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Old September 25, 2019, 07:25 PM   #1
Join Date: September 25, 2019
Location: Eastern Iowa
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Thoughts on an Winchester Model 88

I'm looking at the Winchester Model 88 lever action chambered in .308

Had the Model 100 a semi-auto version picked out and ready to order until I heard of the recall for slam fires due to firing pin hanging

Does anyone have any experience with the 88? Online reviews seem favorable.

I'd be using this rifle for range fun vs hunting.
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Old September 25, 2019, 10:38 PM   #2
Join Date: August 19, 2019
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In my extensive experience (not, owned only one but it was in .308) it lacks accuracy, authenticity, and ergonomics. Mine, a second hander that came to me from an uncle, was a 2.5 MOA rifle. But, I didn't like it and it didn't fit me well, so how much of that was actually the rifle vs me, I cannot say. I gave it to a cousin and, as far as I know, he had no complaints.

There was just something off about the fit. It's like the old Winchester 101 o/u shotgun. Can't fault the quality of the gun but it just didn't fit a lot of people well and they didn't shoot them well.

I'd urge you to try before you buy.
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Old September 26, 2019, 12:19 AM   #3
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Both the 88 and the 100 were good enough rifles in their day (50 years ago), but there are much better rifles available for less money today. Accuracy is only so-so, and if you break something (or lose a magazine ) the rifle is dead because of a lack of factory parts. Collectors seem to want them, let them have them.
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Old September 26, 2019, 07:20 AM   #4
Join Date: September 25, 2019
Location: Eastern Iowa
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Thanks for replies... Good points and I may look for a different .308

Just want a "non bolt action" (already have one) for something different to shoot at the range

Maybe a Henry single shot or an AR10

The research and looking is fun!

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Old September 26, 2019, 09:58 AM   #5
Jim Watson
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Browning BLR is a current production "modern" lever action.
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Old September 26, 2019, 11:52 AM   #6
Join Date: September 25, 2019
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Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
Browning BLR is a current production "modern" lever action.
Awesome- thx Jim and will include in my research

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Old November 24, 2019, 01:21 AM   #7
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Winchester 88

My grandfather willed me his .308/ M88 and I began hunting it at age 13. The M88 was my sole deer/high power rifle 'till I was in my 30's. Now the old heirloom is semi retired, I hunt it occasionally under soft conditions, but as Scorch noted, break something, and parts are hard (and expensive to find).

Regards authenticity, the M88 was made by Winchester, USA and not imported nor a copy of an existing design as some traditional lever rifles are today from Italy or South America. The 88's are often described as bolt rifles with a lever, and that is a fair description. One piece stock, rotary bolt, high intensity cartridges, with the ability to used spitzer bullets. I look upon the M88 as the epitome of the lever rifle design. Why is important that they don't have a hammer or a tube magazine? The lever rifle was headed in that direction anyhow by the turn of the century with the introduction of the Savage 99.

Concerning ergonomics. The trigger moves with the action lever, there is no possibility of stumbling with the trigger upon closing the lever. The fully loaded M88 is readied to fire by disengaging a safety button. There is no turn of the century hammer to cock, and more importantly, to lower to half cock, to reduce the rifle from "fire' to "safe". Additionally, to clear the rifle, the box magazine is removed, and the single cartridge in the chamber is then safely levered out. Simplicity, and far easier than clearing a tube fed, hammer equipped "traditional" lever of multiple rounds through cycling the action and chambering and ejecting all rounds in the magazine tube until the rifle is clear, risking I might add, an accidental discharge every cycle in the process. Finally, the M88 points just fine for me and I suspect more than a few others. It's simple classic lines are uncluttered and I find getting a repeatable cheek weld no problem, despite the lack of a rollover cheekpiece or Monte Carlo design.

About accuracy. I'd offer that a M88 was no less accurate than it's rival lever rifles, and as accurate as some of its bolt action competitors. The M88 suffers from a mushy trigger and there is not much can be done about it. Additionally, anchoring the action to the stock via the forearm mounted screw leaves room for improvement as well. But a simple shim near the tip of the forearm can solve a lot of M88 accuracy complaints, effecting a sort of free float of the barrel. Such a minor tweak allowed my heirloom rifle to shoot factory ammo (W-W 150 Power Points) into 1.5 MOA groups with ease. Frequently, the initial 3 rds with factory ammo would be touching and well under MOA. The old lever rifle shot tighter than family M94's and 336's, Rem 141 and 760 pumps and was the equal of more than a couple bolt rifles at the club.

The M88 is not a modern rifle, is not poly stocked, stainless, nor camo dipped and have a hi-tech bladed trigger breaking like proverbial glass rod, nor is it likely to shoot repeatable sub-MOA 5 shot groups. The M88 harkens back to a different era, when good rifle stocks were made of walnut, barrels of rich bluing, and their barrels and triggers yielded accuracy good enough to take game out as far as most thought ethical to shoot. A bit of care in their use and transport is necessary to avoid costly or irreplaceable damage. But they are a big step ahead of traditional lever rifles with moderate cartridges, and not far behind the bolt rifles of their era.
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Old November 24, 2019, 11:14 PM   #8
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I have an 88 in .243. Very accurate rifle. 1" at 100 yards with ammo it likes. Lousy trigger but the kill zone on a white tail is about 10". Made quite a few neck shots when I was younger, killed several turkeys with it. Safe queen now. 10/22s are more fun in my old age.
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