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Winchester Model 490 - Manufacturing History Verification
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March 7, 2023 - 12:27 am
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Hello,

I apologize if this post is repetitious, but to get my facts straight in anticipation of a purchase I made a list of all the information I could find on this model.  Do you have additional comments to add to the list ?  Are there errors ?  Any data on the original MSRP price ?

Thank you in advance.

WINCHESTER MODEL 490

Semi-automatic rim fire rifle

  • Manufactured by Winchester Canada at the Cooey Brook Road North plant in Cobourg, Ontario
  • Produced in .22 LR caliber only
  • Produced with 22-inch barrel only, Proof Steel
  • All steel receiver, grooved (5/16”)
  • Total produced: 32,893 59,000 +/- 1,000
  • All serial numbers start with a J followed by five or six numbers, the first one always being a zero
  • Production started in 1975 and ended in 1976
  • No records have surfaced for establishing year of production by serial number
  • Introduced by Winchester in the 1974 catalog
  • Included in the Winchester catalog for the years: 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977
  • Included in the Winchester Canada catalog for the years: 1974, 1975, 1976,1977, 1978, 1979
  • Delivery started in 1975, offered for sale from 1975 to 1980
  • Sold out by 1980
  • Winchester issued a recall in March 1976 (for being “…the subject of unintentional discharge problems”)
  • An asterisk after the serial number indicates the recall was completed
  • The metals were sourced in Canada while the walnut for the stocks was imported from the United States (American walnut)
  • The one-piece solid walnut stock had a satin finish, the checkering was cut pressed
  • Rifles were sold with one 5-round magazine
  • 10-round magazines were also available, sold separately
  • The 1975 Winchester catalog mentions a 15-round magazine, but apparently it was never produced
  • Both 5 and 10-round magazines were manufactured in Cobourg, Ontario at the Cooey plant
  • At least one special order rifle was manufactured with nickel-plated frame and trigger and deluxe walnut stock
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March 7, 2023 - 12:52 am
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Hi Cowboy4,

You have done a pretty good summary.  The part number for the 5 round magazine is #5490 as indicated on the box.

Here is the recall information:

WINCHESTER
MODEL 490,
.22 CALIBER, SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES

RECALL: These rifles are the subject of unintentional discharge problems. Redesigned parts are available by contacting Winchester.

Winchester Firearms (801) 876-3440
U.S. Repeating Arms Company, Inc.
275 Winchester Avenue,
Morgan, UT 84050

Source:

  • AFTE Journal, March 1976; Volume 8, Number 1:28

Best Regards,

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http://rimfirepublications.com/  

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March 7, 2023 - 1:09 am
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Thank you for the response JWA.

Online I also found that the part number for the 10-round magazine was #10490 and the part number for the entire rifle was #49001.

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March 7, 2023 - 3:34 am
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You forgot one thing….it weighs a ton. ? 

Vince
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 “There is but one answer to be made to the dynamite bomb and that can best be made by the Winchester rifle.”

Teddy Roosevelt 

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March 7, 2023 - 3:54 am
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Well, its actual weight was “only” 6 lbs.

Heavy for a 5 shot .22 rim fire, but I understand it was purposely made to emulate larger center fire rifles.

Its weight and limited rounds were most likely some of the causes it never became a popular firearm.

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March 7, 2023 - 3:40 pm
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 That’s the best review of the Model 490  rifle I have ever seen.Lots of good information on the Model 490 there.The special order rifle is of interest.Where did you get that information from and the number of Model 490 rifles made?

 

   It is my understanding ,that the Model 490 was to be the little brother to the Model 100,that is why it was designed with weight.Much like the Model 9422 was the little brother to the Model 94 ,or as Winchester advertised the Model 9422  at the time as, “The son of the gun.”SmileThe Model 490 was to be the son of the Model 100.

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March 8, 2023 - 12:45 am
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Hello 28 gauge,

Thank you for the reply.

The note on the special order rifle with the nickel-plated frame & trigger originates from a picture I found at page 267 of the volume “Winchester, An American Legend” by R.L. Wilson, Randon House, New York, NY, 1991; please see images of cover and of page 267 and 266.

The total production number (32,893 rifles) comes from page 174 of the volume “The History of Winchester Firearms 1866-1992” by Thomas Henshaw, Winchester Press, 6th Edition, Clinton, NJ, 1993; see photo of cover.

R.L.Wilson-Cover.JPGImage EnlargerWilson-Page-266.JPGImage EnlargerWilson-Page-267.jpgImage EnlargerThomas-Henshaw-Cover.jpgImage Enlarger

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March 8, 2023 - 8:39 pm
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 All most interesting.I had thought that there were no records from the old Winchester Cooey plant of number of firearms made.Perhaps it was just for the Cooey guns?At present there is a fellow writing a book on all the firearms manufactured at the plant in Ontario.

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March 8, 2023 - 9:34 pm
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By coincidence, to continue my research on the 490 rifle, two days ago I ordered this book online, but I don’t have it yet.

Cooey Firearms Made in Canada 1919-1979 by John A. Belton

Hopefully it will include some interesting data on the Cooey-Winchester and Winchester firearms made in Cobourg.

Olin-Winchester purchased the Cooey plant in April 1961 and closed and sold it to Lakefield in 1979, so the production for those years is supposedly included in the book.

Good to know there is another book in the works.

Cooey-Firearms-Made-in-Canada-1919-1979.jpgImage Enlarger

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March 9, 2023 - 12:12 pm
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 I have an old  copy of that booklet.No numbers in it that I remember,unless there has been an update.

 

 Have been in contact with the fellow writing the book.He has been working on it for a long time.He hopes in the near future to get it published.

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March 13, 2023 - 4:33 pm
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While researching “all-I-can-find” on the model 490 I noticed that serial numbers reach way higher than the 32,893 produced (as stated by Thomas Henshaw in his volume).

I tend to believe this number given the authority of the source; in addition, I read several online comments by individuals who stated the number of rifles produced to be around 32,000; one person wrote around 38,000.

But the math doesn’t seem to add up.

I spent a couple of hours looking at online photos of 490’s and made a list of 60 rifles. The lowest s/n I found is 1176, the highest s/n is 57900; the difference between the two numbers is 56764; much larger number than the 32893 allegedly produced.

Initially I thought there must have been large gaps in the numbering, but a quick scrutiny between subsequent serial numbers in my list seems to contradict that theory. I know that a survey of 60 rifles is not sufficient for drawing accurate conclusions, but the trend is there.

Here come my questions:

  • Does anybody know if/why large number of numbers would be skipped by Winchester when assigning serial numbers ?
  • Was the J serial number also assigned to another model ?
  • Am I reading my short data correctly ?

The short survey also shows that not all serial numbers had 6 numbers (the two lowest ones I found had only five) and that 90% of the rifles had the recall completed.

Thank you.

490-list-1.JPGImage Enlarger490-list-2.JPGImage Enlarger490-list-3.JPGImage Enlarger

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March 13, 2023 - 9:34 pm
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Based on the empirical evidence from your brief survey, I would view the previously published production number (32893) with a very healthy dose of skepticism.  As a long time Winchester researcher (and conducting way too many surveys of my own), I long ago discovered that the so called “published” production numbers for many different Winchester models are totally bogus.

Serial numbers were seldom ever “skipped”.  The two known instances were the Model 94 and Model 70, and it was a result of the “pre-64” versus “post-63” production changes made to those two models.

In answer to your question about the “J” prefix, per the edicts of the GCA of 1968, it could only be used on the Model 490.

Bert

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March 13, 2023 - 10:39 pm
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 Bert was thinking ,if Cowboy4 was interested in doing so and looking after it,may be he could have his Model 490 survey added to the list of Research Surveys on the site?Just a thought.

 

 To be honest ,I never paid much attention to the 490,but there does seem to be more to the model than meets the eye.:)

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March 14, 2023 - 8:47 pm
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Thank you for the clear response Bert.

Considering the above, I suspect that other “facts” I listed at the beginning of this post are not correct, particularly the production years.

Until the day credible information will surface linking serial numbers to specific dates, I cannot add much to this story.

I will continue sampling 490 serial numbers, mainly to establish a credible production range and for personal curiosity.

The rifles I “surveyed” so far (i.e. I studied online photos) seem to be identical, the only visible differences are color of the stock and some minor details on the markings (size/font of the “Made in Canada” and the presence or lack of hyphens and periods by the caliber and the New Haven Conn).  Not sure about internal components, yet.

I finally purchased a 490 model, and while I think it’s a very beautiful and balanced rifle, the only reason I will ever buy another is if a specimen in much better conditions comes along, perhaps in its original box. Then I will probably try to sell the one I just bought; for the moment I can’t see much point in collecting multiple 490s.

Its big brother, the Model 100, instead, not only came in different calibers, rifles, and carbines, but as production went on, a few visible details changed; I had made another spreadsheet (from online photos) summarizing details of about fifty Model 100, perhaps slightly more interesting from a collector point of view.  

BTW, my wife uses a different terminology when referring to my spreadsheets and collections in general … but I don’t want to digress too much from the 490 topic.

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March 15, 2023 - 12:55 am
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 Keep up the work on the Model 490 and Model 100,Cowboy4.Looking forward to reading more from you in the future..

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March 15, 2023 - 9:37 pm
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While adding a few more 490s to my spreadsheet it occurred to me that the serial numbers can perhaps be divided in two groups, the “Before the Recall (for sure)” and the “After the Recall (probably)”.  This will not provide an exact date of manufacture, but an approximation for the moment is better than nothing.

Any major flaws in my reasoning ?  Suggestions ?  Thank you in advance.

Fact: Winchester issued the recall in March 1976  (source: AFTE Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, March 1976, Page 28: “Letter to Winchester Firearms Dealers”)

First Assumption: The presence of the asterisk in the vicinity of the s/n indicates the recall was completed (I write “assumption” because I have not found a solid source for this, only numerous comments online stating that the asterisk is for the recall; 88% of the rifles in my short survey have an asterisk, it seems a very high number to me for compliance to a recall).

Second Assumption: The Model 490 was manufactured in the mid 70’s, and when Winchester issued the recall, the model was still in production.

Third Assumption: The rifles produced after the recall date were manufactured “correctly” but Winchester applied the asterisk nonetheless to avoid confusion.

First Deduction: All serial numbers without the asterisk were assigned “Before the Recall”

Second Deduction: The highest serial number without the asterisk implies that all previous serial numbers (with or without the asterisk) were assigned “Before the Recall”.

As of today, the highest s/n without the asterisk I recorded is 24088, so today I would say that all s/n up to 24088 were assigned before March 1976. Hopefully as my list grows I should be able to better define this number.

The numbers higher than 24088 were not necessarily assigned “After the Recall”, but as the s/n increases the probability of being assigned after March 1976 also increases.

I would really welcome any comments.

Thank you.

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March 16, 2023 - 2:48 am
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I believe that you have made some reasonable assumptions. Now you just need to keep adding new specimens to the survey and let the results speak for themselves.

Bert

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March 16, 2023 - 5:07 pm
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Thank you sincerely Bert !

As of today these are the stats,

Specimen recorded: 80

Lowest s/n recorded: 1176

Highest s/n recorded: 57900

With asterisk: 86%

Without asterisk: 14%

Highest s/n without asterisk: 24088

With asterisk up to 24088: 74%

Without asterisk up to 24088: 26%

With asterisk after 24088: 100%

    • Probable range of total production: 59,000 ± 1,000
    • Manufactured before March 1976: serial numbers up to and including 24088

I will update this post again once the sampling is a bit more consistent.

LOOKING for evidences of s/n below 1000, above 57900 and all s/n without asterisk, thank you in advance.

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March 16, 2023 - 5:31 pm
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Cowboy4,

Looking good and I agree with your assumptions.  Looking forward to seeing your progress and I will now pay more attention to the 490’s and try to grab info for you as I see them.

Best Regards,

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March 17, 2023 - 7:36 pm
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Hi Cowboy4,

I ran across this in the files at Cody, you probably already have it but thought I would post it anyway.  It gives the 490 barrel twist rate and stock dimensions  among a few other tidbits.

Best Regards,

 

Model-490-Description-1.jpgImage Enlarger

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