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Rifles: Taking It Personally

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February 10, 2014

Rifles: Taking It Personally

By David E. Petzal

Granted that shooters are an odd lot (although no more weird than birders, who are really odd, or golfers, who are pretty much beyond description) but sometimes they really baffle me. A while back I wrote that through much of the 1950s, and into the early 1960s, Winchester turned out a lot of really crummy Model 70 rifles. As a result I got an e-mail from a pre-64 Model 70 enthusiast who was beyond livid. How dare I say that the Rifleman’s Rifle was ever less than perfect? Who the hell did I think I was? It was as if I had just whacked his old mom in the spleen with a grub hoe handle.

My opinion was based on a number of facts: First, quality varies in product lines, as witness Cadillac, which for decades was a synonym for quality, but which, in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, turned out truly rotten automobiles at high prices. Now, the company seems to have found its way again.

So it was with Winchester. All their pre-64 designs, including the Model 70, were complex, and required considerable effort on the part of the people who made them if they were to be any good. However, the Winchester machinery was worn out and the labor situation in New Haven was best described as poisonous. I got this not from hearsay, but from a shop foreman who was there and from several people in Winchester management.

I was, at the time, hanging out with gunsmiths in search of Greater Wisdom, and one of the things I heard over and over was that Winchester was turning out some truly wretched guns. Bad bedding, rotten triggers, and poor accuracy were the most common complaints. Among two of the lousier Model 70s that I recall were a Featherweight .308 that grouped like a shotgun and couldn’t be cured and a .338 Alaskan model that wouldn’t feed. How you make a claw-extractor rifle that can’t pick up rounds from the magazine I don’t know, but they managed.

The pre-64 Model 70 made its reputation between its introduction in 1936 and probably the mid-1950s, with time out for World War II. In those years it was a true marvel; everything that legend made it out to be. Probably, Jack O’Connor did more to popularize the rifle than anyone else, although he never used a factory Model 70. He’d get one, throw away the stock, and send the barreled action to a custom gun builder such as Al Biesen who would transform it into a rifle that New Haven could not possibly equal.

My point is that if I disparage a rifle, I’m talking about the rifle, not the persons who buy it or their intelligence, or patriotism, or marksmanship. I’m talking about a gun. And to put a cheerful coda on this, the new Model 70s coming out of South Carolina are infinitely superior to anything that Winchester ever turned out in New Haven. They’re so good that even the Late, Great, Jack would hunt with them as is.

Comments (42)

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from ALJoe wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

I've got a pre-64 model 70 in 30/06. Shot a three shot group that was completely covered up with a dime. I'd say that is pretty darn accurate. I have bought three model 70's since. They shoot well but not as well as the pre-64.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from E_Blair wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

Aren't the new Model 70s made in Portugal now? And all the Winchester lever guns are made in Japan. So much for American workmanship.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from twoforks wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

I guess we read like we listen. DEP's coments are based on facts and not heresay. Sometimes I wonder if the readers on this site know how to read. Thank you David for the FACTS.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harold wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

What I think you did, Dave, was point out that the Emperor aint wearing any clothes! These people probably bought their M-70s at high prices thinking they were getting something of high quality and you pointed out that they got less than they thought. Probably quite a come-down for some of those folks.

Now I'm sure you are correct that they new M-70s are very good rifles. The only problem I have with them is that they are machined by a computer. I own a couple of Mannlicher-Schoenauers and while they shoot rather well for old rifles, I'm equally sure the new ones will probably outshoot them right out of the box. However, when I look at their machining, fit and finish-all done by very skilled human hands I stand in awe. New guns don't give me that feeling; for me they just don't have a soul.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

The pre-64 M-70's are 90% hype from what I've seen so I must agree with you, DP. Some of those rifles miss only cranberry sauce and dressing to go with them.

The howl we all hear are from folks that have invested in pre-64 M-70 Winchesters and have an inflated opinion to their value.

I've owned three M-70's in my career and still retain my 458 ['68 built]. I've been lucky in all three have been outstanding rifles. The 458 is *the real deal* of a rifle.

Also have to say I needed to tweak all three-rifles to my satisfaction. All three were un-finished.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

Interesting thread. The pre-'64 Model 70s were nice looking guns. The early post-'64 guns were hideous! White wood stocks, stamped checkering, poorly finished machining, and, as I recall, the floating barrel showed up then too. These guns were cheap to produce ... and they sure looked the part! I don't know how they shot but they sure didn't sell well!

It never ceases to amaze me how guys will look down their nose at Japanese manufacturers but worship anything made in central Europe. Outsourcing is outsourcing! I have seen some very fine guns from the plants in Japan, a lot better quality than the average stuff made in this country. In particular, the bluing on the Japanese Browning guns was, in my opinion, unsurpassed.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

DEP, for every complaint you get when you're critical of a gun, my guess is that there are 100 "thank yous" that don't write in.

We convene on your blog to try to find something of wisdom, and sometimes, (just sometimes, so don't get heady) we find it. So let the chips fall where they may.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

We have a 1948 Model 70 with a clean bore and a silky action that shoots straight. Any time I take anything else I am just cheating on this 30-06 and am not better off for it. As my 2014 goals are to improve my offhand shooting I have resurrected Grampa's 1955 Win model 77 and as you can see in my profile pictures the Ol' 77 with its like new bore condition still gets the job done almost 60 years later. Cheers to the busting balls of gun cheating heretics. May you shoot only guns built on Mondays;)

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

All the emotions and opinions won't make a rifle shoot consistently. Some were probably tack drivers and some probably were well suited for shooting at junk cars and barns or other large targets. I had a post-64 (1985) M70 XTR that shot sub-MOA with factory ammo. Face it, some of the M70's were a POS. The .338 Win Mag I had was one POS in the accuracy department, ergo long ago traded in at the same gun shop whence it came.

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from fox4 wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

Well, Mr. Petzal, just who do you think you are? Spewing your considered opinion on your own blog as if anyone is interested... Oh wait. That would be us, interested. On second thought, can we see video of you wielding the grub hoe?

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from RockySquirrel wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

Dave;

Can we reverse this process a bit? I do not own a Winchester product, mostly big green _REM and Marlin, Ruger and 1 savage; So I don’t really have a dog in this fight.

But as many )re: most) of my firearms are older than 20 years, I would be interested where the lemons were, the fix and maybe that problem really was not my fault. Basically, Where is this compendium of knowledge of lemons and losers and lunkers written down (other than and excerpt in the TOTAL GUN MANUAL) which I bought BTW? How can I find which one should be headed to the gun show?

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from tygh98 wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

Technically Dave, that is still hearsay.

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from gregdeboer wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

So I know this is off topic, but I don't know where else to post this. My grandfather has a very old, I believe WWI era rifle that I cannot find information about anywhere. The gun is called a .44 Swiss. It is a rimfire rifle which makes it all the more odd to me. I have researched this gun off and on for 2 years and have got nowhere as to finding out anything about it. He still has 4 or 5 rounds for it, but does not want to shoot it anymore because he can't find ammo anywhere matching the gun. Please if anyone knows anything about this gun regarding age, when/where it was used, and the value please let me know! Thank you!

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from Drew McClure wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

Hearsay or Heresy? Bottom line hand crafted work and lack of stamped "flimsiness" on the Pre-64 is what makes it desirable. That and Arkansan Carlos Hathcock took a bull barreled version of the Model 70 (among other rifles)and made history. To pay a factory worker to build you the same tool the same exact way, you'd be paying well over the 850$, or so you can buy a used one for. It has no soul, it just an old stout relic of Americana that epitomizes "we don't make them like they used to".

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from Bryan01 wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

tygh98, when the shopforeman and managers told Dave about the conditions it was not hearsay, when Dave tells us about those conditions it is hearsay )

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from Tim Platt wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

I can see working with worn out tools would ruin your attitude in a minute. Yeah this part is a piece of crap but look what they gave me to work with... I have been in those shoes. The old saying was "I have done so much for so long with so little, they now expect me to do everything with nothing". Even if everything is perfect it is not easy to produce flawless work. When you start fighting machines it never happens.

I grew up in a GM town in the 70's and talk about a poisonous atmosphere. These people thought they were supposed to show up drunk and go home early for $1,000 a week. I am not surprised at all by what has happened to Detroit.

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from buckstopper wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

hearsay or hearasy........maybe both. Hey DP, what about the early M700's. How would they compare to the pre-64?

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from FirstBubba wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

Ain't nuttin' left to say!

"The best laid plans of mice and men may often go astray."

Just one QA/QC goon has to blink to allow junk to get through.

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from Dougfir wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

Glad to hear good things about the new M-70's. I just bought one (featherweight) in 7mm-08 and I'm giddy as a school boy, waiting for it to arrive.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

My best of friends, now deceased, bought a M70 .264 mag around 1984. He shot less than two boxes of ammo through it and the stock cracked straight down the top of the tang. He was hurt.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

Ontario Honker,
You are correct about Browning guns from Japan looking good, my complaint is they are so damn proud of what they do like no one else can. For example, another friend bought a Browning Citori. It was beautiful but right smack dab on top of the barrel near the chamber was stamped in gold lettering " Made in Japan ".
Couldn't they mimik Germans or Americans and print that subdued on the side.

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from jim in nc wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

My, my, my. So the old grump not only has a thin skin, but feelings that can be hurt.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

I owned a Mod 70 Western model back in 1986 in 7mmRem Mag,and that was good a shooter with just about any load I fed thru it. I mainly practiced with factory ammo to save the brass for reloading. I sold it in the 90's for financial reasons..can't say I have seen many "westerner" models around which I had kept now!

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from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

The truth may seem like blasphemy at first brush but, painful as it may be, I recognize the truth in these words. I remember a pre-64 Featherweight in .30-'06 that was a pleasure to carry afield but grouped badly. I dared not blame it on the rifle; it was the bedding, the howling wind, the unspeakable evil that hangs like a pall over an otherwise great hunt. No, the piece provided 5-inch, 5-shot groups at 100 yards with factory ammunition.
I sold it to a colleague who had fallen under the spell that the pre-64 M70 could do no wrong. It made no difference. All the shots he took with his rifles were well within the distance of a hand grenade toss.
I now own two Model 70s that were made during the USRAC years, and I'm happy with both, but I have encountered a few "lemons" before made before (shudder) and after 1964. Come to think of it, there were a few made between 1964 and 1968 that were an embarrassment. Your credibility is unblemished, Dave.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kudukid wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

The latest controlled feed M70's are made in Columbia, SC on CNC machinery. They are, each and every one, very well made and exactly the same. Since they are made by machines they have no individuality but they are fine rifles.

BTW, the early post-war 70s made in late '45 and through most of '46 are the same in every way as the pre-war rifles, including workmanship. The transition guns that followed, recognizable by the "clamshell" safety and lack of a clip-charging slot, are of the same quality.

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from Tom-Tom wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

Should you ever wonder about the quality of the pre-'64 Model 70, or any other pre-'64 Winchester, just go to a gun auction and listen to the "unbiased opinion" of the auctioneer. The next best "authority" would come from the person that made the final bid.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

As for quality varies in product lines?
One of the most overlooked rifles made was the O3-A3 which a many where rechambered into 300 Norma Magnum

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from kudukid wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

Clay Cooper:
Clay, even better and stronger, the case hardened double heat treated 03s made by mostly German immigrants at Springfield Armory. Those actions had balanced feed and extraction mechanics that provided an easy bolt manipulation - even easier than the pre-war model 70s.

What the 70 had over the Springfield was a much better trigger and a hinged floor plate and, of course, a much improved stock. In a maxed out custom job where those Springfield deficiencies are addressed, the Springfield is the better action. Some real beauties were built in the golden age of the 20s and 30s. Think Adolph Minar and Griffin & Howe.

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from kudukid wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

The safety is also much nicer on the 70.

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from Marion Johnson wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

David, I'm impressed that you know what a grubbing hoe is.

My maternal Grandpa,born in the 1870's was extremely ticklish, typically yelling and throwing anything he held if 'goosed". It is told that he and two brothers were clearing new ground and were returning home in single file when the incident occurred. The eldest brother stopped to open a gate, Grandpa close behind him with a grubbing hoe over his shoulder. Little brother, in the rear, poked Grandpa in the blow hole with his hoe handle.

Grandpa whooped and sent the grubbing hoe smashing over big brother's head, knocking him cold as a wedge. Shocked and infuriated, he immediately laid little brother out the same way.

Thinking them dead, he ran home yelling "Papa, I have killed Jim and Tom". When Great Grandpa asked what happened he replied, "Well, Jim was an accident but I meant to Kill Tom"

Grubbing hoes are dangerous.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kudukid wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

I can think of numerous political figures who are grubbing hoes.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 9 weeks 23 hours ago

I can't think of any that aren't.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from VicF wrote 9 weeks 22 hours ago

Sometimes the new ways are the better ways.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 9 weeks 19 hours ago

And I'm not buying this crap about Jack using a factory rifle. He's at least having it stocked...

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 9 weeks 17 hours ago

Money grubbing hoes are particularly disdainful and perhaps dangerous!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 9 weeks 8 hours ago

kudukid

Many years ago, a European Gun Manufacturer was visiting one of Americas Firearm makers. He wuz asked what he thought about US Made Firearms, he nailed it with one word, UNFINISHED!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 9 weeks 8 hours ago

I'd rather be,
A shootin' fool,
With some
Unfinished,
American tool.
Than perched high,
On hochsitz dry,
Where stag and boar,
Hear bullets,
Missing,
Just passing by.
Cast by fancy sticks,
With scroll and
Pretentions; only
For the eye.

No lie,
GI.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from smitty6398 wrote 9 weeks 7 hours ago

FOR GREG DEBOER !! Grandpa's rifle is probably a Valenti (not sure about the spelling) Ran across doing some snooping on a site for reloaders. thehighroad.org they also have a sister site thehighroad.com .org site seems to have lots of pix and posts from knowlegible people. Bet you'll find what you are looking for there. Smitty

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kudukid wrote 9 weeks 7 hours ago

Clay Cooper:
I have no idea what your latest refers to except everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Today, the Dakota line - especially the 76, is the absolute best made FINISHED rifle line in the World. That's MHO, and comes from someone who has one of Al Biesen's beauties.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steven L. Bunt wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

What working class Bum, can afford one of these. I have a post 64 Model 70,and bought one for my son ,both featherweights,both used. Good rifles,would not want to be on the recieving end. Can't get much Ammo this past year.
With out ammo,it doesn't make a bit of differance if its Japanese,German,Italian,Russian,Brazilian ,they don't work.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kudukid wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Steven L. Bunt:
There are lots of good to excellent American made rifles available these days and at very reasonable prices. The Winchester's 70 Classic, Remington's 700, Ruger's 77, Savage's 110 and the Marlin line come to mind. Some of the factory triggers are now as good as expensive match triggers of just a few years ago.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nyflyangler wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

Gee, the 50s and 60s M70s are bad and the Post 64 design was downgraded.

Are you sure the M70 wasn't being made by Remington?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from twoforks wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

I guess we read like we listen. DEP's coments are based on facts and not heresay. Sometimes I wonder if the readers on this site know how to read. Thank you David for the FACTS.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

I can see working with worn out tools would ruin your attitude in a minute. Yeah this part is a piece of crap but look what they gave me to work with... I have been in those shoes. The old saying was "I have done so much for so long with so little, they now expect me to do everything with nothing". Even if everything is perfect it is not easy to produce flawless work. When you start fighting machines it never happens.

I grew up in a GM town in the 70's and talk about a poisonous atmosphere. These people thought they were supposed to show up drunk and go home early for $1,000 a week. I am not surprised at all by what has happened to Detroit.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from kudukid wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

I can think of numerous political figures who are grubbing hoes.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 9 weeks 8 hours ago

I'd rather be,
A shootin' fool,
With some
Unfinished,
American tool.
Than perched high,
On hochsitz dry,
Where stag and boar,
Hear bullets,
Missing,
Just passing by.
Cast by fancy sticks,
With scroll and
Pretentions; only
For the eye.

No lie,
GI.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harold wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

What I think you did, Dave, was point out that the Emperor aint wearing any clothes! These people probably bought their M-70s at high prices thinking they were getting something of high quality and you pointed out that they got less than they thought. Probably quite a come-down for some of those folks.

Now I'm sure you are correct that they new M-70s are very good rifles. The only problem I have with them is that they are machined by a computer. I own a couple of Mannlicher-Schoenauers and while they shoot rather well for old rifles, I'm equally sure the new ones will probably outshoot them right out of the box. However, when I look at their machining, fit and finish-all done by very skilled human hands I stand in awe. New guns don't give me that feeling; for me they just don't have a soul.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 9 weeks 19 hours ago

And I'm not buying this crap about Jack using a factory rifle. He's at least having it stocked...

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ALJoe wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

I've got a pre-64 model 70 in 30/06. Shot a three shot group that was completely covered up with a dime. I'd say that is pretty darn accurate. I have bought three model 70's since. They shoot well but not as well as the pre-64.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from E_Blair wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

Aren't the new Model 70s made in Portugal now? And all the Winchester lever guns are made in Japan. So much for American workmanship.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

Interesting thread. The pre-'64 Model 70s were nice looking guns. The early post-'64 guns were hideous! White wood stocks, stamped checkering, poorly finished machining, and, as I recall, the floating barrel showed up then too. These guns were cheap to produce ... and they sure looked the part! I don't know how they shot but they sure didn't sell well!

It never ceases to amaze me how guys will look down their nose at Japanese manufacturers but worship anything made in central Europe. Outsourcing is outsourcing! I have seen some very fine guns from the plants in Japan, a lot better quality than the average stuff made in this country. In particular, the bluing on the Japanese Browning guns was, in my opinion, unsurpassed.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dougfir wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

Glad to hear good things about the new M-70's. I just bought one (featherweight) in 7mm-08 and I'm giddy as a school boy, waiting for it to arrive.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

Ontario Honker,
You are correct about Browning guns from Japan looking good, my complaint is they are so damn proud of what they do like no one else can. For example, another friend bought a Browning Citori. It was beautiful but right smack dab on top of the barrel near the chamber was stamped in gold lettering " Made in Japan ".
Couldn't they mimik Germans or Americans and print that subdued on the side.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

The truth may seem like blasphemy at first brush but, painful as it may be, I recognize the truth in these words. I remember a pre-64 Featherweight in .30-'06 that was a pleasure to carry afield but grouped badly. I dared not blame it on the rifle; it was the bedding, the howling wind, the unspeakable evil that hangs like a pall over an otherwise great hunt. No, the piece provided 5-inch, 5-shot groups at 100 yards with factory ammunition.
I sold it to a colleague who had fallen under the spell that the pre-64 M70 could do no wrong. It made no difference. All the shots he took with his rifles were well within the distance of a hand grenade toss.
I now own two Model 70s that were made during the USRAC years, and I'm happy with both, but I have encountered a few "lemons" before made before (shudder) and after 1964. Come to think of it, there were a few made between 1964 and 1968 that were an embarrassment. Your credibility is unblemished, Dave.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

Should you ever wonder about the quality of the pre-'64 Model 70, or any other pre-'64 Winchester, just go to a gun auction and listen to the "unbiased opinion" of the auctioneer. The next best "authority" would come from the person that made the final bid.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Marion Johnson wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

David, I'm impressed that you know what a grubbing hoe is.

My maternal Grandpa,born in the 1870's was extremely ticklish, typically yelling and throwing anything he held if 'goosed". It is told that he and two brothers were clearing new ground and were returning home in single file when the incident occurred. The eldest brother stopped to open a gate, Grandpa close behind him with a grubbing hoe over his shoulder. Little brother, in the rear, poked Grandpa in the blow hole with his hoe handle.

Grandpa whooped and sent the grubbing hoe smashing over big brother's head, knocking him cold as a wedge. Shocked and infuriated, he immediately laid little brother out the same way.

Thinking them dead, he ran home yelling "Papa, I have killed Jim and Tom". When Great Grandpa asked what happened he replied, "Well, Jim was an accident but I meant to Kill Tom"

Grubbing hoes are dangerous.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 9 weeks 23 hours ago

I can't think of any that aren't.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from VicF wrote 9 weeks 22 hours ago

Sometimes the new ways are the better ways.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 9 weeks 17 hours ago

Money grubbing hoes are particularly disdainful and perhaps dangerous!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nyflyangler wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

Gee, the 50s and 60s M70s are bad and the Post 64 design was downgraded.

Are you sure the M70 wasn't being made by Remington?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

The pre-64 M-70's are 90% hype from what I've seen so I must agree with you, DP. Some of those rifles miss only cranberry sauce and dressing to go with them.

The howl we all hear are from folks that have invested in pre-64 M-70 Winchesters and have an inflated opinion to their value.

I've owned three M-70's in my career and still retain my 458 ['68 built]. I've been lucky in all three have been outstanding rifles. The 458 is *the real deal* of a rifle.

Also have to say I needed to tweak all three-rifles to my satisfaction. All three were un-finished.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

DEP, for every complaint you get when you're critical of a gun, my guess is that there are 100 "thank yous" that don't write in.

We convene on your blog to try to find something of wisdom, and sometimes, (just sometimes, so don't get heady) we find it. So let the chips fall where they may.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

We have a 1948 Model 70 with a clean bore and a silky action that shoots straight. Any time I take anything else I am just cheating on this 30-06 and am not better off for it. As my 2014 goals are to improve my offhand shooting I have resurrected Grampa's 1955 Win model 77 and as you can see in my profile pictures the Ol' 77 with its like new bore condition still gets the job done almost 60 years later. Cheers to the busting balls of gun cheating heretics. May you shoot only guns built on Mondays;)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

All the emotions and opinions won't make a rifle shoot consistently. Some were probably tack drivers and some probably were well suited for shooting at junk cars and barns or other large targets. I had a post-64 (1985) M70 XTR that shot sub-MOA with factory ammo. Face it, some of the M70's were a POS. The .338 Win Mag I had was one POS in the accuracy department, ergo long ago traded in at the same gun shop whence it came.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fox4 wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

Well, Mr. Petzal, just who do you think you are? Spewing your considered opinion on your own blog as if anyone is interested... Oh wait. That would be us, interested. On second thought, can we see video of you wielding the grub hoe?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

Dave;

Can we reverse this process a bit? I do not own a Winchester product, mostly big green _REM and Marlin, Ruger and 1 savage; So I don’t really have a dog in this fight.

But as many )re: most) of my firearms are older than 20 years, I would be interested where the lemons were, the fix and maybe that problem really was not my fault. Basically, Where is this compendium of knowledge of lemons and losers and lunkers written down (other than and excerpt in the TOTAL GUN MANUAL) which I bought BTW? How can I find which one should be headed to the gun show?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tygh98 wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

Technically Dave, that is still hearsay.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from gregdeboer wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

So I know this is off topic, but I don't know where else to post this. My grandfather has a very old, I believe WWI era rifle that I cannot find information about anywhere. The gun is called a .44 Swiss. It is a rimfire rifle which makes it all the more odd to me. I have researched this gun off and on for 2 years and have got nowhere as to finding out anything about it. He still has 4 or 5 rounds for it, but does not want to shoot it anymore because he can't find ammo anywhere matching the gun. Please if anyone knows anything about this gun regarding age, when/where it was used, and the value please let me know! Thank you!

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from Drew McClure wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

Hearsay or Heresy? Bottom line hand crafted work and lack of stamped "flimsiness" on the Pre-64 is what makes it desirable. That and Arkansan Carlos Hathcock took a bull barreled version of the Model 70 (among other rifles)and made history. To pay a factory worker to build you the same tool the same exact way, you'd be paying well over the 850$, or so you can buy a used one for. It has no soul, it just an old stout relic of Americana that epitomizes "we don't make them like they used to".

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from Bryan01 wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

tygh98, when the shopforeman and managers told Dave about the conditions it was not hearsay, when Dave tells us about those conditions it is hearsay )

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from buckstopper wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

hearsay or hearasy........maybe both. Hey DP, what about the early M700's. How would they compare to the pre-64?

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from FirstBubba wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

Ain't nuttin' left to say!

"The best laid plans of mice and men may often go astray."

Just one QA/QC goon has to blink to allow junk to get through.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

My best of friends, now deceased, bought a M70 .264 mag around 1984. He shot less than two boxes of ammo through it and the stock cracked straight down the top of the tang. He was hurt.

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from jim in nc wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

My, my, my. So the old grump not only has a thin skin, but feelings that can be hurt.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

I owned a Mod 70 Western model back in 1986 in 7mmRem Mag,and that was good a shooter with just about any load I fed thru it. I mainly practiced with factory ammo to save the brass for reloading. I sold it in the 90's for financial reasons..can't say I have seen many "westerner" models around which I had kept now!

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from kudukid wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

The latest controlled feed M70's are made in Columbia, SC on CNC machinery. They are, each and every one, very well made and exactly the same. Since they are made by machines they have no individuality but they are fine rifles.

BTW, the early post-war 70s made in late '45 and through most of '46 are the same in every way as the pre-war rifles, including workmanship. The transition guns that followed, recognizable by the "clamshell" safety and lack of a clip-charging slot, are of the same quality.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

As for quality varies in product lines?
One of the most overlooked rifles made was the O3-A3 which a many where rechambered into 300 Norma Magnum

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from kudukid wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

Clay Cooper:
Clay, even better and stronger, the case hardened double heat treated 03s made by mostly German immigrants at Springfield Armory. Those actions had balanced feed and extraction mechanics that provided an easy bolt manipulation - even easier than the pre-war model 70s.

What the 70 had over the Springfield was a much better trigger and a hinged floor plate and, of course, a much improved stock. In a maxed out custom job where those Springfield deficiencies are addressed, the Springfield is the better action. Some real beauties were built in the golden age of the 20s and 30s. Think Adolph Minar and Griffin & Howe.

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from kudukid wrote 9 weeks 1 day ago

The safety is also much nicer on the 70.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 9 weeks 8 hours ago

kudukid

Many years ago, a European Gun Manufacturer was visiting one of Americas Firearm makers. He wuz asked what he thought about US Made Firearms, he nailed it with one word, UNFINISHED!

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from smitty6398 wrote 9 weeks 7 hours ago

FOR GREG DEBOER !! Grandpa's rifle is probably a Valenti (not sure about the spelling) Ran across doing some snooping on a site for reloaders. thehighroad.org they also have a sister site thehighroad.com .org site seems to have lots of pix and posts from knowlegible people. Bet you'll find what you are looking for there. Smitty

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from kudukid wrote 9 weeks 7 hours ago

Clay Cooper:
I have no idea what your latest refers to except everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Today, the Dakota line - especially the 76, is the absolute best made FINISHED rifle line in the World. That's MHO, and comes from someone who has one of Al Biesen's beauties.

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from Steven L. Bunt wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

What working class Bum, can afford one of these. I have a post 64 Model 70,and bought one for my son ,both featherweights,both used. Good rifles,would not want to be on the recieving end. Can't get much Ammo this past year.
With out ammo,it doesn't make a bit of differance if its Japanese,German,Italian,Russian,Brazilian ,they don't work.

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from kudukid wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Steven L. Bunt:
There are lots of good to excellent American made rifles available these days and at very reasonable prices. The Winchester's 70 Classic, Remington's 700, Ruger's 77, Savage's 110 and the Marlin line come to mind. Some of the factory triggers are now as good as expensive match triggers of just a few years ago.

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