Index Home About Blog
From: (Bart Bobbitt)
Subject: Re: Pre-'64 Winchester 70?
Organization: Hewlett-Packard Fort Collins Site

In about 1925, Winchester produced a commercial version of the M1903
Springfield and called it the Model 54.  With most of the M1903's
features and a few improvements, this was the only sporting rifle that
gave Paul Mauser's M98 a run for the money.  In 1936/37, the M54 got
a facelift and all of the M54s shortcommings were fixed.  The Model 70
hit the market and even the firms catering to the rich and wealthy (or
Griffin & Howe and Abercrombie & Fitch) saw orders for Mauser M98
based hunting rifles slack off in favor of the then new Model 70.  At
last there was even a factory target rifle (the M70 National Match with
Lyman 48 target rear sight factory installed even) that would start the
long, slow, but sure demise of the M1903 by shooting groups about
half the size of a tuned Springfield; without any special tuning at all!

The last few years of the pre-'64 M70s made not one cent of profit for
Winchsters; in fact, they actually lost money on it.  They did make a
decent profit on their other arms and ammunition to make up for it.
But like everybody else, their employees wanted more wages and bennies,
so the guys at the top decided to keep the primary and wonderful features
and make the action (and barrels, too) by a less costly process.

When folks heard of this, stock in the drug company that makes Excedrin
shot up four-fold; folks had too many headaches worrying about what WW
would do.  Seems they went to an investment cast reciever that was just
as strong, if not stronger, used some stamped parts in place of machined
parts in a couple of places but retained the key elements of what made
the earlier M70 the standard others could never equal.  The broach-cut
barrels were now hammer forged.  Stocks were machine stamp checkered
instead of the hand-controlled cut checkering.  But the most crucial
part of the pre-'64's success wasn't quite correct; the post-'64 bolt's
bound up too often.  Folks who needed rapid fire perfection (a few
hunters and all the highpower competitors) complained; very loud and very
often.  The earlier M70s have a third lug on the bolt body that rides the
left-hand rail and keeps the locking lugs from binding in the side rails.
No other bolt action made at the time was as smooth out-of-the-box as the
pre-'64 M70; any cartridge size, any number of rounds in the magazine.
The post-'64 didn't have any anti-bind feature, so they sometimes would
bind up and not feed a cartridge.  In 1968, the bottom lug was slotted
and the reciever modified to let this anti-bind feature work.  And it did.
Very well.  In fact, the M70s made since 1968 are just about as smooth
as the when-new pre-'64 ones.

The Mauser style extractor of the pre-'64 was extremely reliable.  And
it would pull a case out of the chamber and hold it atop the follower
so one could easily remove it.  The post-'64s had a spring-loaded
ejector and extractor that would press the fired case against the right
side of the reciever and scratch the case; something else folks didn't

But there was one good thing that happened with the post-'64 M70s; they
were much more accurate out of the box than the earlier ones.  Those
hammer forged barrels shot about 30 to 50 percent smaller groups.  The
broach-cut barrels the M70 used to have was great for the first 25 or
so barrels made with a given broach.  But those made later with the same
broach had uneven groove diameters and typically didn't shoot well.
And those broaches would be used for about 200 barrels before a new one
was put in the rifling machine.

There were other things such as aluminum floor plates, followers, and
trigger guards (except on Target and African versions which were still
steel).  But folks just didn't like the new M70.  Sales dropped off
and the folks at WW had to do some thinking.

There are no mythical qualities about pre-'64 M70s.  They had a great
action, poor barrel for accuracy, good stock design with decent wood in
it, the safest safety ever made (it locks the firing pin, not the trigger)
for a sporting rifle, and the amount of machining needed to make the
reciever was a class act by itself.  Most of these things carried over
to the post-'64 versions.  Some got better right away and a couple took
a few years.

Today, one is just as good as the other.  Barrels now are more accurate,
more versions and cartridges are available, and the list goes on.  But
some folks just like the earlier ones and that's fine.  A pre-'64 action
in excellent condition sells for about $500 or more.  A complete rifle
starts about $200 more and some versions/calibers/styles have 4-digit
price tags with the first number being at least a 5 and going up from

I have three pre-'64 action based target rifles and four based on the
post-'64.  There is no difference as to which one is the most accurate;
they are all equal in the competition game, but they all are miles ahead
of what ever is in second place.


From: (Bart Bobbit)
Subject: Re: Rem 700 or Win 70?
Organization: Hewlett-Packard Fort Collins Site

Marc Clarke ( wrote:

: Hey Bart, what do you think of the new Winchester "Custom" models built on
: (approximately) the pre-64 pattern bolt & receiver?  Do they have better
: accuracy potential than the standard post-64 Winchester actions?

I don't think there's any difference in accuracy potential across all of
the Model 70 based actions, including the Model 670 and 770 Winchester
made some years ago.  The parts that count are common in all of 'em:

  * Square bottomed critical parts of the reciever.

  * Easy-to-grasp bolt handles; great for rapid fire matches, and thicker
    stocks in the bolt handle area.

  * More reliable feeding from the magazine; not accuracy producing, but
    improved usability.


From: (Bart Bobbitt)
Subject: Re: New Rifle Advice
Organization: Hewlett-Packard Fort Collins Site

There's no better way to start than using an M70.  To keep expenses down,
buy an older, used M70 in either .243, .308, .270, .30-06, or any of the
standard head diameter cartridges.  Find one of the long actions; the short
ones are a bit harder to load and unload when single-shot firing is done.

Remove the stock and barrel, then sell them to your local gunsmith for parts.

Have a decent gunsmith fit a Krieger or Obermeyer or Hart barrel.  If you
want to shoot 190 - 200 grain bullets, get a 1:11 twist in Obermeyer or Hart;
if the 155-gr. Palma bullet is your choice, get a 1:13 Krieger or Obermeyer.
Be sure the smith uses Henricksen or JGS chambering reamers designed for
the bullet of your choice, otherwise forget about anything under 1 MOA.

A semi-inleted target stock can be had from various sources.  It can be
epoxy bedded to the reciever, fitted with buttplate and forend rail, then

For sights, the Warner is the only rear sight made in this country that
holds zero, has no backlash or lost motion, and has enough windage adjustment
to cope with hurricane-speed winds.  A Champion front sight with skeleton
apertures and spirit level is one of the best.

What part of the country do you live in?  I can probably get you in touch
with someone near you to help you select a competant riflesmith, maybe even
find an excellent used M70 long range target rifle in .308 Win. for you
to start with.  Wait a minute; do you live in the San Fran Bay area, is it
Berkeley I see in your email address?  I know about half a dozen folks in
that area that are amont the top long-range shooters in the country.  I'll
see about getting in touch with one to help you out, it you'ld like.

After you get the rifle built, you gotta build your ammo just as carefully.
More on that later.  In the highpower competition game, we don't have
`race' guns, just target, or match rifles.


From: (Bart Bobbitt)
Subject: Re: Reccomendations for a rifle
Organization: Hewlett-Packard Fort Collins Site

James William Stepanek ( wrote:

: O.K., Thanks to everyone who has responded. I'm probably going to go
: with either a .30-06 or .308 Remington bolt action rifle . . . . . .

Although a lot of folks use Remington bolt action rifles, I'm gonna stand
on my soapbox and tout the advantages a Winchester Model 70 has:

  * Reciever is about 3 times stiffer.

  * Longer and better shaped bolt handle; makes operation easier when a
    scope's mounted.

  * More reliable feeding from the magazine.

  * Magazine holds one more round; five total.

  * Firing pin assembly easily removed from bolt without tools.

  * `Safer' safety; the firing pin is locked, not the trigger.

  * More reliable extractor; less prone to breaking.  Can be replaced
    without a special tool; use a paper clip or even a mechanical pencil.

  * Flat sides and bottom parts hold bedding more consistant promoting
    better accuracy.

  * Tang is very solid; won't bend from over torquing the rear stock screw.

  * Thicker recoil lug that's intregal with reciever; won't bend forward
    when really heavy loads are used.

  * Typically better accuracy in calibers larger than .270.

  * Stock less likely to split near trigger should rear stock screw be
    tightened too much.

  * Less case rim damage from extractor during loading or unloading; makes
    cases easier to put in shell holder for reloading.

  * Easier to rebarrel; no extra parts to line up as the barrel's screwed in.


From: (Bart Bobbit)
Subject: Re: action stiffness
Organization: Hewlett-Packard Fort Collins Site

John Snick ( wrote:

: I've seen it posted that the Win 70 action is 2-3 times "stiffer" than
: the Rem 700 action. Does anyone have data to back this up? I'm curious
: how this was determined (measured, calculated, guess? etc.) and how
: stiffness is defined in this case.

I took one of each action, clamped a dial indicator tightly on the
receiver ring, then hung a 40-pound weight on the tang at the bolt
notch.  This bent the receiver vertically.  As the plunger on the dial
indicator was the same distance back on each receiver resting on the
receiver bridge to indicate how much it was deflected, and both of
the receivers were resting on their recoil lug, the comparison was
valid.  The M700 bent almost three times as much as the M70.  I also
measured the Ruger M77; it bent more than the M700 Rem.

In one of the bolt action rifle books, the author had made moment of
inertia calculations based on the cross sectional area of both receivers.
Those fourth-order equations produced numbers for the receiver stiffness
showing the M70 to be much stiffer than the M700; about 3 times.  This
article also listed the numbers for a few other receivers but I don't
remember which ones they were.  I think some of the popular benchrest
actions had calculations done on them, too.


From: (Bart Bobbitt)
Subject: Re: Pre '64 Win M70 actions
Organization: Hewlett-Packard Fort Collins Site

Donald R. Newcomb ( wrote:

: What upset
: many Winchester fans about the Post-64 (besides the attempt to improve
: on perfection) is that those made between 1964 and 1968 could bind
: or jam while cycling the bolt.

Right you are.  About 1 in 20 had the bolt and receiver dimensional
tolerances such that the bolt would bind on opening; closing seemed to
be fine.  But 5% of the thousands sold was quite a few.  Most of those
that did bind were easily fixed by smoothing up the locking lug flats
on their sides and doing the same to the reciever surfaces the lugs
contacted during bolt opening.

About the only problem that was never corrected is with the follower.
The follower's raised part on the left side extends far enough to the
right that highpower competitors reloading with stripper clips (either
on the target model receivers or standard receivers with a clip guide
attached) sometimes end up with the first round going on the left
side.  This prevented the fifth round from being magazine loaded; a bad
situation in rapid fire matches.  The solution is to file a 45-degree
flat on the side of the follower's upper rib angling up and to the left.
This forces the first stripper-clip-fed round to go to the right and
prevents short-charging the magazine.  Rarely does this problem occur
in hunting situations.  I asked Winchester about modifying the follower
so this would no longer be a problem; they said it wasn't a big enough
issue to warrant changing the follower.  Oh well, grab a file and......


From: (Bart Bobbitt)
Newsgroups: rec.guns
Date: 29 Jan 1994 15:04:44 -0500

On the M70 bolt sleeve, there's a cross pin behind the safety's top
end.  That pin's about .040-in. in diameter.  Here's how to remove it:

  1.  Remove the firing pin front locking C-ring and collar.  

      'Tain't easy.  It requires some thinking before doing it.  The firing
      pin spring is preloaded to about 20 pounds of force.  A good way
      to do this is to grab the front end of the firing pin spring, just
      behind the collar and C-clip, with a large pair of pliers.  Hold
      the pliers handles tight together, then place the sides of the
      pliers against a vise whose jaw opening is a tad bigger than the
      firing pin's diameter.  Then press the bolt sleeve forward so the
      spring is compressed back enough to slide the clip off.  Be very
      careful that the spring doesn't slip, then launch the collar and
      clip off to never-never land at about 12,345 fps.  I've done that;
      there's a clip and collar someplace in my shop and they've been
      lost for about 4 years.

  2.  Remove the firing pin spring.

  3.  Unscrew the firing pin lock screw from the bolt sleeve's left
      side.  That's the one that goes in at an angle.

  4.  Pull the firing pin back out of the bolt sleeve.

  5.  Clamp the bolt sleeve in a padded vise with the pin behind the
      safety's head vertical.

  6.  Drive out the safety retaining pin with a small drift pin.  You
      shouldn't need to use much hammer force as it's typically easy
      to get out.

  7.  Remove the bolt sleeve from the vise, then carefully push out
      the safety.  Be careful the safety's plunger and spring don't
      fly out and end up in the darkest corner of the room never to
      be seen again.

Now you can inspect the safety and the hole in the bolt sleeve it 
fits in.  If there's any burrs or very rough places, they can be
smoothed up with what ever tool does the job.

Reverse the disassembly procedure to get things back together.  Again,
be careful about compressing the firing pin spring, then getting the
collar and C-ring back on.  This is the second time those tiny parts
might be put into orbit.  That happened to me years ago; and one of
them struck the bare light bulb above and off to the side of my work
bench.  `Pow' went the light bulb; darkness prevailed......I thought
I had died!  Never found the C-ring.


Index Home About Blog