Winchester 94 with Maxim Silencer at James D Julia

The Winchester Model 94 is one of the most iconic American sporting rifles ever made, and this particular one is chambered in the equally iconic .30-30 cartridge. It is a takedown version, made in 1907, and most interestingly of all, it comes with a legal and registered original Maxim Silencer. The Silencer is something that is difficult to find today not because they didn’t make and sell a large number of them, but because very few were ever registered (the registration tax was $200, and the silencers themselves cost between $2.50 and $7.00). That makes most of them contraband today, with no legal avenue to register them now.


  1. Wasn’t the registration thing done due to desperation poaching during the Great Depression? Wardens complained about the dwindling game population… Suppressors don’t make noise disappear completely, but they can reduce it significantly depending on the quality of construction.

    • There was enough poaching during the Great Depression that the deer population seriously declined, and that must have led to the Federal laws on suppressors, more so than criminals using them to get away with murder.

    • National Firearms Act of 1934. The sound suppressors were classed along with “sawed-off” shotguns and Thompson SMGs as “gangster weapons”.

      Never mind that very few “gangsters” ever even saw a “silencer”, and that the major agent putting “Tommy Guns” in the hands of gangsters was Hollywood, specifically Warner Brothers. At the time, Al Capone’s mob in Cicero owned exactly two Thompsons, that Snorky kept in his mom’s house. Said typewriters acquired from the Cook Co. Sheriff’s Department, which actually ordered them, took delivery, and resold them to Al.

      Warner Brothers had 40 Thompsons, mostly 1921s, that they used in their gangster epics. At the time, the only “gang” that owned more Tommies than WB did was the United States Marine Corps. The FBI had exactly none, until J.Edgar hoover became Director; before that Bureau of Investigation officers were not even legally authorized to carry pistols on duty.

      BTW, most of Warner’s Thompsons ended up at Stembridge Gun Rental. They were still being used for film projects in the 1980s.

      NFA 1934 was even less effective against criminal use of firearms than GCA 1968. In both cases the laws were based on very inaccurate assumptions.



      • The Thompson really was a huge favorite of Hollywood and it’s easy to see why. It’s just more impressive than most other firearms of the era. For example the 1967 version of Bonnie and Clyde features the Tommie gun almost exclusively both in the hands of Clyde and the LEOs who killed him and Bonnie, even though in reality Clyde favored the BAR and the officers used a variety of different weapons. It’s still a great film, but only loosely based on the historical Bonnie and Clyde.

  2. I was told suppressors were banned in the 1930’s along with automatic weapons and
    easily concealed rifles and shotguns because of the uptick in crime during the Great Depression.
    However, until quite recently silencers were illegal to use when hunting game in Texas. This has now
    changed and hunting with a silencer is becoming increasingly popular. I subscribe to several “gun” magazines
    from the UK and hunting with a silencer is very popular. Someone in the UK is marketing a Mossberg shotgun
    with a silencer for shooting pigeons in populated areas.

    • Hunting with a suppressor is indeed quite popular in many European countries. One of the greatest complaints the general non-hunting public has against hunting is the noise it makes, and using a suppressor is therefore both polite and good PR for hunters.

  3. I remember reading that Theodore Roosevelt had a similar rifle for pests (perhaps a Model 1892) for dispatching pests
    around his home at Sagamore Hill, NY.

    • My father used to shoot rats at the city dump (one of his actual duties as township constable, believe it or not) with a Winchester Model 61 .22 pump-action rifle with baby bottle nipples stretched over the muzzle. No, seriously.

      The rubber nipple acted as a “suppressor” to contain the muzzle blast and precursor wave of the discharge. Used with .22 LR standard-velocity loads (MV 1,050-1,060 FPS, just under the speed of sound), it reduced the signature of the rifle firing to about that of an air gun. Each one was good for about three or four shots, they came in a box of twenty, and the box cost a quarter.

      As to why, there was a stereotypical “little old lady” who lived next to said dump who was always calling the Mayor to complain about the rats. But when city PD or sanitation personnel went out to shoot them, she called the PD and screamed that people were shooting at her. Traps and poison bait were NBG, as the Dog Warden and Game Protector took a dim view of both for obvious reasons.

      My father wished she’d just get a cat. Or a good, big Border Collie. (They hate rats worse than cats do. Most of our dogs were BCs for that exact reason.)

      The moral was, don’t be the township constable. Sooner or later, problems like that would inevitably end up in your lap.



  4. A Winchester model 94 rifle in 30-30 was the weapon used by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau in his attack on Parliament in Ottawa last autumn.

  5. One of Dashiell Hammett’s “Continental Op” detective stories from the 1920s or ’30s (I think it was “The Big Knockover”) had a scene where a criminal gang was discovered executed by a rival criminal gang. The weapon was a silenced .30-30 rifle. I had thought the author had made that up until now.

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