I have heard many things about the Winchester 94, but one of the biggest complaints I hear concerns the loading of cartridges into the tube magazine. I have seen a few, that have even cut their finger loading the 94, and complained about in print. In fact one web writer that made a big to do about it in one of his articles several years ago.
Some say this is due to Winchester dropping the ball, and not polishing and de-burring the receiver around the loading port, but the fact is a good many of these soar thumbs are due to the shooter using an improper method of loading the firearm. They have not read the owners manual, or maybe Winchester was too brief in their explanation of the loading of cartridges.
I have come to call this condition Winnie thumb, or whiny writers thumb! The majority of shooters I talk to about this problem are in fact loading the rifle incorrectly. If you use the proper method you will find you not only can load the gun without hurting your thumb, but you can load a little faster using this method. Just take it slow, and work on going faster as you get the movements down to second nature.
First as you probably already know the loading port is on the right side of the gun. I am speaking as if the gun muzzle is pointing away from you. Lay the gun in your left hand making sure to position and the gun where you can use the thumb on your left hand to help with the loading of the cartridges if you can't reach it with the thumb on your left hand, then use your left index finger. Now using your right hand push the nose of the cartridge into the loading port, and push till just the end is sticking out of the port. Then using your left-hand thumb, or index finger hold the cartridge in place as in picture one.
O.K. next using your right hand push another cartridge into the port as in picture two. You will use this cartridge to finish pushing the previous cartridge in until it is completely in the magazine. Hold the second cartridge in place with your thumb as you did the first. Repeat the process until you have loaded all but one cartridge.
Now, when you get to the last cartridge push it in until you can hold it with your left-hand thumb, or index finger as all the previous rounds. Using your right hand pinky push the cartridge into the magazine completely as in picture four. You have now loaded the Winchester 94 using the correct method of loading. Your thumb should be fine.
If your pinky is bloody, well then you got a big pinky. If you still think Winchester dropped the ball on your receiver take an emery board like people use for their nails, and with one hand push the loading port open, sand the inside edges of the port. You may need to cut the board down to fit easier.
Practice this method, and you will not have to worry about Winnie thumb again. If you have not read your owners manual please do so it is a great source of information on many problem you will encounter like the one I have written about here. Know the final point I am going to touch on is the argument that Marlins don’t have to be loaded this way, well I have seen the same thumb problem with Marlin users especially with the Marlin 1894.
As always I hope my article helps those that read them I have a great deal of respect for many of the gun writers on the web like the one I mentioned in the first of the article, but sometimes everyone needs to be corrected even those that think that they experts. To those poor fellows I refer them to Webster’s dictionary so they can learn the meaning of expert. I know that many might want to correct me on an issue or two. Well please feel free to give feedback it let’s me know that someone is reading my work.