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Model 54 .22 Hornet
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June 22, 2019 - 5:55 pm
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Howdy gents,

A good friend of mine wanted to graduate from the Lyman receiver sight and put an older Redfield 6X scope on his 54 Hornet.  He asked me about available scope mounts, and in looking at current offerings, could not find any listed for the 54 in various catalogs.  He is not real computer comfortable, so I went on-line and found a set of Redfield SR 70 2-piece bases on Ebay which were listed as being for the Win. 54 and Pre-WWII Model 70 under serial #66,350, and ordered them.

They arrived and I went over to his house with a set of medium and high rings to try and use to check scope bell clearance, etc.  I removed the Lyman receiver sight and noticed that the rear receiver bridge(?) was not drilled and tapped for a scope base.  The rear base fit perfectly on the rear bridge, no wiggle or wobble.  The front receiver ring was drilled and tapped, had two plug screws filling the holes, and you could see very plainly (due to bluing wear) that a longer Unertl target type base had once been screwed to the receiver ring.  The hole spacing was exactly the same as that of the Redfield front base, so it would have gone on just fine. 

With the front receiver ring being the only thing drilled and tapped for a scope base, I questioned what use that would have been on it’s own.  I did notice that the dovetail slot in the barrel boss had a blank filler installed.  This filler was unlike others I have seen in that it was polished and blued but had a thin silver strip going front to rear across the top of it.  Then I wondered if someone previously may have slid an adapter into the dovetail on the barrel that had a short Unertl target type front base on it?  I know that Unertl made a front mount of this type.  This would have allowed the use of a long slim scope of some type.

I did go ahead and seat both the medium and high rear rings onto the rear base and just set it on top of the bridge to gauge scope bell clearance.  It was then my friend and I noticed that the bolt handle would not clear the scopes body tube or the eyepiece.  It looked to us like a considerable amount would need to be ground off the handle for it to clear about any 1″ scope tube.

After getting back home, with the decision made not to pursue this any further for now, I looked the Model 54 up in ‘The Winchester Book’ by Madis.  On page 498 it says that all 54’s were drilled and tapped for scope sight bases.  My friend’s wasn’t!  I then phoned a gunsmith friend and asked him about drilling and tapping 54’s.  He said that none of them were drilled and tapped for scope mounting and that the bolt was just like a Mauser’s, in that the handle would need to be cut off and welded in order to clear normal scope mounting. 

The conflicting info about drilled and tapped receivers has my friend and I wondering what is what.  Do any of you gents have more specific information on this topic?  We’d love to hear it if you do!  Also, any of you know if correct front and rear Unertl type mounts (longer rear on receiver ring and shorter base in barrel dovetail) were obtained, would the thinner diameter target type scopes clear the bolt handle?  Thanks a bunch in advance folks!

Clint Meier

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June 23, 2019 - 4:16 am
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S article is very goodWith the scarcity of unmolested Model 54 Winchester’s I would be reluctant to tap it  for a scope on the rear receiver. The bolt would also have to be modified to clear the scope .My own 22 hornet model 54 wears a Lyman junior target spot and is mounted on the front of receiver and in a block in boss. The model 54 was never factory tapped on the rear of the receiver this carried over into the pre-war model 70’s. Roger Rules book has a chapter on Model 54 for more information. Also the Winchester collector magazines have some information Lloyd Thomsen article is very good. Spring 2009 edition.

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June 23, 2019 - 3:25 pm
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Clint M said
The conflicting info about drilled and tapped receivers has my friend and I wondering what is what.

What is what, indeed!  Like, what is the primary purpose of a Hornet, or any other small-caliber, high-velocity cartridge, except hitting small targets at long range?  And how can that be reliably accomplished by persons of normal visual acuity (the Elmer Keiths of the world excepted) without a scope of some kind?  Especially when you consider that the same company building the 54 was (when it was introduced in 1925) also producing a highly successful line of scopes, the oversight of omitting some easy, no-gunsmith-required, method of attaching a scope (as was provided on M.52s) is hard to fathom. 

The ’25 catalog noted that scope mount bases could be attached as an “extra” on 54s, but doing so would have required the barrel to be D&T, unless special ordered from the factory with bases attached. I presume the screw holes in the ring were intended for attachment of the rear mount base, but that’s only half the job.  Only the “Sniper’s Rifle” 54, introduced later in .30-06 only, was D&T for bases.

 

   

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June 23, 2019 - 5:07 pm
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Stith “no drill” scope mounts were common on prewar Model 70. Even if adaptable, as noted the bolt would be a problem. Winchester did allegedly factory install model 70 replacement bolts in 54 Models as their stock of 54 bolts was depleted. (There’s something wrong with that scenario. How often bolt replacement required!)
Below one of my Model 54 rifles possibly with such bolt. I don’t normally buy such as 54 rifles that are D&T aftermarket. Made an exception for this one. Non-original, but handsome! In 30-06.
Proof reading, realizing have’t contributed much here! 🙂
Back momentarily to add an afterthought of caution. Those 54 rifles with receiver sights ‘almost’ surely to reflect considerable stock inletting work to accommodate. Removing such receiver sight, to leave a considerable residual blight with no easy solution other than some kind of wooden patch or residual sight base!
Johnhttps://winchestercollector.org/wp-content/sp-resources/forum-image-uploads/iskra/2019/06/R444-2.jpgImage Enlargerhttps://winchestercollector.org/wp-content/sp-resources/forum-image-uploads/iskra/2019/06/R444-3U.jpgImage Enlarger

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June 23, 2019 - 6:23 pm
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iskra said
I don’t normally buy such as 54 rifles that are D&T aftermarket.

If I was looking for a 54 or pre-war 70 to shoot, that’s exactly the kind of rifle I’d be hoping to find–one with the “factory oversight” already corrected!

I wish I’d found such a gun before I bought the only pre-war 52 Sporter I’ve ever owed many yrs ago. I did so fully intending to D&T it, but then lost my nerve, as a result of which I never fired more than a few rounds through it, & ended up trading it off a few yrs later. 

And out of half a dozen un-drilled pre-war 70s I’ve owned over the yrs, the only one I still have, & will never part with, is a S.G. that already had a Noske mounted on it; I wish I could thank the serious & intelligent shooter who had that scope mounted! 

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June 23, 2019 - 9:43 pm
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I could never get past the extra holes.

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June 23, 2019 - 9:49 pm
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Hi Clint-

As an admirer of the M54, I’d encourage you/your friend not to D&T or alter the bolt on an original M54 22 HORNET.  The chambering was added to the M54 line-up pretty late in production, so it is a relatively rare chambering in what is already a rare gun.  Everything else being equal, if I wanted a modern scope on a 22 HORNET I’d track down a type II or III M70 that was already factory D&T for a top mount.

As for scoping an unaltered M54, about the only way I’ve figured out to do it is this:

M54-Std-30WCF3.jpgImage Enlarger

To do it you need a Lyman or Unertl-style “U” block (0.185″ tall) for the two factory holes in the receiver ring, and a cross-dovetail “BK” block that goes into the rear sight dovetail on the barrel (since drilling the barrel is as much a sacrilege as drilling the receiver IMHO).  These can be found on eBay without too much difficulty once you know what you’re looking for:

 BK-and-U-blocks.jpgImage EnlargerBK-and-U-blocks-bottom.jpgImage Enlarger

This set-up should give you enough clearance for the bolt handle if you’re using something like the 6X Unertl small game scope on the rifle above (worked for me).  FWIW the scope shown is late ’30s vintage in Lyman mounts from before Unertl started making their own mounts.

Unfortunately, the Stith Install-It-Yourself and Q.E.D. mounts that work well on the pre-war M70 don’t solve the bolt handle clearance problem with the M54.  You just cannot move the scope far enough forward that the bolt can open behind the ocular end of the scope.  The most common solution to installing a low mounted scope on a M54 back in the day was probably to use a G&H (or similar) side mount (another destructive maneuver), b/c many of the scopes of the day, e.g. the Lyman Alaskan, had relatively long eye relief and you could put them far enough forward to clear and still get a good sight picture.

I have seen one example where someone modified a Stith mount to move the rear ring forward sufficiently to let the scope clear (they created an extension to the rear part of the mount that attaches via the receiver sight holes on the left rear of the action).  But even then you’d need a short scope (like a Noske) to keep the objective end of the scope from bumping into the “stop” machined into the barrel mounted sleeve.  Tough to do even if your buddy is a machinist…

Since your friend’s gun is a 22 HORNET (longer range varmint gun), I think I’d go with the U/BK blocks and a Unertl style scope…  Only issue then is that he might want to put a lace-on leather cheekpiece on the butt stock to get a comfortable sight picture from the high mounted scope.  At least that’s “reversible”…

Hope this helps… Wink

Lou

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June 24, 2019 - 5:00 pm
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Many thanks to you all for sharing your vast knowledge and insights on Model 54’s.  Iskra, yes removing the receiver sight base will leave quite a hole, even worse on my friends rifle than what you have pictured.  His cut out has a centered half cylindrical channel going down from the squared inlet that is about 3/16″ wide and 3/8″ deep cut into the side of his stock .  We assumed that maybe this was for a much longer elevation screw, but that is just a guess!

Louis, thanks for the photo of your scoped 54.  The combination of a long rear sight base on the receiver ring and a cross dovetail block at the barrel boss is just what I had imagined may have been used originally.  This is worth him looking into!

My friend would have likely gone along with drilling and tapping the rear receiver ring, if that would have been all that was needed.  When the need for significant bolt alteration was also discovered, that pretty well soured the deal for him and I am quite sure that he would never have even considered it.

You guys are great!  Thanks again……Clint

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June 24, 2019 - 6:03 pm
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Clint,

I am sharing some photos of my model 54 in 30-06 with a “scout scope” configuration.  The scope is mounted to a rail that is secured to the 2 factory d&t holes on the front receiver ring and a drilled filler blank secured in the barrel dovetail for the sporting rear sight.  Not sure this is what you/your friend are after but…

The rifle is no longer in this configuration as I removed the scope and was pleased to find unaltered.

Mac

RICHARDPC-2012-02-04-11.04.28.jpgImage EnlargerRICHARDPC-2012-02-04-11.59.47.jpgImage Enlarger

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June 24, 2019 - 11:43 pm
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Actually Clarence, I think you and I are very much on the same wave length. You distinguish between shooting guns and collecting ones. Your 54 rifles primarily shooters as I understand. Mine are largely collector guns. We’re each in our own habitat here. I’ve also got a few under hundred dollar ‘bargain 54s. No extra holes, but pretty doggy and fair bores. Right (or perhaps wrong) time & place, and old guns seeking adoption. Why buy??? “Err… No comment!” ?
Model 70ies, you and I parallel. While strongly preferring all original, some occasional real bargains in the ‘not quite’ category. I ‘don’t do’ rifles w/side mount holes. Yet a nice originally untapped bridge specimen with neat top bridge holes, not to pass up when otherwise condition/price right. Similarly, though to lesser extent, a purchase with decent quality/installation recoil pad in orbit, though such much more cautious. Most of my 70 rifles also ‘ho-hum’ ’06 chambering. ‘Accumulations with some truly nice ones along the way.’
Short war story please. Gun show. Exceptionally nice standard Model 70 prewar, ’06. Disappointed as approaching closer and noting one piece scope base and price good for pristine, not for ‘tapped’. Perhaps couple of hours later, small detour for another look at gun and… Coming home with me after considerable price reduction. Home inspection. Previously noted two rear mount screws missing. Never imagining… Bridge pristine! No holes. and noting mount secured to receiver ring only! It removed and not even to know ever there!
Thanks to all for interesting Thread!
John

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June 24, 2019 - 11:48 pm
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Hi Mac-

That is a neat solution if you want to use a more modern low/medium power intermediate eye relief (IER) scope on a gun you’re taking into the field.  If I ever decide to take my .30 W.C.F. M54 carbine (not the standard rifle pictured above) out for deer on the farm I’ll have to look into that approach.  Am I correct that there is no commercial product like what you used on your M54?  

Even if you didn’t want to get a friend to mill the whole thing (Picatinny rail and all) out of one-piece of aluminum or steel (it would take two pieces in any event as far as I can imagine), I could see where you could use flat topped Unertl style blocks (milled to match height-wise as needed) and D&T holes in them (instead of the gun) to mount the rail.  I’m just wondering how you did it for your gun?

Hi Clint-

Regarding the receiver sight on your friend’s M54 22 HORNET, with the ‘T’ shaped inletting.  It probably had/has a Lyman 48W long slide (150 point elevation slide) as these were common on M54s with factory installed receiver sights on M54.  They look like this (M54 1st standard .30GOV’T’06 S/N 13268 belonging to my Brother):

54-5.jpgImage Enlarger

The stock inletting with the slide removed looks like this (photo is a different gun, a type I-4 pre-war M70 standard .270 W.C.F S/N 43430).  This is a M70 and the sight is the slightly later 48WJS long slide (inletting is the same): 

43430-14.jpgImage Enlarger

I’m sure you’ve figured it out, but when you modify the bolt handle on a M54 for a low scope, you also have to modify the stock to accept the modified handle.  This is a big reason why altered M54s have little value to collectors.  You can;t even buy a D&T one to get a replacement stock!!!  For a varmint rifle, like a 22 HORNET, I personally would go with the Unertl style scope.

Hope this helps, Smile

Lou

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June 25, 2019 - 2:02 am
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Lou,

Unfortunately I cannot add much new info as the scope and mount came with the Model 54 when I purchased it. (as reminder we exchanged some forum posts on this same rifle several months ago).  The scope is Burris 2 3/4X with long eye relief fitted with 2 Weaver 1″ rings.  So to that point the scope and rings are commercial products.  The rings attach to the single piece rail which I do not know whether commercial product or specifically fabricated for this application.  I assume at least the rail is stock and cut to accept the rings and drilled for mounting screw spacing. You will see in the photos that the rail has cross-cut recesses for the rings and is built up in height where the rail mounts to the rifle (see rail profile pix).  The rail mounts by 2 screws to the receiver front factory D&T holes and by 1 screw into a sight blank which is secured in the barrel rear sight dovetail.  This configuration worked very nicely for me but I wanted to return the rifle to as-built.  I am attaching several photos which I hope will illustrate what you need to know. Ignore the scotch tape in the photos, holds the screws so I don’t lose them. Sorry I can’t be of more technical assistance.  Best.

Mac

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June 25, 2019 - 2:42 am
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Thanks, Mac-

That’s EXACTLY what I wanted to see!!! Laugh

Best,

Lou

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June 25, 2019 - 4:16 pm
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Louis Luttrell said
For a varmint rifle, like a 22 HORNET, I personally would go with the Unertl style scope.
  

So would I–it would be period correct in style, if not in substance.  For a small-caliber 54 or early 70, an original WRA A5 or its improved successor, a Lyman 5A, would be perfect, but both are hard to find & quite expensive.  But thanks to MVA, there’s an accurate & very well made repro available at about half the cost of an original, with improved, modern, optics to boot:  https://montanavintagearms.com/product/winchester-scopes/winchester-scope-no1-mount/

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June 25, 2019 - 4:58 pm
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Are we now halfway through “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue?” 🙂

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July 1, 2019 - 1:32 am
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WOW, you guys (Big Mac and Louis) just keep giving and giving!!  I am so thankful!  I appreciate the added photos and comments and will gladly pass them on to my friend for his consideration.

Clint Meier

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January 17, 2022 - 6:57 pm
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Since the beautiful Winchester Model 54 portends some modification to mount a scope, and I agree that the Hornet’s reach is maximized with a scope; why not consider a “Scout Rifle” mounting ahead of or even with the receiver ring and account for proper eye relief? I was 11 0r 12 when I first held a Model 54 in .22 Hornet, its memory is burned deep and respectful. Butch 523 

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January 18, 2022 - 1:07 am
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I have a question about sights on a Model 54 also but not about a scope. I have a first year M54 in .30-06 that does not have a receiver sight. I would like to install one without inletting the stock  that would be required with the 48W. What model receiver sight would be period correct that would fit and would not require any modifications to originality?  Would a Lyman 57WJS  be a good choice?

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January 18, 2022 - 1:31 am
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Dave K. said
I have a question about sights on a Model 54 also but not about a scope. I have a first year M54 in .30-06 that does not have a receiver sight. I would like to install one without inletting the stock  that would be required with the 48W. What model receiver sight would be period correct that would fit and would not require any modifications to originality?  Would a Lyman 57WJS  be a good choice?  

I think so, although the 48WJS short-slide with graduations to 60 does require a small relief cut, or so my 1941 catalog (newest I have) indicates. 

But here’s the best choice:  https://www.ebay.com/itm/384659933839?hash=item598f84ca8f:g:du8AAOSwJhphqkdw

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January 18, 2022 - 2:49 am
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Dave a Redfield 102 w would be a good choice not as glamorous as 48 but period correct I have 4 on my 54’s and like them for their ruggedness and the fact the stock does not have to be cut.would also look for a pacific sight from this time period .

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