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The Model 70 Laredo

Preparing some stuff for articles the next few days has left me without much to post about today. So here is an oldie from the Groovyard of the forgotten Past articles for those who didn’t see it back in 2013. which is 99 percent of you.


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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.

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7 thoughts on “The Model 70 Laredo”

  1. I was more into semi-autos and milsurp stuff in the 1990s, but it’s my general impression that bolt rifles have come a long ways in the last 20-25 years. Is that true? If so, has that impacted the prices of quality bolt guns made 25 years ago?

    • oh yes. factory bolt guns have improved big time in the last 20 years. It started towards the last 5 years of the 94 AWB. “sniper” rifles started to really become popular and the buying public demanded better quality and accuracy. there was a time from the 70s to 80s that factory bolt guns were pretty shitty. Onev the HS stocks,. bedding blocks and etc started to show up shooters took to it. Mostly driven by the varmint shooters who used the target/varmint rifles. The barrels got a lot better too. Man some of those old 70s and 80s guns were so bad you were lucky to get 2.5 MOA at 100 yards even with handloads. Younger shooters today have no idea how spoiled they are with factory bolt guns as accurate as they are. A gun that would shoot 1 inch at 100 in the 80s and do it on demand was nearly unheard of for a factory rifle

      • Yes, Shawn, that’s my impression, that 1 MOA was a rare factory rifle indeed in the 1990s, and you’d probably have to pay bucks for it. Whereas these days they are quite common, with rack-grade guns (like Ruger Americans) will commonly shoot under 2 MOA.

        I’m putting together a deer/elk gun and I was sorely tempted by the Savage AR10-pattern guns, but I found a smoking deal on a Tikka and took it.

    • Well… it depends on what you mean by “coming a long ways.”

      In terms of the tightness of manufacturing tolerances/allowances? Yes, especially in custom 700-clone actions. Let’s put aside the actual Remington 700 into one category which has gotten worse, and the 700 clone (or 700 “footprint”) actions into another pile, which have become astonishingly good.

      In terms of the safety features on bolt actions? Well then, no, the action that has the most safety features in bolt actions has been the Mauser 98 action, and all bolt actions since then have removed safety features. It doesn’t matter which bolt action – the Winchester Model 70, Savage action, Weatherby Mark V, Remington 700, or 788, or any other bolt action (1903, 1914/1917, etc). They’ve all removed safety features to make them easier to machine or cheaper to manufacture. The one new bolt action out there that actually has a blend of safety features and has reversed this trend if the Mausingfield action:

      https://www.americanrifle.com/shop/product/mausingfield-bolt-action-2

      The quality of barrels on bolt actions has improved to some extent, making them more accurate out of the box. The quality of synthetic stocks has improved, but the quality of wood stocks has become very “meh” on mass produced rifles. The quality of triggers available in the aftermarket has gone up dramatically in the last 25 years on most rifles. The availability of high quality replacement barrels has gone up dramatically in the last 25 years.

      The net result is that if you’re willing to pay $2K or so for a semi-custom rifle assembled from good components, you can achieve some very high levels of accuracy with relatively little smithing on the rifle.

      • my response was to accuracy oriented factory varmint/”target” rifles. their accuracy has improved there is no question about that. I have no concern for wood stock sporters. The laredo or heavy varmint Model 70s of the late 90s and 2000s was a hell of a lot better than a 1970s post 64 model 70. most big name brand varmint rifles accuracy improved over the years.
        I have given up the bolt guns since around 06 anyways. The Ar15 pattern will do everything I need including varmint hunting and long range shooting. and for a hell of a lot less money

        • Winchester was the second company to try to do “Reputation company tries to make guns on the cheap” – the first being Remington.

          Winchester’s customers, however, were used to the Winchester of old, and the changes they put into their products post-64 were met with near-universal ridicule and revulsion. Aluminum bottom metal on Model 70’s, crappy barrels, etc – really pissed people off. Remington was always the lower-class company of the American gun market, and their customers were perfectly content with nonsense like the Rem 700’s extractor and trigger, which is truly a piece of crap design/implementation.

          When you see what Winchester made pre-WWII, then you understand why they command a premium. Especially the Model 12’s of higher grade, the Model 21’s and 24’s of higher grade, the 70’s of higher grade, etc.

          The AR pattern rifles have come a long, long way in accuracy (precision, actually) since the end of the “some scary guns Ban Act of 1994.” We’ve learned a crapload about what makes AR’s accurate in that time. This is another reason why I ridicule and mock gun banners. These idiots have no idea just how inventive, focused and zealous gun people are. The European gun makers have nothing, and I mean NOTHING like the level of expertise, interest, out-of-pocket funding, etc in gun research that pays results in the long term. Same deal for people who make AR’s out of composite materials, with features to get around gun bans, you name it.

          We are a people who will not be stopped. This salient point is just so easy to see on so many topics where “smart people” try to control us. Emissions on vehicles? Go to a junkyard and start building your own vehicle – from car to Class VIII truck. Radio that is blocked to exclude cellular frequencies? Build your own radio. Computer with built-in spyware? Build your own. On and on and on – you can see that there is a segment of the US population who give a universal single-finger salute to the nanny-staters. Gun people are vastly represented among the single-finger salute crowd.

          As for bolt guns vs. semi-autos: I own both, of course. As I become older and a better shooter with age and experience, I prefer a slick bolt gun because it doesn’t slow me down the way a semi-auto does. I manage the sight picture of a bolt gun better than the sight picture of a semi-auto. But that’s me. The larger magazine of an AR is sometimes nice, but any more, on my AR’s that I use for hunting coyotes, I use 20 round mags, so the rifle is easier to use prone.

  2. I don’t have any trigger time on the Winchester but I know they’re fine rifles. I’ve always been a 700 guy for pretty much the reasons you hit on in the article; came into shooting in the early-mid 90s and “that’s what the M40 has” carried a lot of weight. First bolt was a 700 Police that quickly got rebuilt to an M40A1 spec with deployment money. Have a few more 700s but it’s my preference that I’ve always like the lines of the rifles you can build from them. Lots of good shops turning them into great shooters. LRI can do some great stuff with them and their CNC videos are darn near hypnotic to watch.

    I remember those days back then reading through the early forums. If you had a pre-ban Colt MT6601 and a 1000rds of Winchester Q3131A you were a badass! I shoot an AR more than anything else but still love sending it behind a good bolt when I can. If nothing else it’s easier to police up your brass!

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