Swapping out the lower tang on a USRAC Mdl. 94 Angle Eject
By: Joseph G. Miller
My first center fire handgun was a Single Action Revolver in .45 Colt. This set my love of big bore handguns and cartridges in stone. Ever since then I have owned one or more .45 Colts at all times.
I always thought that it would be nice to have a carbine in the same caliber as my handguns. But unlike the late 1800’s, I wanted mine in .45 Colt. No gun manufacturers made anything chambered for my favorite caliber until the mid 1980’s. When Winchester (USRAC) introduced the Mdl. 94 Trapper in .45 Colt I looked all over Arizona for one. When I finally found one, I bought it.
It was the same as my other three pre USRAC Mdl. 94’s except for two features. It was angle eject instead of top eject, and had a strange rebounding hammer action. I could ignorethe angle eject, but that action? It was felt different, sounded different, and had a horribly heavy and creepytrigger pull. But I thought I’d get used to it.
When I would go out to shoot I found myself always fighting the rebounding hammer. I would try to put in on half cockevery time I used it. And when working the lever to cycle thenext round into the chamber, there was a sudden jerk in the movement of the bolt. This was because the hammer wasn’t resting against the locking bolt like it does on a standard Mdl.94. It wasn’t as smooth as a regular 94 action either. It found it impossible to adjust to the new action, when all the rest of my lever actions were the old style.
After a while I got tired of fighting the action and decided to research what I might be able to do about it. I had done a home trigger job, which reduced the pull weight, but did nothing to help the other things I had come to dislike about it.
Local gunsmiths had been no help. The action was so new to them they wouldn’t even attempt a trigger job. So asking them if it could be replaced was useless. I decided to compare the actions of my older Mdl. 94’s with that of the Angle Eject.
First I took all of them apart, and laid the actions out on open table so I could look at them.
The following is a detailed description of what I did to replace the rebounding hammer action of my Angle Eject Trapper.
The first, and I feel most important thing to have is a set of good hollow ground gunsmith screwdrivers. The use of these will prevent messed up screw heads, and in general make it easier to work on your guns.
1. Make sure you have unloaded the gun.
2. Remove the large tang screw that holds on the stock. Then gently pull off the stock. This will allow you to see the entire lower tang, and how the main spring is set up.
3. Pull the hammer back to full cock and insert a pin or any other suitable tool into the hole in the main spring strut. This is just a precaution, to prevent launching the spring and strut if the hammer is released and allowed to move all the way forward. Since the tang safety must be depressed at the same time the trigger is pulled it usually isn’t necessary.
4. On Pre-rebounding hammer actions, lower the hammer to half cock. On Rebounding hammer actions lower the hammer to its rest position. This will secure the main spring, and position the hammer for removal from the receiver.
5. Lower the lever just enough to drop the locking bolt so there is clearance for the hammer as the tang assembly is pulled to the rear and lowered.
6. Lay the rifle on its right side. Unscrew the hammer screw, and remove it. This is the rearmost screw on the left side of the receiver. The hammer on the coil spring Mdl. 94’s is held into the tang by a hollow pin that the hammer screw passes through. It will not come out like it will on non-coil spring actions.
7. Gently work the tang back down and out.
When comparing the two different lower tangs, I noticed that they were almost identical. The only difference being the hammer mechanism of the newer tang.
I installed the non-rebounding lower tang action from my pre-A.E. Trapper into my A.E. Trapper, and it fit like it was made to be there.
With the lever about halfway open insert the tang assembly with the hammer still at half cock into the bottom of the frame.
Line up the hammer screw hole with receiver holes and insert screw, but do not fully tighten yet.Close lever, pull hammer to full cock and remove pin from spring strut, if one was used. Lower the hammer.
Put the stock back on and install upper tang screw.
Tighten upper tang screw securely but not too tight, and then tighten the hammer screw. Tightening the hammer screw last allows things to move around during assembly.
I left it in and went shooting. It functioned perfectly.
The only noticeable difference is that the hammer moves a tad bit farther forward when the lever is lowered than on the non rebounding hammer rifles.
This is because the wedge shaped piece of the frame that runs crosswise in front of the hammer has been narrowed to make room for the newer action parts
Once convinced that this conversion was doable and safe I contacted Gun Parts Corp. and ordered a new standard lower tang assembly. Because of the variations in Mdl. 94’s
I used the serial number of my pre-USRAC 94 to get the correct part. I specified “new” if available, or “best used” otherwise. I was lucky; they sent me a new assembly.
All that was left to do was have a trigger job done on the new lower tang assembly.
The conversion of my USRAC Mdl.94 Angle Eject was simple. Mine is a pre-cross bolt safety version. I have not examined a newer version, so I do not know if it can be done on one of them. I suppose it might, but the safety would have to be removed also. This opens up a different can of worms altogether.
My A.E. Trapper .45 Colt has been converted for over 10 years and has performed just like any other standard Mdl. 94. During this time there have been no malfunctions or problems of any kind with, or because of the replacement action.
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