Model 70 classic question

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May 25, 2017
I'm interested in a New Haven built stainless model 70 for hunting. I understand that there might be some to avoid based on shaky quality control particularly later in their production. First off, is there anything to the rumors and if there is, what's the easiest means of identifying a particular rifle that might be more desirable than another?
I have found all series of the rifles have pros and cons the main issue with all the classics is the so so bedding , the main model 70's to stay away from are 64 till late 60's when they corrected the post 64 issues. I personally think most of the post 64's get a bad rap when they are actually very nice and accurate rifles but no crf and extraction which in most eyes seems to make them a poor rifles .
When I was looking at the classics, I read numerous posts advising to avoid the 7 digit serials. I ended up with two classic featherweights that were both 7 digit rifles. One is a blue/walnut in .270 and the other is a stainless/walnut in .308. Both have been excellent shooters and I am very happy with the purchases. It is true that the bedding looks pretty sketchy, but I decided to leave them alone as long as they perform well. I wouldn't hesitate to snag another one at the right price. Good luck in your quest!
The Classics were made 1992-2006. They are every bit as good as any Pre-64. In fact I'd rate the early ones BETTER than the Pre-64's built from WW-2 until 1963. Only the Pre WW-2 70's were truly great rifles. Winchester quality didn't just drop suddenly in 1964. The rifles were in decline by the 1950's. The 1964-1980 Pushfeed rifles were spotty for sure. Winchester reorganized in 1980 and the 1981-2000 guns were VERY good guns, even the pushfeed versions.

The CRF Classic came out in 1992 and is a near copy of the pre 64, but better built. There are some very minor design changes. It became the top end Winchester, but they still produced the push feed version of the 70 as their budget rifles until 2006.

If you can find a Classic made prior to 2000 you are pretty much guaranteed an excellent rifle. They have 6 digit Serial Numbers. I've heard that some may have 5 digits, but cannot confirm that. Those with 7 digit SN's were made after 2000. Production ended in 2006. Those made after 2000 were generally pretty good too, but the closer you get to a 2006 production rifle the greater the odds are of a lemon. It's not like all of them are bad. The good ones made after 2000 are as good as the earlier ones. Just more with issues.

There were no Winchesters built 2006-2008, and only a handful in 2008. Full production didn't start up until about 2010. They were made by FN in their SC factory. Production is now in Portugal. The new FN rifles are in my opinion just as good as the Classics with one caveat. They changed the trigger. The old style trigger is as simple and rugged as possible and on a hard use rifle I prefer it. The new trigger is smoother and lighter out of the box, but less desirable on a rifle meant for harsh duty.

There are no accurate online sources for SN's that I've ever found. But here are some for reference that may help on some of my Classics

G148XXX 1994 Classic
G824XXX 1999 Classic
G2462XXX 2006 Classic

All are SS Classics, the 1999 30-06 rifle is the only one I still own and is a great rifle. The 1994 rifle was a Featherweight and I just didn't like it as well as the 1999 Sporter. The 2006 rifle wasn't the same quality, but was acceptable. It was in 300 WSM and I just didn't need a magnum.

I also own a 2008 FN made 308 Extreme Weather rifle
I've never owned a bad model 70 from any time frame. Some with wooden stocks have bedding issues but that's no reason to pass.
I could never afford a pre 64 m70, but I did latch onto a 1973 30-06 at a pawn shop. Cleaned it up and it turned into a 1/2 moa rifle!
I love it!
I have a classic stainless in 338 I bought around 2000. It shaved brass from shoulder to belt. Winchester fixed it (not). They did end up giving me a new rifle. It has become one of my favorite rifles, it wears a brown precision stock, and a leupold Vari x 3 in leupold dual dovetail rings and bases.
I also have one of the newer featherweight rifles in 257 Bob. A custom 1965 rifle in 257 Ack. 2 pre 64 06 one standard one target. I’ve sold a few I wish I kept. My all time favorite was a early push feed model 670. 30/06 stocked in a Brown Precision stock. That rifle was a true 1/2” rifle, the bore was starting to go, so down the road it went. Still shot well under a inch when I sold it. To me you can’t go wrong with a model 70.
My 2002 one is by far the best Model 70 I've ever owned, it is Stainless and it is in .270 WSM . It was my lazer beam in Africa and on the Alaskan slopes 15 years ago. It will be my last Winchester to let go of, it is all ways sighted in with it's Swarovski scope in Game Reaper mounts . I know I can pick it up and reach out and hit where I aim it anytrime..
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I've owned model 70's from the late 1970's, 80's, 90's, 2005 and 2012. Never a bad one, all worked flawlessly. The 70's, 80's and 90's with wooden stocks had bedding issues but were fine after that.

The big surprise was the 2005. When it was announced the New Haven plant was closing I wanted one last new model 70. Everyone warned me that quality was probably bad. I managed to find a 2005 Stealth in .308 that turned out to be the most accurate rifle I own. Not one issue at all, and scary accurate.

Few years ago in 2012 I picked up a new Featherweight Stainless in .243 Win. Again not a problem and it is probably the nicest model 70 I've owned.

Only era I've never owned is pre 64. If I found one at a decent price I would buy it but most that own these think they are made of gold.
80473EE4-6F5D-4C79-A65E-9CC2D959776F.png Thanks all. 338reddog, you have the rifle I covet in the 338 chambering. I found one on an online sale site that claims to be unmodified except for a shortened barrel but does this action screw look factory to you?
My stainless .308 featherweight is a 2005 rifle and has one piece bottom metal with hex-head screws. My .270 featherweight is a 2003 model and has two-piece bottom metal with slotted screws. Neither use phillips head screws, so not sure if those would be correct or not.
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my two left hand sporters, a 7mm MAG and a 300 WM, serial# G337xxx-G377xxx. no problems at all, but are a little heavy for me.


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No, mine was straight slot. That screw would scare me. Someone may have bubba’d it. I think about adding a brake to mine. But its recoil is not so bad.
One issue with the rifle is it had a lot of freebore. I had the box modified. I mostly shoot 210 gr bullets. Partition or barnes. My all time davorite was nosler 210 BT.
View attachment 813346 Thanks all. 338reddog, you have the rifle I covet in the 338 chambering. I found one on an online sale site that claims to be unmodified except for a shortened barrel but does this action screw look factory to you?

Some Classics had Phillips head action screws, depending on when they were manufactured. I've got several that way. Don't lose any sleep over this! LOL
The dumb clucks at New Haven messed up this top M70 receiver, a 1995 production receiver.


This receiver was new in 2000.


The top receiver, see the material missing from the right rail? That little bit of metal scalloped away will cause a round on the left of the magazine box to nose dive into the extractor groove. Turns out having material there is critical in feed timing. For a round on the left, the cartridge front moves to the right, the bullet should tap the rail and straighten out. Instead the bullet wanders a bit more to the right, and then, the cartridge does not straighten out in time for the bullet to clear the extractor groove. That creates a jam. Seating the bullet deeper somewhat improves feed reliability, but all in all, it is a kludge.

The bottom receiver, the rail is straight. This rifle feeds without jamming. :thumbup:

Again, with arrows



I spent almost $1000 on making a target rifle out of a NIB 1995 production stainless M70 and the thing would not feed correctly. I called up New Haven customer service and after I told them about the receiver face truing, lug truing, bolt face truing, clip slotting, they just laughed at me. :neener: They thought it was funny, because, all that work voided the warranty. And yet, the defect that made this receiver unreliable in feed was their fault. :cuss:

Winchester New Haven did fold, I hope those chuckle heads had a back slapping good time in the unemployment line. :evil:

This PBR was one of the last M70’s actually assembled at New Haven. This is after the FN takeover and in between the move


The thing uses a detachable magazine, so that could be a reason why feed is reliable. The top round is in line with the chamber, but, the whole arrangement turns a five round magazine into a four round box magazine.


I bought extra PBR receivers, I like the original Winchester trigger, not as a target trigger, you can't get the things below 2 1/2 pounds with out running the risk of a bolt over ride of the sear, but I like the original pre 64 trigger because it is harder to gum up or freeze up. :p



I don't remember the classic receivers having the extended bolt shroud.


This is an improvement over the pre 64 M70. A pre 64 will vent gas straight down the left receiver rail into your eye. The Gun Club President has a pre 64 target rifle built by the WW2 veteran, famous gunsmith author, Roy Dunlop. Roy installed a gas block shroud on the action.

Gas blocking has gone through phases. The M1896 Mauser, awful, the M98 great. The M1903 very, very bad, the M1917 very, very bad,


And the pre 64 bad. The Remington M700, real good. No matter what action you are behind, don’t forget your shooting glasses!!

I can tell you, Classic M70 bolts are a close fit to a PBR bolt, maybe with a bit of tinkering a later bolt will fit, but I recommend, don't lose the original if you can. The firing pin mechanism of a PBR will not screw into a Classic bolt, so, don't lose that either.

This is a M70 Classic, I loved the lines and the cartridge. I bedded the action and free floated the barrel.


It shoots 140 SMK's like a house a fire (a Bench rest National Champ pissed all over these targets on another forum, but he would not show me his 200 yard offhand targets with his Bench Rest rifle. :barf: )

Remember three shots are the Golden standard. We read this all the time, the inherent accuracy of a weapon is determined by no more than three shots on paper. Learn and obey! :notworthy:


Too bad I ruined the three shot group turning it into a ten shot group.


Hornady's shot well


Rem Core lokts did not shoot well.


My Rem M700 in 6.5 X 55 likes Rem Core Lokts, and loved SMK's too, go figure.



Remember, three shot groups are the Golden Standard. Obey what you have been taught! :notworthy:


I think, as in any rifle production, there are good and a few bad. Look for scalloping on the right front rail and walk away if you see it. The rifle may feed well, but, if it does not, you can't fix it. I absolutely recommend bedding the action and free floating the barrel. This is the secret sauce on every factory rifle I have owned. Factory bedding is adequate for minute of deer, but if you bed the action and free float the barrel, these Classics can shoot extremely well.
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Some Classics had Phillips head action screws, depending on when they were manufactured. I've got several that way. Don't lose any sleep over this! LOL
Not saying this isnt true, however I have not ever seen phillips on a model 70. It seems unlikly that model 70 guys would accept it. Anything is possible but a quick check on google (very quick) did not show any hits about phillips head action screws on model 70 rifles.
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