The 50 Best Guns Ever Made

winchester model 70

1. Winchester Model 70 (pre-1964)

It was not even an original design. The Model 70 was an improvement of Winchester’s Model 54, which in turn was based on the Mauser Model 98. But upon its birth in 1936, it kindled a love affair that has never died. Winchester advertised it as “the rifleman’s rifle,-¿ and the slogan stuck. This was the big-game rifle by which all others were measured, and it is still, in my opinion, the best factory bolt action ever made.

The gun borrowed the best features from both the Mauser 98 and the Model 54. It retained the Mauser’s massive extractor and controlled-feed system but utilized a cone-shaped breech like the Model 54’s, which guided cartridges into the chamber even if they weren’t perfectly aligned. In place of the Mauser’s slow, jarring firing-pin fall, the Model 70’s was very fast and smooth. The trigger was the best ever designed for a hunting rifle, period-“a three-piece miracle of simplicity that gave an excellent pull, would never fail, and once adjusted was adjusted forever.

But the Model 70 has had a rocky road. Pre-“World War II examples were fine, but after the war quality steadily declined, and the ones turned out before the old model’s demise in 1963 were shoddy indeed. Winchester’s then-president decreed that it must die because it was too costly to produce.

In 1964, Winchester announced a new Model 70 that was cheaper and basically a good gun, but it was big-time, serious Ugly. Shooters beheld it and were outraged. Their fury did not abate until 1994, when Winchester reintroduced the traditional design under the name Model 70 Classic.

Many of the original Model 70s are now collector’s pieces, particularly in the scarcer calibers, and some people will pay very fancy prices for them. Its luster remains undimmed. Never before and probably never again will we see such a combination of accuracy, reliability, grace, and mystique.

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3 Responses

  1. T.R.

    I have to take the 50 best guns ever made list with a grain of salt . Seriously , a ruger cowboy 6 shooter ? no Glocks ? or model 1911 ? what about one of the most rugged , dependable , hard hitting , bolt actions with 2 world wars under its belt …….the Mosin-Nagant ? looks like an ad for win. and ruger . but like I said , grain of salt .

  2. Michael B

    I am not a member of this forum but wanted to comment as I fully agree with T.R…. Grain of Salt! I'm a Marine with 5 tours overseas during this current conflict, as a straight-leg infantryman, a sniper and a private security contractor overseas. I've seen and used my fair share of firearms, both for sport and work and I counted about 10-12 out of the 50 that I would agree with. But then again, this entire subject is based on opinion so it's the authors favorite 50 I guess, definitely not mine. My .02

  3. Usedguns

    Thank you for every other informative blog. Where else may just I get that type of info written in such an ideal way? I have a project that I’m simply now working on, and I have been at the look out for such info.


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