At www.gunsmagazine.com, there’s a spot on the bottom of the main page where you can click on old classic editions of GUNS magazine from fifty and more years ago. In an article on semiautomatic rifles, the great Col. Charles Askins, Jr. in the August, 1968 issue, had this to say about the Winchester Model 100 hunting rifle:
“The rifle was first announced in the popular .308 caliber and later has been chambered for the .243 and the .284 cartridges. It is a light, handy and exceedingly useable sort of self-shuffie model. It weighs only 7 ¼ pounds and has a 22″ barrel. The stock is one-piece and this is a good thing. Accuracy from the Model 100 in .308 caliber is among the best of any of the current crop of automatics. Groups will run around 2.50″ at 100 yards, 10 shots. The trigger pull on the 100 is invariably bad. The same is true of the Model 88, the (lever action) forerunner, and efforts to improve them are difficult to achieve. Both rifles are essentially woods rifles and for snap shooting where time is of the essence the pull should be gilt-edged. The Model 100 has never been as popular as it deserves. Why it has not caught on, whereas the Remington 742 auto is the most popular of all Remington center-fire high-powers, is impossible of explanation. It might be argued that the receiver on the Winchester should have been lengthened sufficiently to accept the ’06 cartridge. Unquestionably this is a factor. The Remington in its beginning was chambered for the most popular load and this contributed immeasurably to its prompt acceptance.”
This was indeed a pleasant trip to the past because the year before that article came out, at nineteen, I had bought a Winchester Model 100 .308, trading in the Marlin Model 336 SC in .35 Remington that had been my deer rifle since my early teens. It was the first gun I bought myself, with money I’d earned in a summer job at Sprague Electric in Concord, NH. Until then, all my guns had been gifts from my parents.
It was the first gun I won with in shooting matches, turkey shoots in New Hampshire where the format was three shots at a time on running and standing deer targets at a hundred yards. Military surplus 7.62mm NATO ammo was cheap and worked fine in the Winchester .308, and the Model 100 helped me bring home a bunch of frozen Butterballs. I found it would hold about 1.5” at 100 yards, which was extraordinary at the time for a semi-automatic rifle. The Remington 742, usually in .30-06, was much more popular among my friends just as Col. Askins said, and did have a crisper trigger than the Winchester. However, I found the Winchester much more accurate than the Remington and not so muzzle heavy, which I greatly appreciated.
Reading the old article inspired me to take the old rifle out to the range for the first time in ages. And it still shoots great.
A good, old gun is a joy forever.
I bet you have some similar stories about old favorite firearms. You are all invited to share here.
The Winchester Model 100: a classic symphony of streamlined blue steel and walnut.
This rifle brings back a lot of memories…