Avatar
Search
Forum Scope




Match



Forum Options



Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters
Lost password?
sp_Feed sp_PrintTopic sp_TopicIcon
Genuine Pre-War Model 70 in 303 British
sp_NewTopic Add Topic
Avatar
Winchester, VA
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 1034
Member Since:
November 5, 2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
1
January 3, 2023 - 9:24 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

OK… I admit that the title of this post is tongue in cheek. Wink I was just trying to get the skeptics all worked up!!! Laugh But I believe that this IS a genuine pre-war M70 capable of firing 303 British cartridges through a genuine wartime Winchester barrel…

BA-27-303-BRIT-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

The gun is “Bolt Action A” No. 27, one of the couple hundred or so tool room M70s made for ammunition testing at the Winchester and Western ammunition plants.  These guns have been written about and photographed in both the Whitaker and Rule M70 books, so I won’t carry on too much.  They had SINGLE SHOT receivers with no magazine well opening, just a milled oval cut for a spring loaded lever that functioned like the bolt stop on a M54.  Intended as “universal” test actions, i.e. capable of firing almost any center fire rifle cartridge Winchester-Western manufactured, the front of the receiver ring was cut back to accommodate a replaceable wear plate.  The receivers omitted the usual D&T holes and roll marked matting.  The bolts were flat faced (no bolt face recess) and made without an extractor or extractor groove in the bolt body.  Extraction was accomplished manually using a tool something like a screwdriver inserted through a rectangular cut out on the left side of the receiver ring where the gas port would normally be.  There was a beveled cut on the bottom of the bolt that engaged the bolt stop lever in the receiver.  Because these actions were used with test barrels of several types/diameters, they were all half stocked with reinforcing cross bolts.  So UGLY that not even a Mother’s Love would suffice!!!

BA-No-27-2-copy.jpgImage EnlargerBA-No-27-3-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

The test barrels themselves came in at least four varieties; pressure, velocity (#6), accuracy, and a 1.25” diameter straight shank barrel (#1).  The barrels were finished in the gauge shop, not the barrel shop, and were intended to be screwed in hand tight (interchangeable), not torqued.  Typically they are hand stamped with a date, caliber, and something like “A Action Only”.  The 303 British velocity barrel shown on the gun is dated 3-15-42, and might have been used in ammunition testing Winchester did on US Government contract during WWII.  The barrel contour is like the medium heavy target barrels and the length is 26”.  It does have the pre-war right side roll mark but is hand stamped “187” “303 BRIT.” “3-15-42” “A ACTION” on top.  This barrel was something that Justin and Andy Hale (pre64win.com) picked up along with a batch of regular production M70 take-off barrels, and since it’s of no use to anyone who doesn’t happen to have one of the Bolt Action A guns, they gave it to me.  Thanks, Justin!!!

303-BRIT-bbl-markings-1-copy.jpgImage Enlarger303-BRIT-bbl-markings-2-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

 

The other test barrel shown in the photo below of BA 27 in a cradle I built for it is a #1 barrel in 22 HORNET.  With no taper, 26.5” length, and a .22 caliber bore, the barrel alone weights over 9 lb!!!

BA27-with-test-bbls-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

FWIW… Winchester made test barrels for a multitude of calibers, so there were many more test barrels than test actions made (although neither was supposed to get outside the plant).  I’ve included a clip from one of the 1930s Winchester pressure barrel blue prints showing the “A Action” calibers. 

 

Pressure-Barrel-Blueprint-clip-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

I can only imagine that there are a few such crudely marked barrels out there, sitting in junk bins, whose owners have no idea what they’re for.  If anybody runs across one of these, let me know.  Wouldn’t it be COOL, for example, to have a “genuine” pre-war M70 in 50-100 W.C.F.???  It’s possible!!!

Happy New Year… Laugh

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

WACA-Signauture-3.jpg

Avatar
Kingston, WA
Admin
Forum Posts: 11120
Member Since:
April 15, 2005
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
2
January 3, 2023 - 10:23 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Lou,

Great post. In addition to the Model 70 action and test barrels, Winchester used a fair number of the Single Shot (high-wall) actions with swapable barrels in various calibers. Allegedly, the last Winchester cartridge developed using a Single Shot action was the 300 Win Mag.

Bert

p.s. I could use that 22 Hornet barrel you have for a pet Single Shot high-wall project…

WACA Historian & Board of Director Member #6571L
High-walls-1-002-C-reduced2.jpg

Avatar
Winchester, VA
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 1034
Member Since:
November 5, 2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
3
January 3, 2023 - 10:47 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Hi Bert-

Only markings on that 22 HORNET barrel are the “WP” proof (in the usual location) and this on the muzzle flat:

22H-Muzzle-Stamp-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

The barrel next to it in the photo is a take-off 300 MAGNUM Target (not Bull Gun) barrel.  The 303 test barrel has no provision for sights… Did Winchester ever build commercial, i.e. for sale to the public, Single Shots with an un-tapered 1.25″ diameter straight shank barrel?  That Hornet barrel is a BEAST!!!  I can’t imagine anyone could hold one up… Here’s a pic of BA 27 with the Hornet barrel:

BA-No-27-1-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

You’re spot on in that the M1885/85 and the M54 bolt action were used for centerfire ammo testing before they built the “Bolt Action A” (long centerfire) and “Bolt Action B” (short centerfire) M70 test guns… Has anyone seen one of the M1885/85 test guns?  I have not…

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

WACA-Signauture-3.jpg

Avatar
Kingston, WA
Admin
Forum Posts: 11120
Member Since:
April 15, 2005
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
4
January 3, 2023 - 11:25 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Lou,

I have seen several of the Single Shot test guns.  Three or four of them were auctioned off by RIA about 12 – 15 years ago.

The ultra rare No. 6 barrel for the high-wall receiver was 1.25″ and no taper. It was at least 20-years ago (in Reno) that I got to see one of them, chambered for 32-40 and on a Schuetzen rifle.  I want to say that it weighed nearly 19 lbs.

Bert

WACA Historian & Board of Director Member #6571L
High-walls-1-002-C-reduced2.jpg

Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 30
Member Since:
June 19, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
5
January 4, 2023 - 2:32 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Great post Lou. I love the unusual bits of history stuff.

You’re correct that some of these are still floating around.

Here are a few photos of these unusual bits of M70 research & development history. 1Action01.JPGImage Enlarger1Action02.JPGImage Enlarger1Action03.JPGImage Enlarger7.9Mauser01.JPGImage Enlarger7.92mm01.JPGImage Enlarger7.92mm02.JPGImage Enlarger1Feather01.JPGImage Enlargerfeather02.JPGImage EnlargerL-shank01.JPGImage EnlargerL-Shank02.jpgImage Enlargerxtraheavy01.jpgImage Enlargerxtraheavy02.jpgImage Enlargerxtraheavy03.jpgImage Enlarger1Bench1a.JPGImage Enlarger2Bench4a.JPGImage Enlarger3Bench5a.JPGImage EnlargerA  Research test action “A” with the clamping block, and 5 research test barrels. If my recollection is correct, I got the action from Leroy Merz. The barrels were from Tom Henshaw. I’m sure you probably knew Tom.

Here’s a list of what’s in the photos.

– Single shot test/pressure “A” action.

– WWII Heavy stainless test barrel 1942 7.9MM Mauser

– WWII Heavy stainless pressure test barrel with integral pressure fixture 1943 7.92mm. See blueprint Rules page 295.

– Featherweight test barrel. Chambered in a .22 experimental cartridge.

– Xtra Heavy 1-3/8”dia stainless test barrel (.308). With Winchester research proof.

– Heavy long shank M70 .308 test barrel. With Winchester research proof.

 

To answer your question about other single shot rifles with extra heavy barrels. A number of the complete single shot rifles built in the mid 50’s, thru the late 60’s had a variety of unusual barrels. From a 26” .308win National Match barrel up to a couple with 1-3/8” dia at muzzle barrels. Rifle S/N 499819 has a 22-5/16” long by 1-3/8”dia extra heavy barrel chambered in .225win. 

I’ve included a couple of photos of a Factory built M70 single shot Benchrest rifle. According to Tom Henshaw, it’s the only one Winchester built. I too has a 1-3/8”dia WRP proofed barrel in .308 win.

sp_PlupAttachments Attachments
Avatar
Cedar City, Utah
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 76
Member Since:
March 25, 2015
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
6
January 4, 2023 - 11:57 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Fascinating post Gentlemen……thanks to all.

Avatar
Winchester, VA
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 1034
Member Since:
November 5, 2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
7
January 4, 2023 - 4:37 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Great Stuff, Ned!!!

Another of the oddball things on BA 27 that I’ve never seen before is the bolt sleeve/safety (visible in the second photo that I posted above).  The bolt sleeve is vaguely similar to the pre-war part (flat on top), except that the vertical rotating shaft of the safety is on the left, not the right, and the safety operates backwards from all other M70s, i.e. it rotates clockwise to go from ‘on safe’ to ‘fire’.  It’s also a two-position safety, i.e. no middle position where the firing pin is locked but the bolt is free to open.

I wonder if this wasn’t an abandoned prototype design?  The topic of the M70 safety was discussed in a Jan 15, 1943 document “Recommendation for Arms – Post War Line” in which the safety was brought up as the only design advantage of the Remington 720 over the Winchester M70:

Post-War-M70-recs-clip.pngImage Enlarger

Obviously, the three-position side swing safety ultimately adopted in 1946 operated much like the pre-war safety, while the one on BA 27 required modification of the firing pin/striker to relocate the safety notch to the left.  

Strange Stuff!!! Laugh

Lou

sp_PlupAttachments Attachments

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

WACA-Signauture-3.jpg

Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 30
Member Since:
June 19, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
8
January 5, 2023 - 1:05 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory sp_QuotePost

2Olympic-5.JPGImage EnlargerLouis Luttrell said
Great Stuff, Ned!!!

Another of the oddball things on BA 27 that I’ve never seen before is the bolt sleeve/safety (visible in the second photo that I posted above).  The bolt sleeve is vaguely similar to the pre-war part (flat on top), except that the vertical rotating shaft of the safety is on the left, not the right, and the safety operates backwards from all other M70s, i.e. it rotates clockwise to go from ‘on safe’ to ‘fire’.  It’s also a two-position safety, i.e. no middle position where the firing pin is locked but the bolt is free to open.

I wonder if this wasn’t an abandoned prototype design?  The topic of the M70 safety was discussed in a Jan 15, 1943 document “Recommendation for Arms – Post War Line” in which the safety was brought up as the only design advantage of the Remington 720 over the Winchester M70:

Post-War-M70-recs-clip.pngImage Enlarger

Obviously, the three-position side swing safety ultimately adopted in 1946 operated much like the pre-war safety, while the one on BA 27 required modification of the firing pin/striker to relocate the safety notch to the left.  

Strange Stuff!!! Laugh

Lou

  

Hi Lou,

That safety is really interesting. Certainly new to me as well. How did you come to have both the action and the internal document? Was it just fortuitous?

I also like the display you made up for this piece. I need to do a little more of that sort of thing.

While we’re on the topic of safeties, that’s something unique to a majority of the single shot M70’s. All but one of the pre-64 rifles do not have any safety at all. No unnecessary mechanical complexity. See photo.

sp_PlupAttachments Attachments
Avatar
Winchester, VA
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 1034
Member Since:
November 5, 2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
9
January 5, 2023 - 3:43 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Hi Ned-

The safety on BA 27 is an oddity for sure.  It looks like something Winchester made, but never put into production. It would improve thumb access to the safety on a gun with a telescopic sight, but would have required changes to the firing pin/striker as well that would have made the pre-war and post-war parts non-interchangeable.  

I agree that a safety on guns like these “Bolt Action A/B” test rifles and the AAMU “Olympics” made little (if any) sense given the controlled conditions under which these single shot single-loaded firearms were used.  The test rifles were fired from fixtures, i.e. they have no provision for aiming, so likely weren’t loaded until already secured and pointed down range.  The AAMU rifles were in the hands of the best marksmen the US Army possessed and would have only been loaded on the firing range… I also suspect that there would have been considerable additional engineering involved in making a safety that would work with that super sensitive trigger… 

As for the the internal document(s).  These are in the CFM McCrackin Library as downloadable digital files.  There are two, in particular, that I’d recommend to any Winchester collector with an interest in Post-WWII Winchester firearms (any Model):

MS20.07.27 Recommendations for Post-war Arms Line – 1945. This is the one I posted the clip from.  It has sections covering every Model then in production with the inter-office discussion about future plans.  The link below should take you there:

http://library.centerofthewest.org/digital/collection/p17097coll30/id/2711/rec/219

MS20.69.03 Firearms Simplification Program – 1951.  This is a later document in similar format recording discussions about changes planned for the product line after 1950, including contingency plans should the Korean conflict expand into WWIII and Winchester have to go back into wartime production mode.  Again, all Models are covered…

http://library.centerofthewest.org/digital/collection/p17097coll30/id/6141/rec/49

Hope these documents are helpful… Laugh

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

WACA-Signauture-3.jpg

Avatar
NY
Member
WACA Guest
Forum Posts: 6681
Member Since:
November 1, 2013
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
10
January 5, 2023 - 6:42 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory sp_QuotePost

Louis Luttrell said
Did Winchester ever build commercial, i.e. for sale to the public, Single Shots with an un-tapered 1.25″ diameter straight shank barrel?  That Hornet barrel is a BEAST!!!  I can’t imagine anyone could hold one up…
 

  

The very rare 6 wt brl  was 1.25″ at the muzzle, & the 5 wt wasn’t far off at 1.12″.  The 5 wt was shot in Schuetzen comp with a palm rest which relieves some of the wt, but the 6 wt may have been intended for bench rest.  But even the 6 wt was modest compared to muzzle-loading slug-gun brls which were 2″ or more.

Did brl wt numbers refer strictly to external dimensions of the brl?  Because a .22 bore in any given wt is obviously going to be much heavier than a large CF in the same wt brl.

Avatar
Winchester, VA
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 1034
Member Since:
November 5, 2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
11
January 5, 2023 - 11:07 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Hi Clarence-

We’ll have to wait on Bert for that answer… 

I believe that the barrel contour numbers I was referring to here were specific to “test” barrels and my numbering is based on sketchy documentation, i.e. a hand drawn sketch on the back of a binder, along with some other references in the wartime company records.  Nothing to do with the production barrels that were affixed to the M1885/85 single shots:

Test-Barrel-Contour-clip.pngImage Enlarger

I’ve seen (elsewhere in the CFM archives) the “velocity” barrel referred to as a #6 test barrel.  As far as I can tell the #6 barrels were straight taper barrels dimensioned like the M54/70 medium heavy target barrels.  My description of the un-tapered #1 test barrel (1″ or 1 1/4″) was from the above sketch… My (#1???) 22 HORNET test barrel is 1 1/4″ straight shank.  The pressure and accuracy barrels were notably larger at the breech than either the #1 or #6 test barrels, but I haven’t seen a “number” assigned to them.  Anybody have more info???

Sorry… Not much help!!!

Lou  

sp_PlupAttachments Attachments

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

WACA-Signauture-3.jpg

Avatar
Kingston, WA
Admin
Forum Posts: 11120
Member Since:
April 15, 2005
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
12
January 6, 2023 - 5:37 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

The single Shot barrels sizes were dictated by the outside dimensions, and they had no relationship to the actual weight of the barrel. I have a 40-70 Sharps Str with a 30-inch No. 4 octagon barrel, and a 22 Long Rifle 30-inch No. 3 octagon barrel… guess which one weighs more!

WACA Historian & Board of Director Member #6571L
High-walls-1-002-C-reduced2.jpg

Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 30
Member Since:
June 19, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
13
January 6, 2023 - 8:10 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Louis Luttrell said
Hi Ned-

The safety on BA 27 is an oddity for sure.  It looks like something Winchester made, but never put into production. It would improve thumb access to the safety on a gun with a telescopic sight, but would have required changes to the firing pin/striker as well that would have made the pre-war and post-war parts non-interchangeable.  

I agree that a safety on guns like these “Bolt Action A/B” test rifles and the AAMU “Olympics” made little (if any) sense given the controlled conditions under which these single shot single-loaded firearms were used.  The test rifles were fired from fixtures, i.e. they have no provision for aiming, so likely weren’t loaded until already secured and pointed down range.  The AAMU rifles were in the hands of the best marksmen the US Army possessed and would have only been loaded on the firing range… I also suspect that there would have been considerable additional engineering involved in making a safety that would work with that super sensitive trigger… 

As for the the internal document(s).  These are in the CFM McCrackin Library as downloadable digital files.  There are two, in particular, that I’d recommend to any Winchester collector with an interest in Post-WWII Winchester firearms (any Model):

MS20.07.27 Recommendations for Post-war Arms Line – 1945. This is the one I posted the clip from.  It has sections covering every Model then in production with the inter-office discussion about future plans.  The link below should take you there:

http://library.centerofthewest.org/digital/collection/p17097coll30/id/2711/rec/219

MS20.69.03 Firearms Simplification Program – 1951.  This is a later document in similar format recording discussions about changes planned for the product line after 1950, including contingency plans should the Korean conflict expand into WWIII and Winchester have to go back into wartime production mode.  Again, all Models are covered…

http://library.centerofthewest.org/digital/collection/p17097coll30/id/6141/rec/49

Hope these documents are helpful… Laugh

Lou

  

Thanks for the great information Lou. Much appreciated.

Ned

Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 4743
Member Since:
March 31, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
14
January 7, 2023 - 4:53 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Bert H. said
The single Shot barrels sizes were dictated by the outside dimensions, and they had no relationship to the actual weight of the barrel. I have a 40-70 Sharps Str with a 30-inch No. 4 octagon barrel, and a 22 Long Rifle 30-inch No. 3 octagon barrel… guess which one weighs more!

  

Probably the one with the smaller hole.

Forum Timezone: UTC 0
Most Users Ever Online: 778
Currently Online: tionesta1, freebird1968, SureShot
Guest(s) 86
Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)
Top Posters:
clarence: 6681
TXGunNut: 5290
Chuck: 4743
steve004: 4419
1873man: 4377
Big Larry: 2385
twobit: 2327
mrcvs: 1806
TR: 1745
Forum Stats:
Groups: 1
Forums: 17
Topics: 13054
Posts: 114349

 

Member Stats:
Guest Posters: 1820
Members: 9018
Moderators: 4
Admins: 3
Navigation