October 21, 2013

Winchester Model 1895 Lever Action Carbine 30-40 Krag, $1000- $1500

(GunReports.com) — Gun Tests magazine tested two rifles in a May 2013 showdown of lever actions. They were the Mossberg Model 464 XMB Lever Action No. 41026 30-30 Win., $535; and the Winchester Model 1895 Lever Action Carbine 30-40 Krag, $1000-$1500.

For some shooters, Hollywood seems to have become a prime factor in choosing the style and type of firearm finding favor on the range and in the field. This truism seems to be particularly prevalent when dealing with lever-action rifles. In the old days, Westerns ruled the movie screens and a true-blue cowboy had three good companions – “my rifle, my pony and me” – as sung by Dean Martin in the classic western Rio Bravo.

One of those good companions for quite a few cowboys and hunters of that time period was the Winchester Model 1895. The Model 1895 was the first Winchester rifle to feature a box magazine located underneath the action instead of the tubular magazine design, allowing for the use of military and hunting cartridges with pointed bullets, and was the last lever-action rifle to be designed by legendary gunsmith and inventor John M. Browning.

For our test, we were able to obtain a vintage Model 1985 in 30-40 Krag that dates back to the early 1900s, when it sold for a mere $25. The specific firearm we used in the test had spent countless hours in a rifle scabbard on horseback or on the side of a truck bouncing through the South Texas brush near Laredo and has accounted for more jack rabbits, coyotes and whitetail deer than can easily be counted.

On the more modern side of the Hollywood depiction of a lever-action shooter is the recently introduced Mossberg Model 464 ZMB 30-30 Win., offering a variety of high-tech features to handle the highly promoted zombie apocalypse. Short and quick with the ability to add all kinds of optics and lights for effective firepower to stop the undead — if they ever make their appearance — or varmints and deer-sized big game, the Mossberg has upgraded the lever-action rifle to a space-age weapon.

Gun Tests May 2013

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Admittedly, nostalgia was a factor in ranking this veteran firearm slightly better than the new-age Mossberg, but overall performance and handling of this classic smokepole was superb. If price is not a concern and if a Model 1895 becomes available, any lever-action fan should jump at the chance to own one.

Although the calibers are identical — the 30-40 Krag is also known as the 30 U.S. — the Krag provides a little more punch with a larger bullet than the 30-30 Win. Both cartridges are considered prime brush guns for handling small game up to animals the size of a whitetail deer at ranges of 100 yards or less.

Here’s an excerpt from that report, used with permission:

Winchester Model 1895 Lever Action Carbine 30-40 Krag, $1000- $1500

After handling hundreds of rifles over the years, there have been few times when picking up a fresh firearm and sighting down the barrel is like encountering an old friend. The Winchester Model 1895 is one those cases. This rifle should be listed in the dictionary under “old school” with its well-worn stock and forearm and gun-metal blue barrel and receiver — also displaying years of use but not abuse — as appealing to the eye as a fine painting.

As noted earlier, the Model 1895 was the last lever-action rifle ever created by the fertile mind of John M. Browning. The strongest lever-action rifle produced by Winchester, the Model 1895 was designed to handle the increased pressures of smokeless-powder cartridges that were becoming common at the time. One of the rifle’s earliest fans was Theodore Roosevelt, who personally purchased and equipped each of his fellow officers in the Rough Riders with a Model 1895 Winchester in 30 Army (30-40 Krag) for use in the Spanish-American War.

In 2001, Winchester reintroduced the rifle during the 100-year anniversary of Roosevelt’s presidential administration, offering it in 405 Winchester (a caliber highly praised by Roosevelt) as well as 30-06 Springfield and 30-40 Krag. With history on its side, the Model 1895 began with a slight edge in the match-up, and its performance on the range and in the field upheld its lead.

Gun Tests May 2013

Courtesy, Gun Tests Magazine

Separated by more than a century of technology, the Winchester Model 1895, top, and Mossberg Model 464 ZMB, lever-action rifles display features that are a classic confrontation between old school and high tech.

Weighing in at 8 pounds compared to the Mossberg that tipped the scales at 6.75 pounds, the Winchester had a nice heft and balance and produced no more recoil than the smaller 30-30 Win. The average three-shot groups of 2.3 inches with the Winchester 180-grain Power Point bullets and 4.8 inches with the Remington 180-grain Core-Lokt bullets using open sights at the 100-yard indoor range was considered very good by our shooting team.

Sighting down the 22-inch barrel over the V-notched rear sight and tiny bead front sight was both easy and quick. A trigger pull of 4.5 pounds was also a well-appreciated feature of the veteran rifle. It came as no surprise that the action of the Model 1985 was very smooth, making second shots in the field extremely effective. There is a lot to be said about the workings of a vintage rifle that has seen years of quality trigger time and proper maintenance. Although rifles of this quality may be hard to find and carry a hefty price tag when they can be located, this specimen certainly demonstrated that even an old war horse is capable of meeting or exceeding the needs of today’s hunter.

Our Team Said: Very nice accuracy, smooth action, and classic, comfortable handling and features earned the veteran carbine high marks. We can understand why Teddy was such a fan of this Winchester model. The price tag is a little high, as it is with most desirable collector-quality firearms, but that should not be a deterrent for lever-action fans.

Admittedly, nostalgia was a factor in ranking this veteran firearm slightly better than the new-age Mossberg, but overall performance and handling of this classic smokepole was superb. If price is not a concern and if a Model 1895 becomes available, any lever-action fan should jump at the chance to own one.

Comments (33)

My ship was once lyng idle in Portland, Or. for about a year. I do know Fred Meyer and spent a ton of money there.

Posted by: Cecil B | October 29, 2013 12:22 PM    Report this comment

Yes, our Walmart's also carry a few rifles and shotguns as well as quite a bit of ammo. Popular ammo sells out immediately. The Fred Meyer stores mentioned earlier are in the Northwest. I don't know if they even carry BB's or Pellets.

Posted by: BUSY | October 29, 2013 11:14 AM    Report this comment

Yeah, Cecil.....Our Walmart has a rack full of ARs (like 5 or 6), a handful of rifles, and a smattering of shotguns. Prices aren't too bad, but Academy has a lot more, and prices are very competitive. 'Next gun show is slated for 16 November in Belton.....

Posted by: canovack | October 29, 2013 10:57 AM    Report this comment

Last time I was in Wal Mart, they had 5 or 6 ARs, D)MS, Colt and Bushmaster. I was surprised.

Posted by: Cecil B | October 28, 2013 8:32 PM    Report this comment

Fred Meyer doesn't ring any bells to me, since I am in Central Texas. Our local Walmart still stocks a limited number of long arms and a pathetic supply of ammo. We really lucked out when Academy opened up a store here, since they have a large inventory of rifles, shotguns, and handguns. They also maintain a pretty good stock of ammo, and just this week they stopped rationing the stuff, so we can buy all we want.....except .22LR. Also, Texas, being a very gun friendly state has several gun shows, so I can usually hit at least one every month, within an hour's drive of my home.

Posted by: canovack | October 28, 2013 4:54 PM    Report this comment

Thanks for the history lesson. And yes, the big retailers, besides no longer selling firearms, don't even stock ammunition. One in my area that comes to mind is Fred Meyer. Sad.

Posted by: BUSY | October 28, 2013 1:32 PM    Report this comment

Prior to 1968, all of the big name retail department stores sold firearms, and they often had a number of models made under their proprietary trade marks.

I fought tooth and nail in my letter campaigns to keep the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA68) from being enacted, all to no avail. The assassinations of JFK and RFK were weaponized by the anti-Second Amendment forces to such an extent, that emotion ruled, and we were saddled with the most onerous piece of legislation in our history (even more onerous than the National Firearms Act of 1934). Interestingly, Senator Tom Dodd (father of Senator Chris Dodd) crafted the legislation from the Nuremburg Laws of the Third Reich. He brought them home with him when he served as a minor player in the prosecution of the Nazi war crimes.

The big retailers, not wishing to engage the Washington anti-freedom types, simply gave up. First they stopped stocking proprietary labels, and finally they deserted the sportmen and gun owners completely, by no longer selling any firearms.....

Posted by: canovack | October 28, 2013 12:20 PM    Report this comment

Yes Canovack, the proprietary names from the past do go on and on. To bad, but those are days gone by. With today's atmosphere we'll never see them again.

Posted by: BUSY | October 28, 2013 11:25 AM    Report this comment

The list of "good guns" with proprietary names goes on and on..... Not too long ago, I bought a single shot turnbolt .22 rifle for about $30 at a gun show. It was in good shape, and I was intrigued with it being a turnbolt rifle that actually has a hammer ignition instead of the usual striker. A little research showed it to be a Revelation (Western Auto) piece that was actually made by Mossberg.

Posted by: canovack | October 28, 2013 10:51 AM    Report this comment

Speaking of old firearms with proprietary brand names. I have a 12-ga Western Field (Montgonery Ward) pump shotgun that I purchased new in the early 1960's and a year or so ago an old friend of mine had an identical gun in 16-ga and excellent condition that he offered me for $25. I of course bought it. Then a couple of months ago my cousins husband brought me a Montgomery Ward "Hercules" 12-ga double barrel shotgun. This gun had been purchased new in the late 1930's by my dad. He gave it to my uncle and he used it for many years. My uncle passed away a couple of years ago. The same uncle that gave me the above Winchester 1895. In any event he evidently told my cousin to make sure I got this shotgun. It is in really good shape. Has a patent date stamp of Apr 20, 1925.

Posted by: BUSY | October 27, 2013 7:46 PM    Report this comment

Yes.....There ARE some really good buys out there on firearms with proprietary brand names. I have a J.C. Higgins (Sears) 12Ga pump with cutts comp/polychoke and ventilated rib for which I paid $125.00. A little research showed it to be a High Standard Flight King Deluxe. Another of my finds is an over/under 12Ga, also J.C.Higgins, but made by Marlin. While these pieces don't command high interest among collectors, they certainly are quality firearms made by well known manufacturers. Another of my wonderful gun show finds is a High Standard Sentinel II .357Mag revolver with removable barrel shroud to permit changing barrels, for which I paid $165. In actuality it was made by Dan Wesson, and when I queried Dan Wesson for availability of extra barrels and tools, they sent me a free set of wrenches and seating gauges to use on the gun.

Posted by: canovack | October 27, 2013 5:02 PM    Report this comment

About ten years ago just before I retired from the phone company as a cable repairman I was able to buy a Ted Williams 30-30 from an old fellow who was expecting to die and was selling off his unneeded and seldom used stuff. I ended up getting a gently used lever gun for only $80.00. Heck of a buy! Bob Blakely

Posted by: bee O bee | October 27, 2013 4:13 PM    Report this comment

Ya gotta love the Rangers. I actually met one that used to ride the border on horseback. A tough bunch back then.

Posted by: Cecil B | October 26, 2013 10:56 PM    Report this comment

Interesting article. I actually load my .30-06 to Krag ballistics, given that I do not shoot to 1,000 yards and only shoot to 500 yards on the two nearest NRA ranges, generally with a 7.62 target rifle. Everyone forgot to mention, however, that the Model 1895 30-40 Carbine, as tested, was the standard rifle of the Arizona Rangers; and also of the Texas Rangers for several decades.

Posted by: ZG47 | October 26, 2013 6:05 PM    Report this comment

'Know where you're coming from, BUSY. I haven't hunted in many years, but I still have some fond memories of those old times. Most of my collection now consists of tactical pieces. I have lots of old war relics hanging on the walls.....all of which are shooters, and most of my newer stuff is definitely tactical. I don't even get out shooting as much as I used to, but sitting in my man-cave with the safe doors open and stroking my pieces still provides much pleasure. I'd guess you could say that it's a form of gun owner masturbation.....

Posted by: canovack | October 26, 2013 1:39 PM    Report this comment

Thanks Cecil. Good site. I'm just an old hunter that likes nice firearms, altho most of mine are just old relics with many memories of my family hunting adventures.

Posted by: BUSY | October 26, 2013 12:26 PM    Report this comment

No big deal BUSY. Sometimes my opinions need a little correction. The Colonel knows a lot more about guns than do I. Anyway, the guys in here are friendly. LOL

Posted by: Cecil B | October 26, 2013 3:58 AM    Report this comment

I understand canovack. Sorry Cecil, I stand reprimanded.

Posted by: BUSY | October 25, 2013 9:49 PM    Report this comment

I think, bear1, you got a helluva nice rifle. I can think of no finer lever rifle that's reasonably priced. I have had one since around 1965, but for some stupid reason I traded it for something that I can't even remember. I was extremely fortunate to find another at a gun show a few years back, that was essentially in mint condition without a box. It was a private sale, and I paid $380.00 for it. It is, of course, chambered in .308Win, and I will NEVER let this one go! I am seeing M99s at gun shows that are in far worse condition than mine priced at $750.

Posted by: canovack | October 25, 2013 7:51 PM    Report this comment

Hey canovack what do you think about my earlier blog about the Savage model 99 in 30-30? just wandering.

Posted by: bear1 | October 25, 2013 7:38 PM    Report this comment

I stand reprimanded.

Posted by: Cecil B | October 25, 2013 7:14 PM    Report this comment

I suspect that Cecil's comment originated with his thinking that many of our traditionally American brands of firearms are being manufactured in Japan by such firms as Miroku, who actually puts out some very nice work. Both Cecil and I have been posting in this forum for several years, and we often get into subjects that, at first glance, may seem off the subject. That said, however, we still enjoy the exchange of information, even though we may not stay locked step in sync with the subject that heads the article. It's an open forum, so we sometimes get off on some pretty wild tangents.....

Posted by: canovack | October 25, 2013 6:40 PM    Report this comment

When did Japanese guns come into the conversation Cecil?

Posted by: BUSY | October 25, 2013 5:39 PM    Report this comment

Well, wait a minute, Cecil..... Firstly, the stuff that we're getting out of Japan, today, is of pretty high quality. Secondly, up until the later stages of the war, the Nambu pistol and Arisaka rifle were both finely made, good performing firearms. As the war dragged on, and the Japanese industrial capabilities suffered the same fate as that of the Germans, the later models of Nambu and Arisaka became increasingly shoddy. While my examples of these pieces are middle grade, I have seen and handled some immaculate Nambu pistols and Arisaka rifles that are as fine as any pistols and rifles of early German manufacture or American manufacture, for that matter.

Fortunately for US forces, the American capabilities for continued manufacture of high quality firearms endured right up to the end of the war, since our industrial might was unaffected by enemy action. Both the Japanese and German industrial might were severely impacted by air raids and shortages of critical materials.....as well as shoddy manufacture by slave and forced labor. Consequently the weaponry of both nations, manufactured late in the war, was of inferior quality.

Now, having said all of that, the thing that continues to haunt my thinking is that so much of our own industrial might has been degraded due to outsourcing production and technology, that we might have a difficult time going into a full war time footing if we ever got into another war of national survival.....

Posted by: canovack | October 25, 2013 4:36 PM    Report this comment

I can't believe that we are buying Japanese guns. Hell, they couldn't even build a good one to fight a war.

Posted by: Cecil B | October 25, 2013 1:38 PM    Report this comment

Yes, John, the peep sight on the rifle my grandson is using is mounted on the side. I did this a number of years ago. And, yes, I understand that replica 1895's in 30-06 were produced a few years ago. But, again, the 3 1895's I have are all original.

Posted by: BUSY | October 25, 2013 11:36 AM    Report this comment

"Winchester" Miroku was making replica 1895s in .30-'06 a few years ago. Wonder if those are still available. No way to mount a scope on one of these- I am guessing BUSY's grandson had a tang-mounted peep sight on his?

Posted by: JEAN F R | October 24, 2013 11:50 PM    Report this comment

I would like to disagree with the comment in your analysis that "Both the 30-30 & 30-40 are basically prime brush guns for handling small game animals the size of whitetail deer at ranges of 100-yds or less"
I am a 74-yr old guy and grew up in Oregon where we hunted blacktail deer in the coast range, mule deer in central Oregon and Rocky Mountain Elk in NE Oregon. I shot my first blacktail at the age of 13 with a Winchester Model 94 across a canyon at about 75-yds. I also shot an Elk with the same rifle a couple of years later at about 100+ yards. Altho, it was a spike, it was no problem putting it down.
But my main point is regarding the 30-40. My dad shot his first elk in the early 1940's with a 30-40 Krag rifle. He later purchased a Winchester 95 in 30-40 caliber and shot many elk with that rifle. He handed that rifle down to me when I was about 16 or 17 and I killed many deer and elk with it, and some at well over 100-yds. I had a chance many years ago to purchase a Model 95 in 30-06 and used it for some time. I can say that I would not hesitate to use either the 30-40 or 30-06 when hunting elk or deer. I still both of these rifles and also another Model 95 in 30-06 that an uncle of mine gave me before he passed away. I also have a 30-40 Krag rifle. All of these are in excellent shape. My grandson is now using my original Model 95 in 30-06. He has yet to shoot an animal, but he outshot some hunting partners with their big guns w/scopes last year when up in the hills shooting at targets. With a peep sight he was putting shots in a 3-in group at 100-yds. I am now in that group of guys that shoot with a scope (Remington 30-06).
Well, all of my hunting with "buckhorn" & "peep' signs is nothing but memories today, but I still stand behind my comments about the 30-40.

Posted by: BUSY | October 24, 2013 10:45 PM    Report this comment

I'll stick by my Henry in .44. Looks and feels great AND, made in America. (At least I think New Jersey is still in America) Also comes in .38/.357.

Posted by: Cecil B | October 24, 2013 8:54 PM    Report this comment

I have a Marlin 30-30 that is a really nice rifle, I like the weight that is alittle heavier than the Winchesters and I also have sweet Savage model 99 in 30-30 that is hard to find and the col. I like the rotary mag. Just haven't had chance to shot it yet, and by the way I was offered three times what I paid for it, and it wasn't cheap, before I even got out of the gun store.
God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future. Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US.

Posted by: bear1 | October 24, 2013 7:46 PM    Report this comment

My dad had this 30-40 Krag and used it for elk and I shot my first deer with it. I still like the heft and feel of it.

Posted by: greg s | October 24, 2013 3:03 PM    Report this comment

1895 Winchester in 30-06? Great! The round is accurate and you can get it without paying the premium due a "Historical" cartridge. Compared with the Mossberg it has yet another real and serious advantage: the cartridges are stored vertically in a magazine rather than point-to-primer in a tube. That means you can use ANY 30-06 out there without fear of an "incident".
Been looking to get a decent lever action, this just might be it.
P.S. I have a 30-40 Krag. Nice action. Not nice ammo prices, ditto Win .405 rounds. Of the three, the 30-06 is the way to go.

Posted by: KMacK | October 24, 2013 11:32 AM    Report this comment

Lever action rifles have always held a fascination for me. That said, as some are aware, I am not a big fan of tubular magazines in centerfire calibers, even though I recognize the chances of problems with recoil induced discharges within the magazine are minimal. Due to my preference, I am quite enamored of lever actions with box magazines, and I own a Savage M99 in .308 that is a lovely piece to behold with its rotary magazine. If Winchester M88s hadn't gotten so pricey, I'd likely have one of them, too.....and the same reason keeps me from adding a Winchester M95 to my collection.....for now, at least. The Browning BLR is also a very nice lever gun, and for whatever the reasons might be, the prices of them haven't gotten as high as the Winchesters.

Posted by: canovack | October 22, 2013 10:53 AM    Report this comment

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