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Correct Sling for Pre-war M70 Target Rifle
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August 8, 2016 - 1:58 pm
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All-

I know there are many Winchester collectors out there who know the answer to this, but I do not.  Winchester supplied 1 1/4″ M1907 style rifle slings with many of their target models.  Did they use a specific commercial supplier?  How does one identify the correct factory style sling, as far as the frogs, keepers, etc?

I’ve been fixing up a 1942 M70 Target Rifle in 257 Roberts (SN 50145).  It’s more “shooter” than “collector” grade:  

50415-2.jpgImage Enlarger50415-3.jpgImage Enlarger50415-7.jpgImage Enlarger

The rifle was a mess when I got it, with a drastically owner-customized stock and incorrect/missing sights, and I’ve been working on restoring it with correct original finish parts (as above).  Since it would have come from the factory with a sling I’d like to add a one.  But the contemporary Winchester component parts catalogs do not provide clear enough images.  I have an older M70 Target rifle that has a vintage sling on it, but I don’t know if that one is factory type either.

Anyone have a picture of the correct sling?

Best,

Lou

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August 8, 2016 - 4:38 pm
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Lou,

There were several commercial suppliers to Winchester over the years for slings.  The slings were made to Winchester specifications (they were not an off-the shelf item from the supplier) and the sling design used on the bolt action rifles remained consistent throughout the years with the exception of the color and width as there were different catalog numbers for the different colored and width accessory slings.

For the 70 Target it is the same sling as the other Winchester models of the era such as the Model 75 Target and Sporter, Model 69 Match and Target, Model 52 Sporter and Target, Model 70 Sporting Rifle, etc, etc. 

In general, the pre-war rim fire bolt action rifles were supplied with 1″ slings (except for the Model 52) and the post war rifles were supplied with 1 1/4″ slings and swivels but there are some exceptions to that.  The slings provided by Winchester have 2 rivets on the hook and use blued diamond shaped staples on the keepers.  From what I have observed, the slings provided on the 70 Targets were the “russet” color.

I don’t have access to any photos right now but the slings are common so I am sure Seewin or someone else can post a picture for you, if not I can post some examples over the weekend.

Best Regards,

Jeff

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August 8, 2016 - 11:37 pm
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Info at the below link might help somewhat where the Model 1907 sling is concerned.  I doubt any serious target shooter would use a lesser quality sling.  The sling shown there looks like the ones in my 1960 USMC boot camp pictures.  The pictures and text also show how the sling is properly used to prepare the parade sling. 

http://www.rollanet.org/~stacyw/us_1907_sling1.htm

 

James

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August 9, 2016 - 2:06 am
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I have a 1940 Model 75 target rifle with what I believe is the original Winchester leather sling.  The sling is very much like a US Military Model 1907 sling including the dimensions with a few minor differences.    It is made of two leather straps that are 1-1/4 inch wide.   The long strap is 48 inches long and the short strap about 25 inches.  The hooks (or claws, as some call them) are blued and attached with three rivets.  The rivets are not like the Military ones.  These have a larger semi-round head.  The two leather sling keepers are not sewn.  Rather they are affixed like Jeff mentioned above with two diamond shaped staples that are blued.  HTH

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August 9, 2016 - 1:42 pm
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Tom D

Thank you for the info.  As Jeff says above, these slings are probably not all that difficult to find, IF you know what they look like.  Which I don’t.  For all I know, I may even have some stuffed in the cabinet!!!  If anybody gets a chance to post pics of the frogs and keepers, that would be AWESOME!!!

James-

I’ve studied that link on how to properly set up the parade sling.  That’s how I’ve always used them, with the addition of an Albree Keeper on my oldest M70 Target rifle (since the Albree Keeper was supplied with 1st year M70 Target models).  But have you noticed that (almost) none of the contemporary Winchester literature of the era (30s-40s), including catalogs, has the M1907 sling rigged that way on M70 Target models?  Was there more than one way to use the M1907 sling that was US military endorsed?

Albree Keeper US Patent drawing:

Albree-Keeper-US2032342-0.jpgImage Enlarger

Cheers and Thanks,

Lou

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August 9, 2016 - 8:12 pm
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Lou:  I am not well acquainted with the model 70s where personal experience is concerned, so I don’t know how the typical sling is assembled.  However, I only know of two ways to use the sling, and that would be the hasty and loop methods.  As you would know, one would be use of the hasty sling primarily for the offhand position, and the other would be the loop sling used for sitting, prone, and kneeling firing positions.  Should you not be familiar with the video shown at the following link, it provides excellent instructions for use of the leather sling.  It is a lengthy film, but instructions for sling use is near the very beginning:

https://archive.org/details/Rifle_Marksmanship_with_M1_Rifle_Part_1

 

James

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August 9, 2016 - 10:57 pm
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Lou,

I will be back home late tomorrow night and coincidently happen to have a correct pre-war Winchester sling from a 70 Target with the attached handstop and pre-war chromium hardware with sling swivel sitting on my desk for a different project.  I will take some close-up pictures and post for you as soon as I get back if someone else doesn’t beat me to it.

Best Regards,

Jeff

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August 10, 2016 - 1:26 am
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Jeff-

THANK YOU!!!  I’m always impressed by the way folks on this site will share information.  Safe travels!!!

James-

Neat video.  That is how I was taught to use a M1907 sling, and I appreciated their advice on the sitting and kneeling positions.  My Dad (who undoubtedly learned the techniques in WWII basic training) used to shoot small bore league competition back in the 1950s and tried hard to teach us kids how to assume those somewhat contortionist positions.  

Mostly I’ve used the hasty sling in hunting situations.  Works too!!!

Cheers,

Lou

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August 11, 2016 - 3:54 pm
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Lou,

Sorry for the delay in getting you this information, Delta finally got me home last night after a few days of operational woes.

Let me preface this post by saying that although I have been studying Winchester slings (and other contemporary leather slings supplied by firearm manufacturers of the period) for quite a while I don’t consider myself an expert as I am still learning and searching for a few answers to some sling questions myself.

Having said that though, your question is fairly easy to answer and I hope the following photos and description give you a good enough starting place to match up a sling for your Model 70 project.

For a little background, Winchester has been supplying slings and straps on Winchester rifles and as accessories for well over 125+ years.  In a 1919 letter replying to an inquiry Winchester stated that their gun slings, straps and scabbards were “manufactured by various concerns all over the United States”.

The gun sling/strap suppliers that Winchester used in the East include:

     Graton & Knight Manufacturing Co. (Worcester MA)

     Belber Bag & Trunk Co. (Philladelphia, PA)

     Hewes & Potter (Boston, MA)

Scabbards were supplied by:

     Westboro Trunk & Bag Co. (Westboro, MA)

     Jewel Belting Co. (Hartford, CT)

Since the supplied list are only the Eastern suppliers Winchester seems to infer there were additional suppliers as well which I am still trying to locate.

To maintain some consistency in their production firearms and catalogued accessories the slings were manufactured by the various concerns to specifications supplied by Winchester. Although different companies produced the slings over many years they all have the same defining characteristics (as described and depicted below).

For your particular pre-war project, the sling likely would have been made and supplied to Winchester by Graton & Knight (who also had military contracts to produce the 1907 sling) or the Belber Bag & Trunk Co. as I think that Hewes and Potter (who had a military contract for slings during WWI) went out of business well before WWII.

The correct part number and style for your project rifle is a Winchester #3256 1 ¼” Dark Russet “Military 1907 Style Sling”. I have to note that the 1936 catalog shows a 3 rivet frog hook, although your vintage of rifle would probably have had the 2 rivet frog hook as depicted below. This particular sling part number was catalogued from 1936-1950. It was replaced by the Winchester #3258 1 ¼” Dark Brown “Leather Gun Sling with 2 Piece Strap” which was catalogued from 1949-1985.

As a side note, the #3258 is probably the sling Winchester would have automatically supplied with the Van Ordens but James’ point is well taken that the actual 1907 3 rivet slings were heavier duty and by far the most common sling on the competitive firing line so it is entirely possible that Van Orden specified or supplied actual 1907 slings with the rifles. The jury is still out on that question.

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Overview of pre-war Model 70 Target sling (with handstop still attached). I apologize that the sling in the photos is a bit scruffy and worn, it is the only one I had sitting around handy for the pictures.  Note: It also happens to be the same sling used on the pre-war Model 52B

 

 Image Enlarger

Overview of the distinctive sling frog hook shape and keepers.

 

 Image Enlarger

View of the embossed edge. All of the Winchester supplied Model 70 slings have this embossed edge treatment although some are very lightly impressed and in some cases (such as this sling) are completely worn away from use in some areas.  Note: I have seen some slings that the embossing was so light it could only be seen with a strong light and illuminated from an angle.

 

 Image Enlarger

 Image Enlarger

View of the sling keeper “diamond” shaped staples. These are normally blued although the depicted sling staples have been worn bare.  I have seen some that appear to be originally “in the white” (no blue) also so I would not be too worried if that was the only deviation.  Brass plated diamond staples however would not be correct.  Also depicted here are the frog hook rivets (head and set end). 

 

 Image Enlarger

View of the sling loop “ring”

 

 Image Enlarger

View of the Model 70 pre-war handstop and hardware.

 

A Winchester sling will have ALL of the above defining characteristics (frog hook shape, rivet style, embossed edge and blued diamond staples).  I have to stress this because some of the Winchester contractors also supplied slings to Remington (and possibly other firearm manufacturers) which are VERY close in appearance to the Winchester supplied slings, including the diamond staples.  The most visible deviation is a slight difference in the frog hook (longer hooks) and the rivets and finish are a bit different.

I apologize for rambling on in this lengthy post and hope it helps you sort out your slings and find a correct one for your project.

Let me know if I can provide any other information or you would like a copy of the Winchester supporting documentation.

Best Regards,

Jeff

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August 11, 2016 - 4:20 pm
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Jeff-

I can’t thank you enough for the detailed response.  I’m going to get this post saved to my computer so I can always find it!!!  

Best,

Lou

BTW… Nice satin chrome handstop.  Is that one destined for a M70?  I’m really fond of the pre-war Target models.

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August 11, 2016 - 4:26 pm
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Hi Lou,

The handstop and hardware came off of a pre-war Model 70 Target but it is destined for a pre-war Model 52B since they used the same hardware and handstop.  I am mostly a Winchester .22 rimfire guy and don’t have that many Model 70’s although you have perked my interest in the 70 Targets.

Best Regards,

Jeff

 

PS; I made a few editorial changes after your post so you may want to copy the revised version again.

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August 12, 2016 - 5:22 pm
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Lou: 

Regarding catalogs and the Winchester Model 70 and their slings.  On page 14 of the 1940 Shooter’s Bible, the Model 70 Bull Gun, Heavy Barrel is advertised with having a 1 & 1/4 inch leather Army type sling, which to me would indicate the *three rivet long/short sling hooks.  The Winchester Model 70 National Match gun shown at the top of the page looks to have the same type sling, but it is not id’d as Army, government, etc., that would indicate that it, too, would have been factory installed.  Also, if I had to make a bet on whether or not the sling hooks were of the long or short variety, I’d say they were of the latter, but I could be wrong.  Additionally, on page 44, the Stevens rifles shown all have the same width and long style sling hooks with a 1 & 1/4 inch leather sling, advertised in two pictures as Military Style.

 

*Denotes edit to include three long or short sling hooks with three rivets either one, as shown on page 435 of The Springfield 1903 Rifles by Lt. Col. William S. Brophy, USAR, Ret.

Jeff: 

Really great post about the slings and pictures.  Outstanding.  Thanks a lot for the information.  After viewing the quality of the leather and sling hooks, they were no doubt strong enough for match shooting, although the only type I ever recall seeing were the three rivet variety, which I would prefer myself, since it stands to reason that the upper and lower leather keepers would provided a much tighter fit and reduce slippage of same.

James

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February 23, 2019 - 7:52 pm
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I’m tacking on to this old post as it was very informative.  I just acquired a sling and want to know if it would be correct as supplied by Winchester for any of the following Pre-War Models:  54 Standard Rifle, 70 Super Grade, 52 Sporter.  Description and photos:

– 1″ width

– Embossed edges on both long and short strap (although very faint)

– Diamond shaped keeper staples (appear to have been blued at one time)

– Non-magnetic brass(?) frogs

– All other metal hardware is magnetic:  rivets, staples, D ring on short strap

– Only 1 rivet on D ring

Thanks for your assessment.

Mac

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February 23, 2019 - 9:37 pm
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Found an illustration of a “NRA style” sling, as called for in the catalog, which is 1″ wide, but can’t see frogs.  Not sure, but I think the keepers would be sewn, not stapled.  1-1/4″ sling for 52 clearly does show three-rivet frogs; hard to see the difference, if any, from a regulation M1907 sling to me, though the length may be different. That’s for the Standard & Deluxe 70s, not the target models.

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February 26, 2019 - 12:34 am
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Big Mac said
I’m tacking on to this old post as it was very informative.  I just acquired a sling and want to know if it would be correct as supplied by Winchester for any of the following Pre-War Models:  54 Standard Rifle, 70 Super Grade, 52 Sporter.  Description and photos:

– 1″ width

– Embossed edges on both long and short strap (although very faint)

– Diamond shaped keeper staples (appear to have been blued at one time)

– Non-magnetic brass(?) frogs

– All other metal hardware is magnetic:  rivets, staples, D ring on short strap

– Only 1 rivet on D ring

Thanks for your assessment.

Mac

20190223_141828.jpgImage Enlarger20190223_141908.jpgImage Enlarger20190223_142034.jpgImage Enlarger20190223_142113.jpgImage Enlarger20190223_142200.jpgImage Enlarger  

Anyone else care to opine on the quoted post?

Thanks,

Mac

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February 26, 2019 - 1:15 am
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Hi Mac-

I’m not the expert so have been waiting to see if JWA might see this post and say something useful…

My naive opinion (after all, I’m the know-nothing who started this thread b/c I didn’t/don’t know anything…) is that the sling looks OK to me and would be appropriate for any post-1936 Winchester bolt gun that had 1″ swivels.  If that sling were to have turned up on eBay I’d’ve probably tried to buy it.

If I had it I’d probably put it on my 1937 M70 Super Grade…  

3748-1-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

Best,

Lou

P.S.  In case there are any sharp-eyed (and inherently suspicious) folks out there who recognize this photo, it is posted on the pre64win.com website.  But FWIW it was taken by the former owner and the gun is currently in my care… Wink

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February 26, 2019 - 2:13 am
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Lou,

Thanks for chiming in…I’m of the same “naive” opinion that the sling is “ok.”  I’d like to hear from JWA who hopefully could/would validate our opinions.

Mac

P.S. It’s an eBay purchase.  I jumped on it with a “buy now” number as soon as I saw it. Early bird gets… Price was good enough that if the sling turns out not to be correct it won’t hurt too bad.

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February 26, 2019 - 3:08 am
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Big Mac said
Lou,

Thanks for chiming in…I’m of the same “naive” opinion that the sling is “ok.”    

It most certainly is “OK,” in the sense of being a correct “period” sling.  But whether it’s the same as the “NRA” sling described in the catalog is hard to say.  I looked through 2 target-shooters supply catalogs of the ’30s, O’Hare’s & Westchester’s, expecting to find a “NRA” sling, but none were listed…because, I suspect, surplus M1907 slings were so cheap & plentiful.

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February 26, 2019 - 3:33 am
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Big Mac said
I’m tacking on to this old post as it was very informative.  I just acquired a sling and want to know if it would be correct as supplied by Winchester for any of the following Pre-War Models:  54 Standard Rifle, 70 Super Grade, 52 Sporter.  Description and photos:

– 1″ width

– Embossed edges on both long and short strap (although very faint)

– Diamond shaped keeper staples (appear to have been blued at one time)

– Non-magnetic brass(?) frogs

– All other metal hardware is magnetic:  rivets, staples, D ring on short strap

– Only 1 rivet on D ring

Thanks for your assessment.

Mac

20190223_141828.jpgImage Enlarger20190223_141908.jpgImage Enlarger20190223_142034.jpgImage Enlarger20190223_142113.jpgImage Enlarger20190223_142200.jpgImage Enlarger  

Hi Big Mac,

Sorry I am late to the discussion.  The sling in your photos is either a Winchester style #3257 which was first listed in the catalogs in 1939 or the later #3259 which superseded the #3257 in 1954.  The #3257 was provided as original equipment on these models: 43, 52 Sporting, 54 Super Grade, 64 Deer Rifle, 70 with 1″ sling swivel bows, 70 Super Grade, 71 and 75 Sporting.  It was offered in Winchester catalogs from 1939 through circa 1953 until it was replaced by the nearly identical #3259 in 1954.  

The #3259 was provided post-1953 as original equipment on these models:  43, 52 Sporting, 64 Deer Rifle, 70 with 1″ sling swivel bows, 70 Super Grade, 71, 75 Sporting, 88 and 100.  It was offered in Winchester catalogs from 1954 through 1985.  

The #3257 and #3259 are essentially the same sling with only the Winchester number changing in 1954 so your sling would be “style correct” for the aforementioned rifles from 1939 onward.  It is a different sling than the N.R.A. style sling that was offered as an option.

The reason I say “style correct” is that Winchester utilized several outside vendors to make the slings and those vendors also made similar, if not identical, slings for other manufacturers so while it has all the trademark qualities of a Winchester sling it may not have actually been supplied by Winchester on a rifle.

Most of the earlier 3-rivet 1907 style slings were supplied to Winchester by Graton & Knight although they were unmarked.  The later 2-rivet “military style” slings like yours were provided by at least two different manufacturers.

Hope that helps.

Best Regards,

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February 26, 2019 - 4:21 am
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JWA,

Thanks, yes that is very helpful.  I appreciate your response as well as Lou and Clarence.  Looks like I got a keeper, please pardon the pun.

Are there any authoritative published reference documents or articles on Winchester original slings other than the catalogs?  If so, I’d like to acquire a copy.  Otherwise I’ll continue to lean on the forum for reference.

Best to all.

Mac

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