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Pre-64 vs. Post-64 Winchester 70

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by dak0ta, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. dak0ta

    dak0ta Well-Known Member

    Why does everybody hate the post-64? Is it a bad rifle because it uses PF rather than CF?

    I'm looking for a used M70, does it really matter whether if its pre/post 64? I assume post64 sell for less?
  2. cdrt

    cdrt Well-Known Member

    There were some major differences between pre-64 Model 70s and 94s, etc. Most involved castings vs milled parts. The bolt was simplified on the Model 70 to a push feed rather than controlled. Fit and finish weren't as nice. I remember my brother had a post-64 Model 70 that he bought around 1969, not at all as nice as the pre-64 Model 70. Cheap checkering, big gap in the stock to make the barrel free-floating.

    However, more recent Winchesters harken back to pre-64 days...at least that's what I've been told....so not all post-64 Winchesters are bad...just the ones from early on.
  3. Horsemany

    Horsemany Well-Known Member

    The post 64's were a HUGE change for the worse. THe shooting public and outdoor writers revolted. The changes were, stamped checkering, poorer wood and finish, plastic buttplates instead of hand fitted steel widow's peak buttplates etc. The Mauser style action so loved at the time(and still are) were changed to a simpler cheaper style push feed. They basically changed from being hand built, hand fitted, hand lapped barreled guns to being regular production guns just like the CHEAPER Remington model 700 introduced in 1962.

    It didn't take too long after the backlash in 1964 for Winchester to improve the quality but the reputation stuck and the quality really never got back to the hand built guns of the 40's and 50's. If you ever get to handle a model 70 from the 40's or 50's you'll see and feel the difference. The poor reputation of the post 64's is sometimes undeserved though in my opinion.

    One interesting thing that popped into mind when I mentioned the Pre 64 and the cheaper model 700 was this: It's not all that different of a situation we have now where the cheaper better shooting guns are taking over. Tikka's and Savage are now gaining popularity doing the same thing the 700 did in 1962. Offering good accuracy for less money.
  4. P-32

    P-32 Well-Known Member

    I have a pre 64 in 300 H&H. I also have a post 64 Feather Weight XTR in '06. The F/W has a slicker bolt and is put together very well. The pre 64 is worth more $ but the F/W is my go to rifle when hunting. Both feed and eject rounds as expected from a bolt gun. I like the F/W because of it's light weight in the field and it is a sub moa rifle with my hunting loads. I don't like the recoil of the F/W off the bench but when there is a deer in the cross hairs it doesn't kick and there is little boom.
  5. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    Pre 64's had their good years and bad years. The design was overall an excellent design, not so good on gas handling, but it was a slick and reliable action. It made an excellent target rifle due to its easy and smooth bolt movement and the flat bottomed rigid receiver. Had the best over ride trigger ever put on a commercial rifle.

    From what I have seen the pre WWII rifles had the best fit and finish. However quality went down the tubes in the 50's. Winchester machines were antiquated, and their manufacturing processes, well they would be an example of a “bad” factory in a LEAN manufacturing class.

    A shooting bud of mine is a pre 64 collector. He claims Winchester lost money on every pre 64 they were producing prior to the end of production. His first pre 64, purchased new in the 50’s, was defective. I forget the fault, either it would not feed rounds, or would not reliably fire rounds. Like I said, the vaunted pre 64 had its bad years.

    The actual push feed was not a bad design either. It did drop manufacturing costs and retained a number of the good pre 64 features. When the M70’s and M700’s ruled the Highpower match rifle categories, the post 64 was extensively used and found to be a reliable mechanism. The extractor was the item most likely to wear out. The rest of the rifle rarely broke parts.

    An excellent design analysis of the actions is to be found in Stuart Otteson’s Book “The Bolt Action”.

    If you can get a push feed M70 in good condition at a good price, go for it. The action is slick, the action as rigid and stiff as it ever was, the safety easy to use, and the trigger is still the best override trigger ever put on a commercial action.
  6. Jerry M

    Jerry M Active Member

    Since Winchester brought back the controlled action some years ago should give you an idea of how bad the push feeds were accepted.
  7. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member


    I have several PF and CRF Winnies built into LR target rifles, and they are all GTG.

  8. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    I believe that Winchester sold more push feeds than pre 64's.

    I don't know the exact reasons why Winchester brought back controlled feed, but I believe that the semi conductor revolution and CNC machines brought the manufacturing cost down by a considerable margin. And then their action was one of the few that could be converted back to using the Mauser extractor without difficulty. Without a doubt marketing saw that this was a way to capture market share, and they did it. And it was all to the good. They should have added a few more pre 64 features, like machined feed lips in the receiver, the pre 64 firing pin collar, and fixed the joint between the firing pin and cocking piece.

    I prefer the controlled round feed, allows me to open the bolt and roll the round into my hand. And I always liked the look of the Mauser extractor.
  9. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

    Excellent point about the Pre-64s having some bad years !

    The whole "pre-64" thing has long ago reached the point of being silly. One dealer at a gun show tried to tell me the ridiculous price he had on a beater Savage 99 was because it was a "pre-64". What a knucklehead. :rolleyes:

  10. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    To the best of my knowledge Winchester has never used any castings in the model 70 pre or post 64.

    When the first rifles came out in 1964 the quality was much lower than expected and people did not want them. This was at about the same time that Remington improved the quality of the 700 and they had just introduced the 7mm Rem. mag. There was never anything really wrong with the Winchesters other than cosmetics but a lot of people walked into a gunstore planning to buy Winchester and walked out with a Remington.

    By the late 70's and through the 90's Winchester produced push feed rifles just as good or better than most of the competition but the reputation kept people away. If you find a used rifle made during this time they are a great gun that can be bought at bargain prices.

    During the mid- 90's Winchester brought back the controlled round feature and vastly improved the quality of the rifles. From then until around 2002 they were truly building world class rifles. For some reason sometime around 2002 quality began slipping and Winchester closed the doors in March of 2006.

    FN took over the company and is currently building the model 70 again in their factory in South Carolina. The new rifles are supposed to be on dealers shelves any day now and are supposed to be great rifles again. I hope so.
  11. JNewell

    JNewell Well-Known Member

    I have owned quite a few Model 70s from various periods. I prefer the original design classic controlled round feed, but the most accurate Model 70s I've had have been 1980s-vintage push feeds, by a pretty fair margin.
  12. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    The pre-64 Winchesters were good rifles, for sure, but they didn't shoot as tight groups as many seem to think. Overall average, from what I read in the Rifleman issues of the 1940s/1950s, about 1.5 MOA.

    Some were better; I've had a FW in .257 Roberts that was easily one MOA; my father's '52-vintage Swift is 1/2 to 3/4 MOA.

    The '64 and on weren't things of beauty, but many of them shot better groups. I had a .264 Win Mag which was sub-MOA any time.
  13. Jerry M

    Jerry M Active Member


    "...I believe that Winchester sold more push feeds than pre 64's..."

    I am curious where you found the breakdown on how many of each that were produced?

  14. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    For the day, 1.5 MOA was doing well. One other accuracy issue from that era was bullets. About the best target bullets you could get were the military 174 FMJBT. And that bullet varied by 2 grains in weight.

    Manufacturing technology has radically improved the machining of firearms today, and bullets of today. I really don't know if barrel making technology has improved much from the 50's, but all other aspects of firearms machining has changed for the better.

    The group below was shot with 150 gr Hornady FMJBT’s. New bullets. I have lots of 150 FMJ’s from the 50’s. They don't shoot nearly as well. Modern inexpensive bullets shoot as well as the match bullets from the past. So even cheap bullets have improved.

  15. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    +1 on the bullets.

    Factory ammo from the 40's & 50's was considered pretty darn good if it would shoot under 2 MOA out of anything.

  16. Horsemany

    Horsemany Well-Known Member


    Most folks would be very happy to see guns on the racks of gun stores with the level of quality available in 1950. Button rifled, lead-lapped barrels. Modern machining may have improved, but the level of human attention has dropped to a laughable level. I own a 1950 Supergrade still in the box and I can tell you if you hold it next to my modern rifles(even the higher end guns) they pale in comparison. The pre 64;s are more like what a custom rifle would be today. I'm referring to guns made in the early 50's and older. The quality dropped off a little on pre 64's toward the end.
  17. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member


    Add up the production to 1982 and see if it is close, then estimate 25 more years of production.
  18. Jerry M

    Jerry M Active Member


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