Have you ever had the brilliant idea of gathering a bunch of rifles of the same model? I have, on numerous occasions, tried to be "consistent" in my rifle setup. It rarely lasts very long. But the thought of having three to four Ruger No 1's, Marlin lever guns or Sako's chambered and scoped for different applications still eludes me. How about a light rifle in 223 for general small game applications, a sturdy varmint rig in 243 for steadier shots at 2-300 yards, a lightweight 270 for mountain use, a quick handling 308 for driven hunts, a 358 or 9,3x57 of normal weight for hunting moose in the brush, a 338 magnum for delivering punches with reach, or a 458 magnum for when the going gets tough? Not to mention a 375 H&H for the one rifle battery needed for that trip to Africa you're dreaming about. The list goes on and on... (did I really write "three to four"?)
I´ve always had a crush on the Winchester model 70. Who can resist that swept bolt handle with partly knurled ball, or those straight lines overall? My other favourite rifle is the Sako 75, but it has nothing on the Winchester in terms of looks and proportions.
The model 70 is one handsome rifle, and the Classic Super Grade in the pictures above and below might very well be as good as it gets. Beautiful walnut, dark forend tip, perfectly sized recoil bolt, hell - even the trigger guard is... perfect! Mated with a Leupold 2-7x33 in a low mount makes for a very slick looking rig although this rifle could use just a bit more magnification to do it justice. I think this scope will be moved to the 270 and replaced by a 3-9x or similar.
As you can probably tell from the barrel length of the depicted Super Grade, it´s chambered for an overbore cartridge - in this case the 7mm Remington Magnum. Maybe not very overbore with today´s standards (the Ultra Magnum version comes to mind...), but certainly suitable for that 26" tube. It would probably have been right up Jack O'Connors alley as sheep medicine, while 'ol Elmer Keith would've dubbed it "a damn fine pest rifle".
This is the second rifle in my very small "collection" - the first one being a Classic Featherweight in the immortal O´Connor mountain hunting caliber 270 Winchester. Both are Classic models and sport that nice Mauser type extractor - a feature Winchester dropped in 1964 resulting in extensive dismay among hunters and collectors.
I found the Super Grade on an online auction after a tip from a friend who happens to be the same guy who tipped me about the Featherweight. A partner in crime, if you will. The description on the auction site didn't mention Super Grade at all - only Classic, which I believe was to my benefit. In one of the low resolution pictures I could barely make out some irregularity on the floor plate which I suspected would be the Super Grade text. I was very happy when I found out that I was correct.
I got it for around $400 including fees and VAT, which is pretty ok in my book, and I am happy they forgot to mention that it is a Super Grade. So far I've used it for only during one day of moose hunting, after sighting it in with handloaded Norma Vulkan 170 grain bullets (usually referred to as "fragmentation grenades" by people who have tried them). The weight of the rifle is actually considerable when comparing it to the Featherweight. The latter is normally almost laughed upon due to the Featherweight label in this day and age of carbon and lightweight plastic materials. But believe me - after a day of carrying it around in the forest, the Featherweight would be a blessing. On the other hand, that weight is nice to have when you pull the trigger and want to hit where you're aiming. At all other times though, it's a pain. There's just no free lunch I guess.
A light rain on the first day of moose hunting explains the neoprene cover on the 2-7x33 scope
In my opinion it's the best looking rifle I've owned so far. Sauer 202 Takedown Elegance and Blaser R8 Attaché have been in my possession in the past, but the Super Grade is definetely Best In Show considering all aspects and not only the stock grade.
Check back again for an entry on the Featherweight and also the newcomer in the Winchester model 70 collection which hasn't arrived yet. I won't reveal too much but let's just say that it would certainly get the nod from 'ol Elmer as opposed to the two sheep rifles mentioned in this article.