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1953 Winchester Model 70
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Bo Rich
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May 8, 2024 - 1:43 pm
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Lou,  Your Model 51 is not the first .270 WCF!  You have a prototype .27 Cal gun.  The .270 WCF wasn’t even named that when your rifle was made.  It is however, a very  important rifle as it is.  Like we talked about before the first true .270 WCF is serial number #4 Model 54. 

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May 8, 2024 - 2:55 pm
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Hi Bob-

I KNOW, I KNOW!!! I had this conversation with Wayne Miller last month when I showed him the M51… LaughLaughLaugh  Just a little tongue-in-cheek humor… No offense intended!!! Frown

Apparently (according the Herb Houze’s book), Winchester had decided to call it the “270” by the time they finalized the cartridge dimensions/load in late 1918, but when they built what is probably the first “finished” rifle in that chambering in January 1919, they marked it “.27 CAL” not “270 WCF”… Relying on House, the Model 51 “Imperial” program was to include a “stalking rifle” (takedown) in 270 or 30-06, and a “sporting rifle” (solid frame) in 35 Newton or a (to be developed) 40 caliber cartridge based on the 35 Newton case (larger case head than the 30-06).  The “40 Newton” proved impractical, while the “27 Cal” (.277-06) achieved the desired level of performance.  But the “Imperial” project was killed off by the Winchester Board of Directors after only (24) rifles were built.  Of those (24), at least (4) were made in .27 Cal (Nos. 1, 7, 9 and 20).  S/N 1 went to TC Johnson, S/N 7 to TG Bennett, S/N 9 to VM Tyler, and S/N 20 to GE Hodson…  So they weren’t exactly “prototypes”, they were very limited production made-to-order rifles… 

But you are CORRECT!!!  The 27 Cal cartridge lay dormant until it was commercially resurrected as the “270 Winchester Center Fire” in the M54 in 1925, and S/N 4 is the first M54 in 270 WCF (marked as such).  IMHO both rifles have some historical significance, but I won’t say “they belong in a museum” as that’s already gotten me into hot water this week!!! LaughWinkLaugh

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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Bo Rich
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May 8, 2024 - 4:17 pm
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Yes Lou,  I agree with you.  Both guns share a unique history.

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May 8, 2024 - 4:29 pm
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Lou,

I would ask that you write an article for the Collector magazine detailing both the Model 51 and the .27 Cal (270 WCF).  Do you know the whereabouts of the (24) Model 51 Imperial Rifles?

Bert

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May 8, 2024 - 5:55 pm
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Hi Bert-

I had been thinking along those lines but I was beaten to the punch by Dan Shuey’s article on development of the 270 WCF in the Summer 2022 Collector Magazine.  He even included a picture of M51 S/N 1 that he got from Amoskeag Auction house.    It’s up to Brad, but I did send him some of my photos of the M51 for possible inclusion in the 2025 WACA Calendar…

No… I do not know the whereabouts of the other M51s.  The information I was quoting is from Herb Houze’s book on early Winchester Bolt Action Rifles, where he wrote a whole chapter on the “E Model” (subsequently named “Imperial” and then “Model 51).  He apparently had records for about half of the (24) M51s by serial number, including chambering, takedown versus solid frame, and original owner.  Seems that most of them (but not S/N 1) were engraved with the owner’s initials (monogram)…  

You know that Winchester’s bolt action centerfire development program went through a series of prototypes beginning in about 1910, from the “A” through the “F” Model.  The M51 (“E” Model) was the first one that was supposed to become a “product”, the “A” through “D” Models were only built as prototypes (so they never got a “marketing name” or “Model Number”).**  FWIW… The prototypes of the M54 were called the “F Model” in the R&D department and only became the M54 when going into production.

CFM has a couple of the “Letter Series” prototypes on display (or did anyway).  One I believe is a M51 (takedown in 35 Newton) circa 1919, and the other is an “F” Model in 30-06 circa 1924.  But those are the only ones whose whereabouts are known to me.

Lou

** To get to Bo’s comment above about how M51 S/N 1 is a “prototype” not a “production rifle”, according to Houze the first (4) Imperials were indeed built in the R&D department, while the rest were made in the equivalent of the “Custom Shop”.  So to the extent that it matters where they were assembled, M51 S/N 1 is indeed a “prototype”.  In which case, maybe M51 S/N 7 is the first “production rifle” with a 270 WCF chamber.  But since it’s still marked “.27 CAL”, it’s not a “real” 270 WCF either…  The distinction of being the “World’s First” 270 WCF falls to M54 S/N 4…  But “a rose by any other name” would still shoot 270s… LaughWinkLaugh

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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May 8, 2024 - 6:51 pm
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I find all this really interesting. Recently I decided that I want a Model 70 and maybe in 270.  I would like a caliber that I can play with.  So not a really rare or collectable rifle.  As a few of you know I did buy two Model 52’s in the last year.  So this would be much further out of my range of knowledge. 

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Bo Rich
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May 8, 2024 - 7:01 pm
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All this is very interesting.  It kinda tells the story of the finest magazine rifle ever made.  Which of course is the Pre 64 Model 70.  They started with these Models.  All the pre Model 54 guns.  Then they developed the Model 54.  A fine gun in its own rights.  It kinda took all this to make the best.  Lou, when you wright your book you may want to inform the reader of this.

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May 15, 2024 - 7:56 pm
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Lou and all interested in the topic, here is a list of the CFM’s Alphabet rifles, at least one of each is on display right now.

Model A 1988.8.117 W905   30’06
Model B 1988.8.110 W906   30’06
Model B 1988.8.111 W907   30’06
Model C 1988.8.112 W908   30’06
Model C 1988.8.113 W909   30’06
Model D 1988.8.106 W910   7mm
Model D 1988.8.1638 W926   7.62
Model D 1988.8.1639 W928   7mm
Model D 1988.8.1640 W916   7.62
Model D 1988.8.1641      
Model D 1988.8.2537 W918   30
Model D 1988.8.2538 W917   30
Model D 1988.8.2539     30
Model D 1988.8.2540 W915   6.5
Model D 1988.8.2541 W913   30’06
Model D 1988.8.2542 W911   7mm
Model D 1988.8.2543     6.5
Model D  1988.8.2544     30
Model E 1988.8.2535     30’06
Model E 1988.8.2536     35 Cal
Model E 1988.8.353     .27 WCF
Model F 1988.8.623     30-06
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May 15, 2024 - 10:26 pm
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Mr. Michael-

Any interest in displaying or acquiring Model E/M51 S/N 1?  Don’t misunderstand me… I’m not talking about getting MONEY for the gun.  Something like a “donation” or “long term loan”…  If so, send me a PM… 

I appreciate the list you posted!!!

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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May 15, 2024 - 10:42 pm
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Louis Luttrell said
Mr. Michael-

Any interest in displaying or acquiring Model E/M51 S/N 1?  Don’t misunderstand me… I’m not talking about getting MONEY for the gun.  Something like a “donation” or “long term loan”…  If so, send me a PM… 

I appreciate the list you posted!!!

Lou

  

You’re welcome! I’ll message separately

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