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Where Is the Last Pre-64 Winchester Model 70?
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Posts: 31
August 24, 2023 - 3:52 am

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Most of you Model 70 fans probably know the very first Pre-64 Winchester Model 70 has been for sale for quite some time on Gunbroker.  The #1 of anything is generally sought after and brings a high price, and Pre-64 Model 70 #1 clearly bears that out.  However, what about the very last Pre-64 Winchester Model 70 produced, Serial Number 581,471?  Does anyone know where it is and, if it has changed hands, what price it commanded?   Does anyone know what round it was chambered in?  The craftsmanship of those late-production rifles declined noticeably, but surely #581,471 is a rifle any Model 70 collector would love to have.  It might be in a collection or a museum, but it’d be wild to find it in a closet somewhere.  Hopefully, someone can shed some light on this rifle’s fate.  Inquiring minds want to know….at least mine does.

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Winchester, VA
Posts: 959
August 24, 2023 - 2:55 pm

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Hi Fairlane*66-

I do not know… The highest S/N (in the 1 – 581471 sequence) recorded in any of the survey data I’ve got is 581353, a 243 WIN Featherweight.  It was last seen at Ron’s Guns in April 1991.  The highest numbered one I own is S/N 578984, a “sightless” 300 WIN MAGNUM that once belonged to Bob Porter.

Of course we cannot know for sure if receiver 581471 was even used to produce a rifle prior to 1964.  A fair number of receivers were retained for replacement parts and at least some were used to build or repair M70s later on.  For example, S/N 581257, the “Super Grade Varmint Rifle” in 257 ROBERTS engraved by Nick Kusmit and once owned by Roger Rule (it’s in his book), was built after 1963.

Then there are the pre-64 M70s with “G” serial numbers (“G” stamped separately).  Since the “G” was a requirement of the Gun Control Act of 1968, these receivers were used to assemble (or factory repair) M70s AFTER the requirement went into effect in 1971.  For example, G76272 (375 MAGNUM Standard Rifle), G507816 (300 H&H Magnum Bull Gun), G520948 and G578963 (both 458 WIN MAGNUM Africans).

FWIW, Bob Porter recorded three M70 S/Ns that were HIGHER than 581471; S/N 583296 (264 WIN MAGNUM Westerner), 589329 (264 WIN MAGNUM Featherweight Westerner), and 592021 (30-06 Standard Rifle).  Those COULD (???) have been errors in writing down the number or actual mistakes made in the polishing room, but on the card for S/N 589329 Porter wrote “Too high S/N #”, so I’m inclined to think there is a M70 out there somewhere with that number on it…

So, unlike S/N 1, it might be hard to define just which one was the last pre-64 M70, even if S/N 581471 were to turn up…  Confused

Cheers,

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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Posts: 31
August 24, 2023 - 11:20 pm

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Thanks, Lou, you increased my Model 70 information quotient significantly and gave me quite a bit to think about.

The latest production Pre-64 Model 70 in my collection is serial number 577667, a standard grade 243 Featherweight, which I believe came from the factory in the next-to-last month of production, September 1963.  It is an oddball rifle, having many unusual features that don’t appear to have been added after market.  The metal, for the most part, is pristine and 100% factory original. However, the bolt body is jeweled and the bottom metal is steel, not aluminum.  What is most unusual about this rifle is the stock.  It’s dimensions are 100% factory original, but the rifle wears a Winchester recoil pad, just like ones on the 264 Win Mag Featherweights.  While the stock appears to have an original Winchester finish, the butt is highly figured with exceptional feathering.  Moreover, the checkering is non-standard, with the patterns on both the grip and forend being strikingly similar to a Winchester Pigeon Grade shotgun.  So, I don’t know what to make of this rifle.  I’d like to think someone special ordered it in the waning months of production, knowing the new variety Model 70 would soon appear.  It’s hard to imagine someone would go through the expense and trouble of putting a custom stock on the rifle, only to make it look like a factory piece of furniture.  If I can figure out how to post pictures, I’ll try to add a few.

Again, and as always, thanks for providing your perspectives.  Very informative.

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Winchester, VA
Posts: 959
August 25, 2023 - 2:37 pm

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Hi Fairlane*66-

I’d love to see photos of S/N 577667. Laugh Your ID panel shows you as a Forum Member but WACA “Guest”, and you have to be a WACA Member to directly post photos here.  Otherwise you have to use a third party photo hosting service and paste the link here, or (easier) send them to me and I’ll post them for you.

The stock on your rifle sounds somewhat like the stock used on M70 S/N 500,000.  That one is in Cody WY…  It is basically a SUPER GRADE Featherweight Westerner, with fancy wood, Style 21 checkering/carving, a factory recoil pad, and NO black fore end tip.  It was engraved and gold inlaid by John Kusmit and was intended for presentation to President John F Kennedy but Winchester never got the chance…  The rifle was used rather extensively in Winchester advertising however.

M70-SN-500000-Slide-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

The (admittedly poor quality) photo I posted of S/N 500,000 is a curious artifact in its own right, as it’s an actual color slide done by Winchester.  They must have had a special camera to take photos in about 4″ x 10″ format.  I tried copying it using my computer screen as a light box, but obviously the results are less than satisfactory.  Still, you get the idea… 

Lou

P.S.  I copied the slide backwards… Embarassed  It’s not a left handed gun… Wink

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WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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Winchester, VA
Posts: 959
August 25, 2023 - 2:57 pm

5sp_QuotePost

BTW…

This is a picture of my S/N 578984.  Except for having a barrel made without sights, it’s a plain 300 WIN MAGNUM Westerner-Alaskan with the typical narrow panel checkering and Winchester ventilated recoil pad.

578984-1copy-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

FWIW… I’ve got a handful of these “sightless” 300 WIN MAGNUMs recorded in the surveys.  All very late production; S/Ns 569291, 578845, 578938, 578984 and 580985.  They must have done some interesting things right at the tail end of production…

Best,

Lou

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WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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Location: 32000' +
Posts: 2089
August 25, 2023 - 4:01 pm

6sp_QuotePost

Louis Luttrell said
M70-SN-500000-Slide-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

P.S.  I copied the slide backwards… Embarassed  It’s not a left handed gun… Wink

  

Here you go Lou, now it is a right hand gun.

Best Regards,

M70-SN-500000-Right-Hand-View.jpgImage Enlarger

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WACA Life Member #6284 - Specializing in Pre-64 Winchester .22 Rimfire

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Winchester, VA
Posts: 959
August 25, 2023 - 8:56 pm

7sp_QuotePost

Thanks Jeff-

You are a true Gentleman and Scholar!!! Laugh

I was too lazy to flip it…  Besides, I thought maybe someone might think it was Billy the Kid’s Model 70 (like his infamous M1873 with the loading port on the left)….  LaughWinkLaughWink

Best,

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

WACA-Signauture-3.jpg

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Location: 32000' +
Posts: 2089
August 25, 2023 - 11:02 pm

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Louis Luttrell said
Thanks Jeff-

You are a true Gentleman and Scholar!!! Laugh

I was too lazy to flip it…  Besides, I thought maybe someone might think it was Billy the Kid’s Model 70 (like his infamous M1873 with the loading port on the left)….  LaughWinkLaughWink

Best,

Lou

  

Well now you can illustrate them as a “matched pair, left hand and right hand, with duplicate serial numbers (and no “X”)” Laugh

The story goes that Winchester made one of each because Kennedy was ambidextrous………

Best Regards,

 

P.S. The last time I had to improvise a light box I used a couple sheets of white paper held above 2 cell phones with their lights on.  It worked ok in a pinch but I would not call it professional quality.

WACA Life Member #6284 - Specializing in Pre-64 Winchester .22 Rimfire

http://rimfirepublications.com/  

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