First New(old) Gun of the Year


Well I went and bought my first gun of the year. This is one I’ve wanted for a while. A model 72. I just got it home and I’m going to clean it up. You can expect an article about it next week.

They don’t make’em like this anymore.


  1. Winchester built several very nice bolt-action .22 rifles – culminating in the Model 52.

    The 60, the 67, 69, the 72 (above), the 75, and then the 52… Those are just the bolt actions I can think of off the top of my head. We could go on about the sum totality of Winchester .22’s for a bit. All of them nice little rifles, some of them excellent examples of the type.

    Young people wonder sometimes why I’m such a whinge on the topic of gun quality. They pooh-pooh me as the old man who just hasn’t kept up, who can’t see the brilliance of gun designers who churn out plastic crap…

    and then one day, these youngsters happen to come by. And I open my safe, and Is start pulling out older Winchester products – like the one above. Or the old Mossberg .22 rifles that can shoot as well as a modern Annie. Or my Annie. Or a Remington Model 37. Once the youngsters have held a few of these, they start to understand why I have a weakness for .22’s, and I like the older products vastly more than the modern .22’s.

    • Yes I love the old winchester rimfires, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. The 69A is one I still have been chasing. The M52 is sublime. I will have more to say about them next week. Maybe you can add a few things to the 72 article and I will edit it in if you have anything on it you want to say

  2. OK, here’s what I have from my sources of Winchester lore and personal experience:

    Production of the 72 started in 1939, and was a response to dealers wanting a “boy’s rifle” which was a .22 bolt action with a tubular magazine. Today, we all would ask “Why a tubular magazine over a detachable box magazine?” The Model 69 had a “clip” or detachable stacked magazine and preceded the 72. Why the tubular magazine?

    Glad you asked. A DBM has a real problem trying to feed .22 Long Rifle, Long and Shorts interchangeably. With a tube magazine, you can stack .22 LR’s, Longs and Shorts in the tube on top of each other in any order you want, and then just cycle the bolt as you want. They all feed. They all go ‘bang’. They all extract and eject. They don’t all make the same noise, however. More on that later. You also cannot lose a tube magazine. It’s attached to the rifle. This is a consideration when you’re a father or uncle, buying a .22 rifle for a young lad who is prone to dropping things in the woods.

    The 72 came with a 25″ barrel, and the barrel was screwed into the receiver (as I recall from one I’ve worked on). This was notable, because in the quest for cost-reduction in .22 rifle manufacturing, some gun makers of the post-WWII era would make the receiver be part of the barrel steel. ie, the barrel and receiver (which was a tubular receiver) were all machined from the same bar of steel. This can make a gunsmith look pretty damned silly when he tries to remove the barrel from the receiver, only to discover that won’t ever happen.

    The 72’s were not serial numbered (as I recall), so dating them might be a tad tricky. There were two models of the original 72 made – one with a LR chamber (in which you could use Long or Shorts as well) and a “gallery gun” which was .22 Short only. It was marked on the barrel as such. They had a magazine that ended a bit less than 8″ from the muzzle or the other, longer magazine that ended about 6″ from the muzzle. They were available with open or aperture rear sights.

    Production was discontinued in 1941 as Winchester tooled up for WWII. Production resumed in 1946, and continued until the 72/72A were discontinued in 1959. I think over 161,000 of the 72/72A were made.

    They’re plenty accurate for the original price of the rifle – a less expensive, “boy’s rifle” that was used for plinking, squirrel/rabbit hunting and the like. Rifles like the 72, when used with .22 Short ammo, were nearly silent. I killed all manner of raccoon pests with a 72 and Shorts/CB caps when I was a kid.

  3. I used to have one of the charming little Model 57’s in 22 Short and for the better part of two decades have made quite a hobby of kicking my own a$$ for letting that one get away from me.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb!

    I should get me a job greeting down at WalMart for a month or two and fix that.


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