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6 thoughts on “1949 Winchester Model 70 Prices”

  1. For the top rifle on the left-facing page, with a price of $117.20, running that through the BLS inflation calculator we get a price in September 2020 dollars of $1,271.03.

    I think one could still make a profit making a Model 70 at a MSRP of $1300.

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    • Would you make your own barrels and actions? Find good wood and do your own checkering? What do you charge per hour for your smithing? Lots of luck and when you finish you have a fine rifle but it still isn’t a Winchester M70. Part of the value is the Winchester mystique. My Pat McMillan Light Varmint .222.5 cal. rifle has an action, barrel and stock all made by him. Would be lucky to get way less than what i paid him for it in the late ’60’s.

      Reply
        • And if USRAC were not paying the union rates because they refused to move out of CT.

          The $1200 above was for the bottom of the grade spectrum in the Win 70 catalog above.

          One of the ways to look at how to make a profit in well-finished guns is to look at how the Italians do it. They invest heavily in two things: the best machinery (5-axis machines which will reduce specialized tooling and fixtures) and then the best employees, whom they pay well. Rather than hiring more employees, they look for very high talent employees with high productivity. This goes against how unions operate.

          The union mentality in gun companies located in union states is part of what is killing their profitability – just as it did to cars. By the early 2000’s, I could see that GM was in trouble. In my investing analysis on GM, I came to two conclusions: a) GM was a HMO that made cars as a hobby, where ‘hobby’ is defined as a business-like activity that loses money, and b) the only part of GM that was clearly making money was their financial arm.

          It all came crashing down in 2008, when the auto-making part of the company could no longer get a new credit line to keep the lights on. The core problem was the union wage scales and benefit packages – where GM was having to pay full wages and benefits for union employees who never, ever did any actual work, and yet they could not be laid off. The arms companies of New England aren’t quite as bad, but they put Winchester out of business at least twice.

          This is part of why Kimber and Pratt & Whitney just relocated to North Carolina, a right-to-work state. You’re going to see more and more manufacturing companies locate in right-to-work states until the unions are choked out of existence – then you might see manufacturing companies locate in New England or the upper midwest again.

          Reply
    • There’s definitely a market, albeit not a large one, $1300 seems underpriced, a Kimber Classic Select is around $1500, and a Nosler 48 Heritage lists a bit over $2000. If I was FNH I would shoot for $1495 MSRP and maybe use a Timney trigger on the theory it’s more of a custom shop offering than a production rifle. The question is where to make it and whether tooling exists. I think some good manufacturing engineers could find more efficient ways to machine an action and reduce some of the hand fitting to leave more resources for final finish work.

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      • People keep telling me “there’s not a large market for expensive guns” where “expensive” seems to be defined as “four-digit number.”

        Really? Then how do so many Italian arms manufactures sell so many high-priced (> $1K) shotguns into the US? How does our market support so many different companies selling a very similar product at these high price levels?

        The objective evidence shows us that there is a market for better quality guns. Gun writers, because they’re paid jack-shit, don’t want to admit that there are people who are paid more than people in the gun media, and who can afford to pay more for a gun.

        This is one of the central problems of the “gun media” as I see it. We have far too many people trying to make a living off “writing about guns” – when it has never, ever been possible to “make a living writing about guns.” Then gun writers point at Jack O’Conner and his generation of gun writers and demand “What about them, huh? What about those guys writing about guns, huh? Huh?”

        Well, O’Conner was a college professor. Townsend Whelen was a career US Army officer. The famous writers of African lore were often independently wealthy, or came from wealthy families and had stipends.

        The nut of the issue is that a) gun writers today now skew towards the impoverished end of the pay scale, and b) they seem to discount the fact that guns have, throughout history, often been toys and baubles for wealthy individuals. The result now is that we have a “gun media” who has skewed the mindset of the gun buying public that guns should be the one physical item made of durable materials that should be kept constant in price, even as the buying power of the US Dollar is deliberately and consistently eroded by the Federal Reserve as a result of their “inflation targeting” policy, where they want to see an inflation rate of about 2% per year.

        When I was born, you could buy a pretty nice car for about $3K+. Today, a pickup that might have cost $3K+ in 1960 now costs you a minimum of $40K, and with the involuntary up-selling to get useful features, you’re likely looking at pickups over $50K. People happily pay those prices, but complain about adjusting their expectation of gun prices for inflation, yet some of the same people will tell you to “own gold” along with owning “guns and lead.”

        It’s like there’s this deliberate blind spot that has been created around the subject of gun pricing.

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