February 07, 2008
Return of the Model 70
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
The Model 70 is back, and I’m pleased to say that it’s a considerably better rifle than when it left. I got to shoot five and look at twice that number at the SHOT Show. The first thing I was struck by is how much the new ones look like the old ones. The bluing is the same, as is the stock color and finish. However, the wood to metal fit is far better, as is the metal to metal fit. I spoke with a couple of gunsmiths who were there, and they were impressed by the improvement in the way the action worked.
The trigger is very, very good. Winchester may have been devious enough to send specially tuned rifles to the SHOT Show, but I doubt it. Every trigger I twiddled had nice, light pull, and although most of them had some creep, it was so slight that unless you were looking for it on purpose, you wouldn’t know it was there. Between a tuned, old-style trigger and the new one, I’d take the old style, but the factory was not tuning them, so for purposes of manufacture, this one is much better.
As for accuracy, I don’t know. What with most of the gun writers in the world shooting at the same time, anything you pick up is guaranteed to be red hot and incapable of good grouping. If Winchester sends me one I’ll be able to tell you more.
All told, it looks like a rifle that is once more being produced by people who are serious about making rifles.
Editor's Note: You can read Dave's picks for the most interesting rifles at the 2008 SHOT Show (the Model 70 is one of them) and see a video clip of him interviewing Arthur Alphin, who designed the .577 Tyrannosaur cartridge, by clicking here.