Jul 14, 2013

New Rifle: Winchester Model 70 Featherweight

I mentioned before that while I was home, visiting my folks, last weekend, my father gave me a brand new deer rifle and a few encouraging words: "You won't miss a buck with this one Michael". Well, his words absolutely ring true. I just got back from the rifle range. My shoulder is pretty sore, but I know it's nothing compared to whatever finds itself on the receiving end of this rifle this season. He gave me a really pretty Winchester Model 70 Featherweight. It's a bolt action rifle in .30-06. It's light and extremely accurate. I zeroed it for 100 yards, which is just about as far of a shot that I'd ever have, where I hunt at the Frederick Watershed. With it zeroed for 100 yards I had no problem switching between my targets at 50 & 100 yards. I was firing some milsurp ammo; M2 Ball (FMJ) and some hunting ammo; Winchester 180 grain hunting rounds. 

Winchester came out with the Model 70 in 1936. Though mine was made in the past couple of years. It's a 5 round, bolt action rifle. The action of which, is derived from that of a Mauser, in that it has a three position safety at the rear of the bolt. All the way aft is safe. All the way forward is fire. And the middle position blocks the sear, for extracting jammed rounds, which pretty much never happens because the Model 70 uses a "controlled round" action. This means that, rather than the bolt simply pushing the round into the chamber, it actually grabs the end of the round and controls it when feeding and extracting the round.  The trigger on this rifle is really great.  Winchester claims that there patented MOA trigger system has no take-up, no creep and almost no over-travel.  From my experience at the range today, I can definitely back these claims.  The trigger was really crisp.  The pull is adjustable, but I won't mess with mine; it felt just fine.

Aesthetically speaking, its a sharp looking rifle.  The checking in the wood is cut crisp at the pistol grip and on the schnable fore-end, and is not stamped in.  It feels great in the hands.  Also, sling swivel studs come standard. The barrel is free floating and just for kicks, I slipped a dollar bill between the barrel and the walnut stock (which has a satin finish) and slid it all the way back to the action with no resistance; nice.  To hold this gun in your hands, feels wonderful.  I'm in love with it.  It is a truly beautiful bolt gun in a caliber that can drop big game.  No wonder it's been called The rifleman's rifle for decades.  My father, a rifleman and seasoned hunter himself, has this very same gun albeit much older and with much more character.  Thanks for the great rifle dad; hope to bring some venison home this winter!

Zeroing for 100 yards:
It was awfully hot at the range today. By 10:30 this morning temperatures were already in the high 80's. Sweat dripped from my eyebrows and fogged my shooting glasses while I tried to focus through the scope. Because it was so hot, I wore a T-shirt to the range. I sent 60 rounds down range before my shoulder had had enough. Even with the soft rubber butt pad, my right arm was taking a wallop each time I pulled the trigger. So much so, that I found myself flinching just before completing my squeeze. I caught myself doing this a few times and made a conscious effort to let the gun go off on its own. Just line up, breathe, exhale and *CRACK!* (Ouch!).   Some of my results are below.  At left is a group I shot at 50 yards and at right; 100 yards. Good enough to bag a deer, but I attribute the larger group at 100 yards to my shaking right arm.  Even with my elbow on the table, my arm was shaking after shooting so many rounds.  I better eat my Wheaties.  Winchester claims that this rifle holds a 1" group at 100 yards.  I believe it.  But I think I'll need a bipod to accomplish that.

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