5.56 Timeline

Winchester Model 70 Heavy Varmint

From the late 90s into about 2005 Winchester sold a heavy barrel varmint/target rifle called the “Heavy Varmint.”

These guns were the post 64 push feed action with a heavy barrel and the HS Precision made marksman stock. You can see it is identical to the wooden marksman stock I talked a little about yesterday.

the contour of the forearm getting thicker doesn’t show up as well on the HS marksman stock , perhaps because its black and taken on a cloudy day.

This stock came with a bedding block and pillar bedding. The gun itself was basically a modern version of the old “bull gun” Model 70s from past decades, It had the same contour 26 inch heavy barrel and stock style as the originals. The exceptions being no provisions and pre drilled holes int he receiver and barrel for mounting match iron sights. The guns came in .223 rem, .22-250 and .308 winchester. My heavy varmint pictured above is .223rem. I chose this because it had something no other factory HV bolt guns in .223 had at the time. That is a 1/9 twist. Giving the ability to shoot the heavier weight bullets that I used in AR15s. I suspect it’s slightly faster than 1/9 because it does accurately shoot 75-77 gr. HPBTs.

And unlike all pre 64 Model 70s, match or otherwise, these are actual short action guns

The guns are very accurate and such a heavy gun in 223 is a pleasure to shoot, I used this as my crow rifle for many years. Recently I put this Leupold on it with a BDC to match a load I use with 50gr Nosler ballsitc tips at a velocity too high for me to publicly give out here. It makes for a very flat shooting load for the small black birds out to 300 yards without needing to make an elevation adjustment.

For this post, I ran outa couple hours ago and shoot a 5 round group at 100 yards using the old reliable match load of 77 grain Sierra HPBTs using 24 grains of Vit or Varget. I have used this gun and that load to make 1,000 hits on a steel targets the size of a man’s chest. Even a shot I am not gonna tell you about because you wouldn’t believe me.

as you can see the 1/9 twist in the heavy 26 inch barrel has no trouble with the 77s

These are great guns and if you have a chance to get one I encourage you to do so. They don’t make them like this anymore. Literally.

A Nice Custom Pre-War Model 70

Since we are on the Model 70 lately. The one above is a pre war Model 70. The walnut stock is the factory wood stock in a design Winchester called “The marksman stock”. This is the same profile as used on the model 52 B and later models. This stock was used right up until the US repeating arms company went Tango Uniform in the mid 00s. By then the stock was made by H-S Precision and was synthetic with bedding block. The optic is a 8X Unertl varmint model and the barrel has been swapped out for a custom stainless barrel. The gun is chambered in a wildcat round I can’t quite place at the moment.

The safety is one big way to tell the gun is pre war. The rectangle on the top of the rear of the receiver is actually mounted to the left side and is a mounting base for match iron sights like the Redfield International or Olympic. A serious set up for a very serious rifleman of the day.

The Winchester Model 70 Custom Sharpshooter II

Around 1994 Winchster released a custom Model 70 they called the custom sharpshooter. It came with a McMillian stock, a hand honed action and stainless steel barrel. It was such a hit that they nearly instantly sold out. Winchester was keen to fill demand but could not get the stocks in the amount needed. Thus the Custom Sharpshooter was born. There are two versions, the classic, which uses a pre 64 type controlled round feed and the one above using the push feed.

The stock used for the Sharpshooter II is the H-S Precision PST37 model. It has the aluminum bedding black, which obviated bedding compounds, but a user can still skim bed the action into the block which I did. The PST37 is 2.012 inches thick across the outer walls in the area where the action sits. The forend is 2.160 inches wide near the forward end , and at the rear, the butt pad is slightly pebbled black rubber .750 inch thick.

The original stock was black, but I replaced it with this one in a color I like better for a reason I can’t recall for the life of me.

The 308 winchester barrel is a 416R stainless steel barrel with a 1/12 twist that is 26 inches long. The bore is cut riffled with a rockwell hardness of 28-32. Winchester garaunteed the barrel to deliver .5 MOA with match ammo or match quality handloads .The diameter at the muzzle is .900 and nicely crowned. Just in front of the receiver ring the barrel measures 1.2 inches and is of course free floated. Hex head bolts fasten the action into the full length pillar plus accu-block with 65 inch pounds of torque for the front and rear screw. Important note. The middle screw on the Model 70 only secures the trigger guard and should never be tightened over finger tight.

This rifle is the first bolt action rifle that I set up to be a dedicated long range precision rifle.

With the intention of using the rifle for 800- 1,00 yards proper base and rings were needed. The base is the superb Badger ordnance long range base that has a slight cant to give extra elevation adjustment for optics. The rings are the Leupold MK 4 rings like used on the M24 sniper rifle. The optic is a Leupold 6x-18x target scope Vari-X II with target turrets.

You can see by the wear and tear on the stock and the dings and scratches that I have had this one a long time and it has been used a lot.

The trigger on a Model 70 is a simple rugged design that lets you adjust it very easily. The Shaprshooter comes with the standard Model 70 trigger. Newer made “model 70s” do not have this trigger system sad to say.

The gun is very accurate and a pleasure to shoot. I fired a quick 3 round group at 100 yards for this article while re zeroing the gun after putting the Leupold back on it from a gun I was using it on temporarily.

Hand loads for this gun is a load I have been using for a long time. Sierra 175 grain Matchkings, Federal gold medal brass, CCI BR small rifle primers and 44.5 grains of Varget. Warning, load is safe in my gun and I make no claims or promises about how safe it is in any other guns.

M1014 and VEPR-12

For some time I had wanted to get a Benelli M4 Super 90 (M1014) and figured I’d sell my VEPR-12 after I picked up the Benelli. Molot VEPR-12s are no longer imported, and I am concerned about spare part and magazine availability. I liked the idea of the Benelli having the self contained tubular magazine where I wouldn’t need to worry about accessories. I thought the M4 Super 90 would be an excellent choice due to its’ proven performance, reliability, etc. I traded for a customized limited edition (the flag edition) M1014 model of the M4 Super 90 line.

While I was waiting on the shotgun to come in to my dealer, I read so much about them. The operation, history, manuals, etc. So many people talked about how it will reliably feed any ammo and is so light recoiling.

I wonder now if the people who said that actually shot one. It recoils like a pump action. Shooting the VEPR-12 and the M1014 side by side the VEPR move so much less. Shooting the VEPR-12 is like shooting a standard AK. Shooting the M1014 reminds me of when I had a .45-70 guide gun. Not unpleasant, but moves a great deal with the recoil of every shot. I can shoot the VEPR-12 fast and the barrel stays level and the sights on target.

I would have probably would like the Benelli a great deal more had I never shot a Vepr-12. But I can load 3 inch slugs and extra-light bird shot in the mag of the Vepr-12 and it runs it fine due to its’ self adjusting gas system. The M1014 chokes on light loads and makes heavy loads borderline unpleasant to shoot.

Now, I’m not so sure I’m going to keep that Benelli. I might just sell or trade it off and leave the Molot Vepr-12 as my semi-auto shotgun.

GAU-5/A Air Force Survival Kit

“We were asked to design a stand-off weapon that was capable of hitting a man-size target at 200 meters,” Richard Shelton, Chief of the Gunsmith Shop, said in a statement for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Feb. 2020 story on the GAU-5/A. “It disconnects at the upper receiver, is located inside the seat kit [of ACES II ejection seats], and can be put together within 30 seconds if needed.”

Website thedrive.com has a neat little article about the new AF survival rifle and how it is packed, as seen above. Link below if you want to read it all.