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Old September 15, 2013, 01:36 AM   #1
jsmosby
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Winchester M70 Pre-64 vs. Ruger M77 Hawkeye

Howdy Boys,

I would like your advice. I plan to buy a 30.06 rifle for the Idaho Panhandle/
Northwestern Montana. The wildlife in that area is similar to Alaska's. For that reason, I want a controlled-round feed rifle. I will be shooting Remington 180-grain Core-Loke rounds.

I have two choices. I can buy a Winchester Model 70 Pre-64 (made in 1956) which is in mint condition. Hardly saw any usage. Springs in great shape. Or, I can buy a new Ruger M77 Hawkeye.

The Winchester has a smoother action; a 24-inch medium contour barrel; and more weight to reduce recoil. The Ruger has a stronger action (modern metallurgy); a 22-inch Sporter No. 1 barrel; and better parts/gunsmithing factory support (Winchester recently relocated M70 production to Portugal).

The price difference between the two is only about $200, so I'm indifferent on that.

Which one would you recommend?
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Old September 15, 2013, 03:16 AM   #2
.300 Weatherby Mag
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I love my Rugers... But the Pre-64 Winchesters are special... You can always buy a new ruger... Pre-64 Winchesters aren't a dime a dozen, especially rifles in good shape..

I will say the metallurgy is a non issue as the post War winchesters all benefited from the advances made in metallurgy during WWII... Both rifles are strong... So don't let that aspect affect your decision making..
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Old September 15, 2013, 09:51 AM   #3
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The pre-64 M70 must be a standard grade and not the Featherweight with it's 24" barrel!

"I was there" when they were making the pre-64's and I bought one new in 1957 and went on to make a complete (in my mind) battery of those M70's.

I never bought a standard grade in a standard chambering as they are too heavy!

Not only that but they came with a steel butt plate. Weight be darned, it's the steel that hurts.

Get the Ruger and make sure it has a soft recoil pad. We carry rifles way more than we shoot them at game. Get a light one.

It's almost the season now so buy it now and shoot it, practice!

If your fortunate you will own more guns as time goes on. If you had more time my choice would be a Kimber Montana.

If you must have a pre-64 M70 look for a Featherweight that someone as put a recoil pad on and the LOP fits you.
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Old September 15, 2013, 09:57 AM   #4
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I have to agree with .300 Weatherby Mag,
Quote:
I love my Rugers... But the Pre-64 Winchesters are special... You can always buy a new ruger... Pre-64 Winchesters aren't a dime a dozen, especially rifles in good shape..
Jump on that Winchester, if you don't you'll regret it for years to come (or at least I would).
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Old September 15, 2013, 10:42 AM   #5
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A 1956 model 70 standard grade in 30-06 is nothing special. It should be priced pretty close to a new Ruger. For the same money the Ruger is a better gun. Winchesters of that type have no colletcors value.

If you are thinking about paying $200 more for a nearly 60 year old rifle you would be better off buying a new production Winchester for the same money. It will be better than the pre-64 and the Ruger.
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Old September 15, 2013, 10:43 AM   #6
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Savage 99, your comments make good sense except that I have had rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder. I need a heavy rifle to minimize recoil. The prior owner has already put a recoil pad on the Winchester (albeit a 1956 hard one). I would replace it with a modern Pachmayr Deaccelerator Recoil Pad.
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Old September 15, 2013, 11:09 AM   #7
Savage99
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JS,

If a heavy rifle is not a problem for you then of course go for the weight. I use some of my heavier rifles when I am near the car.

You might consider a cartridge that does not kick as hard as a 30-06 with 180's.

The Decelerator recoil pads are fabulous.

I have not seen a soft pad like that on a new Ruger? Does that one have a thick, soft pad?
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Old September 15, 2013, 11:12 AM   #8
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JMR40, I tried to order a new Winchester Model 70 "Alaskan" or "Super Grade." My local gun shop can't find one. All Model 70 production in South Carolina has ceased. It has been relocated to Portugal. I can't wait two years for Winchester to get the bugs out of new production. Plus, the way our dollar is going, I probably won't be able to afford one a European-made one -- not unless they cheapen the quality, in which case I wouldn't want one because a Ruger would be better.

Like you, I have some qualms about buying a 57-year-old rifle, regardless of its condition. If I buy the Ruger, however, I would have to pay for a custom 24-inch barrel (I prefer that length) to replace the factory 22-inch barrel.

Why don't I consider a Remington SPS with a 24-inch barrel? No controlled round feed, and I think that the current owner of Remington (a financial syndicate) has cheapened the brand. They're putting less and less metal into the rifles. I don't want to pay good money for a rifle that has a plastic floorplate, a plastic triggerguard, and a plastic stock. Why not add a plastic barrel -- then they'd have the perfect toy gun for children. Plus, those jerks knew how dangerous their safeties were for 20 years, and did nothing about it. It would have taken pennies to fix the problem. Several people lost their lives because of this.

Replacement parts for an old Winchester is another issue. I checked e-gunparts and many of the replacement parts for a Pre-64 are "sold out" (as you might expect due to its age and popularity). Winchester's move to Portugal may finish the M70, due to price. Not having a custom shop for Winchesters is also another minus (I called South Carolina to ask about some custom work, and they advised me that Winchester no longer had a custom shop).
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Old September 15, 2013, 11:20 AM   #9
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Savage99, I am more or less trapped into a 30.06. That's the minimum that is recommended for grizzly country. They've had a number of grizzly attacks in Idaho over the last few months as the grizzlies expand their range. I'm relocating to Idaho from the Southwest.

Initially, I planned to use my Marlin .30-.30 with 170-grain rounds. A friend from Montana told me that I was nuts. Everyone up there is carrying bear spray and at least a .44 Magnum for backup. The rifle calibers are also heavy. As it is, I'm probably going to have to get a Past Recoil Pad for my shoulder in order to handle the 30.06 recoil.
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Old September 15, 2013, 11:35 AM   #10
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I think I'd go with the Ruger, if it was me deciding. I have several Rugers, used to have a pre-64 Model 70, and have a Sako. The Sako is easily the best of that group. I sold the Model 70 a while back for more than I paid, and I sold it because it was really heavy and it wasn't that particularly accurate. I think today's rifles are, in most cases, more accurate than the old pre-64's. I've read that and I believe it, though I have no hard data to back that statement up. That said, either rifle will be all a fellow needs.
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Old September 15, 2013, 11:42 AM   #11
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I can't believe there is even a question......Run and get the Pre 64 Winchester. The gun is a legend. You can buy a Ruger any time and are extremely common. To me, Ruger will always be a handgun company and Winchester is a rifle and shotgun company.
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Old September 15, 2013, 11:47 AM   #12
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While the pre-'64 Model 70's were and still are probably the most reliable internal box magazine action ever made for standard cartridges, the barrels Winchester screwed in them were not all that great. Their groove diameters were on the big size unless you happend to get one broach rifled and the broach was scrapped afterwords. The cutting teeth on that broach had worn down making the groove diameters in that barrel small; and all bullets shot very accurate in them. Best accuracy happens when bullets are a few ten-thousandths inch larger than groove diameter. Any bullet smaller than the groove starts shooting less accurate. More difference = less accurate.

Winchester's match bullets were the largest diameter ones they ever made; they knew thost bullets had to be fat else accuracy in the Model 70 target rifles was ho-hum at best.

All bolt action rifles are a mixed compromise of accuracy vs. reliabilty vs. ease of shooting accurate vs. ease of maintenance vs appeal vs. cosmetics vs opinion vs facts. Have a nice time deciding what's important to you.
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Old September 15, 2013, 12:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
I have to agree with .300 Weatherby Mag,
Quote:
I love my Rugers... But the Pre-64 Winchesters are special... You can always buy a new ruger... Pre-64 Winchesters aren't a dime a dozen, especially rifles in good shape..
My sentiments exactly. Though I've always been a big fan of Ruger bolt-action Model 77s/MKIIs/Hawkeyes, et al; there is something special about a pre-64 Model 70-"the Rifleman's Rifle".
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Old September 15, 2013, 12:58 PM   #14
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If I wanted a real shooter I'd probably have to go with the newer rifle. With modern equipment and metallurgy you're going to get a more durable rifle, likely with a better bore with tighter tolerances.

That being said, It wouldn't be a mistake to go with the Winchester, I just believe that the more modern rifle has the potential to function and perform better.
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Old September 15, 2013, 01:19 PM   #15
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I have an old Ruger M77R in 300WM. Although it is my favorite hunting rifle and comes in at close to 10 lb., you might consider the Mod 70 over the Ruger. I do have a pre 64 in .270 and it is a nice rifle. It is one of the rifles from my grandfathers legacy. Metal strength is a non issue as stated in one of the earlier posts!
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Old September 15, 2013, 03:27 PM   #16
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There is no comparison between those rifles.
I'm not a "Pre-64" fanboy, by any means, but forget about the Hawkeye. The Winchester is a far better rifle.
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Old September 15, 2013, 04:07 PM   #17
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Winchester M70 Pre-64 vs. Ruger M77 Hawkeye

Wait, since when did production of the M70 move to Portugal?
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Old September 16, 2013, 01:31 AM   #18
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Gaseousclay,

Do an internet search for "Winchester M70, Portugal". You will find information that in 2013 Winchester has shifted assembly of M70s to Portugal. FN, the parent company of Winchester, is after all, a European company. This apparently appeared on Winchester's Facebook page some time ago. FN is obviously not broadcasting this since one of its former marketing advantages was that M70s were "American-made". FN's primary bread-and-butter line is military weapons; civilian firearms are a secondary line.

The transition is causing a temporary shortage of new M70s. I expect that the price for the new Portugese M70s will shoot up the way that the price for the Japanese Winchester .30-.30s went up.
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Old September 16, 2013, 05:01 AM   #19
.300 Weatherby Mag
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My Pre-64 experience... I have a m70 that was originally a .300 H&H, which was rechambered to .300 Weatherby by Roy Weatherby himself in 1955... Some years later the barrel was cut down to 20", the justification being it would be handier for hunting elk in timber ... While it might have made the rifle handier it sure doesn't take advantage of 85 grains of Norma MRP in that big weatherby case... As a result the velocity is a joke, although it makes an epic fireball and the noise is incredible... With Weatherby Factory Ammo loaded with a 180 grain Hornady Spire point it groups right at 1.25" at 100 yards... So its accurate but its barely getting to .300 H&H velocities... My weatherby Mark V will get upwards of 3200 FPS with the same load.. The model 70 is right around 2900...

A 26" barrel is in the works as is a McMillan stock... The factory barrel is a lost cause due to its length and the stock is a tragic as its cut too short and beat to death... I will say that I have no other rifle that feeds a belted cartridge as slick as this 60 year old Winchester...
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Old September 16, 2013, 10:21 AM   #20
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Winchester, no question about it.
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Old September 18, 2013, 08:24 AM   #21
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I've owned 4 or 5 pre '64 M70s in both standard rifle version and Featherweights and still have two; a 1952 '06 standard rifle and 1960 .270 FW, along with two newer M70 Featherweights. I have also owned many Ruger 77s over the years, still owning five at this time. The Ruger 77 is a very nice rifle, but simply not in the same class as a mint pre '64 M70. For someone to say a mint 1956 M70 is not collectible is silly. If you take some time to check online, you'd see them selling for a minimum of $1,000-$1,200 in that kind of condition. The last pre '64 I sold was two years ago and that 1954 FW version sold for over $1,600.

I prefer the FW version with 22" barrel, but if you have handled the 24" standard version and like it, buy it and enjoy hunting with the "Rifleman's Rifle". For the slight difference in price you've mentioned and having owned several examples of both rifles you've mentioned, IMHO the M70 is most definitely the way to go. Good Luck!

Last edited by pilothunter; September 19, 2013 at 02:15 PM.
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Old September 18, 2013, 03:04 PM   #22
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model 70

in a recent forum(not here) a seemingly experienced winchester expert responded to my question "kimber 84 vs mod 70" noting the current model 70's are the best winchester has ever made, and the pre '64 premium was not worth it.........what do you guys think??? for the record i bought a new 84 in 257 roberts.....awesome.....and several hundred $$ less than pre '64 mod 70.....thanks for the input!!!!!!
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Old September 18, 2013, 03:28 PM   #23
Mystro
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Its very subjective but there is a certain standard set by the pre 64 and it speaks for its self because the post 64 years were horible with cost cutting ideas. That said, the older pre64 was a no brainier in the 1990's before the latest SC M70 was developed. The late 1990's had a great improvement with the reintroduction of the claw extractor but it wasn't untill FN purchased Winchester and really stepped up the quality. Now the model 70 has had a great increase in build quality with materials used as well as advanced manufacturing. In other words, they are building the best rifle possible as their primary concern.
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Last edited by Mystro; September 18, 2013 at 06:02 PM.
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Old September 18, 2013, 08:06 PM   #24
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It is, however, a shame they are "building" them now in Portugal. I like my "Portugal" BAR, but I had thought the new M70 might stay a true American build. Oh well.....
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Old September 18, 2013, 08:14 PM   #25
pilothunter
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QUOTE:
in a recent forum(not here) a seemingly experienced winchester expert responded to my question "kimber 84 vs mod 70" noting the current model 70's are the best winchester has ever made, and the pre '64 premium was not worth it.........what do you guys think??? for the record i bought a new 84 in 257 roberts.....awesome.....and several hundred $$ less than pre '64 mod 70.....thanks for the input!!!!!!

I've owned an example of a new Kimber M84, when they first came out several years ago. Nice rifle. Accuracy acceptable, but nothing to brag on. I found it stayed in the cabinet more that I'd hoped it would, so I sat down and did a piece to piece comparison between my M70 Featherweight Classic in 7/08 and that Kimber. The results kind of surprised me. On all levels the M70 Classic (late '90s gun) was a better rifle. Finish and smoothness of the bolt were not even close (advantage M70) and the accuracy was a toss-up, basically the same.

I still own that M70 and the Kimber is long gone. When I look at my pre '64 M70s, I can only say that their overall quality at least match my Classic. I simply looked and compared with all in my hands and with an open mind. After all, I'd already spent all the $$.
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