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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #1
I was browsing one of the on-line gun stores (GunsAmerica) and got to thinking what Winchester once was. In the early 20th century they were it, weren't they?

The model 70 still to this day defines what most consider to be the perfect bolt action rifle. Control round feeding, positive extraction, accurate, not too heavy, not too light. Well balanced and chambered for a range of cartridges that would handle most anything on the planet, from the sub-Saharan velds of Africa to the lofty mountains of Alaska to the mesquite country of Texas, the M70 was right at home. The rifleman's rifle.

The Model 21 sxs. Overbuilt and rugged as could be. Actually brought fine european sxs to the reach of the working class American. For the frozen duck blinds of Minnesota a hearty 12 gauge, to the quail cover in Georgia they offered sleek little 28's. Trap and skeet models were available with cutting edge chokes and configurations. Reliability personified.

The Model 1894, the working man's rifle. Found in scabbards in the west and the acorn flats in the east. Probably more whitetail deer have fallen to this rifle than all others.

The M71 in 348. Power in a compact package. Those that handled it had confidence whether chasing moose in coastal swamps in Alaska, facing down charging grizzlies or in the black timber after elk.

The 1895 Winchester, the first lever action rifle to handle such popular and flat shooting cartridges as the 30-40 Krag, 30-06 and others. Teddy Roosevelt carried one with him on his safari that preempted his running for President of the U.S., chambered in the 405.

The Model 52. A rimfire small game rifle that handled like it was meant for bigger, meaner things. Squirrel and rabbits fell as tournament after tournament to what many still today consider to be the best 22 ever made.

Somewhere along the way they lost sight of the reason they were in business: the American hunter and shooter and have been trying to regain their trust ever since.

Sorry if I bored you, just some random thoughts.
 

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Nawth East Moderatah
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Here Here!

In as much as the newer guns put out by Winchester are nice,(for the lack of a better word) The older Winnies had almost a "mystic" or reputation that you could just about stake your life on.

I recieved my first Winchester, a model 1906 gallery 22 from my grandfather, who's father purchased it for him. My daughter is still shooting that gun today. It's sister rifle, the 62, is just as great for taking squirrels, and the one I own was built as a gallery gun and will only accept shorts.

I've had many in my short "career" of collecting, trading, etc. If you pick up a new 94, "manhandle it", and then pick one up fron the "pre-64" era, you'll almost feel the quality difference between the two. Now pick up the pre 64, then hold a rifle MFG. from 1900 to 1920's and you'll feel a difference again.

I'm currently trying get my hooks into an 1873 built in about 1887. It's chambered in 44-40 I believe, and at one time must have been in the possession fo the Native Americans, as the stock has had the "brass tacks" applied and the forearm wrapped in hide, a common fix at the time. The bore is just about shot out from the black powder and lead, but with cowboy loads it still hits where it's aimed, and goes bang when you squeeze it. How's that for Winchester quality of old.

Cross bolt safeties and rebound hammers are the lawyers, not the "Hunters" ideas. If it worked when the '94 was designed, leave it alone....How many were produced, something like 5 million???:confused: I defy anyone to squeeze the trigger at halfcock and have it fire, unless you're built like the HULK. Besides, doesn't the hammer have to come all the way back to fire......:confused: Good news though, I've read that Winchester will move the cross bolt safety to the tang for 2003 due to Consumer dissatisfaction.

It is comforting to see Winchester bring on a stock maker like David Miller to re-design and reshape the model 70. From what I've read and handled, Wincheter is trying, although feebly, to restore the 70 to as it was, a legend.

chris~
 

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I was in a Pawn shop yesterday and they had 6 pre-64 Winchesters standing up in the rack. Not one of them was less than 595.00. Cult like following seems appropiate to me. All of them were in great shape for being 40+ years old.
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #5
That makes two of us, Joel.

The thing I can't get over is this company defined the shooting sports of the day. They were (and by a lot of accounts, still are) what everyone else was measured by. Not only were they producing top value (quality to price ratio) firearms, but they were also on the cutting edge, introducing new designs and cartridges that the public couldn't get enough of.

Then, almost overnight, everything changed.

I suppose Ruger is the Winchester of today. Ruger is hanging on or reintroducing cartridges that are considered obsolete, yet still have a great fan base. The single action revolver was all but dead till Bill masterminded the re-introduction. No one inside the industry or out, thought the No. 1 would sell. Still some nearly 40 years later it is going strong. Ruger is bringing back the sxs double shotgun. All of this at relatively affordable prices. Quality is there, albeit a little rough, but it's hard to find a better or stronger firearm than a Ruger now.

Just more random thoughts.

I miss American ingenuity at affordable prices.
 

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alyeska338 - I agree with you about the Rugers being the new Winchester! I fell in love with a Supergrade Model 70 but couldn't afford it. I happened to find a Ruger Express in .30-06 on the used rack in perfect shape that was the equal of the Winchester so that came home with me. It's sad to see how ugly most of the new rifles are because of lawsuit-itis, cross bolts on lever guns and 32 pound trigger pulls on most factory rifles. CEJ..
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I think I may have not been fair to the post 64 Winchester company. I was merely wanting to express the awe I felt of how that one company really defined how we think about quality in firearms, even today, a half century later.

The sixties saw a lot changes in the firearm industry and for Winchester to stay afloat, changes had to be made. I don't think the shooting public accepted the changes that Winchester made as readily as what Remington or Savage did. I'm not real sure what else could have been done, and hindsight is always 20/20 so it is a mute point anyway.

I'm glad they are still around. Though I don't own a new CRF M70, the ones I've handled are very nice. The Miroku made Winchester 1895 I have is probably the nicest and highest quality new production firearm I've picked up in a long time. Yes, that includes the new No.1's, and you all know how much I love those rifles.

In 2003, the 94's will not have that cross-bolt safety that so many find unacceptable. They are listening folks and trying to supply us with what we want. I do commend them for that and did not mean to trample on the post 64 products, just to praise the early ones. There's a lot that went on during the transition and I'm not an industry insider so do not know the troubles they faced. I do appreciate them listening to their customers and producing the quality of firearms we are seeing today.
 

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I believe the forums on the "net", are going to be a positive thing for most gun owners. I'm of the opinion that most of the Gun Manufacturers are reading lots of these forums. It's like free focus group response. They also know that most who participate, are the kind of people who own more than one firearm.
Could be wishfull thinking on my part; but if I was running a business and knew that 1000's were on they web talking about it, I'd go see what they customer had to say. If I was a good businessman, I'd provide the product the customer is looking for.
Ruger has a forum, Marlin has one. Don't know if there is others.
Most big companies are like the Titanic though; it takes awhile to turn. Lots of levels to go through, but once their convinced they'll turn.
 

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Friends all....I do not think Dave, who stsrted this post was being too ctitical of Winchester at all. In fact, his statements concerning the early models hit the nail on the head! I worked for the big red WW for many years all the way from a Field Rep to a full District Manager. There was almost a revolt in the sale force due to the post-64 junk.
Many of today's shooters don't realize the impact John Browning had on the Winchester Co. If Bennet had not died while Browning was downstairs waiting , Winchester would have been building the most famous ever semi-automatic shotgun....the Browning A5! As it was, Remington picked up the rights and can out with their Mod.11
With the new manufacturing methods, we may yet see more of these older models come aboard?
 

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I just hope that Winchester improves their quality control and has the guts to bring back some of their better products that have been axed by the bean-counters.
The new M-94 in .480 Ruger is the only product in their line-up that I am interested in right now; let somebody else buy one of their short magnums, I think they are the answer to a non-existant problem.

Just my 2 cents.:(
 

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My only problem with some of the new lever actions is the "new" "Hi-Vis" front sights. I shoot on the range more than in the game fields and dont like these new sights for target shooting.
I wish Redfield or Williams would come back out with the Sourdough again. It is good on moving targets and good for targets too.
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Dutch,
I, too, believe Winchester should have invested their R&D $$$ into improving their manufacturing quality instead of the WSM's and WSSM's. But... Remington did it, so I guess Winchester had to, also. I believe we have a cartridge out there for every purpose imaginable. If not, it exists as a wildcat. I sure would like to see truer & smoother actions, better triggers, forearms relieved or floated or adjusted to appropriate barrel pressure, and better fit and finish on everyday offerings. I'm not saying what we have now is not good, but could be so much better. Which had we rather have - a short action with the performance of the 300 Winchester Magnum, or a rifle that doesn't have to be made accurate after we buy it?
 

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alyeska-

I agree with you 100% The only addition I would make is that they bring back the fine cartridges that they have axed like the .307/.356/.375 and the .444 Marlin. Who knows, maybe even try the 45/70 or .450 Marlin in the Big Bore frame like they did with the .444 a few years back.

I know, its asking too much!:(
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Dutch,
Unless I'm mistaken, the probable reason Winchester dropped those are because they didn't sell very many. Seems that in the last couple of years, though, there has been a new appreciation of the big bore levers and maybe it was just bad timing. This is something that Davidson's may be helpful in reintroducing. Seems they have special or limited editions ran exclusively for them. Correspondence with folks in the know over there may help. Worth a try anyway.
 

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Just my two cents: First, I agree that the pre-64's are a part of American history and will carry that mystique forever. Rightfully so. In defense of the "new" W however, I own a VERY cheap model 70 (black shadow in 30-06), and it too "feels" right. It has never once failed to feed, or failed put a bullet where I aimed it. Right out of the box it grouped a little over an inch at 100 yds. Even better, I am more confident hunting with that model 70 than any other rifle I own. I KNOW that if I do my job it will bring home the meat. And again, it feels right.

Tomp
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #16
Tom,
There's no doubt the "new" Mod 70's are good rifles, but such a drastic change in every way to a rifle that was considered the "rifleman's rifle" while still retaining its moniker didn't put Winchester in a favorable light. To go from a CRF, mauser claw extractor action with an ideal stock and superb fit and finish to the push feed, plunger type with the bright shiny stock with stamped checkering really left a lot of people cold. Especially when they still called it the Model 70. It was almost as if they were trying to pull the wool over their customer's eyes. It might have been a better option to raise the price of the pre-64 M70 to what it was costing them to make + profit and offer the post 64 M70 in a different model designation at the original price. Also revealing to your customers why you have to make changes always helps. To just change everything without informing the buying public, they lost a lot of people's trust.

I don't doubt the post 64 M70's are good rifles, I have several friends that own them, but the pre-64 is still the standard by which all others are judged. The change without fully disclosing the reasons lost a lot of faithful customers for Winchester.
 

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Alyeska338, Try as I might, I can't disagree with you in the least. Faithfulness to customers is just good business. I understand why the loyal Winchester users were and are offended. I too have a pre-1964 (94 in 30-30), and it is truly a piece of beauty. It looks and shoots like a charm, though it was put together over 50 years ago. Thank you for your thoughts. This forum is marvelous, and just tuning in is teaching me tons.
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #18
Winchester may again be some reprecussions from installing that moon crater of a cross-bolt safety on their 94's over the past couple of years. I don't think the rebounding hammer setup has won them any new fans either.

However, the new CRF M70's that I have seen are really nice and from what I understand, they shoot really well. Also, it sounds like Winchester has dropped that huge cross-bolt safety, I'm not sure if they are going with a tang safety or cross-bolt someplace else, but they are trying. I do believe they are listening to their customers now, but I just wish they would inform us before making such drastic changes.

When I wrote the first post on the thread, I was really just thinking about all that Winchester once offered. The best bolt action rifle, argueably the best lever, the best rimfire, an outstanding sxs shotgun and really had the world by the tail.

Again, I don't mean to degrade the current company, but they aren't what they were in the 40's and 50's.
 

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Yes, I was there and we have discussed some of the "Cause and Effect" that brought about the drastic change in 1964. Reputations take a hundred years to build, only to be distroyed in a year. By 1962 the quality had fallen in those "file to fit" firearms. The sales force ordered out "Wedesday" gun to use in the field. Let's hope now the customers will look at the quality of the computer milled work that is beginning to show up. Since FN now owns USRA co. things could slowly change, but folks are still mad about the 64 deal.
 

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When I sold my Weatherby, I bought a Model 70 Classic, SS 338 Win mag. It was to be an "in between" gun until I got a 35 Whelen built. Then I started shooting it :) . Wow! It loves 250 grain Noslers. It will also spit 225's out nicely too. Action seems pretty nice, had the stock shortened to 13 1/4 L.O.P. Trigger is alright...so I ordered a stock from Mel Smart, AA Bastogne, one of his 5 piece laminates. I guess I'll have to keep it...;)
 
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