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I'm a Sucker for Old Dogs (Winchester 52)

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by DeBee, Mar 31, 2003.

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  1. DeBee

    DeBee Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    Last month, I was at the gunshow looking for a suitable Mauser action for a Rigby style rifle, or a Winchester Pre 64, perhaps a Pre Garcia Sako .243 to busy myself and keep me out of trouble...

    I was still in the first row when I spied it, an original Winchester 52, Pre A, SN 448x first year of production, two stage trigger, no speed lock, finger groove 3/4 length stock, standard 28" barrel, ladder style peep...

    The rifle was very dirty and buggered in every way. Some backwoods bubba hand sawed the stock short and decided later to poorly patch the butt, filing the butt plate to fit instead of making the patch to fit the plate. The excellent ladder peep showed evidence of being "fine tuned" with a ball peen hammer and one of the adjustment screws was bent- the Lyman 17 front sight was beaten as well. Several spots on the barrel showed equally deep dings. The receiver and barrel was (poorly) drilled and tapped for Unertl bases in addition to the standard Winchester D&T... Even the remaining plum patina was turning to plain old rust- rusting where it the shellac had worn off that is...

    The man behind the table saw me examining the rifle- probably spotted the tear welling up in my eye- he came over and I asked him about the bore... He smiled, shook his head, and said "No".

    Oh well, DOA I thought. I asked him for his best price and he blurted out a figure- adding he'd throw the original magazine in- worth $40 alone- quite the salesman... I thanked him, complimented his other rifles (all fine stuff), and walked on... After all, I was still in the first row of the show...

    I wandered the next three rows in a daze of sorts. I already have the Winchester 52 Sporter reproduction which is excellent in every way. It just doesn't have soul. Yet... Besides I need some centerfire! I need BigBore! I want to burn alot of stinking powder and throw fat chunks of gong wrecking lead!

    An amateurishly tricked out 10/22 broke me out of my malaise. For less cash, I could have a Winchester 52. I did a 180 in the fourth row...

    The salesman busted me craning my neck to see if the gun was still there from two tables away. He knew I was sold. We joked about it- Hey the magazine IS worth 40! It has a nice sling! All the parts are there! Look! The screws aren't buggered!!!

    I slung the rifle over my shoulder and proudly marched the rest of the show with a half grin. Ever notice how everyone has to look over what you bought?

    The rifle will still shoot about 1" at 50 yds with Winchester Power Point- I didn't test anything else. Yes, the bore is rough.

    I stripped the rifle to pins and screws including the ladder sight which was gummed with shellac and old grease. I flat polished it on a diamond hone- it cleaned up quite well. I polished EVERYTHING in fact down to 320 taking care not to remove any original milling marks if possible.

    I drilled a hole in a piece of maple and threaded the bent sight screw in- put it against my bench and firmly whacked it twice with the mallet- perfect- three would have bent it the other way- I was rather pleased with myself for several hours afterward...

    I had to chuck the barrel in the lathe (barely fit) and use a file to take the dings out- several light passes avoiding the stampings did the trick. The firing pin spring has seen so many rounds, it has developed flats on the outside diameter of the spring wire...

    Right now, the small parts, pins and screws are sitting on my rust blue bench (a Workmate 550) covered with a velvet of red orange rust. I'm tracking down a stock replacement and fighting the urge to sporterize with a 25" Lilja barrel and a express style stock... This rifle is beginning to show signs of life... I hope I can save this one...

    I think I just love the old guns?

    Any dogs follow you home lately???
  2. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Member

    Feb 1, 2003
    Looks like I'm not the only one who has a soft spot for 52's....got my first 52 about 15 years ago. Fell in love with it the first time I worked the bolt, like a minature Model 70...now have 4 of them. The old addage is "there are .22's....and then there are 52's".
  3. Khornet

    Khornet Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    De Bee,

    last summer I came across a 52B. Stock had been butchered like yours, shortened, but the original buttplate slapped back on and protruding about 1" below the toe. Lots of deep pitting on the metal. Bor ringed about 9" back from the muzzle. Stock cracked and pinned near the triggerguard. No mag. A real dog. I had to have it.

    Accuracy is about like yours. Replacement mags can be had from Brownells.

    I cleaned 'er up, glass-bedded the old stock, refinished it. Some day may reblue it. I MUST find a 52B stock somewhere, tho....or rebarrel and put on a sporter stock...cosmic squirrel rifle.

    My other 52 is a 1929 speed lock, minty, big Marble-Goss aperture sight, original mag, a tack-driver.

    Ain't nuthin' like a 52, bro!
  4. Clemson

    Clemson Member

    Feb 17, 2003
    Greenwood, SC

    You, sir, are a true believer!

    My current project is the resurection of a 1936 Model 12 in 20 gauge. Barrel was shortened and receiver was drilled and tapped for some sort of bubba mount. I'm debating now about welding up the receiver holes and learing how to rust blue.

    Ain't it wonderful?

  5. DeBee

    DeBee Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    Ever been to www.winrest.com

    They have some nice pics and instructions on rust bluing and finishing a stock with oil. I haven't used their formulas- but I am considering some of the oil...

    It's easy to rust blue. It's extraordinarily difficult to rust blue well.

    KHornet: You are to blame. Ever since your post on TFL about the Winchester 52 you found, I have had my eye out for one...

    Should you come across a Pre A fingergroove stock and/or buttplate, I'd appreciate an email... I'll do the same if I see a B.

    If you are interested, the Houze book about the 52 is on sale on Amazon.com for $25- I have one on the way...

    By the way, the gun included the original magazine- that was the bargain- looks like it has been in constant use since 1920 too!
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