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Model 54 Questions
January 12, 2016
10:29 pm
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Howdy Yall,

Friend just purchased a really nice 90%, standard, 1926 vintage Model 54 in 30-06.  I cant find the twist, but I'm guessing 1-10..Anyone know?

The receiver, bolt setup, trigger and magazine plate very closely resemble  my WWI Springfield 1903, down to the milled clip guides ...Did Winchester maybe use some surplus 1903 parts for the M54?  Even the trigger is a very short 2 stage.

Rifle has Lyman aperture rear sights along with folding leaf barrel sights.  Brass bead front sight.  The Lyman sight as I understand it was used by Winchester on this rifle.  Would Winchester have shipped this rifle with installed both the aperture and barrel folding sights?

It shoots really nice as we ran 40 rounds of reloads thru it this afternoon.. I used I4895 and 175 Sierra MK boolits..Think there is room for a little improvement on the grouping, but that's where the fun comes in.SmileSmile

Any suggestions or other info on this old rifle will be much appreciated...Thanks.

January 16, 2016
10:37 pm
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Charleston, SC
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I'll have a go at answering your questions, but given that I'm not the resident M54 expert, others may have better information:

The M54 in 30-06 used the same 1:10 twist as its successor, the M70.

The M54 receiver was in many ways an 'improved' Springfield 1903, so there is a strong family resemblance.  To my knowledge there are no common/interchangeable parts and Winchester did not use any military Springfield parts in M54 production.  The M54 trigger is indeed a two stage trigger - the design was dramatically improved for the M70.  The trigger, bolt sleeve/safety, hinged floor plate, and shape of the bolt handle are the most obvious improvements between the M54 and M70.

Catalog Symbol No. G5404C, 30-06 First Standard Rifle with receiver sight, would have been fit with a Lyman 48W (predecessor to the 48WJS used on the M70).  This was often a "long side" version with the slide marked out to 150 min of elevation.  The stock had to be relieved for the sight base, and if a long slide there was typically an additional 'T' groove cut in the stock to clear the elevation adjustment screw that extended out of the bottom of the base.

My understanding is that M54 standard rifles factory-equipped with the Lyman 48W sight were also fit with a Lyman 6W sight in the barrel dovetail.  The 6W has two folding leaves, so it could be folded flat when the receiver sight was in use.  When the rifle did not have the receiver sight, the Lyman 66W was often used on the barrel, which has one fixed and one folding leaf.

Sounds like a nice rifle.  Congrats!!!

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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January 16, 2016
11:24 pm
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Charleston, SC
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And just for amusement.. I've attached a composite photo of a M54 First Standard rifle in 30 WCF:

M54-Standard-Rifle-37440A-composite-2.jpgImage Enlarger

Main differences are that the 30 WCF rifle used a flat (not coned) breech system and lacked the clip loading slot.  The barrel mounted rear sight is the Lyman 66W mentioned above.  For the purists, yes... the Marbles 895C front sight (although factory catalogued as an optional front sight on the M54) is undoubtedly (IMHO) not original to this rifle.  When I acquired it, the rifle had a contemporary (to the rifle) Redfield 102W aperture sight (does not require cutting the stock), and the taller Marbles 895C was better suited to that sight setup.  I have since replaced it with the correct (for the Lyman 66W) Lyman gold bead front sight.

Cheers...

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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January 18, 2016
1:48 pm
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Thanks guys.  Good info.  I suppose the one thing that is most puzzling is why Winchester would make the receiver with clip cut outs...I was thinking possibly they used some surplus 03 receivers for the early ones,  on hand milling equipment set up for 03's or maybe since there was a lot of clipped surplus ammo available following WWI.  I suppose that may be a question left to conjecture for eternity.

Louis posted some fine pics of his early .30 WCF that doesn't have clip guides.  My friends rifle in question, is a second year production with obvious clip guides. 

We are headed to the range tomorrow and I will get some pictures...

January 18, 2016
6:48 pm
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If you remove an '03 Springfield and a M54 action from the stock you will see they are quite different.  The main '03 design features "borrowed" for the M54 were the internal camming arrangement for the bolt and the coned breech.  The basic bolt design, bolt sleeve, etc. were "borrowed" from the M98 Mauser.  So the two most successful military bolt actions of the era "inspired" the M54 design.

As for the clip loading slots, they were no doubt incorporated into the M54 due to the contemporary military mode of reloading 30 GOV'T '06 service rifles.  That would have been the familiar drill for any ex-servicemen of the 1920s-30s, even though it would seem to have little practical value in a hunting rifle.  And I don't doubt that there was an abundance of military service 30-06 ammo pre-loaded into stripper clips.  Hence, design the rifle to use them...

What appears curious (well, not really...) is that ALL of the M54s regardless of chambering (except 30 WCF) have the clip loading slots (even 22 HORNET).  Once Winchester established the M54 design based on the 30-06 service cartridge, they simply used it for all chamberings built upon that basic action.  The reason I showed the M54 in 30 WCF, is that it is the EXCEPTION to the rule.  The receiver for the rimmed 30-30 cartridge was unique with a flat breech.  Since the 30-30 receiver was a cartridge-specific part, the design did not incorporate the superfluous clip loading slots.

For what it's worth, clip slots were also incorporated into all pre-war (type I) M70 actions (1936-1946), EXCEPT those designed for the 300 and 375 H&H Magnums where the bridge had to be relieved to accommodate the longer cartridge. (The M70 was not catalogued in 30 WCF).  The clip slot feature was mostly dropped post-war (starting with type II or 'transition' actions), but was RETAINED for target models (National Match, Target Model and Bull Gun) chambered in 30-06 (not other cartridges).  In other words, from 1946-1963 the only M70 receivers with clip slots were the ones where it made sense to have them!!! Laugh

Good shooting!!!

Cheers...

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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January 18, 2016
9:37 pm
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Louis,

Alledgedly, there were a small number of Model 54 rifles made in 32 W.S. and 38-55. Have you ever seen one? If so, I would presume that the receiver would be the same as those in 30 WCF?

Bert

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January 18, 2016
10:20 pm
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Bert-

No I have not, beyond the photos of M54s in 25-20, 25-35, 38-55, 32WS and 219 Zipper pictured in Loyd Thomsen's excellent article "The Forgotten 54" in the Spring 2009 WACA Magazine.  Unfortunately, his photos (which focus on the caliber designation stamp) do  not show whether the bridge has clip slots or not.  I'd assume that if the bridge was the same as that on the special 30WCF receiver then the internals would be as well...

What I'd like to see is one of the vanishingly small number of authentic M70s chambered in 30WCF. (I mean the REAL thing... Not the plethora of "refurbished/refinished" creations sold recently on RIA). I wonder if the M70s had the flat breech barrel system?  

Also for TheDuke... There is a very informative reprint of an article called "The Winchester-Springfield" in the Fall 1993/Winter 1994 edition of the WACA Magazine that discusses the mechanical relationship between the '03 Springfield service rifle and the then-new Winchester Model 54.

Benefits of membership!!!!  Kiss

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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January 19, 2016
1:24 am
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Thanks to all...Very good information.  Tomorrow its back to the range to see if new reloads will tighten the group somewhat...Thanks to everyone again.

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