 1894 would be at the range. I went down to my local sporting goods store and bought one box of each .30-30 type that they had available.
I tested five types of .30-30 Winchester ammo for the Cimarron 1894 at the range. The top four types functioned flawlessly and only the Winchester Power Point at the bottom had issues.
- PPU 170 Grain
- Federal PowerShok 150 grain
- Remington Core Lokt 170 Grain
- Winchester Super X 170 Grain
- Winchester Power Point 150 Grain
I needed to confirm if the 1894 could cycle through various ammo types without hindrance. I had read that since the tolerances of the Cimarron 1894 are very similar to the original Winchesters, certain modern ammunition may not function properly in the Cimarron. There was only one way to find out.
Long story short, the first four of the aforementioned ammo types (PPU, Federal PowerShok, Remington Core Lokt, and Winchester Super X) functioned flawlessly. I was able to load a full magazine, chamber rounds, fire, eject spent shell casings, and load new rounds without any issues.
The Winchester Power Point, however, was unfortunately a different story. For whatever reason, I was only able to load three or four cartridges in the mag tube instead of the full sixth.
Additionally, sometimes when chambering a round the round would not go all the way into battery, forcing me to really work hard to close the lever and bolt all the way home or otherwise try to eject the shell, only to experience more issues with ejecting the casing out (when I worked the lever all the way back, the shell would sometimes refuse to remove itself from the gun, forcing me to pry it out with my fingers).
This happened both with fresh bullets (having difficulty chambering and ejecting) and fired shell casings (having difficulty ejecting).
To be clear, the Power Point ammunition fired accurately as expected when I did manage to get the rounds fully chambered, and some rounds did chamber and eject without issue. But chambering other rounds from that box was a struggle (every second or third round I attempted to chamber or eject gave me grief, it seemed).
After further research I believe this could indeed be attributed to the tolerances of the Cimarron and the Power Point ammo not being fully compatible.
In any case, the other four types of ammo I shot out of the Cimarron loaded, chambered, cycled, and shot without hindrance. The rifle was also accurate shooting out to about the sixty yards that I tested it and steel was ringing from downrange throughout the afternoon. In the future I want to take this carbine out to a hundred yards or so and see how it does.
The deep blued finish of the 1894’s barrel and magazine tube (along with the barrel bands and receiver) are very aesthetically pleasing.
I look forward to testing out more ammo types in the Cimarron in the future. For now, I’m going to avoid using the Winchester Power Point ammo and stick to the other four ammo types that I know function beautifully in the gun.
Conclusion: Cimarron 1894 Review
Well, I have a new deer hunting rifle now. The Cimarron 1894 is a beautiful rifle that nicely replicates the original Winchester 1894.
Just be aware that it may not be fully compatible with all types of commercially available .30-30 ammunition due to differing tolerances. I’ll continue testing out my Cimarron with different ammo types, but for now, I’m pleased with it knowing I’ll need to avoid loading it with Winchester Power Point ammunition.
If you’re looking for a brand new 1894 rifle that lacks manual safety and is more like how John Browning intended it, the Cimarron is worth your attention.