In this article I will make a list of the best firearms to be introduced in the 1964 era. Winchester would certainly get the headlines over the years for what they did in 1964, but several firearms companies did introduce some great firearms and variations of existing models in 1964. This would be a year of transition for Winchester. It would be the year that the Winchester gun company would introduce some major changes to their firearms manufacturing process. Many of us think it was not a great transition for Winchester (IMHO). Interesting to look back over the last 50 years and I can say that time and transition were not good for the King of the 1950’s.
Some of the best firearms in the year of 1964 would be overshadowed by the Winchester gun company in 1964. Many new and exciting firearms would be introduced in 1964. I will introduce a number of fine firearms from 1964 and give a list of my top five firearms of 1964. This will also include a few firearms from 1965 that I think are important to the time period.
The M70 Winchester rifle would make available a new version of the popular hunting and sporting rifle in 1964. Over a half million model 70 pre-64 Winchesters were produced since its original release with very few changes in that time. New features on the new M70 Winchester would be a newly designed extractor and cocking indicator at the back of the bolt. The ejector would now be a plunger type system and the bolt face would enclose the head of the cartridge.
Other modifications would be made and some would be improvements over the old style. But the main issue in my opinion would be the look, feel, and quality of the new firearm versus the old-style. One of my complaints on the new model 70 was that the pressed checking was very lacking for a quality rifle like the Winchester 70 was. I did like the checkering style on the new Winchester 88 model that was released in the 1964 update. A new distinctive look on the new Winchester 88. The model 70 just did not have that good look (IMHO).
Winchester would also have considerable more competition than they did in the 1950s. Many more firearms companies would be making quality firearms and would be giving Winchester some stiff competition. I will list some of them in this article and we will see why I think that Winchester made a costly mistake by changing so rapidly. This also would be evident with the Winchester model 94.
Winchester arms would introduce a new cartridge in 1964. This would be the new 225 Winchester cartridge and would be available in the Model 70 standard rifle with a 22 inch barrel. It would also be available in the Model 70 target heavy barrel version with a 24 inch barrel. It would never became a real popular cartridge. The little 222 Remington cartridge and the 22-250 would be the favorites of the 60’s time period. With many quality rifles now being made and chambered in the 222 Remington and 22-250, Winchester could not compete with the revamped model 70. The new rifles would include the Browning Safari, Savage Anshutz 153, Remington 700 and 600 rifles just to name a few.
Winchester arms would also do some significant changes in the shotguns they would make. One significant change would be adding the new Winchester model 1200 in 1964. A cheaper version of the Winchester Model 12. There would be no comparison between the two (IMHO) and they would now have a pump shotgun that was much like all the rest of the commercial made pump shotguns . The Winchester model 1200 would be the new pump shotgun to compete with Remington 870 and the just released Mossberg 500 shotgun in 1962. In my opinion, Winchester would make too many changes in a very short time. But profits are the bottom line and this may have worked for a time. But loyal Winchester fans were watching.
Remington arms Company in 1964 would introduce a new very radical rifle design that did become quite popular at the time. It would be called the Remington model 600. It was a true bolt action carbine that weighed 5 1/2 pounds. A short action rifle with a ventilated rib that was totally new in the firearms world. In early 1964 it would chambered in the 222 Remington, 308 Winchester, and 35 Remington. Eventually the 243 and 6mm would be added. In my opinion the 308 and 35 Remington cartridges were a bit much for this lightweight rifle that came with no recoil pad. The 222 was a great cartridge in this firearm and I really enjoyed shooting them in this lightweight fun to carry rifle. One of the best firearms of the era.
In 1965 Remington arms Company would introduce the model 600 in the 350 Remington Magnum cartridge. This would not only have the ventilated rib but a new style stock made from laminated wood. This was done to give strength to the wood as the 350 Remington Magnum did pack a good amount of punch. Not the most pleasant rifle to shoot on the bench. A good looking rifle in my opinion.
These are both great firearms and nice editions to the firearms of 1964. They are becoming very desirable and are great collectible firearms.
A very similar firearm to the model 600 would be another totally new concept in a single shot bolt action pistol. It would be chambered in a new Remington cartridge called the 221 Remington fireball. Had a bolt action like the model 600 and the new Remington style nylon stock. Drilled and tapped for a scope and would sell for around $100 in 1964. A pleasure to shoot and very accurate and is quite collectible today.
Interesting to note that in 1964 you could buy a Winchester model 70 featherweight or standard model for as low as 139.00, or a Remington 700 ADL for 114.00. In 1964 I would buy the Remington rifle.
Savage arms Company would probably be the main player in 1964. In the years of 1964 and 1965 Savage would definitely lead the way with new rifles and updates to their solid line of firearms.
In 1964 Savage arms would add a new cartridge to their lever action Savage 99 rifle. This would be the new 284 Winchester cartridge just introduced by Winchester. This was a perfect fit for the Savage 99 as it was a short action cartridge with great performance and perfectly suited for the Savage lever action rifle. This combination was one of my favorite rifles of the 1950s and 60s era. A short lever action in the 284 Winchester cartridge with the ballistics of the 30-06. Just a great firearm. It came in the Savage 99-DL and Savage 99 F models.
Savage arms would introduce the new Savage model 24-DL with the 20 gauge shotgun barrel and a 22 long rifle or the new 22 Magnum cartridge. A great combination gun for 1964. It would sell for 49.50 in 1964.
Savage arms would also introduce the new 22 rifle in the model 63. It would come with a mannlicker stock and was advertised as a 22 rifle that look’s like a big bore rifle. It was also available in the new 22 Magnum cartridge. The 63 model was 23.50 and the 63M model was 26.50. These are good collectible firearms today and getting more difficult to find.
Savage arms would introduce a new Anschutz model 153 in 1964. This would be a custom grade rifle in the 222 Remington cartridge. A great firearm that Savage sold and is very desirable today. A great gun to collect and a favorite of mine. A great rifle and a great cartridge. A fine classic firearm and old world quality. Another great firearm of the 60,s.
In 1965 Savage would also add a couple of great upgrades to their rifle lineups. Savage arms would add the model 99 C to the model 99 lineup. The 99 would now be available with a detachable magazine. This would be in the 243, 284, and 308 cartridges. This would be very popular with the Savage 99 in the 1960s. You could have the original Rotary magazine in all other models in the Savage 99.
Savage arms would now offer the 225 Winchester in the Savage 340 model in 1965. It would be called the model 340V. This would be one of those 340 rifles that would have good collector value. Not many made and can probably be bought at reasonable prices.
Another Savage arms rifle introduced in 1965 would be the Savage model 110 Premier grade big-game rifle. Came in the 243, 30-06, and 7mm magnum. It came with a French walnut stock with roll over cheek piece and hand checkered. A very nice well-made rifle from the Savage arms Company. Another good collectible firearm from Savage Arms Company.
The Marlin firearms company would introduce a new model 336 in the 44 Magnum cartridge. This would be a very desirable rifle in the lever action carbine. It would be called the Marlin model 336 marauder. It would be a 6 ½ pound lightweight rifle that would complement the man now carrying the 44 Magnum revolvers coming on the market. The compact size with a straight stock and 20 inch barrel would make an excellent brush gun for Whitetail hunting. Marlin would sell this firearm for $86.95 in 1964. Very collectible today and desirable in any good firearms collection.
Another interesting bit of history for 1964 would be the Colt firearms company. They would release the new Colt AR-15 sporter to the general public. It would only fire semi automatic and had a five shot spacer in the 20 round magazine that could be removed. In all other respects it was just like the military version. I will give more info in a separate article on the Colt AR-15.
Colt firearms company would also introduce the frontier scout single action 22 with two cylinders. It would be just like the Ruger single six with both the 22 and 22 Magnum cylinders. The cylinders would be very easy to exchange. Standard barrel length is 4 ¾ inches and would come in three different models. Standard blue finish, full nickel plated, and a deep luster blue with stag horn grips. These are very collectible today and great Colt revolvers of the 1960s.
The Weatherby gun company would release a new rifle in 1964. Seems everyone was getting involved with developing varmint and target rifles. New cartridges were being released, like the new 225 Winchester cartridge. Weatherby would enter that market with the release of the new .224 Weatherby Varmintmaster. This would be advertised as the only belted varmint cartridge in existence. The Weatherby Varmintmaster would sell for around $295.00 in 1964. A great looking firearm and is very desirable in the collectors market today.
Strum, Ruger and Company would be very busy in 1964 and 1965. They like Savage arms would be very busy with the new firearms and upgrades. Probably one of the biggest success stories of the 1960s and beyond would be the new Ruger model 10/22 that would be released in 1964. A wonderful firearm with clean classic looks and very reliable. One of the best firearms of 1964.
In 1965 Ruger firearms would add a new cartridge to the single action Blackhawk model. That would be the new 41 Magnum cartridge. It would join the Ruger Blackhawk with the 357 Magnum and the 44 Magnum cartridges. They would also release the new Ruger single six and call it the super single six. It would now have the adjustable rear sight just like on the Blackhawk models. They would advertise that you would get target pistol performance with the new super single six. Of course the single six convertible revolver with non-adjustable sites would be introduced in 1961. They would be manufactured for three years and they are very desirable and hard to find. These are great guns to collect.
NEW MILITARY GRIP HI STANDARD SUPERMATIC / Hi Standard firearms would introduce a new Supermatic target pistol in 1964. It would come with the new military grip design to make their 22 target pistols feel like the grip of the military Colt 1911. A new style rear site would be installed and attached to the frame. This would allow the slide to move free of the rear sight. Good-looking high standard firearms and very collectible.
- Savage 99F in the new 284 Winchester cartridge (My favorite for the year)
- Remington Model 600 in the 222 Remington cartridge (Great look and fun to shoot)
- Savage Anschutz Model 153 in the 222 Remington cartridge ( Great quality and classic look)
- Colt Scout Model in the 22 / 22 magnum (Fine Colt finish with perfect style)
- Ruger 10/22 Model in the 22 LR (Fun to shoot and ahead of its time)
One of the big classic hunting scope happenings in 1964 was the Golden Ring addition to the Leupold Scope line. Leupold would add the Golden ring to their scopes that year. 55 years and still known as the Leupold Gold Ring Scope. I would hope that whoever came up with that idea was awarded a nice fat bonus. A nice touch and great marketing for the last 55 years. They would advertise that the Gold Ring would be a symbol of quality and dependability. The 1964 Gold Ring scopes would look much like the ones made today. Great scopes and a great company.
The Redfield Scope Company would be very active in 1964. They would advertise the new accu-range recticles in 1964. A nice addition to a very popular scope. Only came on the variable powered models. This would be the hay day of the Redfield Scope company in my opinion. What happened to Winchester would have consequences to the Redfield company as well. New scope companies would now come on the scene to give the main players some competition. And at this time some of firearms companies would be releasing their own scope lines. The Marlin Gun Company would advertise their own scopes in 1964,(see Marlin ad above). Browning Arms, Savage Arms, and the Weatherby Arms company would all have their own scopes that were advertised in 1964. Very intense market at that time.
The Bushnell Scope Company would also introduce a new concept to their ScopeChief Model. It would be called the ScopeChief II. It would have a command post that could be put in place by turning a ring on the eyepiece. A very popular feature on a very popular scope at that time. I would mount a lot of these rifle scopes in my gunsmithing days. I liked these scopes and would use them myself in the 70′ and 80’s.
Interesting to note in 1964 that the Federal cartridge Corporation would start to produce rifle cartridges to sell to the hunting and shooting public that year. They had previously sold centerfire cartridges to the military and were ready to sell rifle cartridges to the public. They would primarily sell shot shells for many years. They would advertise the Hi-Shok bullets for accuracy and performance.
Of coarse others things would be happening in the united states at that time. The Ford motor company would introduce the new designed Ford pickup truck that would be very popular with hunters for the next several decades. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts would love the new Ford pickup. Of course in the spring of 1964 the release of the Ford Mustang would be announced. A great year for the Ford motor company.
The Chevy pickup trucks would be quite popular also. And 1964 the Chevy pickup could be ordered with air-conditioning. You could order the 327 V8 and have plenty of power to hall your hunting equipment around.
Dodge trucks would introduce a high performance package in 1964 that included a 426 wedge engine that was offered in 1965 also. Great collector piece today. Always thought the Ford and Chevy pickup trucks were better looking than the Dodge. But would love to have that wedge motor.
In 1964 the color TV would be introduced to the American public. Now all those young hunters could watch Daniel Boone in living color.
You could buy a new home in 1964 for around $13,000. Gas was $.30 a gallon and a ticket to the movies was $1.25.