March 05, 2007
No, I Don't Hate the Winchester 88
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
I just got an indignant letter from a gentleman who lives on Staten Island, NY, taking exception to disparaging comments I made in a recent Rifles department about the accuracy of the Model 88 Winchester. (An aside: My mail, after being checked for explosives and anthrax, is separated into categories ranging from “Mildly P****d Off” to “Call the FBI.” It saves me a lot of time, knowing what to expect.)
Anyway, this fellow owns a Model 88 in .284 that shoots pretty nicely, judging by the target he enclosed. He says in the letter that I didn’t mention the .284 and probably didn’t know it existed, to which I can only reply “yes,” and “no.”
I get 750 to 900 words for the Rifles department, as compared to the 3,000 that Bob Brister and Warren Page used to have. This means I can’t cross every T and dot every I. I didn’t mention the .284 Model 88 because not many were built in that caliber, and because for years a lot of the .284 brass that Winchester turned out was lousy (this has since changed) and if a .284 Model 88 didn’t shoot it might not have been the gun’s fault. Altogether, it was just too complicated to get into.
Also, when I say that Model 88s were not accurate, I don’t mean that every single 88 to leave New Haven was a dog. Some, undoubtedly, may have shot well. I base my statement on my own shooting, and that of others who have had considerable experience with the breed. In this case, it was John Wootters. Wootters’ favorite 88, a .308 he called “Jumper,” would group about 1 1/2 inches, which is plenty good for big-game hunting, but nothing exceptional.
The same with all other rifles. Somewhere, there may be a Mannlicher/Carcano carbine that could win the Wimbledon Cup, but what are the odds?