Favorite Firearms: A Winchester Model 60A Named “Li’l Ole Bess”

posted on May 17, 2022
Winchester Model 60A

My favorite firearm has been in my family for four generations. It’s a Winchester Model 60A single-shot, bolt-action, .22-cal. rimfire chambered for the Short, Long and Long Rifle cartridges. According to my research, it is an early version due to the 23" barrel and lack of finger grooves on the fore-end. This version was only manufactured between 1932 and 1933. My dad bought it new from a hardware store in Waterbury, Conn., when he was in high school. To get it home, he walked through downtown Waterbury, took a trolley car to nearby Oakville and walked it home from there. “Didn’t people get upset?” I asked. “I did get a few funny looks,” replied my dad. “But I had the action open!” I guess, back then, people knew what that meant.

It was in the 1950s that I began to use that rifle, and, at the time, Disney had Fess Parker playing the role of Davy Crockett. He called his rifle “Old Betsy,” so naturally that is what I called my Winchester. My dad called it “Li’l Ole Bess.” I used the Model 60A to harvest most of my first wild upland game animals, including rabbits, squirrels and pheasants. My daughter, Diana, took her first woodchuck with Li’l Ole Bess, and my grandson, Nick, also used the gun to participate in the High Rock Shooting Ass’n junior rifle club in Naugatuck, Conn.

One Father’s Day, I asked my dad if he wanted a new .22-cal. rifle. “No, I don’t,” he said. “But Li’l Ole Bess could sure use a facelift.” I brought her to a gunsmith to discuss the project. The gunsmith re-blued the metal, and I applied an oil finish to the stock. I only removed the very light handling marks; the rest of the marks were too nostalgic to remove.

Li’l Ole Bess is temporarily retired now, waiting for generation number five to learn firearm safety and shooting fun with it.

—Tony Mazzola


Century Ctti Left Horman
Century Ctti Left Horman

Review: Century Arms Canik TTI Combat

Developed in collaboration with firearm trainer Taran Butler, the Canik TTI Combat handgun from Century Arms is packed with performance features.

HiViz Shooting Systems Introduces Sight Installation Program

Sight upgrades can be one of the easiest and most important upgrades to any handgun. However, not everyone has access to, or the ability to be, their own gunsmith. That’s why HiViz created this basic sight installation program.

I Have This Old Gun: Gallager Carbine

The Gallager carbine is one of the American Civil War's lesser-known cavalry arms, but it still used a unique design that allowed it to adapt to the metallic cartridge era that followed.

New For 2024: Heritage Mfg. Roscoe Revolver

Inspired by the classic snub-nose revolvers of yesteryear, the new Heritage Mfg. Roscoe is the company's first centerfire revolver.

2024 Pioneer Award: Brandon L. Maddox, Founder/CEO Silencer Central

Silencer Central Founder and CEO Brandon Maddox revolutionized the suppressor-buying industry, and his efforts have spurred greater suppressor ownership in the United States.

Review: Beretta APX A1 Full Size Tactical

The Beretta APX A1 Tactical is a second-generation iteration (available in both Full Size and Compact versions) of the company’s APX pistol line that launched in 2017.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.