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Model 54 with 2 features
October 20, 2017
12:51 am
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54winch
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My mistake.  Went back and re-read Rule and I get it now.  Thought maybe it was made overseas or something.

September 7, 2021
3:58 pm
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Isaac
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I have a Winchester Model 54 Bull gun in 300 h&h magnum. 28″ extra heavy barrel with globe front signt and aperture rear sight. The gun does exist but this may be the only one to have been ever made. Mostly all original except the rear sight and the added scope base at some point in time.

September 7, 2021
8:05 pm
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Isaac said

I have a Winchester Model 54 Bull gun in 300 h&h magnum. 28″ extra heavy barrel with globe front signt and aperture rear sight. The gun does exist but this may be the only one to have been ever made. Mostly all original except the rear sight and the added scope base at some point in time.  

 

The M54 was never catalogued for the 300 H&H. Have you ever looked at the under barrel stamps, or better yet can you post some pics?

September 7, 2021
10:58 pm
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Tedk said

 

The M54 was never catalogued for the 300 H&H. Have you ever looked at the under barrel stamps, or better yet can you post some pics?  

I know I’d love to see photos of it.

September 7, 2021
11:54 pm
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steve004 said

I know I’d love to see photos of it.  

Good idea, but a ridiculous amount of trouble for a non-member.  But the brl date is easy to check; a M.70 date would suggest rebarreling, a pre-M.70 date shows the man’s got a very rare item.  Was there overlap near the end of 54 production?  Such as 70s with 54-dated brls? 

September 8, 2021
12:21 am
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clarence said

Good idea, but a ridiculous amount of trouble for a non-member.  But the brl date is easy to check; a M.70 date would suggest rebarreling, a pre-M.70 date shows the man’s got a very rare item.  Was there overlap near the end of 54 production?  Such as 70s with 54-dated brls?   

If he happens to use a photo hosting site, he can just insert a link.

September 8, 2021
2:43 am
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Here are some pics of the subject rifle. I will refrain from comment for the time being.

Steve

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September 8, 2021
3:38 am
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The “300 MAGNUM” marking to me looks different (sharper, newer) than the other brl markings. Shouldn’t it include “H & H”, & have a “scallop” in the ring for the longer cartridge?  Still like to know the brl date.

September 8, 2021
12:56 pm
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There’s a lot going on with that gun that isn’t original. Barrel and receiver look to be heavily buffed and re-blued. No Definitive Proof on receiver.  Bolt has been polished and ground for scope use. No pics of the rear bridge, but I’d bet very heavily there are some extra holes. Caliber stamp (as it appears now) is not original to the barrel

September 8, 2021
1:50 pm
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Tedk said
 Caliber stamp (as it appears now) is not original to the barrel  

In fact, I’d guess it means .300 Win Mag, or some other short mag, not H&H. 

September 8, 2021
2:04 pm
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There was only 1-300 magnum when these early guns were manufactured, thus no delineation. The 300 Win mag was not introduced until 1963. Also, keep in mind that early in production, the caliber stamping was a separate hand stamp.

Steve

September 8, 2021
2:11 pm
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Interesting rifle…  Thanks for posting the photos, Steve.  Looking forward to your take on this one.

I think I’m going to disagree with everything Tedk just posted Wink, except to note that the Redfield sights and scope blocks are late additions, there does not appear to be a proof mark on the receiver, and the bolt handle has been notched for scope clearance.  Photos are not optimal for making such statements, but to me the metal finishes look fine and I don’t see either holes in the bridge or polishing of the bolt handle.  The stock is a M54 Marksman stock (fore end swivel but no hand stop rail and not notched for the unbent bolt handle) with the “T” shaped inletting for a Lyman 48W or long slide 48WJ receiver sight.

There are a few things I’d consider:

First is that the addition of the H&H cartridges to the Winchester line-up was a M70 thing.  Chances are that other than prototypes, 300 MAGNUM barrels were not made/dated before ’37.  I’d be surprised if there was an earlier date on the barrel.  But here we have a 300 MAGNUM barrel marked “M54”.  300 MAGNUM was the caliber designation used prior to the advent of the one-piece roll dies in 1950, and except for a trick of the light on the caliber stamp, the markings on this barrel (both sides) look OK to me.  One thing I’d like to examine more closely is that the “54” in “MODEL 54” is maybe (???) slightly larger than the “MODEL” part, as though maybe (???) the model designation was stamped separately (???).   That would not mean it wasn’t a factory marked barrel, however…  FWIW… There is no mail order proof mark.

Second is to figure out how the receiver was adapted to the H&H length cartridges.  In the M70, to accommodate the longer cartridges the clip slot was omitted and replaced by a curved cut away, while a smaller relief cut was placed atop the receiver ring.  This rifle has the expected appearance of a standard M54 receiver, with clip slot and unmolested receiver ring, but the clip slot certainly provides enough room to stuff a loaded 300 MAGNUM cartridge down into the action from above.  However the H&H cartridges required a longer magazine box and follower and the receiver had to be milled on the bottom to accept them.  It would be interesting to see what this looks like on the subject rifle, compared to factory work on a pre-war H&H length M70 receiver.

Third thing, given that it is a M54 stock, would be to see the stock inletting where the magazine well was elongated and to look at the barrel channel.  If, say, this rifle was initially a M54 “Sniper’s Match” (30 GOV’T’06), the barrel channel would already fit the 28″ extra heavy bull gun barrel as the only difference in contour between the 26″ Sniper’s Match barrel and the 28″ Bull Gun barrel being 2″ in length.  

So…  IMHO…  There is a good chance this rifle is a M54 Sniper’s Match rifle (1936) adapted to the “new” 300 MAGNUM cartridge (1937) on or about the time the M70 was introduced.  Whether the conversion was done at the factory or not maybe moot.  I know of one (possibly the only one) M54 Sniper’s Match rifle (30 GOV’T’06) built with a 28″ EH Bull Gun barrel marked M54 (it’s probably pictured in David Bichrest’s M54 book).  Maybe this rifle is a similar experiment?

Just my ignorant take…  Smile

Lou

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September 8, 2021
3:25 pm
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Louis Luttrell said
 There is a good chance this rifle is a M54 Sniper’s Match rifle (1936) adapted to the “new” 300 MAGNUM cartridge (1937) on or about the time the M70 was introduced.  Whether the conversion was done at the factory or not maybe moot. 

So far as the value of the conversion is concerned, I would think it’s far from moot.  Was a factory rebarreled gun given some additional mark on the underside of the brl in addition to the standard marks for that caliber?  If not, how did the factory distinguish between its own work & outside brl fitting?

September 8, 2021
3:40 pm
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Lou, your assessment pretty much agrees with my comments to the owner. I do not believe there has been any buffing or refinishing of either the receiver or barrel. The light impression on the barrel is pretty common. The balance of the rollstamp looks fine except for the “54” which you pointed out also. What no one has picked up on is the font used for the “54”. It is not the same as used on factory 54s. I have several 54’s within 2 or 3 hundred of this rifle, see attached for examples from 4 different rifles . This does not mean it was not stamped this way at the factory, it just raises a red flag to me. I see no signs of the “70” being peined over and remnants underneath the “54” stamp. All the stampings on both the receiver and barrel look unmolested otherwise, as does the matting on the front ring. 

The fact the receiver is not proofed(verified by owner) and the barrel has the typical proof location of the model 54 & 70 barrel is interesting. This raises the possibility that the rifle is some type of factory prototype or possibly something made at a later date from parts, possibly a Winchester employee. That could explain the lack of a proofmark on receiver and the fact that there is no additional machining on the front ring and rear bridge for the longer cartridge. 

 I do believe that the barrel is most likely a model 70. It could be that the roll stamping process was interrupted where the model number should be and left blank, then continued on for the balance of the stamping process. This is relatively easy to do. That would lead me to believe that the barrel was done at a later date than the receiver. Possibly it was sent back to the factory for rebarrel? It could have started out as a Target or Snipers Match model with that stock. All that would have been required is for the barrel channel to be opened up along with mag well to fit the components. 

The owner has indicated to me that the cartridges feed flawlessly through the mag, so those components have definitely been changed out. He is going to send me a picture of the underside of barrel, which should prove interesting. I am hoping to see a 37 or later barrel date. Possibly also a rework number which would have been stamped on bottom of barrel when factory work was performed.

 

Stay tuned………

Steve

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September 8, 2021
4:24 pm
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Hi Clarence-

I guess what I meant by “moot” was that even if the work (under the action) looks like it was done by Winchester and the metal finishes look original and undisturbed, the real value of a rifle like this would lie in whether it could be shown to be a factory prototype/special order.  Such would require some form of documentation, possibly linking it to a factory employee like Major Hession.  In other words, it would be easier to “prove” the gun was converted outside the factory than to “prove” it was done in New Haven, and the latter “proof” is what you’d need to add big value.

As for the question of identifying markings on the barrel… Let’s ASSUME for a moment (I know it’s an ASSumption, which makes me the ASS… Laugh) that the barrel is a 28″ EH (bull gun) contour, it is chambered in 300 (H&H) MAGNUM, and that it was stamped “MODEL 54” by the factory.  I’m not saying that all this is true, only that the photos do not tell me that it isn’t a factory barrel. Confused But stipulating all that, the barrel would have to have been made on special order (the M54 was never cataloged for an H&H length cartridge).  So it would then only be a question of whether the barrel was attached (and action adapted) at the factory prior to sale or later on inside/outside the factory.

Two things might give a clue, but we don’t know either…  Barrels that were sent out for fitting typically had the “oval P” mail order proof, often in addition to the “WP” definitive proof.  That was supposed to tell Winchester that the barrel was fitted outside the factory.  This barrel does not have a mail order proof:

  Mail-Order-Proof-1.jpegImage Enlarger

The second thing that could help, is in the pre-war era rifles returned for major rework (like rebarreling) were often hand stamped with a five or six digit work order (???) number under the barrel (sorry for the poor photo).  We do not know what’s stamped under the barrel of the subject rifle:

M70-7MM-barrel-1935-WACA.jpgImage Enlarger

So…  The presence of a mail order proof would suggest outside fitment, while the presence of a work order number would suggest a factory R&R.  Does that mean that if neither of those things is present then the factory put this rifle together on special order prior to sale?  I would not consider the ABSENCE of proof of aftermarket (factory or outside) work to be enough to conclude it was a factory experiment. Could be…  But I’d think you’d need something more…

One other thing you’d asked about earlier…  M70s (marked as such) are known with barrels dated as early as ’32 (all but one of the half dozen or so of these I’ve seen were 20″ or 24″ 250-3000 SAV barrels).  This is interesting since ’32 was the first year that CMS (Winchester Proof Steel) barrels (with the long integral front sight ramp) were made (for the M54 NRA standard and NRA short rifles).  The barrel dates were applied when the barrels were chambered but before they were polished, while the exposed markings were applied between polishing steps before bluing.  So the usual explanation for M70 barrels dated ’32 through ’35 is that dated but unmarked M54 barrel blanks were lying around unfinished until they got used up on M70s. 

The opposite, i.e. M54 barrels dated later than ’36, would seem less likely as long a Winchester had a stock of M54 (marked) barrels in the replacement parts inventory.  That said, Tedk did run across a ’39 dated 30 GOV’T’06 barrel with mail order proof that was marked “MODEL 54”.  That’s three years after the M54 was dropped.  The “54” on this barrel is clearly stamped by hand using a separate die but I could see no evidence that a “70” had been ground off or filled in.  And it’s a standard 30-06 barrel.  Who’d bother to fake that???  So MAYBE (???) Winchester made up a few M54 replacement barrels (oval P marked) from M70 barrel blanks after the M54 had been discontinued???

Hope this helps,

Lou

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September 8, 2021
4:37 pm
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Hi Steve-

Very interesting!!!  Agree about the font of the “54”.  FWIW…  Below is the caliber stamp on that ’39 dated “M54” marked barrel with the “oval P” mail order proof mark that I mentioned to Clarence. Clearly hand stamped and not very well aligned, but the font appears similar to that on the subject rifle, especially the “4”.

Mail-Order-Proof-4.jpegImage Enlarger

This is Tedk’s photo, but I have the barrel downstairs and I do not see any evidence of peening or grinding where the “70” should be.  It’s a mail order barrel and doesn’t look like it was ever put on a gun (threads and dovetails are all clean).  The workmanship looks too sloppy to me to be factory, but who’d bother to fake a mail order proof M54 barrel in 30 GOV’T’06?  And why wouldn’t a customer needing a replacement barrel for his M54 NRA standard rifle in 1939 not order a M70 marked mail order barrel and just screw it on?

Looking forward to learning what’s under the barrel of this M54…

Lou

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September 8, 2021
4:53 pm
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Lou, that’s very interesting. It looks like the exact same stamp as used on the 300 barrel. Font appears same, and it also appears to be slightly larger in height than the balance of rollstamp, just like the 300 barrel. This would further lead me to believe that the stamping was done at Winchester and that possibly it was a 54 barrel made up at a later date as a retrofit to an customer’s rifle. Possibly the 54 stamps had been destroyed or damaged by the time the barrel was made, so they used the hand stamp.

   Hopefully the stamping under the barrel will help us figure something plausible out. 

Steve

September 8, 2021
5:38 pm
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Stevve-

What do you make of the over travel adjustment screw set-up in the rear of the trigger guard bow (third photo from left)?  Looks like it might have been made from the trigger spring adjustment screw/nuts from a M70 trigger???  Obviously set up to account for the long two stage M54 trigger pull.  It would be very interesting if you could somehow get ahold of this rifle and examine it taken apart…  Laugh

I’ll shut up now and wait to hear what the barrel markings look like.

Best,

Lou

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September 8, 2021
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Lou, It looks like a normal machine screw to me w/nut. This would be a “user” modification for sure. I would love to have it in my hands for about 4 hours.

Steve

September 8, 2021
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Louis Luttrell said

Two things might give a clue, but we don’t know either…  Barrels that were sent out for fitting typically had the “oval P” mail order proof, often in addition to the “WP” definitive proof.  That was supposed to tell Winchester that the barrel was fitted outside the factory.  This barrel does not have a mail order proof:

 

The second thing that could help, is in the pre-war era rifles returned for major rework (like rebarreling) were often hand stamped with a five or six digit work order (???) number under the barrel…
 

Wasn’t referring to OF brls, Lou, those are obvious.  Referring to gun sent back to factory to be rebarreled, maybe in a different caliber; if no special marking was applied when that’s done, it couldn’t be distinguished from rebarreling done using another factory brl. taken off another receiver.  But if a work order no. was customarily applied, that would be the distinguishing mark proving it was a factory job.

I have by the way a Low Wall returned to the factory to be, I’m positive, rebarreled (though only “R&R” shows up on the record), but it has no work order no.

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