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Old September 14, 2023, 02:55 PM   #1
canucklehead
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Winchester 88 question

Hello all, and particularly Winchester 88 owners and/or gunsmiths.

I acquired a Winchester 88 .308 at a recent auction here in Canada.

I've not had the opportunity yet to fire it, have inquired at a local gunsmith regarding getting it inspected and test fired but I wanted to get the opinions of others here who have experience with this rifle.

When it arrived in the mail I wanted to test the action and not wanting to chamber live ammunition in the house I tested it with some resized brass that I had around the house.

The brass chambered and ejected fine but I noticed with the magazine removed and the bolt locked, a sliver of brass was visible.



Is this normal for this action? I don't think I've ever observed this with any other gun I've owned.

Thanks!
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Old September 15, 2023, 12:06 PM   #2
bamaranger
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Win 88

I have a much loved early M88 and will check and see what mine looks like this evening for you.
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Old September 15, 2023, 01:40 PM   #3
canucklehead
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Thanks Bam, ' appreciate that!

Mine is 1960, cut checkering, bluing ~ 95%, bore is bright and shiny, finish has a few scuffs but overall VG I think

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Old September 15, 2023, 04:54 PM   #4
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The picture is taken looking up through the empty magazine well, correct??

The brass you are seeing is a small section of the case RIM.

This is not a pressure bearing part of the case.

Until the 1950s and Remington's bolt guns from then on there were almost no firearms that fully (100%) enclosed the case base. Remingtion's "three rings of steel" was a selling point not a mechanical necessity.

Springfields, Mausers, virtually all the older bolt guns and lever guns did not fully surround the case rim. The only thing a bit unusual about the Win 88 is that with the mag out, you can see this. Other guns have something (steel normally) in the way so you don't have the direct line of sight you are seeing in your Win 88.

Many more modern designs do use recessed bolt faces but there are still multiple millions on millions of guns that do not.

In point of fact, a rifle that does not completely surround the case RIM is a safety feature, in that IF the case ruptures (and if it does it will be ahead of the rim) there is a path for gas to escape that is not directed towards the shooter, but in the case of your 88, gas would vent down into the magazine and away from the shooters hands and face. That path may not be the primary intended path for escaping gas but it is a path some of the gas can take, it harms NOTHING, and might, in a worst case situation actually be a benefit.

There is nothing I can see wrong with your rifle. Don't fret it.
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Old September 15, 2023, 05:28 PM   #5
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@44AMP: You and so many others here, always have the answers. Thanks for the enlightenment, and as they say here in Texas, "Bless your heart".

The thing which jumped out at me in the second picture was the vintage steel weaver rings, and the vintage steel tubed, weaver scope. It looks like a K4 or K6. They're a classic combination for that rifle, but if it were me, and I intended to use that rifle, I would change out that scope for a newer one. Today's optics technology is so advanced, that I think the lowliest scope in a bubble pack, hanging on a wal-mart wall, is better than most of the scopes of the 50's and 60's. And at those times gone by, we thought those old scopes were amazing.
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Old September 15, 2023, 05:59 PM   #6
canucklehead
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Thanks for your insight AMP.

Yes, the picture is looking through the mag well.

I had assumed it was some part of the base forward of the rim as the rim appears to be enclosed by the bolt head when I push the lever partway forward I can see this, the rim is captured by the extractor which is flush with the bolt lugs.



This is an image of an 88 bolt from homestead parts, the ejector hole on the left and extractor channel on the right. I may be mistaken about the meaning of "recessed bolt face" but this appears to be so?

But the rest of what you say certainly seems plausible to me and in fact my brother proposed the same to me, nice to get some corroborating opinion.
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Old September 15, 2023, 06:40 PM   #7
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It is indeed a K4 hammie!

This came with the gun, I have a Redfield Revolution 4-12x40 I will probably put on via some Rifleman rings.
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Old September 15, 2023, 09:31 PM   #8
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What a beautiful rifle! If that old K4 works I would go with it, unless it isn’t clear or won’t hold its point of impact.
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Old September 16, 2023, 12:34 AM   #9
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checked mine

I pulled my Grandad's M88 from the safe and chambered a handful of reloads and after some looking, located some Winchester factory 168 gr BTHP match ammo as well. In all instances, if one got the light and the angles right, a small sliver of brass was visible from the base of the rim. Not as pronouced as the OP rifle, but still noteable, if one looked for it.

My old M88 is an heirloom as noted above and if memory serves, is four digit serial number from early production, the shipping date on the Winchester carton (with my Grandad's address, delivered to his house by Montgomery Wards) is 1956. Lincoln, then my Dad Earl, and now myself have all hunted and taken deer with it. I retired the rifle in the early 90's, but up until that point, it was my sole "deer" fifle from from age 13. As times and circumstance changed, I acquired other rifles and hunt a viariety of different ones each season, but checking my notes, the old M88 still has the record for me in terms of total deer killed. Of course Dad and Grandad took deer with it too. I could tell a number of sentimental stories....but won't.

Some side notes on the M88. I am of the belief that the M88 used the same barrels as the vaunted pre-'64 M70 bolt rifle. In profile they certainly look the same and have that mid forearm screw that anchors into the lug machined at mid barrel. I have read that experimenting with the tightness of that screw can help improve accuracy. On my rifle I shimmed the forearm out front with a strip of credit card increasing free float and screwed the mid-bolt down hand tight . That solved a vertical stringing tendency when hot and slightly improved groups as well. The early M88 .308's (the most common chambering) were twisted 1-12". Common .308 twist today is 1-10". My rifle shows a distinct preference for 150 gr flatbase bullets over longer heavier 180 gr slugs, perhaps that is why.

I like the vintage scopes for what they are, but if I were to hunt the OP m88 very much at all I would put a contemporary piece of glass on it,but nothing too big so as not to spoil the classic lines. My M88 has a Leupold 6x36 on top, still looks right, and is noteably brighter than several old Weavers and REdfields in my collection. There is indeed a noteable difference in clarity with most newer pricepoint scopes, though sometimes the difference is not detectable until one gets poor light as in dawn/dusk or deep shade. Perhaps more importantly, one never knows when the seals in that vintage scope will quit and when you shoulder the rifle for the shot at the buck of a lifetime, it's fogged. Everybody ran Weaver rings back in the day, but I have always thought they were ugly. The Win 88 is far to handsome a rifle to clutter up with Weaver rings now that better options are available. I am particulary fond of Burris Zee rings for their sleek appearance and have them on many of my old rifles along with standard Weaver bases.

Best of luck with your new (old) rifle, something from times gone by. Don't you wish it could talk!
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Old September 16, 2023, 01:42 AM   #10
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might be a trick of the light, but it looked to me like the case rim.

Now that you have shown pictures of the boltface (and yes I would call it recessed) it seems I was mistaken thinking I was looking at the case rim. Apologies for my mistake.

My comments about bolts that don't enclose the rim are still valid, I think, in the sense that it doesn't make the action any weaker, in any practical way than one that fully surrounds the rim.


I have a few of those old Weaver scopes, some of them say JC Higgings on them.

Here's a tip to reduce the odds of them fogging up due to seal failure (or even having been open to the atmosphere at some point in the past), keep the hunting rifle at outside temp the entire time you are in the field. Don't let it get any warmer than it will be where you need to use it. This means things like not having the gun in the warm cab of a truck or in the tent or cabin at hunting camp in the cold fall and winter. Modern nitrogen filled well sealed scopes are pretty impervious to temp changes, old ones aren't, and keeping that at a minimum increases the odds they will be usable when you need it.
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Old September 16, 2023, 06:56 AM   #11
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Pumpkin, I had thought about keeping the weaver on there but I found that Redfield brand new on sale and bought it because they are no longer available.
There is certainly some appeal to the vintage scope but I think the improved clarity and low light performance of the Redfield (Leupold) will win out.
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Old September 16, 2023, 07:09 AM   #12
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Bama
Thanks for sharing your experience, It's encouraging.
I do hope to hunt with this rifle and expect to be mounting my brand new Redfield Revolution (Leupold) initally.
I have bought some 150s but am thinking I will probably try some 125s as well.
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Old September 16, 2023, 07:11 AM   #13
canucklehead
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Amp
No problem, there is a lot of sense in what you say! I'm starting to feel a bit more comfortable about this gun.
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Old September 16, 2023, 07:21 AM   #14
canucklehead
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Yesterday was opening day for grouse here, but I had to take my truck in for service.
Now I have to get off this computer and get out there!
There's way too many leaves up still, i'll be lucky if I even see one, let alone get a shot but you never know...
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Old September 16, 2023, 08:04 AM   #15
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I totally see your point. I bought a pristine 721 30-06 from 1948 that had a Weaver K4 on it. My problem as always for me is I need more eye relief than most scopes have so I bought a really nice used Leupold, Gloss finish 4x to replace it. I loose sleep after putting a matt finished scope on a pretty blued gun. I sold the old Weaver for $75 to a buddy so all is good.
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Old September 16, 2023, 01:04 PM   #16
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bullets

I have never shot 30 cal 125 gr bullets for deer, (in .308 Win) but have little doubt that one well placed will kill a deer as dead as a hammer. I have two rifles in 7.62x39mm which I hunt and shoot initially 135 gr and now 125 gr bullets and they kill deer just fine.

When they were available, the new USA Redfields were getting good press. I hear now that they are an Academy brand and made in SE Asia somewhere. There is a LpV 1-5x(?) that has caught my eye but the jury is still out.

Though I never thought about it when I was young, now that I have some rifles with good triggers, the M88 bang switch is a good bit squishy and I have read not really much can be done to improve them. It is consistent however and can be learned usually with good results. Nothing really wrong with it and it reminds me of the triggers on the Rem 740, 760 and shotgun 870 triggers, all entirely satisfactory hunting guns.
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Old September 16, 2023, 03:34 PM   #17
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Quote:
I have never shot 30 cal 125 gr bullets for deer, (in .308 Win) but have little doubt that one well placed will kill a deer as dead as a hammer.
Just be sure to use the "right" 125gr bullets. Years ago, 125gr .30 cal bullets were considered the "heavy end" of .30 cal varmint bullets, and while they will zap deer just fine with head, neck or lung shots, getting through the shoulders might be problematic.

Today I believe there are bullets of that weight made the same as heavier big game bullets with penetration and controlled expansion in mind. Know which type you have and place shots accordingly.
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Old September 16, 2023, 04:43 PM   #18
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The Model 88 (and the semi-auto Model 100) was subject to a safety recall some years ago.

Unmodified rifles are considered to be unsafe until they are modified.

You can find a lot of information on the web. Google Winchester 88 safety recall.
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Old September 17, 2023, 01:30 AM   #19
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The safety recall was for the firing pin. The original one was machined flat, the replacement is a round firing pin. You can call Winchester and give them your serial number. They can tell you if the firing pin was changed or not. If it wasn't, Winchester will send you a new replacement firing pin and check to have it replaced.

Two years ago I purchased a Winchester 100 carbine in .243. It was a closet queen and had never been fired. I disassembled it and checked the firing pin. Sure enough it had not been changed. I called Winchester, provided the serial number, they said it had not been change. They mailed me a new firing pin in a week and followed it up with a $30.00 check several weeks later.
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Old September 17, 2023, 09:51 AM   #20
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Bama, AMP

My reasoning is thus. If a .243 with a 95 0r 100 gr bullet is sufficient for deer then a 6.5 120 or a .308 125 or a .277 130 is more than enough.

The lighter bullets shoot faster and flatter with nearly as much, or even more terminal energy.

I would not be shooting varmint bullets; I'm thinking Nosler BTs, they sell them as a cartridge rated at 3100 fps and this could be easily duplicated with reloads as well.
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Old September 17, 2023, 10:02 AM   #21
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Mike, wachtelhund

Have not found anything yet on a 88 recall, only the 100.
Found a lot of "I heard" comments and supposition.
I also found the phone number, will call Winchester next week and find out for sure.
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Old September 17, 2023, 11:33 AM   #22
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Winchester would, of course, be the ultimate authority. As I recall, back in the day ....

The recall was after the end of production by some time, and it was the firing pin, which was found to sometimes break, and that could result in a slam fire in the semi auto model 100. I believe the Model 88 was included, because it used the same firing pin as the 100. Slamfires were not a concern in the manually operated model 88.

Winchester can tell you for sure what the real situation was/is.
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Old September 18, 2023, 12:27 PM   #23
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"I believe the Model 88 was included, because it used the same firing pin as the 100. Slamfires were not a concern in the manually operated model 88. "

That's what I recall, as well, but now I'm not able to find anything about the 88 being recalled.
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Old September 19, 2023, 12:41 PM   #24
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safety

I can clearly remember the Winchester recall on the M100, but a similar advisory on the M88 draws a blank with me. The M100 issue was the firing pin sticking forward due to a developing burr, with a resultant slamfire.

There is some internet chatter. I suspect the M88 and the M100 use the same firing pin but that is just a guess. I wonder if the M88, being manually opereated, is not effected, ie, will not burr. Could one run the lever hard enough to cause a slamfire? If I read right, there were shops and 'smiths authorized to do the replacement on the M100, perhaps someone here has done same for the 88.

An advisory on the M88 is new to me, but I have been wrong here before, just recently
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Old September 20, 2023, 10:23 AM   #25
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I spoke with 2 people at Winchester the other day, neither could find any record of any recall for the 88. I was transferred to someone who actually took care of the model 100s as he would know if it somehow also applied to the 88 but he didn't pick up. Left a message, waiting for a reply.
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