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1946 Army Footlocker Yard Sale Find

It always pays to stop at yard/garage sales when you pass one. Even if it looks like it might just be wahmyn and baby clothes. Especially if it is some guy having one.

After stopping at one last week, this WW2 era footlocker was found and purchased for 20 yankee dollars.

At some point , some one got the bright idea to paint it some combination of purple and white. Hopefully that person is now in pain. The paint was in bad shape and had to go. So out came the scrapers and sander.

After a couple of hours of using up sandpaper like it was free, the foot locker was ready for some proper colored fresh paint.

Storage containers in back also came from yard sale and will be talked about later this week

The inside had seen no abuse so there was no need to paint it. The footlocker was in great shape other than the paint. These things are very cool and useful. It is never wrong to buy one if you have the chance.

The Birth of the Winchester Model 70

Most of this week I was working on some posts about the Model 70 Winchester, my favorite bolt action rifle. I had about half of a long article going when I checked my email today and saw that Rock Island Auction had already finished one. Well that was a lot of work for nothing. Waaa Waaaaah Sad trombone.. So, instead of finishing that first post, here is the RIA article. Or about half of it. Follow the link at bottom to read it all and I will be back with more Model 70 stuff to show you and talk about next week.

From the RIA Gun Blog

The earliest version of the Winchester Model 70 borrowed heavily from its short produced predecessor, the Model 54. Designed by Thomas Johnson and developed in the early 1920s, the Model 54 became the first bolt action rifle made by Winchester and continued production until around 1935. Bolt action rifles had gained popularity in America after World War I since soldiers coming home were well acclimated with them after using their service M1903 and M1917 rifles. Between 1925 and 1941, around 50,000 of these guns were manufactured. The Model 54 came in several different caliber variations with the most popular being .30-30 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield, but customers could also place special orders for other calibers. The gun’s main purpose was for hunting, but was also customized and used in shooting competitions.

The original Model 54 was a dangerous and poorly produced rifle. Originally designed without the necessary gas escape ports, it could present an explosive hazard to its user. This blunder was corrected on later productions of the model, but the gun still fell short with the public. The main reason the Model 54 was never found success was due to the obvious flaws in its bolt and safety design. The wide throw of the bolt and placement of the safety did not all allow for telescopic scopes to be mounted on to the gun which turned away a wide array of civilian and military customers. The trigger was loose due to the cheaper materials used in the gun, causing inaccuracy and a relatively weak action. To say the least, customers were not pleased by the rifle’s performance.

Beyond the shortcomings of the rifle, the fact that it was sold in the Great Depression Era in America also contributed to lower sales. Something had to change in order for the Model 54 to make a profit for Winchester.

Model-54

Rare Winchester Model 54 Deluxe Heavy Barrel Bolt Action Rifle in 250-3000 Savage Caliber

The Winchester Model 54 was a bust and in the hopes of redeeming their name in the bolt action rifle market, Winchester knew they would need to come up with a firearm that knocked its customers’ socks off. In 1935, attempting to use parts and the machinery purchased for the previous gun, they released a much improved version of the bolt action and called it the Winchester Model 70 rifle. The gun was so well made that it is considered one of the finest bolt action rifles made in America. The first incarnation of the Model 70 hit the market in 1936.

The rifle came in 18 cartridge varieties and additional variations were available through special order. The standard Winchester Model 70 offered a 24”, 26”, or 28” inch barrel. Perhaps the best feature of the rifle that made it superior to other guns was the Mauser two lug extractor bolt with controlled round feeding, which was smooth and made for faster firing. The early versions of the gun were equipped to accept stripper for quicker reloading relative to other options on the market. The entire gun was made from steel and wood. The finished pieces were true works of art.

Highly engraved Winchester Model 70

Elaborate Relief Engraved, Gold Inlaid African Big Game Themed Winchester Model 70 Bolt Action Rifle in .458 Winchester Magnum. Avaliable this December.

Hunters, competition shooters, and other sportsmen took a liking to the accurate and efficient Winchester hunting rifle. The first production run was short lived due to the outbreak of World War II, which changed Winchester’s military production efforts. The U.S. military adapted a small amount of Model 70 rifles for training and some use in combat during World War II,  but the government already had on hand thousands of M1903 and M1917 rifles from the first World War, as well as new contracts for thousands of new M1903A3 guns, resulting in little need for another bolt action rifle. In fact, during the Vietnam War, in an attempt to use all available resources, the US government gave troops the Model 70 rifles from World War II for actual use in combat. Despite the advancements in military arms over the last 30 or so years, the Model 70 proved to be an excellent sniper rifle for the Marines with its reliable accuracy and long distance power.

After World War II, small alterations were added to the Winchester Model 70 making the early 1940s era a transitional time for the gun. From the late 1940s to 1963, several different models and chambering adaptations were added. The Varmint, the African, the Alaskan, and the Featherweight are just a few of the variations that came about during that era. Around 600,000 Winchester Model 70 rifles were made in that time span; substantially more than the 50,000 Model 54 rifles produced during its 16 year run. The Model 70 a tremendous hit and the premier bolt action hunting rifle even while it was still undergoing changes.

The “New” Winchester Model 70

The Model 70 was made in the exact same design until 1964, but there was new, less expensive competition emerging in the market such as the Weatherby Mark V and the Savage Model 110. Winchester had to find a way to produce the Model 70 in a cheaper and quicker way while still maintaining quality if they wanted to stay on top. The new gun had drastic changes that made fans of the Model 70 quite unhappy. The most controversial was the switch from the controlled round feed with a claw-like extractor to a push feed bolt with a small hook extractor on the right locking lug. People didn’t trust the little hook would be reliable compared to the claw-like extractor used in the previous design. The original hand cut barrel and rifling was changed to a cheaper and easier process of using a forged barrel. Winchester began to cut costs on the deluxe features by adapting a pressing method instead of cut checkering on the wood of the gun. Some materials used went from steel to aluminum to reduce costs further. One improvement was the anti-bind feature which actually helped the bolt become smoother. The addition was referred to by Winchester as the “guide lug” which was essentially a lug on the bottom left of the bolt that that ran on a track inside the receiver. This kept the bolt at the correct angle to prevent binding.

The changes from the original design to the new production is why the Winchester Model 70 rifle is referred to by gun enthusiasts as “pre-64” and “post-64.” Getting a Model 70 made before these changes occurred is much more pricey and desirable due to age, quality, and nostalgia.

Model 70 Super Grade

Factory Engraved Gold Inlaid Winchester Custom Shop Custom Grade Model 70 Super Grade Model 70 Bolt Action Rifle. Avaliable this December.

In 1968, Winchester took note of the public’s disdain in many of the changes and started adding back elements of the original rifle throughout the next decade or so. In the 1990s, Winchester released what was called, “The Model 70 Classic” which was a callback to the original Model 70 design and features. The most requested feature was added, which was the return of the controlled feed ejector bolt. The gun was well-produced and some may say an improved version of the original with the addition of the anti-bind bolt feature. The changes Winchester made to redeem the new Model 70 contributed to the rifle retaining its name as the finest American hunting gun.

If you would like to read an in-depth description of the evolution of the Winchester Model 70 and all its variations, purchase a copy of the book The Rifleman’s Rifle by Roger Rule. It provides a thorough overview of all iterations of the Model 70.

Link to read the entire piece and see more pictures below.

https://www.rockislandauction.com/riac-blog/winchester-model-70?utm_source=Rock+Island+Auction+News&utm_campaign=17fc670491-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_10_11+Model+70&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1f4b8db853-17fc670491-148925473

Gun that fired the first shot at the Battle of Bunker Hill up for auction

My connection is still flakey. But I caught a few seconds to share this pretty cool bit of news.

The gun that fired the first shot at the Battle of Bunker Hill is heading for sale Morphy Auctions in Denver later this month.

The Revolutionary War musket belonged to John Simpson, a Private in the 1st New Hampshire Regiment who fought during the historic battle in Charlestown, Massachusetts on June 17, 1775.  

As the British troops advanced, Simpson fired his weapon prematurely – disobeying the famous order given to American soldiers not to fire “until you see the white of their eyes”.

Having been passed down by Simpson’s descendents for almost 250 years, the historic weapon will now be offered for sale for the first time, and is expected to sell for up to $300,000.

The musket will be sold along with John Simpson's original military commission dated March 17, 1778 (Image: Morphy Auctions)
The musket will be sold along with John Simpson’s original military commission dated March 17, 1778 (Image: Morphy Auctions)

“We have the privilege of auctioning a firearm that symbolizes one of the most important battles leading to American independence,” said Dan Morphy, President of Morphy Auctions.

“It will be exciting to see whether the Simpson musket ends up in a private or institutional collection.”

The battle of Bunker Hill was one of the most significant early battles of the Revolutionary War.

During the Siege of Boston, British troops attempted to fortify the hills surrounding the city, where they met with resistance from 1,200 colonial troops determined to defend the position.

Although the British eventually captured the hills, the victory cost them a large number of casualties – twice as many as the American troops – and proved that the inexperienced militiamen were more than a match for their experienced soldiers.

They remained more cautious in their tactics for the rest of the war, an approach which some historians believe helped the Americans forces to their eventual victory.

The historic musket has passed down through six generations of John Simpson's family (Image: Morphy Auctions)
The historic musket has passed down through six generations of John Simpson’s family (Image: Morphy Auctions)

Following the battle, John Simpson was the only American soldier court martialed for disobeying an order and firing too early.

However, he was only lightly reprimanded and went on to serve with distinction during the war, rising to the rank of Major before returning home to his family farm in New Hampshire.

His trusty musket was then passed down through generations of his family, creating a remarkable unbroken line of ownership, and has been described as “arguably the most significant, positively identified Revolutionary War long arm in existence”.

Not only is John Simpson’s name forever linked with the Battle of Bunker Hill, but his descendents played an even greater role in shaping the history of the nation.

Simpson’s grandson was Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War hero and 18th President of the United States; and his great-grandson was Meriwether Lewis, who explored the Western territories of the country as part of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The Morphy Auctions sale of Extraordinary, Sporting & Collector Firearms takes place in Denver, Pennsylvania on October 22-23

The First Gas Attack of WWI

The firsthand account of Willi Siebert, a German soldier during the first gas attack of the war, at Ypres.

Finally, we decided to release the gas. The weatherman was right. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining. Where there was grass, it was blazing green. We should have been going on a picnic, not doing what we were going to do. We sent the (German) infantry back and opened the (gas)valves with the strings. About supper time, the gas started toward the French; everything was stone quiet. We all wondered what was going to happen.

As this great cloud of green-grey gas was forming in front of us, we suddenly heard the French yelling. In less than a minute they started with the most rifle and machine gun fire that I had ever heard. Every field artillery gun, every machine gun, every rifle that the French had, must have been firing. I had never heard such a noise.

The hail of bullets going over our heads was unbelievable, but it was not stopping the gas. The wind kept moving the gas towards the French lines. We heard the cows bawling, and the horses screaming. The French kept on shooting. They couldn’t possibly see what they were shooting at. In about 15 minutes the gunfire started to quit. After a half hour, only occasional shots. Then everything was quiet again. In a while, it had cleared and we walked past the empty gas bottles.

What we saw was total death. Nothing was alive.

All of the animals had come out of their holes to die. Dead rabbits, moles, and rats and mice were everywhere. The smell of the gas was still in the air. It hung on the few bushes which were left. When we got to the French lines the trenches were empty but in a half mile, the bodies of French soldiers were everywhere. It was unbelievable. Then we saw there were some English. You could see where men had clawed at their faces, and throats, trying to get a breath. Some had shot themselves. The horses, still in the stables, cows, chickens, everything, all were dead. Everything, even the insects were dead.

A. R. Hossack, Queen Victoria’s Rifles

“Plainly something terrible was happening. What was it? Officers, and Staff officers too, stood gazing at the scene, awestruck and dumbfounded; for in the northerly breeze there came a pungent nauseating smell that tickled the throat and made our eyes smart. The horses and men were still pouring down the road. Two or three men on a horse, I saw, while over the fields streamed mobs of infantry, the dusky warriors of French Africa; away went their rifles, equipment, even their tunics that they might run the faster. One man came stumbling through our lines. An officer of ours held him up with levelled revolver, “What’s the matter, you bloody lot of cowards?” says he. The Zouave was frothing at the mouth, his eyes started from their sockets, and he fell writhing at the officer’s feet.”

Infrared M3 Sniper Scope Find

I stopped at a yard sale the other day and the nice fellow who sold me several military transport cases invited me into his house to see his personal collection.

He told me how he acquired the IR sniper scope. He bought a house to fix up and resale. While tearing down a wall to remodel, he found the case with optic and accessories hidden in the wall.

It is the complete system minus the M1/M2 carbine. You can see the vertical grip with on off controls to the left.

The optic and accoutrements are mint but for showing a little age. The battery back pack and battery are still all together.