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Model 54 with 2 features
July 31, 2015
1:29 pm
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took possession of a model 54 in 30/06 serial number 342 that has 2 special features no rear sight dovetail and has what appears to be factory original 1 1/4 inch swivels . Removed rear swivel from stock to examine appears to be factory inletted . How common are these features they are listed in 1925 catalog . Overall gun is 90  percent with no extra holes.

July 31, 2015
2:36 pm
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Tom,

The first thing I would do is pull the stock and check the 2-digit year number stamped on the bottom of the barrel… it should be “24”. What type of rear sight does your rifle have?

There has been relatively little study of the Model 54, and I do not know how common (or uncommon) any of the special order features are.

Bert

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August 1, 2015
4:04 am
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Bert.   Went and removed stock probably first time that portion of rifle has seen light since 1925 which is the barrel date. The sight is the proper early Lyman 48 and the front swivel also appears factory installed    Tom

August 2, 2015
5:03 am
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Tom,

I would have bet money that it was a 1924 production rifle, but 1925 is well within reason.

Bert

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August 7, 2015
5:03 am
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I would really like to know where I could obtain some more information on 54 Winchester have Madis books , Roger Rules on model 70’s and Houzes book on bolt actions .Have read articles in Winchester collectors magazine . Presently have 15 in my collection but would like more information. Thanks for any advice Tom

August 7, 2015
2:32 pm
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Tom,

You already have just about everything that has been written about the Model 54. Unfortunately, there just has not been very much written about it, and the CFM does not have any factory records for it. The lack of historical records makes it difficult to research and study. There are a few WACA members that may be able to answer questions for you (Steve Emmert, and Louis Luttrell).

Bert

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August 8, 2015
3:33 pm
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Hi Tom-

Bert gives me way too much credit.  I only own two M54s, a first Standard Rifle and a Carbine, both in 30 W.C.F.  So your hands-on experience with M54s beats me several-fold.

Presumably, a run-of-the-mill first year M54 would have the 24 inch Nickel Steel barrel, same contour as the M70s, with “goose egg” rear sight boss and integral front sight base made to accept a pinned front sight blade.  The top of the rear sight boss would be dovetailed for a rear sight and the bottom dovetailed for the fore end bedding screw.  From what I understand, M54s that were manufactured with a factory installed Lyman 48W receiver sight had a Lyman No. 6 dual folding leaf rear sight installed on the barrel that could be folded flat when using the receiver sight (in contrast to the M70s where the barrel dovetail was usually just filled with a Lyman 12S slot blank on rifles with factory receiver sights).

When you said there is no rear sight dovetail, do you mean that the rear sight boss lacks the top dovetail, or that the rear sight boss was omitted entirely?  I’m sure you’ve seen it, but Leroy Merz has listed what is supposed to be a M54 rifle built to John Olin’s specifications that lacks the rear sight boss:

http://merzantiques.com/photo/factory-engraved-winchester-model-54-sporting-rifle

As for the swivels, what style are they?  As you know, the first standard rifle was regularly furnished with sling swivel eyes for hook-type swivels.  The later NRA Standard Rifle had fixed 1″ or 1 1/4″ swivel bows like the M70.  It would be easy at any time to swap original factory swivel eyes for later original factory swivel bows based on owner preference without altering the wood.  On the other hand, if they are the Super Grade-style detachable swivel bases, they would likely have to be ordered that way or done after-market.  My carbine, which has a “special order” stainless steel barrel (catalogued for $7.00 extra), has M54 Super Grade style bases, which I am thinking might be factory original, i.e. the gun had to have been special ordered to get the barrel, so it is at least plausible that the buyer also asked for detachable swivels.   I’ll post some pics of the carbine when I get the chance. 

Apart from the books/articles that you mention above, about the only other source if information I find useful is to get reprints of as many of the Winchester firearms catalogs and component parts lists from 1925-1936 as possible.  Cornell pubs seems to have a lot of them scanned and sells copies inexpensively.  I find the component parts catalogs are particularly useful, as they go into detail about special order parts, which makes it easy to see if an accessory on a rifle today was available at the time of manufacture.  

Best,

Lou

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August 8, 2015
5:54 pm
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Oh… just noticed that the two factory engraved M54s from the Yearout collection that are pictured on p34 of Rule’s M70 book also do not have the rear sight boss. So it’s certainly a rare feature, but not unheard of…

For amusement, below I’ve attached pics (if it works) of my M54 carbine S/N 30246A with its two features: stainless steel barrel and (???) factory Super Grade style sling swivel bases…M54-Carbine-30426A.jpgImage Enlarger

The M54 was catalogued in .30 W.C.F. from 1928-1930. The S/N of this gun would be about 1929 or 1930 production based on what’s in Rule. The .30 W.C.F. actions used a flat (not coned) breech and lacked the clip-loading slot.   The barrel ($7.00 extra cost option) has the early baked lacquer “Japanned” finish that was Winchester’s first (and not very successful) attempt at blackening stainless steel.

Unlike the Standard Rifle, the M54 carbine was not supplied with sling swivel eyes. The swivel bases on this gun (unfortunately not well shown in these photos – they’re just ones I did a while ago) are M54-M70 Super Grade style bases.   While the M54 Super Grade was not catalogued until 1934, these bases (with fixed bows) were used on the M52 butt stock. I do not have a copy of the 1929 component parts catalog so I do not know whether this style of detachable sling swivel base was available from the factory circa 1930 when this carbine was presumably assembled.  The bases are definitely Winchester and the installation looks factory, but who knows?

And in case anyone cares to point it out, the Redfield 102W peep sight on this gun is not factory. The M54 carbine was not catalogued as available with a receiver sight. I put this (contemporary with the gun) after market sight on it so I could shoot it despite my pathetic aging eyesight. Someday I’ll put a proper Lyman 66W rear sight on it.

Best,

Lou

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August 8, 2015
6:13 pm
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Hi Lou thanks for your response . The goose egg boss is present but is not dovetailed. This feature is listed in the 1925 catalog as a extra for rifles exact wording is “Leaving off Rear Sight Slot, or changing position of Rear Sight. The sling swivels are shown in Winchester catalog as available in examining the in letting I see no finish missing or gouges at all it is centered exactly where the normal stud would go the rear the front bow is in the proper place also. Both are 1 1/4 inch bows. 

Woul also like to see picture of your carbine . How common are stainless steel barrels ? have 2 in collection both 30/06 carbine and rifle . Seems that collecting 54’s is not common and appreciate any knowledge that I can garner.   Thanks Tom 

when I figure out how to send pictures will do

August 8, 2015
8:09 pm
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Hopefully the pics are visible now… I can see them when I go to the forum w/o logging in.  Actually works well as long as I remember to post .jpeg files.  I’ve no idea how many stainless barrels were ordered on M54s.  Rule posits that a total of 3020 M54 rifles (<6%) were “specials” and the stainless barrels would have been a subset of those.

The “no dovetail” treatment of the M54 rear sight boss as a specifically catalogued option is interesting. While I know little about M54s I do have a fair knowledge of M70s (albeit nothing to rival several other WACA members).

In M70 375 Magnums (24” medium heavy straight taper and early 25”C-1 contour barrels) it seems to have been commonplace for the factory to omit provision for attaching a barrel mounted rear sight in rifles supplied with factory Lyman 48 WJS receiver sights (no special order required).   In the case of the 24” MH contour, some were both dovetailed and (superfluously) drilled for a target block, some were only drilled, some only dovetailed, and some neither drilled nor dovetailed, in a seemingly random manner. In my collection, M70 S/N 14458 is a 375 Magnum standard rifle with 24” MH barrel that is both drilled and dovetailed despite having a factory Lyman 48 WJS receiver sight, while M70 S/N 27281 is a 1940 Super Grade with the same barrel/receiver sight combination that is neither drilled nor dovetailed. Similarly, M70 S/N 77043 is a type 2 standard rifle in 375 Magnum with factory Lyman 48 WJS. Its C-1 contour barrel is not drilled to accept the sight mounting block that held a Lyman 6A sight on those rifles.

Of course those examples do not apply to the standard “goose egg” barrel contour. In M70s I’m only aware of some National Match rifles where the (again superfluous) rear sight dovetail was omitted in routine production (examples being S/N 506314 – one of mine – or S/N 214679 described in Rule’s book). Otherwise it was special order – as in the “gopher specials” and other post-1960 “sightless” M70s.

It’s too bad there isn’t more info available on M54s. Some catalogued variations, e.g. Deluxe Heavy Barrel, Sniper’s Rifle, Sniper’s Match, and National Match seem to be have been made in such vanishingly small numbers as to have almost been “catalogued but not produced”. I wonder whether a M54 survey would get enough feedback to provide useful data? Most of the M54s one runs across on-line are wrecked standard rifles… Are there enough “interesting” M54 variations in collectors’ hands to make a survey worthwhile?

Cheers,

Lou

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August 10, 2015
8:16 am
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The most knowledgeable person on 54s I know is Wayne Miller who has an impressive collection and decades of experience with them. Email him @ mil624214@centurylink.net    I’m sure you will find him most helpful.

August 11, 2015
2:15 pm
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Yep, Wayne knows 54’s….

October 16, 2017
12:23 am
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54winch
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Has anyone ever done a survey on target rifles?

October 16, 2017
1:27 am
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No… and to the best of my knowledge, there has not been a survey of any of the Model 54 variations.

Bert

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October 17, 2017
7:22 am
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54winch
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Shame, really enjoy 54 rifles.  Think they are under appreciated.  Target versions are out there, they have to be. The target versions became the Model 70 bull gun, no?

October 17, 2017
2:44 pm
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The 54 target models carried right over to the model 70. They were offered with wither a 24″ or 26″ length barrel depending on caliber. The Bull Gun was never offered in the 54 to the best of my knowledge. It had a 28″ long extra heavy barrel, and was only cataloged in 30-06 and 300 H&H Magnum. The closest comparable model in the 54 would have been the Sniper’s Match, which had a 26″ extra heavy barrel and believe it was only cataloged in 30-06. The National Match models which were technically target models also, and were offered in both the 54 and 70. They were manufactured with standard sporter weight barrels, in target configuration stocks.

Steve 

October 17, 2017
9:55 pm
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54winch
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Thanks everyone.  Good to know the Model 54 SM became the Bull gun.  I’ve read the .30-06 model 70 bull is harder to find.  Wondering if anyone knows the measurements of the factory installed mounts on the 54 SM and what kind of scope would be period correct for a 54 SM? Again, thanks for the replies from those in the know.  Can a guest post a picture or must it be hosted somewhere first?

October 18, 2017
1:44 pm
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Tom, just as a point of clarification and to prevent any misunderstanding, the 54 Sniper’s Match and model 70 Bull Gun are different. Even though they both have an “extra heavy” barrel, the SM’s barrel is 26″ long, while the Bull is 28″ long.

As far as scope bases,  both rifles used the same mounting method. The rear base was mounted on the front receiver ring using the 2 factory drilled/tapped 6-48 holes. The front base was mounted on the barrel with 2 – 6-48 screws as well. The first hole for the front base was 5.02″ from receiver face, and 2nd hole was 1.76″ from 1st. 

A Unertl, Fecker, or Lyman Targetspot external adjustment target scope, would have been the scope of choice for a  well heeled shooter in the day. 

Steve

October 18, 2017
9:30 pm
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54winch
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Steve,

Appreciate the clarification of the differences between the SM and 70 BG and the additional information.

The butt plate is huge on the SM.  I’ll take your scope mount measurements and see if they match up. Thinking the rear sight bowl will need to be removed in order for it to be installed and/or the entire rear sight would need to be removed so the bolt will function with the scope installed.

I’ve read Roger Rule’s book and he says the 54 SM wasn’t made at Winchester’s factory.  Wondering where it was made if not in their factory? Maybe a different part of the factory instead of the “regular” line?

October 19, 2017
1:53 pm
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Tom,

Based on what I have read on the Sniper’s Match rifle, it was built right along side the balance of model 54’s in the general production area at Winchester. I believe you are confusing the Sniper’s Match with the earlier model 54 Sniper’s Rifle, which was built in Winchester’s specialty shop which was the predecessor to the custom shop. I do not know of any Winchester rifles in that era which were not made in Winchester’s factory. 

Steve

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