#1. How much money do you want to spend?
#2. Do you want a scope on the rifle?
#3. Do you want a "collectible" rifle?
Questions 1 and 3 are somewhat related. Winchester made dramatic shanges to their production techniques in 1964 which resulted in a noticeable reduction in quality of the post 64 firearms. In a Model 94 SN 2,700,000 is the majic number. Stay under that and you have a better quality "pre 64" rifle. But these rifles also cost more on the used market. They also hold there value and actually increase in value
over time if the condition is not reduced. The later pre 64 Model 94's are drilled and tapped for receiver mounted peep sights and if you can shoot well are very accurate to 100 yards which is a very typical outside range for most hunting situations.
For question #2. DO NOT
drill and tap these rifle for a side mounted scope!! Ima-Savage may have done that to his gun but he just drilled $1000 worth of reduced value into the rifle!! Bad choice. Marlin has always been a side eject lever action whereas the Winchester is top eject thus making a top mounted scope impractical. Late post 64 Model 94's did eventually change to an Angle Eject style and are designated as "AE" so that top mounted scopes could be used.
The potential cost of nice pre 64 rifles can be anywhere from $500 to $1500 depending on just what year, the caliber, and most importantly
the condition. Fortunately there are lots
of these rifle around to choose from. Take a look at Gunbroker.com and take our time. Do not limit yourself to a local gunshow. Also keep in mind that the same Model 94 in 32 WS also knwn as 32 Win Special is typically a bit less expensive and the ballistics are almost identical.
This is one of my 13 Model 94 rifles which was manufactured during 1939. It is a great little rifle.
If you are serious about buying a good pre-64 rifle send me a link or photos of it and I will be happy to advise.