Monday, August 5, 2013

Gun Review: Winchester M70 Alaskan Stainless Laminate Part 1

"One loves to possess arms, though they hope to never have occasion for them."- Thomas Jefferson
 ...except, of course, for punching holes in paper, bowling pins, phone books, and water jugs.

I recently finished paying off a brand new Winchester Model 70 Stainless/Laminate Alaskan rifle in 300 Win. Mag.

First, a little background on how I arrived on owning this beautiful American classic.

Last year, I purchased a Vepr in 7.62 X 54r from Mississippi Auto Arms. I ordered the model with the 23 inch barrel and payed about $1100 after the FFL transfer and shipping. It was a lovely rifle with fantastic fit and finish for being an AK action. Molot is doing a great job producing this rifle and I hope there will be a steady stream of them coming into this country because...well, I have a few more on the wish list!

Unfortunately, they sent me the wrong one. They sent me the 20 inch barrel model. To my regret, I didn't notice until I compared it, side by side, to my Tula SKS. By then, it was too late for them to make it right. I don't necessarily hold it against them. They were very nice to work with and responsive to my emails and questions. I would (and probably will) buy from them in the future. Flukes happen.

A 20 inch barrel just isn't enough to burn off all the powder in the 7.62 rimmed Russian cartridge (though I still want an M38 carbine to go with my Izhevsk Mosin Nagant rifle) and I purchased a Super Vepr in 308 with my tax rebate so, I decided to trade it in. I took a loss, but still got $700 in trade in value from BudsGunShop.com. This was after the height of the recent gun buying panic...too bad I didn't decide to trade it a few months earlier!

Buds is the only shop still carrying the M70 Alaskan Stainless in 300 Win. Mag. They are no longer being produced. If you want one, move now! Buds will make the experience as painless as paying over a grand can be.

Fast forward 90 days and I finally paid off the remaining $527 of the $1227 (including insurance) bill and they sent it to my preferred FFL, the Handgunner in Topton, PA.

Earlier this year, I picked up a Beretta PX4 Subcompact 9mm from the Handgunner and they were just a pleasure to buy from and sold it to me at a very fair price. The attitude compared to the guys at the Army Navy Store in Allentown is the difference of night and day.

I drove down last Friday and picked up the rifle. Experience has now taught me to thoroughly check the purchase over before accepting the transfer. It was flawless.

I still had a box of 9mm Makarov from when I owned a CZ 82 (I traded it in to help finance the purchase of the Beretta). The gentleman who owns the Handgunner knocked a few bucks off the transfer fee in exchange. More than fair, in my opinion.

And now, because unless there are pictures, it didn't happen.


I prefer iron sights on my rifles. Scopes can break and with a hard hitting cartridge like the 300 Winchester Magnum, scope error/breakage is entirely possible. It's a matter of preference, of course and YMMV.

The rifle comes with a perfectly serviceable set of open sights consisting of a flip up rear sight and a bright hooded bead front sight. Sight picture picks up nicely on a dark background or a light one.

The bolt action is the smoothest I've had the pleasure of owning and it outmatches my excellent condition VZ 24 by a good bit. I look forward to seeing if it out shoots it as well.

Unlike my milsurps, the Winchester comes with a nice, soft, Pachmyr decelerator pad which with 300WM, I'm sure to need.

Now, my complaints (and these are completely subjective). The Monte Carlo comb isn't as high as I'd wish it would be and I get the distinct impression that I'm going to need to work on keeping the rifle from smacking me in the cheek with recoil. Should be fun. No teacher quite like experience.

Also, I'm used to shooting milsurps, revolvers, and AK action rifles. This trigger is CRISP and breaks with no take-up and squish. On the one hand, it will help me avoid developing a flinch. On the other, a little warning before she goes BOOM might be nice.

Those are my first impressions. I'm going to pick up some ammo soon and take it to the range to see if  it shoots as good as it looks and as good as I expect the "rifleman's rifle" will. When I get out to the range, pictures will follow. Might even bring the girlfriend along!

Just because, a "family photo" of my entire collection.

Top to bottom: 1942 Mosin Nagant, Turkish VZ 22 , the Win. M70, a Romanian contract VZ. 24, 308 Super Vepr, Tula SKS, Rossi Circuit Judge, and the Beretta PX4


Cross Posted at Grassroot Journal.

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