Resurecting the Champ – Restoring my Model 70 Winchester

Winchester Model 70

Winchester Model 70

Back in the mid-sixties, my father wanted a gun to use for hunting. My mother and uncle went to Hampel’s Gun Shop in Traverse City, Michigan and picked out a brand new 1967 Winchester Model 70 in 30-06. For the next twelve years, my father greatly enjoyed owning this rifle. Sadly, he passed away in 1979. I was seven years old at the time.

For many years the rifle sat cased and in the closet, waiting for me to be old enough to use it. When that time came, I was pleased to get the rifle, but not really ready to own it. By this I mean I abused the rifle. It wasn’t just the rifle either. Pretty much everything I owned had to endure quite a bit of torture. ATVs were run ragged, cars were mangled and that rifle went from being in mint condition to looking like a war-time leftover. As I got a little older, I bought a new Model 70 in 7mm Rem Mag with a synthetic stock. The ’06 was pushed into the back of the closet again.

To say that gun holds a special place in my heart is an understatement. So when I was finally in a position to fix it up, I wanted to return it to glory as much as possible. I disassembled it to see what damage was done and what parts would need the most work.

Winchester Model 70 plateNow you may ask why all the fuss over a rifle that never seems to get much respect. I’ve had several people say that it is too bad it isn’t a 1964 Winchester instead of a 1967. Well that is right, it isn’t a control round feed, pre-64 action. But it is buttery smooth, remarkably accurate with the right ammo and has a nice, light trigger.

Got the blues
The bluing on the barrel and receiver was in rough shape. Surface rust and too much time in cases took a toll. So first on the agenda was a bit of work with some steel wool and a buffing wheel on my Dremel. After it was all cleaned back up, some touch ups with PermaBlue solved the issue. It looks nice and was easy to do.

Stock shock
The original stock was in rough shape. I originally was planning to strip the finish and have the original stock redone. After closer inspection, I found some cracks in the grain that would affect accuracy. It was heart breaking, but I knew the best thing for the gun would be a new stock. I could have gone synthetic. I have a Hogue stock on another rifle I really like, but this rifle needed wood. That led me to Boyd’s gun stocks. Boyd’s is a South Dakota-based business that makes some really beautiful stocks. I ordered one of their JR’s stocks in a gray pepper finish. The fit was perfect. I was prepared to have to do a little filing and sanding, but there was no need. I could not be any happier wit this stock. It looks amazing and is just perfect. If you have any stock needs, see Boyd’s.

Bottom’s up
I also needed to replace the bottom metal. I had robbed the floor plate and trigger guard from this gun for another project and never replaced it. Finding a cheap replacement was difficult but when I really got into this project, I found that cheap was not really the way to go. I went to Williams Firearms Company and got exactly what I needed. They make the best bottom metal anywhere. I couldn’t be more impressed with a product. The fit and finish are flawless. The prices were actually better than buying used stuff off eBay and to be honest, the quality of the Williams stuff is light years beyond anything the original equipment ever aspired to be. If you have a Model 70, do yourself a favor and go to Williams and buy their floor plate. If you have a pre-64 action, their extractors are a huge upgrade too. You’ll be very happy.

When I got the rifle, the Leupold 2-7×32 Vari-X II scope was mounted using see-through rings as the gun also has iron sights. This is okay, except that I never used the iron sights and the see-through rings made me hold my head higher than I liked. I knew I wanted to toss them, but what to do? I still wanted the option of the iron sights. Leupold rings and bases were what I wanted to go with so I did my research and decided on their quick detach set up. A quick turn of the tab and the scope can be removed. Putting it back on is just as easy and yes, it returns right to the zero every time. Leupold makes quality stuff. I also upgraded the scope to a 3-9X 40 VXII.

Feeding time
Okay, I had my rife all back together and couldn’t be happier with how it looks. But will it shoot? I needed a pile of ammo to see how it was going to respond to the changes. I got my grubby hands on some Federal Premium loaded with 180-grain Barnes Triple Shock and MXR bullets. Woo, doggy these things like to come out of this rifle. I was shooting MOA at 150 yards. Not too shabby for a rifle that was dead in the water not that long ago.
For a few bucks, I was able to take a rifle that had great sentimental value to me and restore it to being not just a functional rifle, but one I am insanely proud of and feel that it is better than many of the rifles on the new shelves today. I will happily put this rifle back into rotation as a hunting rifle and, most importantly, will pass it on to my son when he is ready to start hunting.

Rings ‘n things
When I got the rifle, the Leupold 2-7×32 Vari-X II scope was mounted using see-through rings as the gun also has iron sights. This is okay, except that I never used the iron sights and the see-through rings made me hold my head higher than I liked. I knew I wanted to toss them, but what to do? I still wanted the option of the iron sights. Leupold rings and bases were what I wanted to go with so I did my research and decided on their quick detach set up. A quick turn of the tab and the scope can be removed. Putting it back on is just as easy and yes, it returns right to the zero every time. Leupold makes quality stuff. I also upgraded the scope to a 3-9X 40 VXII.

Feeding time
Okay, I had my rife all back together and couldn’t be happier with how it looks. But will it shoot? I needed a pile of ammo to see how it was going to respond to the changes. I got my grubby hands on some Federal Premium loaded with 180-grain Barnes Triple Shock and MXR bullets. Woo, doggy these things like to come out of this rifle. I was shooting MOA at 150 yards. Not too shabby for a rifle that was dead in the water not that long ago.

Outwrite Truth
Winchester Model 70 ammoFor a few bucks, I was able to take a rifle that had great sentimental value to me and restore it to being not just a functional rifle, but one I am insanely proud of and feel that it is better than many of the rifles on the new shelves today. I will happily put this rifle back into rotation as a hunting rifle and, most importantly, will pass it on to my son when he is ready to start hunting.