PRE 64 WINCHESTER MODEL 70
The Pre 64 Winchester Model 70 would be introduced at the beginning of 1937. It would replace the Winchester model 54. Some of the new improvements of the new model 70 Winchester over the Winchester model 54 would include a better designed bolt handle and trigger. Winchester would also improved the floor plate and trigger guard.
The improved bolt handle and safety would make mounting a scope a much easier task for the gunsmith that would be installing one.
This would probably be one of the most significant changes in bolt action rifles in the 1900’s. This firearm would revolutionize the bolt action hunting rifle in America and possibly the world. The Pre 64 Winchester Model 70 would lead the way and all other bolt rifles would follow the model 70 in style and innovation.
A good reason to call the Pre 64 model 70, “The Rifleman’s Rifle”. It would lead the way.
The first year production rifles would be the standard model, national match model with 24 inch barrels, and the bull gun with a 28 inch barrel in 30-06 only.
The Winchester model 70 of 1937 would be chambered in the 250 Savage, 220 Swift, 257 Roberts, 270 Winchester, 7 mm Mauser, and 30-06. The Standard model would sell for $59.75 in 1937.
One of the big obvious differences of the pre WW II Winchester model 70 rifles was the look of the safety. The early safety kind of looked like a flag waving as one fan labeled it. That style was used up until around 1948.
These are very collectible and hard to find in original condition. Some experts say that only special order model 70’s came drilled and tapped on the rear bridge of the pre WW II rifles. They should not be drilled and tapped on the front of the action.
I have seen some original pictures of a early model 70 Winchester from 1937 and it does not have the rear bridge drilled and taped. This to me would suggest that drilling and tapping would be a special order at that time.
I would drill and tap a pre WW II action in the early 80’s but cannot remember if I did front and rear. I did write an article on shooting that firearm (The Old Kicker). I did drill and tap it and sighted it in for the owner.
The picture to the left gives a good example of a scope being added to an early Pre 64 Winchester model 70. This does show the old style safety of WW II era model 70. Number 1 issue would be the side mount scope base installed on this rifle. You would need to drill and tap the side of the receiver and cut out part of the stock to install this type of mount.
Great idea at the time, but not a good idea for today’s collectors. This firearm is now a good hunting rifle and a fine example of a rifle that would make a nice custom build rifle. Some Winchester fans would like it just the way it is. Great example of the early firearms of the Golden Age.
Looking at this picture would also give a good idea of how the scope and placement of one has evolved from that time. The scope is mounted very far forward and would be very difficult to get a good focus and eye relief on. Not the best set up in those days but it did work.
The Pre 64 Winchester model 70 of 1954 would release a new model 70 in the 308 Winchester cartridge. The 308 would be a new cartridge in 1954 and Winchester would chamber it in the new Winchester model 70 featherweight model.
The Pre 64 model 70 featherweight would be very popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Only available in the 308 cartridge in 1954 and available in two styles. The standard model and the monte carlo style. The monte carlo style was being offered for the hunters looking to mount a scope. Many hunters were now using Scopes to hunt with.
Winchester would now be drilling and tapping all the Pre 64 Winchester model 70 rifles that left the factory. The rifle scope was now becoming a major part of the hunting and target shooting sports in America. The rifle scope was here to stay.
The Winchester model 70 of 1954 would be chambered in the 22 Hornet, 220 Swift, 257 Roberts, 270 Winchester, and 30-06. They would advertise the 300 H&H and 375 H&H magnum in 1954. The 250 Savage and the 7mm Mauser would not be offered in 1954
The Winchester model 70 Featherweight 308 $120.95
The Winchester model 70 Standard $120.95
The Winchester model 70 Super Grade $179.45
The Winchester model 70 Monte Carlo $120.95
The Winchester model 70 National Match $174.05
The Standard model would sell for $59.75 in 1937. The price would double by 1954.
We can now see that two cartridges from 1937 are no longer offered in 1954. The 250 Savage and the 7mm Mauser are not offered in 1954. I am sure you would be able to special order those and other cartridges from the factory if so desired.
This is why a pre 64 Winchester model 70 in these rarer cartridges are so desirable. This is also why you have to be so careful when looking at these rarer calibers. Be sure of what you are buying and do your home work.
For the average collector it is best to stay with the standard cartridges. You can also look at the various models but stay with the more common cartridges. It is safer and some good finds are available.
The Model 70 rifles before WWII did list other cartridges. I am using the year of 1937 in this article because it is when the Model 70 first came out. I will use 1954, 1961, and some info on 1968.
I have two articles in this website on the year’s of 1953 and 1955. They are Classic arms of 1953 and Classic arms of 1955. The Winchester firearms company would introduce the very popular Winchester model 88 in the 308 Winchester cartridge. Winchester had a great lineup of classic firearms in the mid 50’s.
The Pre 64 Winchester model 70 of 1961 would change a couple of models and add a couple of new cartridges to the model 70 line up for that year. This would be just a couple of years before the Winchester arms company would make those major changes in 1964.
The Winchester model 70 in 1961 would now only make the Monte Carlo stock for all their rifles except the Target Rifle. All rifles of that time frame would now focus on the scope being mounted on a rifle. Time was changing.
You can now see that even the Winchester model 70 Standard Model in 30-06 was different in 1954 and had another variation in 1961. Even though it is in the 30-06 cartridge, you will have two great firearms to collect. The 30-06 would also be available in the Featherweight model. The 30-06 can be a good collector piece.
The Winchester model 70 Featherweight $134.95
The Winchester model 70 Standard $134.95
The Winchester model 70 Varmint $149.50
The Winchester model 70 Alaskan $144.95
The Winchester model 70 African $305.00
The Winchester model 70 Westerner $144.95
The Winchester model 70 Target $185.00
The Winchester model 70 Target (Bull) $200.00
Featherweight Cartridges 243 Win, 270 Win, 30-06, 308 Win
Standard Cartridges 243 Win, 270 Win, 30-06, 300 H&H
Varmint Cartridges 220 Swift, 243 Win
Alaskan Cartridges 338 Win Magnum, 375 H&H Magnum
African Cartridge 458 Win Magnum
Westerner Cartridge 264 Win Magnum
Target Cartridges 243 Win, 30-06 (Bull 300 H&H)
By the late 1960’s the Winchester model 70 would be a different firearm from what it was in the early 60’s. The new Standard model 70 would use cheaper front and rear sights. The checkering would now be pressed into the wood and the old style cut checkering would no longer be used. The finish on the wood was not near as nice as the Pre 64 finish. Definitely a big issue with the die hard Winchester 70 fans of the early years.
I would handle and fire many of these rifles from that era. They did shoot well and preform well on the bench. Just did not have that look and feel of the Pre 64’s. In my neck of the woods in Northeast Pa. The Remington 700 was the new king of the bolt action big bore rifles for deer hunting. The shop I worked at would sell many more Remingtons than Winchesters in those days.
Winchester would also face some very stiff competition in those days. Many companies were now giving the Winchester 70 a lot of competition. The Remington 700 was a good looking alternative to the Model 70 and a little cheaper.
They would also get some competition from Savage Arms with the Model 110. Maybe not as good looking as the Model 70 but it was noted for a very accurate factory rifle. Weatherby was making the Mark V Model for around 300.00 in the late 60’s. A very nice firearm for the money.
Browning was producing the great bolt action rifles in the Safari grade in those years. They were not that much more in price than a Standard Model 70 but were much more appealing to look and admire. Even Colt Firearms was making the Coltsman rifle in the late 60’s for around the same price.
Another great rifle from that era was the Husqvarna sporting rifle. Not only a great looking firearm but priced around 170.00 for the sporter or monta carlo models. Great firearms for just a few dollars more than the Winchester Model 70 Standard Grade.
I would sell and work on all the rifles listed above. Every one of those rifles were better than the post 64 model 70. Both better made and better looking (IMHO). The Pre 64 Winchester Model 70 would defiantly match up with any of those rifles
Winchester Model 70 Standard Grade $149.95
Winchester Model 70 Deluxe $274.95
Remington Model 700 ADL $129.95
Remington Model 700 BDL $149.95
Savage Model 110 Standard $124.50
Sako Forester $175.50
Husqvarna Lightweight Sporter $165.00
Browning Safari $199.50
The Winchester idea of redoing the entire line of firearms was not only a bad idea but also bad timing.
By the middle of the 1960’s the competition would be Fierce. Many firearms company’s would be making quality products and at very good prices. Maybe not the quality of the 40’s and 50’s but a great variety to choose from.
Any of the above mentioned rifles would be great firearms to collect. Yes owning a nice Pre 64 Winchester Model 70 can be the ultimate in Classic firearms Collecting. If you can find one then defiantly buy it. But any of the above can be great additions to your collections. The bottom three are not only very fine rifles (Sako,Husqvarna,Browning) but not as highly sought after as the Model 70.
Winchester would make many of the Post 64 Model 70’s. They are not big collector type firearms but are definitely worth buying. I am looking into making a custom rifle in the next year or so and may consider finding a Post 64 rifle to acquire a good sound action. It should be priced right and be a good action to build with. Re-barrel and add a nice style stock that matches the early 1950’s super grade rifle. I have a 257 Roberts Ackley Improved reamer to chamber the rifle to. May not be a true Pre 64 Super Grade 257 Roberts. But it will be close enough for me.
Hope you all find your Pre 64 Winchester Model 70. If you can’t. Build your own.