Winchester Model 52

The Winchester Model 52.  One of the greatest rifles of all time. Some even have called it “perfect” in the past.  I don’t know if it is perfect but it comes about as close to it as I would want in a rimfire target rifle that comes from a factory.     The M52 was made in a time when manufacturers still made  stuff mostly by hand. Especially when it was prestige or target model.

The 52 came out in 1919 and was used in the national matches that year and it was an instant hit.   The original models, often referred to now as “As’ or Pre As”  looked more like  a training rifle for the military ( which it was meant to be) than it looked like most people’s concept of a target rifle.   It went on to be refined over the years before it was discontinued.

The two we are going to look at here is the model52 “B” and “C” variants.

The differences in the two variants is slight.   The triggers are different designs, the barrel band is slightly different than the stock has minor differences but they would not really have been different enough for Winchester to bother to note  them as different models in catalogs at the time.

The top rifle is the “C” and as you can see, it has mounted on it a 20x power Unertl combination rifle scope. The Unertl/Fecker type optics attached to the guns via target blocks that are screwed to the barrels.  You can see see the target blocks the optics mount to  on the barrel of the lower rifle. I will have more on the Unertl in a few days if it as caught your attention

All rifles would accept all of the popular target iron sights of their time. Usually something made by Lyman or Redfield.   The lower gun has mounted Redfield  Olympic competition ironsights. The rifles take a standard 5 round detachable magazine that is removed via the mag release button seen on the right side.

The rifles have an accessory rail on the bottom of the stock forend.  This allowed attachment of the front sling swivel and the  combination handstop/sling swivel seen on both guns.  This was for shooting with sling in matches.  The rail also would accept  other items for use off hand standing,    The pattern of stock is known as the”marksman” stock and was used  on the Model70  national match  andd Bullguns. It was so well thought of that it continued on into the early 2000s but as a synthetic model made by HS-Precision with a bedding block and pillars for the heavy varmint line of Model70s.

The barrels are  heavy contour match barrels. When I say match I do mean match. They have a flat 90 degree target  crown  and you can see the target block  for placing the olympic  front sight with either globe of post.

Accuracy testing the rifles was done with the 20x Unertl on a rest. All groups were fired at 50 yards.

 

As with center fire rifles,  rimfires have their favorite loads.   If you want the best out of your rimfire,match ammo is a must and not the high velocity stuff.   A well known phenomenon is that  a 22 rimfire will shoot better of damp days.   For further accuracy  I recommend a Niel Jones rimfire headspace gauge for measuring rim thickness for consistency and weighing live rounds into lots.

http://www.neiljones.com/html/rimfire_gauge.html

rimfire

Both guns were shot with a variety of ammo in five shot groups.

 

I won’t give any commentary  about the groups pictures and will allow readers to view them  all sine each group has ammo type used noted.

As you can see three different people  fired both guns using a large range in ammo. The Eley Edge and Federal ammo being the  best performers across all three shooters and both guns.   No surprise there.   The Fiocchi  320  was a surprise to me though.  My friend who purchased mentioned that only that lot shot that well. That identical boxes of a different lot shot terribly.  That is why you always test  your zero when going to a new lot of factory ammo. Especially if  you are a Police sniper.  Even if you are not, it is very prudent to check zero and accuracy when you use a different lot of the same ammo.

The Winchester Model52 is another great American classic. If you are into vintage target rifles or you want a rifle you could do well with in any local match , you can’t go wrong with a M52.

 

8 thoughts on “Winchester Model 52”

  1. Oh, GOODY, goody, goody, goody.

    THIS is a subject near and dear to my heart. Unfortunately, I’m piled up with a ton of other things to do today, and can’t offer comments I have about 52’s. I will try to get back here tomorrow to offer up some comments on 52’s and aftermarket triggers for same (which you can find on many used 52’s from the B onwards).

    The 52 is one of my most favorite rifles of all time. I love 52’s.

  2. Me too buddy. There are a few things I LOVE to the point I would ask to be buried with them when I die. The pre 64 Model 70 heavy varmint in 243WCF, a Colt 1911, A colt AR15. Coca-cola, and a Winchester model 52

  3. What is a 52B worth these days? The stock was modified to accept a Al Freeland hook for position shooting.

    1. It depends on the sights.

      What lots of people don’t realize is that those globe-n-peep sights on target rifles can be worth $400 on up all by themselves. Some of the old Unertl scopes can also be worth some significant coin as well. Gotta give me more details before I can give you a ballpark.

    2. Thats waaaay to vague to give you any kinda of idea bout worth. It really depends what model. what kind of sights, accessories. how its been screwed around with, when it was made etc.

  4. OK, I’ve finished what I had to do today, and I have some moments to write up some thoughts on Winnie 52’s, both the target version and the non-target version.

    “What’s that, DG? There were non-target versions?”

    Why, yes there were.

    OK, let’s back up a bit. The Winchester 52 was made from 1919 to 1979. After 1979, there were some more “Model 52’s” made by Miroku in Japan. These will have a very glossy stock and glossy blueing. They will not have the value of New Haven-made 52’s. They shoot OK from what I’ve heard from people who own them. I’m not going to discuss the Miroku 52’s.

    The 52 comes in several letter-suffix variants. The 52A, B, C, D and E. D and E variants were target models only; the A, B and C variants were available in both Sporter and Target variants. Pristine Sporter 52’s are worth serious money – $2000 to $5000. Target 52’s can be found from $700 on up.

    The C and later variants had better triggers than the straight 52, A’s and B’s. This gets us into aftermarket triggers on 52’s: There were two that were semi-common: The Canjar and the Kenyon. The Canjar triggers were out of Denver, CO, and Kenyon triggers were built and installed by Karl Kenyon of Ely, NV. I got to meet Mr. Kenyon before he passed away a few years back. A real gentleman and a superlative expert on triggers. Pacific Tool & Gauge is now making replica Kenyon triggers:

    http://pacifictoolandgauge.com/winchester-triggers/5284-ptg-precision-kenyon-style-adjustable-benchrest-trigger-win-m70.html?search_query=kenyon&results=2

    Canjar triggers were also adjustable. Both of these triggers can be set to very, very light trigger weights, safely. My one note about Canjar triggers is that sometimes, their trigger shoes are made from aluminum, and they’re held onto the original trigger with a 2-56 screw. Well, electrolytic corrosion can cause that fine-thread screw becoming seized in the aluminum trigger shoe. The fatter shoe can prevent the barreled action from being removed from the stock (that’s why they used a screw to put the shoe onto the trigger).

    The important thing about target 52’s is this: They often came with a whole bunch of accessories – fixtures that fit the accessory rail in the forearm, inserts for the globe sight, different peeps for the rear sight, magazines, etc. These need to be kept with the rifle to maximize the value of the rifle. If the trigger was replaced with a Canjar or Kenyon trigger,

    I have a 52B with a Canjar trigger and a custom stock made by a Trinidad student in the early 60’s.

    The book to own to learn more about the 52’s is this one:

    “Winchester Model 52: Perfection in Design”

    It will set you back several hundred dollars even in the used examples.

    1. Arrg. Forgot to finish the sentence:

      If the trigger was replaced with a Canjar or Kenyon trigger, keep the original trigger. It can be easily replaced into the rifle if you have buyer who wants the rifle in “as original” condition.

      There’s nothing “wrong” with the original 52 trigger. It’s just that it cannot be set down to ounces of trigger pull weight like the Canjar or Kenyon triggers. Anschuetz really changed the .22 rifle market when they came out with their Model 54 rifle action and triggers. The top-end .22LR rifles still available as new today are basically upgrades of the original Model 54 Annies (eg, the Annie 18xx’s, 20xx’s, etc).

    2. yes the model 52 sporter is very rare and very valuable. the Model 75 target rimfire had a sporter version as well and it is even more rare. while the adjustable micro motion trigger of the so called “C” models is nice one of the issues with Cs is that the heat treatment done on the Cs often left the action face crooked from the warping of the heat treatment process. This also means the threads are not straight. if you remove the gun from the stock on a lot of Cs you will see punch marks on the action face that a winchester gun smith put there using peening to throw up enough metal against the barrel to make it “straight” enough to fit in the barrel channel of the stock. if you see that peening on a C you know why it was done.

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