The Winchester model 70 is a sporting rifle that began production in 1936. The rifle was manufactured by Winchester Repeating Arms Company from 1936 t0 1980. In 1980 Winchester made a contract with U.S. Repeating Arms and the Olin Corporation, allowing the company to use the Winchester name and logo. The rifles were manufactured at a plant in New Haven Connecticut.
What made this rifle popular:
There were several things that made the Winchester model 70 a very popular gun and even picked up the name “the rifleman’s rifle”. The first component that made the rifle a top seller was the price. The model 70 gave the shooter all the perks of a high dollar rifle at the fraction of the cost.
The model 70 also features a much desired Mauser action. The Mauser action differs from the push feed action of the much popular Remington 700 in a few key ways. While the push feed loads the firing pin when the bolt it pulled to the upwards position, the Mauser action loads the firing pin while the bolt is pulled down. This makes it possible to cycle rounds faster into a Mauser action rifle. The Mauser also utilizes a control round feed with a claw type extractor. The claw extractor allows the bullet to be grasped and places from the magazine precisely in the chamber with no risk of misalignment or the shell falling out. Shooters often times find when cycling a shell for a second shot that the cartridge is misaligned and does not flow into the chamber smoothly and properly. This feature of the model 70 once again gives it a leg up over push feed actions with being able to cycle rounds faster.
Another fact about the Model 70 that makes it a much desired rifle is the fact that it is and always has been manufactured in the United States. This may not seem like a huge issue, but with the economy like it is today it just may make the difference in a sale. Customers that are looking at new sporting rifles and at the same time supporting their economy are going to choose the gun that has “made in U.S.A.” stamped on the side of it.
The Model 70’s also feature a much desired 24 inch barrel chambered in all the standard calibers. Other gun manufacturers such as Savage and Remington are starting to go to a 22 inch barrel in order to make guns lighter and in some senses cut down on production costs of the rifle. The benefit of a 24 inch barrel over a 22 inch barrel are actually greater than one might think. In your larger standard calibers such as the .270 Win. and the .30-06 Springfield the benefits go up even more. Since these calibers are loaded with a slower burning powder, the longer barrel gives the powder a chance to burn faster and therefore increase velocity speeds of the bullets. The longer barrel also stabilizes the bullet better and essentially makes it a more accurate gun.
Another popular feature of the Model 70 is the square-bridge receiver. With the bottom of the receiver being square instead of cylindrical, maximum contact is achieved between the receiver and the stock which increases consistent pressure on the action and improves the overall accuracy of the rifle.
The New Model 70
The U.S. Repeating Arms co. closed their doors on the New Haven Connecticut facility and put an end to the production of the legendary Model 70 in 2006. The plant closed due to declining sales rates and the machinery in the factory was outdated and needed replaced. Customers were very dissatisfied with this news and were craving a new Model 70. In 2008 the first production new Model 70’s were rolling off the line. The makers of the rifle were Fabrique National (FN) in Columbia South Carolina. The factory is known for making machine guns and barrels for the United States Military. The factory is also known for their brand new state of the art CNC machinery.
With this new machinery, FN is able to be more efficient with their production of the Model 70’s. New machinery also means precision, and in the shooting world, precision is everything when it comes to making a highly accurate rifle. The Stock to receiver fit on the new rifles are immaculate, creating a custom-like fit and assuring great accuracy right out of the box.
Another improvement to the rifles in the new MOA trigger. The MOA is a user friendly fully adjustable trigger. The trigger is adjustable from 3-5 pounds and features an adjustment screw for poundage and over travel. One drawback to the trigger is the stock must be removed in order for adjustments to be made.
The rifle also features a new and improved barrel crown. A barrel crown is the cut out section at the end of the barrel. To some this may seem like just a cosmetic quality. The barrel crown does indeed add to the accuracy of the rifle. The purpose of the barrel crown is to get rid of escaping gasses that surround the bullet. This allows the bullet to exist the barrel and stabilize without the flight being altered by the gasses propelling the bullet. FN went with a target crown on their new guns and it seems to have the customers very pleases.
Due to the increased price of steel and other materials, the new Model 70’s do run a little bit more than the old Model 70’s with a price tag of $899 msrp.
Overall, the Model 70 has been around for over 75 years and now a new and improved model is being built and made available to the public. It is no secret that Winchester has had their issues with declining sales and their New Haven plant shutting down. It seems once again though sales are up and the rifle is one more time earning the title “the rifleman’s rifle”.