Winchester Model 70

Infobox Weapon
name= Winchester Model 70

caption= Winchester Model 70 with 24 inch barrel
origin= flagcountry|United States
type= Rifle
used_by= United States Marine Corps
wars= Vietnam War
manufacturer= Winchester Repeating Arms Company, U.S. Repeating Arms, Fabrique Nationale de Herstal

  • 1936-1963 (Pre ’64)
  • 1964-2006 (Push feed/Classic)
  • 2008-
    variants= see article
    weight= 6-8 lbs
  • 22
  • 24
  • 26
    cartridge= various, see article
    action= bolt
    feed= internal spring fed well with floorplate
  • 3 round capacity (magnum calibers)
  • 4 round capacity (large calibers)
  • 5 round capacity (standard calibers)
  • Iron front
  • open adjustable iron rear
  • tapped for scope mounts

    The Winchester Model 70 is a bolt action rifle originally manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. From the early 1980s until 2006, Winchester rifles were manufactured by U.S. Repeating Arms under an agreement with Olin Corporation, allowing USRA to use the Winchester name and logo. [Hawks, Chuck. [ "The Rifleman's Rifle: Winchester's Model 70"] , Chuck Hawks' Web site. Accessed June 11 2008.] Model 70s were built in New Haven, Connecticut from 1936 to 2006, when production ceased. In the fall of 2007, announcements were made that Model 70 production would resume, and, as of 2008, new Winchester Model 70 rifles are now once more being made in Columbia, SC.

    The Model 70

    In 1936, Winchester introduced the Model 70 bolt action rifle to the American market. This original Model 70 was and is today still highly regarded by shooters and is often called "The Rifleman's Rifle." The Model 70 was offered in many grades and styles. Over the entire production of the Model 70, chamberings have included: .22 Hornet, .22-250 Remington, .223 WSSM, .225 Winchester, .220 Swift, .243 Winchester, .243 WSSM, .250-3000 Savage, .25-06 Remington, .25 WSSM, .257 Roberts, .264 Winchester Magnum, .270 Winchester, .270 WSM, 7mm Mauser, 7 mm Remington Magnum, 7mm WSM, .300 Savage, .30-06 Springfield, .308 Winchester, .300 H&H Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, .300 WSM, .300 RUM, .325 WSM, .338 Winchester Magnum, .35 Remington, .358 Winchester, .375 H&H Magnum, and .458 Winchester Magnum.

    1936 through 1963 Model 70

    The pre-'64 Model 70's were manufactured from 1936 through 1963 after which time significant changes in the design and manufacture of the rifles were made. Pre-'64 Model 70s bring a very premium price due to a public perception that they had several desirable features (controlled round feed, cut checkering) that the post-'64 did not have. "Pre-'64 Model 70 Winchester rifles can best be identified by serial number. Model 70 rifles with serial numbers below 700,000 are the pre-'64 variety."

    Pre '64 Model 70 Action (Controlled Round Feed, CRF)

    The pre '64 Model 70 actions have several features that distinguish them from later models of this rifle. First is the extraction and ejection system used in the feeding and extracting of cartridges. The pre '64 model 70's have a bolt with a non-rotating claw type extractor that captures a cartridge as it is fed from the magazine and controls its journey into the rifle's chamber. This type of cartridge feeding is called "controlled round feeding" and is favored by a number of shooters, especially those who pursue dangerous game, because of the proven reliability of this type of cartridge feeding system. The pre '64 Model 70 rifle utilizes a blade type ejector. This type of ejector allows the shooter to control how far the empty cartridge case is thrown from the rifle by how fast the bolt is pulled back after firing. Pulled quickly, the cartridge case is thrown well clear of the shooter; pulled slowly, the cartridge is easily kept close to the rifle.

    Other significant features of this action include: A three position wing type safety, a cone faced breeching system that prevents bullet nose damage while loading a cartridge from the magazine, machined steel trigger guard and floor plate, one piece bolt construction, and a trigger adjustable for weight of pull and overtravel.

    Winchester's Classic line (see below) of Model 70's still use this action due to its high popularity, and there is no sign of its use deteriorating. Many hunters still prefer this action over Winchester's newer "push type" action for its high degree of control, however, some dislike this classic action for this very reason; while the claw action is certainly not finicky, it does require a slight degree of discipline to use, as one must firmly cycle the action to eject the spent cartridge. Regardless of the rumors about rifles with Mauser-type claw extractors, cartridges can be loaded directly into the chamber of some models, but true Mauser type actions will be damaged by frequently loading in this manner (if it can be done at all) as the extractor has an angular cut on it which makes it able to snap over the rim of the cartridge.

    1964 through 1991 Model 70

    As a cost-cutting measure, in 1964 Winchester made a number of design changes to the Model 70; few to none of these changes were popular with the rifle-buying public, or with the US Military. The changes included dropping the controlled round feed feature, a change to the basic stock shape and the use of impressed checkering, rather than cut checkering.

    Jack O'Connor, long a proponent of the Model 70, wrote about the post-'64 version that "...I was informed by Winchester brass that the Model 70 was being redesigned. I told them that I was glad to get the information so I could lay in four or five more before they loused the rifle up. Then I saw the pilot model of 'New Model 70.' At the first glimpse I like to fell into a swoon. The action was simplified, the trigger guard and floor plate made of a flimsy looking one-piece stamping." Despite this initial reaction, O'Connor grudgingly went on to say, "Actually the post-1964 Model 70 is not a bad rifle in spite of the fact that rifle aficionados have never taken it to their bosoms the way they did its predecessor. It is a stronger action than the pre-1964. The head of the bolt encloses the head of the case. It has a small, neat hook extractor, which is adequate. With this extractor the cartridge is not as surely controlled as it is with the Mauser-type extractor. However, the new model seldom gives feeding problems."Jack O'Connor, The Rifle Book, 3rd Edition, p. 57, Alfred A Knopf (1978).]

    Post '64 Model 70 Action (Push Feed)

    Rifles manufactured from 1964 to 1992 differed from early Model 70's in the following ways:
    *The non-rotating claw type extractor was replaced with a small wedge type extractor that does not capture and control the cartridge movement from the magazine to the chamber but rather pushes it. This action was criticized by riflemen for its lesser amount of control and its unreliability, making the original action even more prized. This action has been improved over the years, and is now considered on par with the CRF action (with the possible exception of use for dangerous game). Because the bolt does not actively grip the cartridge, the rifle is much more vulnerable to jamming or inadvertently being closed on an empty breech (i.e., in an unloaded state) if it is operated under duress, especially if the rifle is held upside down or on its side, during a rush of adrenaline by the operator. Any post-'64 Model 70 rifle that is not designated as a "Classic" will most likely have this action.

    *The machined steel trigger guard and floor plate were replaced with parts made from an aluminum alloy to reduce weight.

    *Some models featured walnut stocks with checkering that was impressed onto the wood rather than cut into it as on the early Model 70's, further reducing manufacturing cost.

    1992 to 2006 Model 70

    Starting in 1992, Winchester reintroduced many features of the pre-'64 rifles, while also continuing to manufacture less expensive variants. The Post-'92 Model 70 is an extensive rifle line that boasts nearly all of the features of the original line, but with some updated equipment, such as the "Controlled Round Push Feed" action and synthetic stocks. The popular Shadow variants feature black resin stocks, which reduce the price of the firearm significantly, and hold up better than wood stocks over time. Some of the modern rifles also use high performance McMillan or Bell and Carlson fiberglass stocks, though these rifles tend to be expensive. Particular models feature a one-piece aluminum pillar block bedding for greater accuracy, and some models have fluting of the barrel to reduce weight and vent the barrel for additional cooling. Carbon fiber barrels are also found on select models to reduce weight and dissipate heat faster. Walnut stocks are still found across the line in satin finishes, and laminated walnut stocks are added to the mix for structural stability in extreme dry or wet conditions. The Model 70 is offered in all of the previous chamberings as the original, and is now supplemented with newer rounds, including the Winchester Short Magnum (WSM) and Winchester Super Short Magnum (WSSM) cartridges, which are magnum loaded rounds, but are shorter in length and wider in diameter, so spent cartridges take less time to eject and use less powder. However, these short magnum cartridges reduce magazine capacity and feeding reliability, due to their extra width and rebated rim.

    Model 70 Classic

    In 1992, Winchester introduced a Model 70 rifle called the Classic Model 70 in response to shooter's requests. This rifle is essentially a reintroduction of the pre '64 Model 70 design that remains so highly revered by many shooters. Still, the Model 70 Classic is not exactly the same as the pre-'64 Model 70 as the new version has a guide rib cut in the bottom of the right locking lug for easier operation.

    Around this time, Browning, which is owned by the same parent company as USRAC, Giat Corp, of France, introduced the BOSS accuracy system. The term ‘BOSS’ is an acronym for Ballistic Optimising Shooting System. The device attaches to the muzzle end of the barrel and allows the natural harmonics, commonly known as barrel whip, caused during the bullet’s passage down the bore, to be refined and controlled. By adjusting the device for optimum performance in the individual rifle, accuracy is brought to peak level. Winchester Model 70's equipped with the BOSS provide a significant improvement in accuracy for a production rifle. Currently, only Browning rifles are available with the BOSS.

    Later, Winchester expanded the Classic line, putting the Classic action on all their modern stocks, giving a wide range of choice in rifle types. This basically lets the buyer choose an action, then choose a stock to one's liking. It is entirely up to the end user of which action is better; both of the actions have their strengths and weaknesses.

    1992 Classic Model (Controlled Round Feed and Controlled Round Push Feed)

    In 1992, Winchester began producing a controlled round feed Model 70 that was marketed as the "Classic" model. This version returned the CRF feature, while retaining the locking lug groove bolt guide of the push feed model. The use of modern CNC manufacturing techniques allowed Winchester to return the CRF feature at a competitive price. A recent innovation allowed the short extractor used on the original post '64 models to ride over the extraction groove on a cartridge, giving controlled feeding without the expense of the long Mauser type extractor. This was called "Controlled Round Push Feed."

    Serial Number Searches

    Model 70 owners who desire to learn more about the history of a specific rifle, can contact the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (at [ the Buffalo Bill Website] ) to have a serial number search to learn at least some information about the rifle.

    Law Enforcement Use

    The Winchester Model 70 series rifles are marketed as sniper rifles for military forces and law enforcement agencies under the Fabrique Nationale banner as the Special Police Rifle (SPR) and the Patrol Bolt Rifle (PBR).

    The FN Special Police Rifle has the standard Winchester Model 70 rifle action, receiver and magazine system but the rifle is fitted with a heavier barrel and with the McMillan series tactical rifle stocks.

    The FN Patrol Bolt Rifle has the standard features of the original Winchester Model 70 rifle but the rifle is designed for use by police officers in patrol cars with the rifle having a short and compact barrel so it would allow the rifle to be stored in a police car. The FN Patrol Bolt Rifle is also marketed with a compensator on the muzzle of the rifle's barrel.

    Military Use

    The United States Marine Corps used the pre-1964 Winchester Model 70 bolt-action rifles as their standard-issue sniper rifle from the 1950s, until they were replaced by the Remington Model 700 series bolt-action rifles in the mid-1960s and the Remington Model 700 became the basis for the M40 series sniper rifle that is in current U.S. Marine Corps service today.

    One of the reasons the U.S. Marine Corps replaced their Winchester Model 70s was that the post-1964 variants of the Model 70 did not meet U.S. Marines' standards.Fact|date=July 2008 Despite the introduction of the Remington Model 700 rifle, the pre '64 Winchester Model 70 was still used by the US Marine Corps' scout/sniper teams during the Vietnam War alongside the Remington Model 700 rifle. The original wood stocks were found to be warping in both rifles after a few years of service and both rifles were given fiberglass stocks to remedy the problem.Fact|date=July 2008 Existing Model 70s still in service have had their stocks replaced with a McMillan fiberglass stock, such as that found on the Custom Extreme Weather variant.Fact|date=July 2008

    One of the best known U.S. Marine Corps snipers who used the Winchester Model 70 during the Vietnam War was Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock who used a Winchester Model 70 sniper rifle chambered in .30-06 Springfield.

    A new era

    On March 31, 2006 U.S. Repeating Arms closed the New Haven, Conn. plant where Winchester rifles and shotguns were produced for 140 years.ref|Wapo060121 This resulted in hiatus of the production of the Winchester Model 70 rifle and Winchester Model 1300 pump action shotgun and the end of the Model 94 lever action rifle. Other Winchester models however, are still produced in other regions such as Asia and Europe.

    On August 15, 2006, Olin Corporation, owner of the Winchester trademarks, announced that it had entered into a new license agreement with Browning to make Winchester brand rifles and shotguns, though not at the closed Winchester plant in New Haven. Browning, based in Morgan, Utah, and the former licensee, U.S. Repeating Arms Company, are both subsidiaries of FN Herstal.

    In October, 2007, FN Herstal announced that it would produce Pre-'64 Winchester Model 70 rifles at its facility in Columbia, South Carolina, where it currently manufactures the M240, M249, and M16 for the United States military, as well as its SPR and PBR lines, which are, in fact, variants of the Pre-64 Model 70. [ [ Howard Communications Inc ] ]

    As of March 2008, Olin still owns the Winchester name and the new Winchester Model 70 rifles are now made in Columbia, SC. In regards to the FN Special Police Rifle and the Patrol Bolt Rifle, it appears that production on these two firearms is still continuing at Fabrique Nationale's US factories despite the closure of the Winchester factory in New Haven and production on the Winchester Model 70 ceasing.


    See also

    *FN Patrol Bolt Rifle
    *FN Special Police Rifle
    *Winchester Repeating Arms Company
    *Winchester rifle

    External links

    * [ U.S. Repeating Arms inc.]
    * [ Fabrique Nationale Herstal USA website]

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