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Model 70 ethics
December 19, 2019
1:10 am
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Hello, I just joined the forum but I've been reading it for awhile. I just purchased a real nice 1954 target model that had no sights or scope mounts on it. The rifle is all original as far as I can tell. I bought it on gunbroker. It just looks right to me. My question is, do you guys feel it's ethical for me to put original lyman sights and scope mounts on it? If I sell it someday, can it be sold as an original rifle? It will be 100% correct but with replacement parts. What is the ethical line we must stop at? Receiver, barrel, bolt and stock are correct. Is it like a classic car, where you can bring it back to original condition with original parts and that's fine? I love these rifles and do not want to contribute to the "fake" rifle problem. I collect them because I love them and because they are my "401k". I plan on selling them when I'm "old" for grocery money. I personally feel that bringing a rifle back to original is ok but changing the "style" of a rifle is unethical and worthy of a good beating. In other words, if a rifle came from the factory as a 270 standard rifle and you replace a rusted floor plate or damaged trigger guard then you've done a good thing. If you make a 270 super grade out of it, then you've gone too far. Am I right? I really want to do the right thing.

 

Randy

December 19, 2019
6:03 pm
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Hi Randy-

Opinions will vary, so I'll just give mine...

Back when these guns were in-service, and especially in pre-war times when metallic sights (not scopes) were how you aimed your rifle, it was very common to change the sights to whatever worked best for the individual shooter.  Preserving "originality" was not the issue, utility was... Same is true of target models, where the tendency was to either remove the Lyman type scope blocks and/or replace them with flat top Unertl type and/or remove the metallic sights and/or get rid of the little Bakelite handstop.  In your case, I suspect that an owner wanted to use a receiver mounted scope so got rid of everything he didn't need.  

If I (the "next" owner) want my rifle to carry all the parts it had when it left the factory, I have NO PROBLEM putting the correct ones back.  Is it now "original"?  No...  Would I tell a potential buyer that I'd replaced the factory sights?  Yes...  In fact I'd probably either brag about it or seek sympathy regarding how hard (and expensive) it is to find the right ones. Then again, like you I'm not "fixing up" guns to turn a quick profit, just for my own enjoyment.

After all, suppose your target rifle had come to you with scope blocks and sights on it.  How would you KNOW that the sights on it today are the same ones that were on it when it left the factory in 1954?  Unless they're incorrect replacements, I don't think you could know.  So the truism that "a gun is only original once" is fine in theory, but unrealistic in practice in many cases.  

Where I draw a line is doing something that changes the catalog symbol number.  As in your example of making a G7053C (270 Winchester Super Grade) out of a G7003C (270 Winchester Standard Rifle).  Or worse, swapping parts between a G7064C (30-06 Super Grade) and G7037C (35 Remington Standard Rifle) to create fictional "super rare" a G7060C (35 Remington Super Grade).  That's really not Kosher IMHO, especially when the motive is profit...

But such "upgrading" has been going for decades, and again, MIGHT be undetectable if 100% correct factory parts were used and sufficient care is taken in making sure they fit together.  Your only defense against such chicanery is to know what's "period correct" not only for the style, but also the time frame in which the rifle was made.  You STILL may never know for sure that the 35 Remington Super Grade you're looking at is legit, only that it is "correct"... Cry  In fact I avoid using the phrase "original" in describing any of my guns b/c I simply do not know whether they're original or not... 

BTW... There are a lot of nuances in what sights/blocks/etc are correct on a 1954 target model, for example.  Much of the subtlety is not covered in sufficient detail even in Roger Rule's book.  So if you're not sure, feel free to ask.  Does the end of the barrel have a dovetail or two D&T holes?  Does the left side of the stock or receiver show evidence of a prior receiver sight?  As early as 1941 the target model was offered "without sights" (in 30-06, G7044C was the target model with sights, while G7040C was the same rifle without sights).  Of course this was back when a rectangular cut-out had to be made in the stock (before 1947). G7040C was not cut for the receiver sight and came with a Lyman 12S blank in the muzzle dovetail in lieu of a cross dovetail Lyman AK block.  They were all provided with scope blocks, though.  I guess my point is that if you see no marks on the receiver, stock, or barrel to indicate metallic sights were once there, it is POSSIBLE that they were never there...  You do need the scope blocks though...

Too long winded???  Wink

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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December 19, 2019
6:24 pm
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The only thing you don't want to do is make a permanent change to the gun, like drilling extra holes.  If it can be put back to original you just tell the next owner what you did.  If you keep the original sights sell them with the gun. Like Lou said if you use the correct period part it is not unethical and there are many guns out there that have had a part changed and no one knows the difference.

December 19, 2019
10:36 pm
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I was thinking that Winchester didn't catalog target rifles in 54, with exception of the National Match. Also, when they did reintroduce them, I don't think sights were offered from factory. I'm going by memory here, so might be off a year or 2. I thought they dropped them from the catalog in 52 or 53 and reintroduced in 55 or 56. 

Steve

December 20, 2019
12:00 am
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Hi Steve-

As always, you are correct!!! Laugh 

If you go by Rule's book, the unpopular target rifle chamberings, 22 HORNET, 250-3000 SAVAGE, 7 M/M, 300 H&H MAGNUM, and 35 REMINGTON, were dropped in 1947.  The remaining M70 target models in 30-06, 270 WCF, 257 ROBERTS, and 220 SWIFT were cataloged until 1951, omitted in 1952, reinstated on a special order basis in 1953-54, and finally returned to the catalog in 1955 (chambered only in 30-06 and the - then new - 243 WIN)...  Personally, I don't think Rule's dates are completely correct, in that my 1950 Winchester catalog ONLY lists the National Match. My thinking is that maybe the last year the targets were cataloged before they came back was 1949.  I need to do further checking of the catalogs, however...  But the general idea that they weren't cataloged in 1954 is correct as far as I can tell.  That said, the actual production of target rifles went on throughout even if they were really "special order"...

The big difference you mention (this is for Randy, as I know you already know it...) is that from 1937 until dropped in 1949 or 1951 or whenever, was that the target model came with sights (Lyman 48WH rear and Lyman AK/77R) unless ordered "sightless". Those were all "2nd variation" target rifles, meaning that the muzzle had a dovetail for installing the front sight.  When reinstated, the barrel had two D&T holes at the muzzle for a Lyman "A" block.  Randy's gun, as described, has a 1954 serial number and unknown chambering.  So IMHO it MIGHT have either a dovetailed muzzle or a D&T one depending on when that 1954 receiver was used to assemble a rifle. 

Here's an interesting call out from the 1940 catalog about the "sightless" option (you've probably seen this):

1941-catalog-clipping.pngImage Enlarger

For anyone interested, note the following: 1) G7040C, the "sightless" 30-06 target model, has a catalog number.  These would have Marksman stocks that weren't cut for a receiver sight and a blank in the barrel dovetail; 2) "Any of the foregoing calibers can be furnished with no sights on special order only at no extra charge"; and, 3) Model 70 target rifles can be furnished with pistol group N.R.A. type stock in place of the MARKSMAN stock in any of the foregoing calibers on special order only".  Regarding #2, how many pre-war M70 targets have you seen with Marksman stocks that weren't cut for a Lyman sight.  Seems to me they are not rare. In 30-06 they would be G7040C.  In anything else they would be "special order"...  Regarding #3 (the thing I find most interesting), how many pre-war heavy barrel standard rifles (in NRA stocks) have you seen?  IMHO they're rare, but not unheard of...  Seems the factory was actually advertising that they would make rifles to those specifications!!!  This being WAY before the Varmint rifle was cataloged in 243 WIN only in 1955.

Cheers,

Lou

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December 20, 2019
12:19 am
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My rifle is a 270 and has the dovetail cut. I've already purchased an NOS Lyman 48WH for the rear. It was available on special order in '53' and '54' according to Rule's book. That's why I bought it. I thought it might have more value being a speial order. I am going to get sight blocks and a handstop for it when I find them.

 

Thanks for all the replies and Merry Christmas, Randy

December 20, 2019
12:22 am
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Louis, I was actually writing my reply and when I posted it I saw that you already had informed everyone about the special orders. LOL!

December 20, 2019
2:05 am
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Hi Randy-

Neat... Laugh

My observation (based on my ongoing surveys) is that of the M70 target chamberings that lived past 1946, 257 ROBERTS and 270 WCF are about equally uncommon.  30-06 and 220 SWIFT are easier to find.  As for the 1954 DOM, although the catalogs omitted them, the rifles themselves (in any of the four chamberings) do not seem to be any more rare with 1952-54 S/Ns than with earlier S/Ns (when they WERE cataloged).  Whether this is b/c there were a lot of "special orders" or b/c Winchester, in typical fashion, made up guns to get rid of excess discontinued parts, is not clear to me.  But in general, the 1954 DOM will likely have less impact on the future value than the fact that it's a late 2nd variation 270 WCF (not a 30-06 or 220 SWIFT).  Just my opinion, of course...  Not a COMMON gun by any measure, but not "rare".  If it's got condition it's surely a keeper!!!

FWIW... Below are pics of the sights that were on S/N 351439 when I got it.  This rifle is a documented Van Orden Sniper, so it has the uncataloged uncheckered standard stock, but the reason I post the pics is b/c these sights (which I did not add) are IMHO the period correct variations for a 1955 M70 target rifle (so probably equally correct for a 1954 gun).  Two things to note...  The Lyman 48WH is a half-block sight with the internal coil spring, not the leaf spring on the left side, and the blocks have Winchester "dimples" on the left.  I think that 1954-55 falls into the overlap zone between the earlier leaf spring and later coil spring 48WH, and the dimpled versus undimpled blocks, so either would likely not raise any eyebrows.  But this is what's on the gun I've got:

VO-receiver-block-and-48WH.pngImage EnlargerVO-barrel-block.pngImage EnlargerVO-front-sight-1.pngImage Enlarger

Good Luck!!!

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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December 21, 2019
6:50 am
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Great timing on this thread and I really appreciate all of the info. I stumbled across it as I was looking for info.

December 22, 2019
12:56 am
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mrelectric03@aol.com said
Great timing on this thread and I really appreciate all of the info. I stumbled across it as I was looking for info.  

That's what I love about these rifles! It's a challange. You have to make sure everything is right because of the lack of records. It makes it kind of fun. It forces you to learn as much as you can to avoid counterfeits. People that collect them know the risks and venture out to get the "good" ones.

 

Randy

December 28, 2019
9:16 pm
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Absolutely! I just picked up a 1948 Super Grade in 270 and couldn't figure out why it had no dovetail for a front sight but otherwise barrel seemed original. Looks like it was ordered without sights as it also has a filler piece in the rear dovetail. Unfortunately the factory stock on mine has been shortened and a recoil pad added and I suspect receiver was drilled for non factory scope mount. It was priced accordingly though and it's going to be a shooter anyway.

December 29, 2019
4:58 pm
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Hi mrelectric-

Regarding the holes in the receiver, a 1948 M70 could have ether a type II-1/2 or type III-1 receiver.  First photo below (borrowed from a Frontier Guns GI ad) is a 1947 type II-1 Super Grade (S/N 73894 in 22 HORNET).  Note that it has a cloverleaf tang, but smooth bridge that is D&T (two holes) for a scope.  This one also has a factory Lyman 48WJS receiver sight of the "half block" variety that did not require the stock to be cut out.  The Lyman 48WJS design was changed in 1947 and the Lyman receiver sight option was cataloged through 1949, so this combo is factory correct:

Type-II-SG-receiver.jpgImage Enlarger

Second photo (borrowed from pre64win.com) is a 1948 type III-1 Super Grade (S/N 94869 in 270 WCF).  It has the oval tang, but the same smooth D&T bridge.  This view shows the two receiver sight mounting holes on the left side.  Those six D&T holes (four on top and two on left side rear) would be factory original on any type II or III receiver (with a couple exceptions, but that's another story... Smile). Any additional holes, e.g. on the left side for a scope side mount, would be non-factory:

Type-III-1-SG-receiver-3.jpegImage Enlarger

I'm a bit perplexed by your description of the sightless barrel.  I'm not sure what you meant by "no dovetail for a front sight".  The standard M70 barrel in 1948 was 24" long with a forged INTEGRAL front sight ramp.  Like this (again from pre64win.com and Frontier Guns):

No-2-Front-Ramp-on-SG.jpegImage Enlarger1947-48-SG-barrel-boss-and-Lyman-12S.jpgImage Enlarger

Did you mean there was no ramp, or that the barrel contour is not standard?  IMHO it would be highly unusual for the factory to omit the integral front sight ramp entirely.  Is the barrel still 24" in length?  Sometimes people would shorten these barrels by about two inches (removing the ramp) to make the gun handier.  When the factory did get around to making "sightless" barrels (a cataloged option from about 1960), they omitted the front sight ramp (which by then was a brazed on, not integral, part) but they also omitted the rear sight dovetail from the barrel boss.  If your rifle has a dovetail for the rear sight, as in the second photo above, it's very likely that it once had a front sight/ramp as well.

Good luck with your new rifle!!!  I hope it shoots great!!!  Laugh

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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December 30, 2019
1:55 am
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Hi Lou, 

i appreciate the info. The scope mount looked like it would need different holes but after looking at those pictures it may be ok. I will have to pull the old scope and mount off to see if holes were enlarged. 

About the sights, I said no dovetail but what I should have said is that there is nothing. No dovetail, no ramp, no bolt holes, no evidence of a clamp or anything. It does have a rear block off in the dovetail similar to the picture you shared. Mine is a 98xxx sn type III-1 with the oval tang. The crown on the barrel looks factory and barrel measures 23 5/16" from the tip to the receiver so that sounds like 24" to me. Maybe I can figure out how to post pictures if that would help figure out if this is factory or modified.

December 30, 2019
2:28 am
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mrelectric03@aol.com said
Maybe I can figure out how to post pictures if that would help figure out if this is factory or modified.  

Guests are denied that privilege, but if you can send them directly to Lou, perhaps he will post them for you, or at any rate, tell you whether that dread word "modified" must be invoked; I hope not! 

December 30, 2019
2:51 pm
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Ahh that's makes sense. Thank you Clarence. I paid a low enough price that I could not possibly be upset if it turns out to be a non-factory or modified barrel. I would just like to know for my own reference, especially as I had planned to hunt with this rifle and possibly even re-blue it. If it's so original that it turns out to be a bad plan then I will just continue to enjoy it at the range and pickup a modern Model 70 for hunting. Like I mentioned, the stock is already modified by being cut shorter and added recoil pad and I will not be seeking out an original 70+ year old Super Grade stock for it so it is what it is. 

December 30, 2019
3:39 pm
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Hi mrelectric-

Options for adding photos are either to put them on a photo hosting server like Photobucket and post the link here, or e-mail them to me to post on your behalf.  My e-mail is luttrell@musc.edu.  They have to be jpeg or png files (no pdfs) and work best when each is sized <1 MB.  Cell phone pics work fine, but if you send them select a file size that keeps them in that range (the full size photo files from most digital cameras are a bit too big for this site to handle easily).

I would like to see some pictures of the barrel.  It is a curiosity.  You are correct it's not shortened, the 24" OAL is from the closed bolt face to the muzzle, so 23 5/16" from the face of the receiver to muzzle is about right.  What's odd is that on a 1948 standard contour barrel the front sight ramp is integral.  So to remove it one would have to turn the barrel in a lathe.  If that much effort was put into removing the ramp, I'd've expected more effort expended on seamlessly filling the rear sight dovetail (so as to be nearly invisible) rather than just installing an ordinary dovetail filler blank.  Oh well...  

If you do send me pics, try to include one of the roll marking on the left side of the barrel, as well as the muzzle and rear sight boss.  Is the exposed caliber marked ".270 W.C.F." or "270 WIN –"?  That would help date the barrel.   If you've removed the action from the stock, what is the date stamp underneath?  On a 1948 rifle it would probably be stamped "270  48 ––".  The '47 or '48 under there would be the year the barrel (not the receiver) was made.  After '55 the barrels were commonly not dated.  

A possibility here is that the rifle was rebarreled at some point, since a barrel made after '52 would have a brazed on ramp that could easily be removed or omitted.  So the barrel date (if there is one) might help sort out your question.  A fresh barrel could be a good thing on a hunting rifle, especially if the gun was used a lot before it came your way... Laugh

Best,

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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December 30, 2019
10:29 pm
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Lou, 

i just sent some pictures your way. Timing was good as I just finished cleaning up the firing pin as the safety was stuck in "fire". Now working correctly. As you'll see the stamp under the barrel is indeed stamped "270  48" and script on the barrel reads ".270 W.C.F." Also the roll marks on the side line up well. I also removed the scope mount base for the first time and all holes look to be original. So it seems other than the stock and possibly if the barrel was modified it's a fairly original rifle. Although it has seen a lot of use. I suspect if the stock had a notch for each deer it has taken it would be a pistol grip.

December 30, 2019
11:00 pm
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Here are the photos:

Unknown-5.jpegImage EnlargerUnknown-3-1.jpegImage EnlargerUnknown-2-1.jpegImage EnlargerUnknown-1-1.jpegImage EnlargerUnknown-4-1.jpegImage Enlarger

Anyone care to offer a forensic opinion? Laugh

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January 2, 2020
2:47 am
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Don't all jump in at once, haha.

Well I'll just say that I really appreciate Lou and everyone else's help on this and sorry for hi-jacking the thread. I do find it really interesting that someone would remove the barrel and turn down the front sight but not fill the rear sight dovetail permanently before bluing. Stranger things have happened though.

One more question I have, if I were to re finish this rifle and re-blue it would I be reducing the value heavily? I feel like I would but at the same time more bluing is missing than present, the factory supergrade stock has been modified, barrel was modified(and accuracy is still unknown). So if it ends up taking the value down I may just plan to keep it as is and take it to the range now and then and buy a different rifle to hunt with. If not, I'll likely re-blue it by someone who knows what they are doing and put it in an aftermarket stock but keep the factory one, and even replace the barrel if needed. 

January 2, 2020
2:54 am
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I’d take it to the range to see how it shoots before making any decisions. 

 

Mike

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