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I have an opportunity to buy a pre-64 model 70 in 264 Winchester magnum in excellent condition, and I don’t know much about this cartridge other than it’s expensive and seemed to be made obsolete by the .270 based on a little bit of reading. I reload, so ammo wouldn’t be a problem, but I simply don’t know the desirability of these rifles and if I buy it and don’t like shooting it, how hard it will be to sell. The price seems to be reasonable so it may not be hard to move if I don’t like it.
I'm more of a shooter than a collector, but I do have a few collectibles.
I have an opportunity to buy a pre-64 model 70 in 264 Winchester magnum in excellent condition, and I don’t know much about this cartridge other than it’s expensive and seemed to be made obsolete by the .270 based on a little bit of reading.
.270 preceded .264 by about 30 yrs. Price would have to be in the “can’t refuse” category before I’d consider it. Too bad it’s not .270
The 264 WIN MAGNUM “Westerner” with 26″ barrel was introduced to the catalog in 1960, close on the heels of the 338 WIN MAGNUM “Alaskan”. It was a ballistic improvement over the 270 WIN (which was introduced in 1925), and capable of pushing a 140 grain bullet (as opposed to the 130 gr 270 WIN bullet) at about 3200 fps (according to Winchester’s catalogs). Basically, it would do anything a 270 WIN would do from about 50 yards further away… Downside was that being a significantly overbore cartridge, it was claimed that it was hard on barrels.
When Winchester (foolishly IMHO) introduced the 264 WIN MAGNUM in a 22″ barrel Featherweight in 1962, i.e. the “Featherweight Westerner (a.k.a. “flamethrower”), what you got for your money was basically a 270 WIN with a lot more muzzle blast and shorter barrel life…
From a M70 collector’s perspective (mine ) the “Westerner” (26″ barrel version) is interesting… Initially, they were built with stainless steel barrels and had hand checkered stocks (albeit all with plastic butt plates – NO recoil pads). But sometime in 1960 the barrel specification was changed to CMS (Winchester Proof Steel). Further complicating matters, this was also around the time when Winchester was changing stainless barrel finishes from the typical bead blasted/iron plated finish that had been in use since about 1938 to polished and directly “blackened” stainless steel. So you can find Westerner barrels with bead blasted (matte) stainless barrels, smooth polished directly blackened stainless barrels, and regular Du-Lite blued CMS barrels, and with hand checkering or narrow panel “machine checkering”.
FWIW… I own (2) standard “Westerners”; an early one with matte stainless barrel and hand checkering (S/N 465895) and a late one with CMS barrel and narrow panel machine checkering (S/N 574198).
The gun you picture looks to be in pretty good shape and is hand checkered. I can’t be sure of the barrel since in one pic it looks bead blasted (stainless) and in another looks polished (polished stainless or CMS). There was a lot of overlap… I can’t make out the S/N but it appears to start with a “4” so it would be a relatively early one… If you get a full S/N please consider posting it or PM me so I can add this gun to the M70 survey…
I don’t know if any of this helps, but it’s kind of the backstory on these guns… I would think it would be about perfect for antelope or prairie mule deer and would choose it over a 270 WIN as long as the 26″ barrel wasn’t a hindrance and the bore was good. But I’ve no idea how it’s regarded by shooters/handloaders today or how easy it would be to flip if you don’t like it…
WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters
The recoil pad will hurt the value quite a bit, probably $300-$400 in value. Still not a bad price. I hunted mule deer in Wyoming with one of mine for a couple of years back in the 80’s. They definitely will do the job, especially at longer ranges. They are hard on barrels, but for the most part they were hunting rifles and most were not shot for pleasure, so the ones I have owned, all had great bores.
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