The Model 70 Laredo Ahead of Its Time

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Back in the early 90s, Winchester started making an action that very closely resembled the classic much loved, pre 64 Model 70 action of legend.  This was an immediate hit with  riflemen with taste.  There was some differences between the new and old, but it was close enough. Some would say it was probably better, or at least made out of stronger modern steel.   After the initial offerings of the typical boring hunting sporters proved to be a hit, Olin started offering the good stuff.

The picture above is one of the very interesting rifles they made and sold in the mid to late 90s.   It is the Model 70 Laredo.   The Laredo came with a H-S Precision stock that was pillar bedded and had an aluminum bedding block.  Instead of having to send it off to a gunsmith or glass bedding it in some do it your self project, it was ready to go. The barrel was free floated and the bedding block gave a solid bedding that would not wear out or break down over time from recoil or solvents and oil. The fore arm was flat with stud for sling or bipod and the pistol grip and a very ergonomic palm swell that fit the hand nicely and was ambi in its shape

The action was the new M70 “classic” action, which as I said above was a modern pre 64 CRF action.  The Laredo was a long action and came in magnum chamberings. This one was chambered in 7mm remington mag.  The barrel was non SS and was 24 inches long with a medium heavy target taper to .950 at the muzzle with a very nice recessed target crown.  The trigger was standard Model 70 adjustable down to 2.5 pounds very easily.

The gun was marketed as a “beanfield” deer rifle. That was a marketing term at the time meant to get deer hunters interested in a rifle they could shoot  further with.  At the time of this guns birth. the AWb had not become law.   And in a sad twist of fate, this led to the guns demise.

If you are too young to know, or maybe not interested in this type of rifle during those years, here is the story.

Before the AWB of 94. it was easy to find just about anything you wanted when it came to semi auto versions of combat rifles. You could some stuff that is very exotic now and so hard to find it would approach Class III prices now.  On top of that. the popularity of snipers was non existent. Most shooters did not know much about the USA’s heroic snipers or the rifles used in sniping.   After the AWB, people wanted some kind of military or tactical type rifle and at the same time a few things got very popular, very fast.  A slew of Vietnam vets wrote books about their time as snipers.  Carlos Hathcock became more and more well known to shooters who otherwise never heard of him.  And of course, the government telling people “no” instantly drove them to want something “tactical.”  A few  other things combined as the 90s came to a close to make sniping and tactical rifles very popular.  Th e internet, more and more small custom shops, movies and more really made that market pick up.

But, it was too late for the Laredo.  the gun was out before  this wave of interest in long rage shooting hit big, and Winchester stopped making it right when it would have possibly taken off.  Another reason was  the gun rag writers constantly telling every one only the M700 remington was the standard.  The Army using the M24 and the USMC the M40 took people wanting what the military used sealed the deal on it having a chance at being considered.

It is a real shame.

I used the Laredo as my 1st 1,000 yard gun.  the 7mm mag may not be the best 1000 yard choice, but its a great choice for a college kid, with little money to spend and needed a factory offering.   I loaded the gun with 168 grain 7mm matchkings and later 175 gr HPBT match kings.  The flat shooting 7mm Mag and the mild recoil compared to the 300 win mag, made it pleasant to me since I am not a huge person.  The 7mm is more forgiving out to 1,000 then the 308 even if the barrel wears out faster.   Shooting that far  is mostly mental. Confidence is a big factory in making hits at 1,000 to 1,200.  And the 7mm helped me think i had an edge. Really , it is a pretty good choice, but not great.  Having a great deal of confidence in it did help me shoot better and shooting better let me concentrate on what mattered instead of worrying over the wrong things.

This rifle now belongs to some one else. Sold when I realized it was collecting dust more then being fired after I moved on to better rifles. Now the rifle has picatinny bases and rings canted for long range and a Millet scope.

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Scope has a wide range of magnification up to 25x and has a 56 mm objective lens. It has target turrets in mils and has a mildot crosshair  along with a 30mm tube.  Base is Badger with leupold Mk4 rings.  To finish it off as a factory made affordable rifle for 1,000 yard plus shooting is a set of Harris Bipods.

The rifle still shoots sub MOA but is likely getting tired. I shot it a lot and new owner is hell on a rifle barrel and does not have my obsession with cleaning match barrels. the gun has been used to hit a 16 ounce coke bottle at 850 yards repeatedly when shooter actually meant to do it!!

The Laredo Model 70 is a fine rifle and it is a real shame it is not being made now.  Current FN produced M70s are fine guns but they  are not New Haven guns with that rich tradition and, worst of all, do not have the classic model 70 trigger that is so easy to adjust to whatever pull weight you wish within safety reason.

If, you are looking for a rifle to get your feet wet in the 1,000 shooting game. this is still a great choice. If you could find one in 7mm mag or 300 Mag and the barrel is in good shape I would not hesitate.   The reliability of the control round feed does not need even more words about how reliable and desirable it is from me. Its rep speaks for itself at this point.

The Laredo is a hard model to find these days. But in some areas of the country you are more likely to find a used one if good shape. Even if the barrel is shot out, this is a outstanding choice to start a custom project for a long range gun.  You would get a long action that would take a wide variety of long range chamberings and the stock is essentially a drop in match ready stock.  Having a new barrel installed to the caliber of your choice, would result in a rifle that could do anything you asked it to do within reason.

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The 1990s did not have much good news for the gun world. We had the AWB, Clinton and other crimes against humanity. but it did give us the bitter sweat Laredo. The sweet, sweet laredo M70 with the pre 64 action  ready for anything and the bitter news of its early and sad demise before the next generation of shooters of tactical rifles and sniping could discover and rescue it from   the doom of countless other rifles ahead of their time.

 

 

11 thoughts on “The Model 70 Laredo Ahead of Its Time”

  1. Shawn,
    Thanks for the great artical. I have a model 70 Laredo Classic 300 win mag LHR. I have owned it for 15+ years. Like you said they are few and far between. That is part of my problem. My interest have changed as I am getting older and now it’s way more about the hunt and camp than it is about taking game. Since switching to bow hunting most of the time the last 3-4 years to get closer to animals I haven’t used the Laredo much. The strange thing is i have always wanted a sharps 45-70 like most others after watching ole Quigley do his thing down under. I recently scratched that itch and purchased a 45-70 C-sharps with all the intentions of taking a white tail with that long open tang back sight and the globe front sight. So I am torn. Keep my Classic or let it go. The boss lady here at the casa doesn’t think I need both! Your article makes me want to keep my (sweet, sweet) Laredo for sure.
    Thanks
    David

    1. Dave, Keep it. it is a perfect 1,000 yard gun and its rare as hens teeth. it doesnt cost anything for it to sit there and when its gone its gone forever. its not like you have to pay property taxes on it and it doesnt use water electricity or need feeding. I see no reason to sell it. plus I will tell you right now, that 45-70 is going to get boring and lose its appeal pretty damn fast

  2. Shawn, I am going to keep it. Thanks for the pep talk. I have never shot it at a target over 600 yards with my leupold 4.5 x 14 x 50 vari x -III. I was looking at a millett 6x25x56 LRS. what do you think about that scope for reaching out.

    1. Dave, the leupold is enough to shoot as far as you want. more magnification does not equal better long range performance. I feel 15x is the cut off for longer range shooting while for a variety of reason too long to go into here. beyond about 15x things go down hill in the clarity of the optic for long range and things like haze, mirage boil and light transmission is lost because of the higher Xs. Not to mention you natural wobble is made to seem worse. 14x with a 50 m is about perfect in my opinion for a 1000 yard rifle meant to field work, not benchrest. Of course you will need a scope base canted to allow extra elevation on your scope if it does not have enough elevation ( which I likely doesnt.) but thats not big dea, leupold makes a long range canted bas for about 17 bucks. also, targrt style turrets are pretty much a must, trying to use a coin or screw driver is a pain in the ass,. Its better to have the larger target turrets to make the adjustments quick and easy enough to LR shooting. and to keep track of your clicks. but really the M70 with that scope is a damn good starting point that doesnt need much, Millet is and OK scope and for their price range it would be a good buy, but you have the leupold already and its very very hard to beat leupold plus its way out of the same league as millet.

      1. Shawn, scope base canted?
        1. Is that a single base or 2 piece or a rail and canted means with a bubble level correct? 20 moa?
        2. What exact turrets do I need to get and where to get them?3. I will quit bothering you 🙂
        I am just a hunter learning, thank very much.

        1. the base is one piece and it has about a 10 degree angle cant from back to rear. you can not even see it with the naked eye. it puts the front of the optic lower then the rear. just like adjusting a rear iron sight. 20 is about the standard and you would not need more cant then 20 MOA. the base would be thicker in the rear to give it a slope. this lets the scope have all of the up elevation for use instead of taking up a large portion of it just to zero at say 100 yards. you get the full amount of “clicks” to use to adjust elevation
          the turrets are standard on many model leupold scopes, they can intall them on your current scope if you send it to them.

  3. The really rare rifle from that same timeframe is the Model 70 Sharpshooter from ’93. It had an action trued and barreled by Gary Sneider. It was then sent to McMillan to have them pillar bed the action into an A2 tactical sniper stock. These were offered in 308 and 300WM.

    I was a USRAC sales rep at the time and took my 300WM sample to a distributor show/tell in North Dakota. Loaded with SIE200MK’s, I had the distributor salesmen fire from a bench rest until each hit water-filled, plastic mayonnaise jars at 600 yds. I would watch over the top of them with my big Kowa and walk them into center by watching the mirage. Only one person had to fire more than one shot as the mirage was gently rolling L-R and very consistent. Most just held off on the left edge of the jar.

    These rifles were factory guaranteed to shoot 1/2MOA. With handloands, mine put 9 of 10 shots into a group that I could fully cover with a 3″ NRA spotter at 600yds.

    1. Jerry Stordhal had a great write up and review of the custom sharpshooter in Precision Shooting magazine in 2004 I believe. Like me, Jerry only has the custom sharpshooter II

  4. I’m still shooting my 7mm Laredo and I love it . only problem my 19yo son loves it to and wants one so if anyone’s has one they want to part with please let me know.

  5. 10/10 bolt action shooter.

    I own this rifle (Winchester Mod. 70 Laredo 7mm Rem mag. heavy barrel /w BOSS). It is the most accurate distance shooter I have. I bought this rifle in 1999 or 2000 from a shop owner in South Carolina that accepted a Remington 700 .308 and a little cash. I visited the shop a while later and the owner must have realized his mistake because he wanted to trade me a new Winchester Model 70 stealth; claiming it was “the newer model”. I don’t even think the one he offered was the same caliber.

    I told him I already shot the Laredo and wasn’t interested in trading. He was unhappy about the deal and insinuated I was being unfair. I never returned to his shop again. Years passed.

    Five years ago in 2012 I was having money troubles and had to sell some guns. I had a difficult time finding information on how to price my Mod. 70 Laredo. I could never tack down a price because I was getting wildly disproportionate values from all over the net. So I shelved the idea. I’m glad I didn’t sell it because this rifle has increased in value.

    Current day: I’ve decided I’m going to pass my Winchester Mod. 70 Laredo down my family because money can be made, but this rifle isn’t anymore. It keeps increasing in value and collectability. This rifle is a winner. Right off the production line it was a marksman rifle. I own a lot of firearms, but the Winchester 70 Laredo is the only one I’m willing to write at length about.

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