The Model 70 Story: A Classic Advanced

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The Year 1964 has come to be associated as much with the Model 70 rifle as the Winchester name itself. Comments by some shooters might lead one to believe that any Model 70 made after that date is pure junk. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The attitude of collectors is more understandable, as the pre-’64 Model 70 is distinctly different from succeeding models, regardless of year, and forms a fascinating collector field in itself. As time passes, however, the post-‘64s will find their collector niche, as have the postwar Single Action Colt revolvers.

In addition to the two preceding articles in the American Rifleman, there is a good deal of printed matter available on the various models of Winchester’s premium bolt-action. Most of it dwells on production before the fateful 1964, but much information can be had from Dean Whittaker’s The Model 70 Winchester 1937-1964; The History of Winchester Firearms 1866-1966 by Georg R. Watrous; Bill West’s Winchester-Complete; and The Winchester Book by George Madis. The facts as given by the authors do not always coincide, but the comparison of views and statements is interesting in itself and does not detract from the pleasure of studying America’s most famous bolt-action sporter.

One book that has no counterpart—and no flaw that this author is aware of—is Stuart Otteson’s The Bolt Action. This remarkable volume covers, from an engineer’s standpoint, the major turnbolt actions from the M98 Mauser (1898) through the Mossberg Model 810 (1971). There are separate chapters devoted to the Winchester 54, the pre-’64 Model 70 and, finally, a 1968 version of the Winchester. Otteson finds little bad to say of the new versions, and those adversely critical points he does make apply to the pre-’64 version as well; i.e., “1. Action over-long for many calibers; 2. Two-piece trigger guard/floorplate assembly.” Anyone with prime interest in the mechanics of the various Winchesters would do well to study Otteson’s book carefully.


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