Sportsman’s Legacy is offering a pair of rifles that perhaps stands among the most important and valuable sporting arms—Serial Nos. 1 and 2 Winchester Pre-64 Model 70 rifles. That they are paired presents a unique acquisition opportunity.
Both rifles have a captivating history. According to Roger Rule’s The Rifleman’s Rifle, serial No. 1 was marked on Jan. 20, 1936. As Winchester records are unavailable so far as supporting a proper factory letter, the actual shipping date and destination are unknown. As detailed in Winchester Model 70 No. 1, a feature article appearing in the June 1990 issue of American Rifleman, the owner’s uncle purchased the rifle from a hardware store in Durango, Colo., during the 1937 hunting season.
Whether new or used at the time of that sale, the rifle was fitted with a Lyman receiver sight. Upon returning from the hunting trip, the owner had the rifle drilled and tapped in order to install a 10x Fecker scope, then hunted with it for the next 40 years. In 1977, after borrowing it over the course of several deer seasons, the current owner formally acquired the rifle still wearing the Fecker and with the Lyman sight in tow.
Another 10 years passed before a chance showing resulted in a dealer getting the vapors and blurting a surprisingly high offer. This sparked a curiosity, which lead to the realization that his plain old Model 70 was the first of its kind. With significant reservation, the rifle was then retired from hunting after 50 years of faithful and flawless service.
Published in 1982 by Alliance Books, The Rifleman’s Rifle did much to expand and solidify collector interest in Winchester pre-64 Model 70 rifles. Quite naturally, the owner of the No. 1 rifle acquired a copy as part of his research. Page 193 carried a photo of serial No. 2 from the author’s collection, and page 52 showed a photo of a letter from Richard Pelton, Winchester’s director of marketing, dated March 6, 1980. Written to Mrs. Ethel M. Lied, the letter mentions the Jan. 20, 1936 marking date for the No. 1 rifle and also states that assembly of Model 70 rifles did not begin until 1937.
Pointedly, the letter references Mrs. Lied’s inquiries as to the value of her rifle, serial No. 2. Ownership of the No. 2 rifle passed to Roger Rule at approximately this time. At some point thereafter, the No. 2 rifle was presented for sale at a major gun show attended by the owner of rifle No. 1. As things tend to do, one thing lead to another and ownership of serial No. 2 transferred to him.
Both rifles are of “standard” configuration and chambered in .30-06 Springfield.
Serial No. 1 condition: The bore remains smooth, strong and viable. Drilling/tapping for scope mounting includes 2x on the barrel just forward of the rear sight boss and 2x on the front ring. The rear sight is absent and the dovetail is protected with a “plug.” Overall metal finish is approximately 65 percent, as expected after 50 years of use in the hunting fields. Wood integrity is strong (absent cracks or chips). Wood finish condition is also approximately 65 percent overall and the checkering is smoothing. Finish is thinning or absent in places and a general distribution of field impressions and scratches are in evidence. The bolt body is faintly marked “1” in electric pencil (or similar). The Fecker scope is viable and remains optically clear, with surface finish of approximately 70 percent.
Serial No. 2 condition: The bore remains smooth, strong and viable. Drilling and tapping for scope mounting includes 2x on the front ring, although the rear ring is untapped. Overall metal finish is approximately 80 percent. Wood integrity is strong (absent cracks or chips). Wood finish condition is also approximately 80 percent overall. Checkering is strong. A general distribution of field impressions and scratches are in evidence. The bolt body is faintly marked “2” in electric pencil (or similar).
In addition to these Model 70 rifles, Sportsman’s Legacy is also offering firearms previously owned by Jack O’Connor, Colonel Charles Askins, Craig Boddington and Roy Huntington. A tremendous Makinson .600 Nitro Express double rifle, engraved Colt Woodsman pistols and an unequaled selection of left-hand bolt action rifles including one-of-a-kind Model 70s from the Winchester Custom Shop and the storied firm of Griffin & Howe are also available.
Sportsman’s Legacy provides professional representation for individuals, estates and organizations relating to the orderly monetization of fine firearms, related accessories, sporting collectibles and hunting-related books. Additional services include valuations, estate planning and related consultations. For direct contact, email [email protected] or phone 406-212-0344.