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5 Most Collectible Winchester Model 70 Rifles: Rare Caliber Offerings

While there were millions of Model 70 rifle produced, these are some of the most unique models you can find for your Winchester Model 70 Collection.

5 Most Collectible Winchester Model 70 Rifles: Rare Caliber Offerings

The Winchester Model 70 is known as the rifleman’s rifle with good reason. Since its introduction in 1936, millions of Model 70 rifles have been made, and most hold special places in the hearts of their owners and shooters. Perhaps that’s why the Model 70 exists in two worlds simultaneously. It is both a workhorse rifle and a collector’s item, sometimes at the same time. Plenty of Model 70s are family heirlooms, admired for their heritage and family history but also for their unfaltering ability to keep making more history. Based upon Winchester’s earlier Model 54, the Model 70 took everything that people loved about that bolt-action and improved upon it. Launching a new rifle in the midst of the Great Depression was no small feat. To say that the Model 70 was (and is) a success would be an understatement. Collectors have clamored for these guns because of the variety in which they come due in no small part to Winchester’s willingness to create just about any kind of gun a customer wanted. Standard grade, super grade, lightweight barrels, sightless and so on. If you could dream it up, and the workers in the New Haven factory had the machinery to make it work, then you could have a Model 70 pretty much any way you wanted it.

As one might imagine, this has created a world of collecting that is both deep and wide. Some people focus on stock configurations while others look for unusual special features. That’s the beauty of the Model 70. There’s something in them for every type of collector. Another area of collectability lies in the Model 70’s caliber. While the overwhelming majority of Model 70s are chambered in .30-06 Springfield, with .270 Winchester coming in second place, there were a number of calibers offered in the model that you might not expect. We’re going to take a look at five different rare caliber offerings that existed in the Model 70’s history, starting with the most prevalent to the rarest of them all. Note that all these caliber offerings come from the “pre-’64” era, which is considered by shooters and collectors alike to be the golden era of the Model 70.

.250-3000 Savage

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Photos courtesy of www.pre64win.com

Taking the number five slot are Model 70 rifles chambered in .250-3000 Savage, of which there were 2,500 made. In terms of overall production, that’s less than one-half of one percent of all Model 70s built. The caliber was dropped from use around 1949, but they could still be ordered through at least 1954 due to leftover parts at the factory. The .250-3000 Savage was introduced in 1915 and loaded with a .257-inch diameter bullet weighing 87 grains. Initial tests using Savage Model 99 rifles showed that speeds of 3,000 feet per second (fps) could be achieved, hence the “3000” in the name. While 2,500 guns doesn’t sound like a lot - and to be sure, it really isn’t - it’s actually a huge amount compared to the next closest production on this list.

.35 Remington

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Photos courtesy of www.pre64win.com

As we move to the number four spot on the list, the production numbers drop dramatically. When it comes to Model 70 rifles chambered in .35 Remington, there were just 404 made. Introduced in 1906 and first commercially offered in 1908 in Remington’s Model 8, the .35 Remington was touted as the cartridge that would take down the now-venerable .30-30 Winchester. Of course, history has shown this would not be the case, but you’ve got to hand it to Remington for trying. As caliber offerings go, the .35 Remington was introduced into the Model 70 lineup relatively early on, but it wasn’t a big seller. Like the .250-3000 Savage, the .35 Remington was dropped from the standard offerings in 1949 but could be had on special order as late as 1954. Still, the low production numbers show just how unpopular it was.

.300 Savage

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Photos courtesy of www.pre64win.com

With just 362 rifles produced, Model 70 rifles in .300 Savage take the number three spot on the list. Also developed for the Savage Model 99 rifle, the .300 Savage was introduced in 1920 and designed to perform like a .30-06 Springfield but in a short action. Firing a 150-grain or 180-grain bullet, it could easily handle larger North American game animals to 300 yards. In 1952, however, the .308 Winchester cartridge was introduced and so began the demise of the .300 Savage. If we were looking at just calibers that were standard offerings from the factory, then the .300 Savage would indeed be the rarest of them all. If you’ve got one of them, then hold onto it tightly as you really do have a gem of a historic piece. To round out this list, we’re going to look at some really obscure special order calibers.

.276 Pedersen

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Photos courtesy of www.pre64win.com

When it comes to special order requests, the production numbers are understandably small. In the case of our number two slot on the list, it’s fitting that only two Model 70 rifles were made for the .276 Pedersen cartridge. Developed in 1923, the .276 Pedersen was considered as a possible replacement for the .30-06 Springfield in U.S. standard issue military weapons. By 1934, however, the United States military had abandoned the idea, mostly because all their existing light infantry weapons were already chambered for the .30-caliber cartridge, and the logistics of replacing them all was cumbersome, costly and time-consuming. Despite this, Frankford Arsenal placed two separate orders for one gun each in .276 Pedersen - one in 1936 and one in 1937. Why, exactly, they chose to do this is anyone’s guess, and we’ll probably never know the answer.

.30 US

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Photos courtesy of www.pre64win.com

Coming in at number one on the list is a true one-off. Only one Model 70 in .30 US (otherwise known as .30-40 Krag) is known to exist. Created as a special order in 1938, the owner must have really loved that cartridge, because it was already functionally obsolete by almost 50 years when the gun was ordered. It’s also a testament to just how far Winchester was willing to go in order to create exactly what the customer wanted. Because the .30-40 Krag is a rimmed cartridge, the standard Model 70 parts wouldn’t work. To accommodate the rimmed round, a flat-breech barrel, custom extractor, and other one-of-a-kind action parts all had to be fabricated in the factory for just this one gun.

Thrill of the Hunt

Many collectors spend decades putting together their gun collections. Some search far and wide, high and low and still find that there’s a hole preventing it from being truly complete. For the Model 70 collector, this rings especially true. With so many options available from the factory both as standard and special orders, one can spend an entire lifetime in pursuit of the right pieces. While most of these collectible pieces are already well documented and command premium prices when they hit the market, it’s always a good idea to keep your eyes peeled just in case a fresh one hits the market. It does happen from time to time, but also be aware of well-made fakes.

Photo credits: “Courtesy of www.pre64win.com”




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