By Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week this time around is the classic Winchester Model 70 rifle.
This rifle, in the pre-1964 configuration, is considered by many to be the ultimate bolt action sporting rifle, the finest ever made in general production.
The rifle went into production in 1936 and was touted as The Rifleman’s Rifle.” Not without cause.
The rifle was originally produced by Winchester, up until 1980. After that it moved around a bit. U. S. Repeating Arms made them for a while, then FN made them in South Carolina. Then assembly (though not basic manufacturing) moved to Portugal.
The early pre-64 rifles, utilizing the controlled feed, are by far the most desirable of these weapons. They changed to a push feed system after that. The weapon was produced with two receiver lengths. It had a 3-round magazine capacity with magnum calibers, a 4-round capacity with large calibers, and a five round capacity with standard calibers. They have been made from the factory in more than 20 calibers from .22 Hornet up to .470 Capstick and of course many were modified for other rounds.
The controlled round feed uses a large, Mauser type extractor and the cartridge slips under the extractor as the round feeds from the magazine. This is considered to be more reliable and is especially desirable in a dangerous game rifle.
The changes in the rifle included pressed checkering rather than cut checkering on the wood, stamped rather than machined trigger guard and magazine floor plate and changes in the feed system, all of which significantly reduced hand labor and therefore costs.
The rifle, in its pre-64 configuration, was popular with the U S Military. Legendary Marine Corps sniper Carlos Hathcock used a Model 70 in 30-06 with a standard Unertl scope to shoot a NVA sniper thru the eye, thru the scope of his Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle, during the war in Vietnam. That rifle is now on display in the Marine Corps Sniper Museum in Quantico.