What is the deal with pre-64 Winchesters?


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ol' scratch
February 2, 2011, 01:56 PM
I understand that the pre 64 model 70 is different than the later rifles. My Dad's 1972 model 70 seems chincy in comparison to the pre 64 rifles that seem more like a sporterized Mauser. I am starting to see people claim the model 94's and others are better because they are pre 64. Without a comparison (guitar guy) is it sort of like when CBS bought Fender?

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CraigC
February 2, 2011, 02:32 PM
It's the same with 94's. They migrated from all milled steel to stampings and castings. From a fit and finish standpoint, a significant difference. The post-`64 models are quite serviceable and probably are more responsible for the perception of the 94 in the eyes of most shooters than the pre-`64's.

Vern Humphrey
February 2, 2011, 02:34 PM
First let's look at the pre-64, which was advertised as "The Rifleman's Rifle" -- and accepted as such by such authorities as Elmer Kieth, Jack O'Connor, Townsend Whelen, and so on.

1. Mauser-style claw extractor (the strongest ever invented.)
2. 3-position, side swinging, firing pin locking safety. Probably the safest arrangement ever built.
3. An elligantly simple, user-tunable trigger.
4. A manual ejector -- you could control the strength of the ejection by controlling the speed of the bolt.
5. Meticulous hand work.

The post-64 version dropped the claw extractor and was much lower in quality. Over time, the post-64 version evolved into a pretty nice rifle, but without the panache of the pre-64 version. Finally, US Repeating Arms used CNC technology to produce the "Classic" -- a close copy of the pre-64 version.

P-32
February 2, 2011, 02:35 PM
Pre 64's had more gun smith time during fit and finish. Winchester was looking for away to reduce costs and changed the manf. process. I have a pre 64 Mdl 70 in 300 H&H. It's a fine rifle. I also have a 80's Mdl 70 Feather Weight XTR which is a dandy rifle and the one I take hunting.

earlthegoat2
February 2, 2011, 02:47 PM
During 1964 Winchester's machinery was getting pretty old and worn out. Instead of replacing everything directly they killed two birds with one stone and did a little bit of reengineering of their product line to streamline manufacturing. As was noted before there would be less hand work and more taking advantage of modern mechanization. Sometimes the changes they made were somewhat questionable such as going away from the claw extractor and 3 position wing safety to a push feed design. Some other notable differences were lack of cut checkering, lower quality wood, less shine and attention to detail.

This was done on most their entire line. Model 70s, 94s, 12s, etc. 94s suffered the most I think as 70s eventually got their reputation back even with the differenet action. Of course they came out with the classic later on and that was a good rifle.

The thing most people forget is that Winchester had to change their machinery around. There are reports that some of the rifles made right up to the changeover in 64 were loose and not to spec because they were made on inferior machinery. Just because something is pre 64 does not mean it is necessarily better.

Generally though, with guns, older is always better.

SlamFire1
February 2, 2011, 05:13 PM
When you look at the commercially available bolt action rifles prior to WWII, the pre 64 Winchester was the best.

Pre War M70ís also show the best workmanship, least tool marks on the metal.

The design is still an excellent design, it is slick and smooth. The original over ride trigger was the best of it type.

There are features I like on the pre 64ís that were lost in later revisions. The firing pins are easier to take apart, I like the milled feed lips in the receiver. I donít like the cone breech and the fact that if you pierce a primer the gas is going straight down the firing pin shaft into your eye. I like the stripper clip slots on the pre War and NM receivers.

I believe Winchester ran their equipment into the ground manufacturing Garands and Carbines during WWII. Post WWII rifles show all the characteristics of worn out tooling and inefficient process control. Parts are not necessarily interchangeable, I see file marks on bolt parts. One gray beard, his first pre 64, fresh from the hardware store, would not feed.

I have heard that Winchester lost money on each and every M70 they sold. Winchester had to do something and they did, in 1963 they revamped the line. It was dishonest to keep the same model number for the revised action, but they did. Corporations are interested in maximizing profits, changing the name would lost all the advertizing value from previous decades.

M70 actions and Rem M700 actions were the most popular bolt actions used in Highpower Competition till Space guns and Tubb rifles displaced them. The M70 has a particularly smooth and slick action, parts hardly break, the receiver is very stiff and easy to bed. It was a great target action.

I am of the opinion that the FN manufactured M70ís are the smoothest and best built to date. Unfortunately the FN parts are not interchangeable with the pre and post 64 rifles. And they dropped off the original over ride trigger. They did improve the gas handling a bit by building g the bolt shroud wide enough to block gas coming down the left receiver side.

Post War Featherweight on top, Pre War on bottom.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/M70%20pics/DSCF1931Featherweighttopstandardbottom.jpg
Pre War, stripper clip slots
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/M70%20pics/DSCF1932prewar.jpg
Post war, no stripper clip slots
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/M70%20pics/IMG_0004postwarreceivertop.jpg
PreWar, good machining and finish
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/M70%20pics/DSCF1935prewar.jpg

sappyg
February 2, 2011, 07:23 PM
that's was a great post SlamFire.
not to take the post too far off topic but what are your thoughts on the model 54 compaired to pre-war model 70 from a strictly production point of view?

SlamFire1
February 2, 2011, 07:26 PM
that's was a great post SlamFire.
not to take the post too far off topic but what are your thoughts on the model 54 compaired to pre-war model 70 from a strictly production point of view?

Don't have a M54, handled them, but don't recall any impressions. Not a lot of M54's made, probably a half million pre 64's made.

supercalvin56
February 2, 2011, 07:52 PM
IMHO the Pre-war Model 70 is the best looking/operating rifle ever made. The early rust bluing is unequaled in looks. The fine checkering and wood finish is standard by which others are judged. They also shoot great, fit most perfectly and operate slick as snot. Pre-war M-70s are the best rifles ever made.

Vern Humphrey
February 2, 2011, 08:50 PM
not to take the post too far off topic but what are your thoughts on the model 54 compaired to pre-war model 70 from a strictly production point of view?
The Model 54 was a good rifle, the Model 70 better. The Model 54, for example, used the sear as a bolt release, something that doesn't improve the trigger pull.

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