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winchester model 70 confusion
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May 12, 2023 - 4:42 pm
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I have a model 70 in a 30/06 that has me confused.  Suspicious that it isn’t correct, but needs someone with lots more knowledge.  Gun was produced in 1955 but the barrel is marked 56.  Barrel length is 20 inches and it has supergrade on the floorplate.  From what I can tell Winchester didn’t make a 20 inch barrel in 55 or 56.  It doesn’t’ seem to be cut down as far as I can tell front sight looks correct. Pictures attached.

IMG_2492.jpgImage EnlargerIMG_2491.jpgImage EnlargerIMG_2494.jpgImage EnlargerIMG_2495.jpgImage EnlargerIMG_2497.jpgImage Enlarger

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May 12, 2023 - 6:27 pm
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Hi Brock-

I suspect that the rifle has a shortened barrel and was very likely “upgraded” to resemble a special order “Super Grade Carbine”…

The M70 “short rifle”, a.k.a. Carbine, was only cataloged through 1946, but some continued to be made from leftover barrels as late as 1954 when what was probably the last of them were sold via Hudson’s Sporting Goods, in New York as “barrel cleanup”.  The thing is that all the factory carbine barrels had integral forged front sight ramps, and while I have a (very) few (possibly legit) carbine barrels dated as late as 1949 in the survey, nearly all that I have been able to record are dated ’46 or earlier.  “Typical” integral forged carbine ramp:

Carbine-Ramp-SN-36314-.jpgImage Enlarger

The subject rifle has a silver brazed front ramp that looks from the photo to be a Winchester ramp.   These brazed on ramps (which of course were removable/moveable) would be correct on a ’56 dated barrel. The Style 3C “30-06 SPFLD” caliber designation is also correct for a ’56 standard contour barrel, but it’s unlikely that the factory made a 20″ standard barrel (with a brazed ramp) that late.  Keep in mind that by 1956 Winchester was offering it’s Featherweight in 30-06 SPRG and they were very popular, being much lighter than even a 20″ barrel carbine.  The cataloged “Super Grade Featherweight” was also available in 30-06.  So it seems not only unlikely that the factory would make a carbine barrel in ’56, but also that a customer would choose to special order one when they could have a SG FWT in the same chambering. 

As for the “upgrade” issue…  It has what appears to be a genuine Super Grade stock. What style cheekpiece does it have? Is it the earlier oval shaped “European” style or the later “swept” or “full fashioned” style.  The latter style replaced  the oval cheekpiece stocks in 1952, although it’s possible to find the earlier stocks on mid-1950s guns due to surplus inventory.  Typical Super Grade cheekpiece styles:

Oval-Cheekpiece.jpgImage EnlargerLater-LC-Cheekpiece.jpgImage EnlargerLater-MC-Cheekpiece.jpgImage Enlarger

The floor plate may be a genuine factory Super Grade floor plate, I cannot tell from the photo.  The thing is that by 1956, Super Grades were being made with rust blued barrels stamped “SUPER” underneath and engine turned (jeweled) bolt/extractor/follower assembled on receivers with a backwards “S” stamped on the bottom of the recoil lug.  Another area of concern is that the front sight here is a 0.360″ tall Win 103E, which was being used on Standard grade and Featherweight rifles, not the Redfield 255 full gold bead (also 0.360″ tall) that was used on standard and Featherweight Super Grades. 

Otherwise, a ’56 barrel on a ’55 PR date receiver, especially a late ’55 receiver, would not bother me much…  Receiver PR date has to precede date of rifle assembly by a least a few months.

Just my take, of course…

Lou

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May 13, 2023 - 8:09 pm
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Lou, really appreciate the help.  Do these pictures help any?  Don’t see any S on lug there is a 2 just bellow it.  IMG_2499.jpegImage EnlargerIMG_1299.jpegImage EnlargerIMG_1298.jpegImage EnlargerIMG_1297.jpegImage EnlargerIMG_2501.jpegImage Enlarger

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May 13, 2023 - 9:06 pm
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Hi Brock-

Yes… That is the later style Super Grade cheekpiece as applied to the low comb stock.  So it would be appropriate on any 1952 or later Super Grade.

Did you mention the serial number?  The reason I ask is that prior to 1955, the Super Grades had all the same metal finishes as the Standard rifles, i.e. Du-Lite blued barrels and no jeweling.  Consequently the barrels were NOT stamped “SUPER” and recoil lugs didn’t have the “S”.  In the survey, the jeweling appears to become commonplace around S/N 320,000.  There are non-jeweled bolts sporadically throughout the 300K S/N range, but it’s hard to know that those aren’t “upgraded” standard rifles.  It seems unlikely that Winchester would announce the fancier Super Grade metal finishes in their catalog and then keep on making rifles without those features… 

So it’s possible that your rifle, if from late ’54 or early ’55 might be a legit Super Grade, albeit probably with a shortened and/or replaced barrel.  The barrel makes me uneasy for the reasons I mentioned before.  

Hope this helps,

Lou

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May 15, 2023 - 1:03 pm
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Thanks again Lou,  Your vast knowledge is awesome but with all that knowledge it sounds like I have either a very rare bird that has possibly been cut down or a very random 70.  The serial number is 327648 which is earlyish.  Thats a lot of stars to line up to make it work.  I guess winchester has no records to find out if it was special order with 20 in barrel.  Guns in good shape but don’t really have any idea on value.  

    You mentioned earlier that some carbine barrels where still possible on 54 models but this being a 55 and barrel stamped 56 makes that not possible.  So i’m still confused but can’t say thats not a normal thing……….   Again thanks for all the effort to educate and clear up the confusion.  

 

BrockKiss

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May 16, 2023 - 7:05 pm
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Hi Brock-

What I meant to say was that Winchester basically stopped making 20″ standard contour “carbine” barrels in 1946.  These barrels all had the same integral forged front sight ramp as the 24″ and 26″ standard contour barrels of the time.  Of the several dozen carbine barrels where I’ve been able to get a barrel date, all but three are dated ’46 or earlier (some as early as ’32), and all have the integral ramp.

Winchester did, however, keep assembling M70 carbines after they were dropped from the catalog, for as long as it took them to use up the leftover 20″ barrels made prior to 1947.  The last of the “barrel cleanup” carbines appear to have been sold off in 1954, primarily, if not exclusively, via Hudson’s Sporting Goods in New York.  Hudson’s ran monthly ads, e.g. in American Rifleman, from June through September 1954.  

So it’s doubtful that a carbine made in 1955 or 56 would have been assembled in the course of regular production.  If your gun is factory, it would have to be a “special order”, not just b/c of the barrel length but also b/c the Super Grade was never cataloged with a 20″ carbine barrel.  That said, the absence of a rust blued barrel marked “SUPER” and a jeweled bolt receiver marked “S” on the recoil lug, would not bother me much on a 327XXX gun, that being about the point where the factory was implementing those cosmetic enhancements.  

My best GUESS (and it’s a guess) is that your rifle is a legit 30-06 Super Grade with a non-factory shortened barrel and brazed on front sight ramp.  Somebody just wanted a handy “woods rifle” and had the barrel shortened.  No “faker” worthy the title would put together a “carbine” using a ’56 dated barrel and brazed on ramp.  The factory COULD have done it, but it’s unlikely.  Since take-off ’54 to ’55 dated 30-06 barrels with standard blued finish (not marked “SUPER”) are not difficult to find, the gun could be returned to what was probably its “original” configuration pretty easily (except for getting the right sights on it).

FWIW… An all original/intact mid-1950s 30-06 Super Grade in 98% condition is probably a $4000-4500 gun… 

Best,

Lou

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May 16, 2023 - 8:32 pm
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Louis Luttrell said
FWIW… An all original/intact mid-1950s 30-06 Super Grade in 98% condition is probably a $4000-4500 gun… 

And I thought .30-06s (despite being the best all-around 70 chambering) were going begging!  What’s your estimate for a pre-war 30-06 SG?

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May 16, 2023 - 10:36 pm
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Hi Clarence-

How good is it and how low is the S/N?  IIRC… I paid $5500 for S/N 3748 a few years ago, but it’s one of the earlier S/Ns for a legit Super you’re likely to run across…  There’s a pic of the gun on pre64win.coms website (although I bought it from the owner – not them).

3748-1-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

Lou

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