Sunday, May 20, 2012

Teddy Roosevelt's Suppressed 1894 Winchester

Story by: Max Slowik

( A new exhibit is coming to the National Firearms Museum this June, the Theodore Roosevelt Collection. Teddy Roosevelt is famous for his love of shooting, hunting, and battle. He was an avid gun user and collector, and a great fan of Winchester lever-action rifles, and one of his most-used and prized Winchesters will be a part of it.

That Rifle is a Model 1894 likely chambered in .30-30, which he often called his "Little .30." Roosevelt instantly became a fan of the cartridge when it was first introduced. He was such a fan of their rifles that he tried every new model introduced, and when he felled an antelope at about 180 yards he declared the .30-30 Model 1894 as "Aces," and decided to get one for use at home in Long Island.

Chiefly purposed for varminting on and around his property, Roosevelt had it modified and suppressed with a Maxim silencer, as to be kind to his neighbors. "The President's rifle comes with the usual Roosevelt bells and whistles—the crescent buttplate, no raised check piece, as well as a little something extra; a threaded barrel. Yes, you guessed it, Roosevelt's '94 Winchester comes with it's very own suppressor."

While .30-30 was his go-to cartridge for culling local pests, Roosevelt was exceptionally fond of another smokeless powder chambering, .405 Winchester.

"Introduced in 1904, the .405 Winchester cartridge was the most powerful round ever developed for a Winchester lever-action rifle. Roosevelt had to have not one, not two, but three 1895s in .405, and it proved very effective on almost every sort of game in Africa. The big 300 grain bullet was a hard hitter with an initial muzzle velocity of more than 2230 fps.

"In perhaps the best Presidential endorsement of any product ever, Roosevelt wrote in Scribners Magazine 'The Winchester .405 is, at least for me personally the medicine gun for lions!' He created a sensation for the gun that lasts, to this day. The .405 was discontinued in 1932. However rifles chambered in 'Teddy's caliber' continue to bring a high premium over examples that are chambered in a round still readily available. In 2000, Winchester announced the re-introduction of the Browning 1895 in .405 caliber, demonstrating that the spirit of 'Big Medicine' is stilt alive and well."

That being said, the Model 1894 is one of Winchester's greatest all-time successes, having made over 7 million of these rifles in various calibers, with many other companies manufacturing guns patterned on the design to this day.

We have to wonder what other guns will be a part of the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, and we look forward to next month when it is unveiled. Read more about it and the other exhibits at the National Firearms Museum.



Anonymous said...


Perhaps the coolest post (coming from my personal perspective) to ever appear on a Catholic blog.

Why? Well, I attend an FSSP apostolate in Pennsylvania. But I grew up in New York State; near Buffalo to be precise. Some twenty-five years ago, I had the pleasure of being a volunteer docent at the house in Buffalo where TR was inaugurated.

A few years later, I married a girl from Long Island, and moved there. For the four years I lived there, I spent many a weekend as a docent for the National Park Service at Sagamore Hill, TR's home. Back then, twenty-two years ago, there were still a few of TR's guns, a .22 rifle and a twelve-gauge, if I remember correctly, in the cabinet in what in what is known as "The Gun Room" on the second floor. While giving tours, I used to heft the .22 and draw a bead on squirrels down below while telling the tourists about TR's habit of plinking critters from that vantage down in the yard.

Those days are gone, now, as sadly, all the guns are removed from the room. I haven't read the linked article, but I'm guessing the reason the guns are on tour is because all of TR's belongings have been boxed, as Sagamore Hill is currently undergoing a two year renovation.

Even though I would've certainly pulled the lever for Taft in 1912, I've always been a TR fan. I can't agree with the motives that guys like Glenn Beck attribute to him a hundred years later. He was simply trying to figure out ways to deal compassionately with the new hyper-industrialized world he found himself in, and to do it in a just fashioned. He occasionally went overboard in doing so, but no one had trod the path yet. I forgive him.

I'd like to just close with an anecdote. I have two teenage sons. The oldest graduates from high school tomorrow. When he and his brother were little, at bedtime every night, I hold one under each arm at the bottom of the stairs. Together, a la Teddy Brewster, we'd recite TR's words at Kettle Hill, "Gentlemen, the just cause the Almighty God are with you! Gentlemen...CHAAAARRRRRGE!!!"

Those were the days. Sniff!

Vincenzo said...

"Together, a la Teddy Brewster, we'd recite TR's words at Kettle Hill, 'Gentlemen, the just cause the Almighty God are with you! Gentlemen...CHAAAARRRRRGE!!!"

Great story Jon. Thank you. :)