Milestone 2,500,000th Winchester Model 94
A number of gun companies have a long history of taking milestone guns with special serial numbers like 1,000,000, 1,500,000, 2,000,000, and so forth and having them custom engraved and inlaid with gold and other precious metals, and then oftentimes presenting them to prominent individuals such as presidents of the United States.
That's why there's one impressive Winchester that is a little bit different. The Winchester Model 1894 or now the Model 94 is one of the most iconic lever-action guns of all time and is one of the most produced guns of all time. Today, they've made more than 7,500,000 of them, and so when it came time for the production dies to roll around and stamp the serial number 2,500,000 onto a gun, it was a big deal. This special gun was engraved and inlaid with gold by one of the Kusmit brothers, who were actually trained under the famed Ulrich brothers. Having recently given serial number 2,000,000 to President Dwight Eisenhower, one would think that serial number 2,500,000 would go to the next sitting president, John F. Kennedy - but that wasn't the case. Winchester records from John Olin himself indicate that the factory decided to keep this special gun for themselves, but there’s no indication of why.
In 1962, Winchester created an exact duplicate of serial number 2,500,000, except this time the serial number was 2,500,000A. They decided to hold a contest for this gun, calling it the “Win-A-Winchester” contest, and they started off with their 1962 catalog that had an image of 19 men all standing armed with Winchester Model 1895 lever-action rifles - all except one man. He's got an older Krag model rifle, and Winchester decided that they were going to craft a story around this and they wanted to bring the public in on it for the contest. Entrants were to give their best explanation as to why this one man was not carrying a Winchester.
Entries came in from all over the country, but the winning entrants were Mr. and Mrs. Emrich of Anchorage, Alaska, and their answer was in the form of a limerick:
That man ain't no ranger/
Just wanted his picture took/
Tried to get the trappins to get that ranger look/
Borrowed the hat, the star, and the string tie/
But no one loans his Winchester to another guy/
And that's why!
The rifle was sent along with some paperwork and certificates to Mr. and Mrs. Emrich, but they didn't hold on to the gun for very long. They had it for less than a year before it went up for sale because a $5,000 rifle in 1962 has the 2022 equivalent of about $42,000. The gun made its way into the collector community where it sold most recently in May 2021.
It's an interesting piece of history that Winchester took this milestone gun and, for one reason or another, chose not to present it to a dignitary of some kind like they had in the past, but to keep it for themselves. Why exactly they chose to make a duplicate of that gun and give that away as a contest piece remains unknown. We don't have any indication from the factory why they chose to do it, but it's pretty cool that they did it, and it garnered a lot of press and a lot of attention. Obviously, it worked really well because 60 years later, that gun is still garnering attention!
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