Recently made a discovery. Up thru 1971 Wards' Western Field lever-action rifles were all variants of the Marlin lever action. However, starting in '72 the Western Field lever-actions Wards sold were made by Mossberg. The Mossberg looks a lot like the Marlin, but it's easy to tell the difference. When you pull the Mossberg lever down the trigger mechanism comes down with it. The Marlin doesn't do that.
Local Pawn shop has two Win 94's for $350ish. Both have nice wear, which I like. Nice carbines. Neither gun is fancy and the forearm wood only projects and inch and a half in front of the front ring, so it's not an old gun. Haven't seen the S#'s so they may be post 64's. There's a way to count the screws to know if it's a pre- or post 64, but I've forgotten it.
The little Winchester is handier than a Marlin 336, but the Marlin is a very nice rifle too.
My advice? For what it's worth; I'd look for a 94 just to say you have an old Winchester. They shoot fine. They almost feel like a toy in your hands.
Charley mentioned something above that is interesting. There is a fine little Winchester .22 lever action called the 94/22 and they are very nice rifles. They are genuine Winchesters and they look like a 94, but shoot .22's which makes them fun to shoot. The ones that I've seen and the one that I own have very nice wood/finish. I see'm for $400ish. Plinking with an authentic Winchester is fun. There is another fine lever .22 called the Marlin 39A. They are still being made. They are sized for an adult and zillions have been sold. I have one, and it is one of my very favorite rifles to shoot.
So you have to decide if you want a lever rifle to shoot sometimes and hunt with or a .22 which you will shoot more and plink with. Of course for small game the .22 is a fine hunter too. They don't make the 94/22 anymore, but you will like the rifle. They have a big rifle feel.
I think the other folks have covered most of the pertinent details. I can't add much, but I would like to make a comment or two.
If you are set on a .30 caliber, I think a .30-30 ( also known as .30WCF) would be a good choice. This cartridge was designed to be used in lever-action rifles, and I believe it was one of the first, if not the first, civilian cartridge intended for smokeless powder. It is a very historic round, but it has stood the test of time. Probably the best reason to go with the .30-30 is that it is still very popular, and ammunition easy to find. This keeps the price somewhat lower. Some of the more exotic or less popular cartridges can be hard to find and/or quite expensive. The .30-30 is more than capable of taking hogs and deer, but it is relatively mild, and won't beat you to death with recoil.
Regarding the brand of rifle, it's sort of like cars. They all have their merits, and many consumers are loyal to "their" brand. I like Marlins. They are reliable, accurate, and parts are available if you need them. Marlin actions tend to be stiff "out of the box," but they smooth out with a little shooting. Most competent gunsmiths are familiar with them if the need work. One big factor for me is that Marlins can be field-stripped in a trice when you need to clean them, and the bolt comes out to allow you to clean the bore from the breech, which is a lot harder to do with a Winchester. The Browning BLR takedown model can also be cleaned from the breech, but I don't think you can get these in .30-30, and it might be out of you price range, anyway.
Before you buy your rifle, I would recommend investing $25.00 or so in Mike Venturino's book, Shooting Lever Guns of the Old West. This will give you a great deal of information about the rifles, cartridges, and shooting. Mr.Venturino's website indicates this book is currently out of print, but Amazon still has it. I think it will be worth your while and your money to get a copy while you still can.
Crooked River Bob
I appreciate all the information. It's alot to take in but I'll mullit around and digest it. My purchase will not be made easily or without much consternation.
That's why I brought my question here as I knew you guys would have the answers.
I have a Winchester 30-30 94 carbine that I bought from my uncle for $130 looks like either a 50s or 60s model needs a proper bluing becuase the gunsmith that I sent it to didn't have the proper tools but he didn't charge me but other than that still shoots.
Check the serial # against a list of '94 numbers. If it was made after '64 it was made in Japan on contract. If it's a Japanese '94, forget rebluing. Nobody really knows what went into the steel over there, but I've seen attempted reblues of Japanese '94s that came up anything from green to pink.
That's more that what your uncle paid for the 30/30. When I was a kid in the 50's they were not just popular deer rifles, but extremely popular. Lot's of guys shot the Savage 99 too, which were generally considered a better and more modern rifle. The 250/3000 was all the rage. So was the 300 Savage. When the .243 emerged everyone went out and bought one.
The lever action gradually fell from favor; I think when magnum mania hit. Roy Weatherby started it. When it caught fire, the model 70 and then after '64 the model 700 made a big splash in the gun world. It didn't take long for the .308 to be considered a pip squeek. I shoot several .308's today and it's all the rifle I want to shoot.
Then we lost the iron sights, and that was a shame. Now you pay about a grand for the rifle and almost that much for the glass! If I buy a rifle today, I always buy an older one that retains its iron sights.
I checked the SN# and it was made in 1957 not a Jap rifle.
You ought not to have any problem with re-bluing the thing, then. I swapped my '94 off years ago for a '95 in .30-40. It's a more potent ctg, but the almost straight-line stock of the '95 delivers a lot more felt recoil. However, the '95 was the 1st repeater ever issued to the Texas Rangers, which is why I've always wanted one. No, I've never owned a rifle with glass sights. I inheirited one from my Dad--a Remington 721 in .270--but I swapped it off to my cousin. If I ever get to where I can't shoot with iron sights I'll quit shooting.