Hundreds of pages of information, speculation, and myth have appeared on Winchester’s premium bolt-action centerfires. By access to factory records this three-part series attempts to tell just when and why the many variations were made starting in this issue with the Model 54. Next month the legendary pre-’64 Model 70 will be examined, and the following month will bring the story up to date.
It is generally conceded that the Winchester Model 54 was the first of Winchester’s successful bolt-action, center-fire rifles. That is not strictly true.
In the late 1800s, the .45-70 cal. Hotchkiss bolt-action with tubular magazine in the stock was purchased in some quantities and tested by the U.S. Government. It met with no great popularity in the hands of the troops, and a commercial sporting version did no better. Later, Winchester made the Lee Straight-Pull rifle for the U.S. Navy and again offered a commercial equivalent, both guns being chambered for a special .236 cal. smokeless powder cartridge.
Full story: The Model 70 Story: Improving the Model 54