Winchester Model 54


Before Winchester gifted the world with the divine Model 70 Winchester there was the Model 54. The Model 54 was their first real bolt action rifle for the commercial market. It won’t be any surprise to anyone that it copies the Mauser action like the M1903 and more or less everything else at the time.

Production ended in 1936 when God and Winchester gifted the world with the Model 70 Winchester rifle. The Model 54 came in a few variants, as you can see above, The bottom one holding the most interest to me, the target version with target stock and barrel. The 54 was not suited for optical sight use and the bolt travel and angle of the handle makes it a bit of a pain. This was changed on the Model 70.

The bottom rifle with Unertl would have been a rig for a serious rifleman and varmint/target shooter in it’s day. It is still a great set up now if your tastes for vintage varmint rifle’s is anything like mine. other options included the .22Hornet, .220 swift, .250-3000 .257 Roberts and of course the common stuff. 270, 30-06 etc.


  1. Have only seen one in my (too)many years. It was owned by Charlie Mankin a rancher south of Gillette WY. Think it was .270 cal and was s/n 8. Obviously it had been around a bit. Wonder if kids or grandkids still have it.

    • Familiar names ‘ hello , dan Hess , are you related to Vern and Lloyd? And I also know that name “ Charlie Mankin ! I grew up in Gillette back in the 1980s. My name is mark Underwood. I have been researching my grandpa William Underwood sr Rifle , it is the same kind , Winchester Model 54, 30-06 it’s been in storage for 35 + years , it just recently has seen light . It is absolutely amazing . Has an old scope too !

      • At 84+ memory needs improving. Think Charlie told me he was born 1900. His family homesteaded the 4J ranch and raised horses for the military. The Win M54 he showed me was not scoped. It was well used but obviously well taken care of. We stayed with Charlie and Mildred and enjoyed wonderful stories told about early Wyoming. My history is from Ohio so no relations In the West but have lived in AZ 50 years.

  2. Back before I had a clue, a family friend had one of these rifles, inherited from his grandfather or someone like that. It was a reviled “beater” rifle they used for just about everything, from slaughtering cattle to shooting wild dogs going after their dairy herd. I handled it a couple of times, and it was only much later that I realized it was the predecessor to the Winchester Model 70–They’d all thought it was some Winchester-made store brand built for Western Auto because there was something “Western” roll-marked on the barrel. If I remember right, it was in .30-06.

    Seemed like a decent rifle, to me. I suspect it’s buried in someone’s gun cabinet somewhere in Eastern Oregon, now. That poor thing had some mileage on it, even back in the 1970s.

    It’s a testimony to mid-20th Century manufacture how long some of these rifles have remained in use.

  3. The Win54 came out in 1925 and was produced for 11 years, until 1936. It was taken out of the market by the much faster uptake of the Model 70.

    When Winchester came out with the 54, the competition in the market was the Remington Model 30, which was basically a Pattern 1917 Enfield in ’06. I’m not sure how many 54’s were made – estimates vary. The high number I’ve seen in some sources is about 50K rifles. Others put the number lower than that. It was produced in about 10 different “standard” chamberings, in four grades in the catalog, with more embellishment available on request.

    One of the issues for the 54 is that the flip/flop safety is incompatible with mounting a scope on the rifle that hangs over the rear of the bolt.

    Nice, sturdy rifles. Nothing wrong with them at all.


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