A question worth answering


We purchased a complete collection of pre-64 Winchester model 70s today from a friend and client who has decided to divest himself of his collection. The aging owner told us he wanted to do it himself before the task was left to his kids. He was comfortable with the decision, but it was a bittersweet moment for us to see rifles in our shop again which we had helped this fine gentleman collect in years past. Beautiful rifles we are delighted to be able to offer to other clients, but the return of his rifles to our shop marked the end of one man’s collecting. It is the second time in as many months that we have helped a client in this way, and the second time I felt the same pit in my stomach to see a friend decide they are done collecting.
I posted a photo of the modest collection of 10 fine rifles on social media and a question appeared in the comments which gave me pause.  A question I’ve been asked frequently in the past, and one which is important both to our business and to anyone who has invested in collectible pre-64 model 70s.  The question is whether interest in pre-64 model 70s is increasing or decreasing and how any change in interest might affect rifle values in the future. It’s an excellent question worth exploring. For people with considerable investment in collectible model 70s, it’s a concern – if interest wanes, values will drop and a life of investing in collectible rifles becomes an enormous financial blunder.

Around 7 billion dollars will be spent on firearms in the US this year and more than 70% of that money will go toward semi-automatic rifles and pistols.  The growing popularity of “black guns” among all gun owners is undeniable, and nowhere is this more true than among the youngest generation of people purchasing firearms. It is rare among this demographic to find an interest in bolt action rifles and iron sights, let alone an appreciation for a nice piece of American walnut fitted to silky rust blued steel. So does this reality spell an eventual doom for interest in the model 70?  Without further dissection, it would be easy to believe it does.

Don’t hit the panic button just yet.  For 4 important reasons, we believe model 70 values will not only prove resilient, but we believe they will continue to grow. Here is why we hold this view:

Because it’s the pre-64 model 70
Before you accuse me of spewing nonsense, let me explain – this may be the most noteworthy reason model 70 interest will remain strong. Whenever a person reads about the history of great hunts in North America and Africa, the pre-64 model 70 is going to feature prominently in these stories. Any person studying the history and evolution of the hunting rifle is going to see how the orignal model 70 set a standard which influenced every American-built bolt action rifle to follow – even to this day. And whenever a gun enthusiast talks to a Professional Hunter or a custom gunmaker, or that graybeard in their world who seems to know everything about firearms, they will hear the pre-64 model 70 referred to with a measure of awe and respect which is reserved for royalty. The pre-64 model 70 holds a uniquely important and revered place in the world of firearms. It will always be the rifle which defined what an American sporting rifle should be, and this fact will sustain ongoing interest in the pre-64 model 70.

Because a rising tide lifts all boats
While it is true that spending is increasing on black rifles, it is also a fact that consumer spending on all market segments in the firearm industry is growing. The 7 billion that will be spent this year on firearms will grow to more than 10 billion in 2027 – a growth rate which is more than double the current high inflation we are living with. This gives us reason to be optimistic investments in collectible rifles will at least keep pace with inflation, if not outpace it.

Because people pay more for things that are hard to get
Winchester produced 581,471 model 70s before the unfortunate change to the push-feed action design in 1964. The change to push feed increased demand for the already popular pre-1964 rifles, cementing their place in the world of collectible firearms.  By the time Winchester made this change, countless pre-64 rifles – by virtue of being used as they were intended – had already had their stocks cut and fitted with recoil pads, their receivers drilled for scope mounts, their barrels threaded for muzzle brakes, and thousands more were damaged by use, abuse, weather, falls, and countless other ways which removed them from contention in the world of collectors.  On any given day, a survey of rifles available for sale via online retailers will reveal fewer than 1 in 10 pre-64 model 70s presents in a condition and configuration which would interest a collector, meaning truly collectible model 70s are very scarce.  There are probably less than 50,000 collector-quality model 70s in existence today. The science of microeconomics teaches us supply works with an inverse relationship to demand and that this connection let’s prices go up for things which are scarce. The relatively small numbers of truly collector quality model 70s will keep demand and values high for all model 70s.

Because we all eventually grow up
We’ve all experienced it. As we age our tastes refine and we often gain an appreciation for finer things we ignored in our youth. Black rifles have their place and in a world of instability and uncertainties, tactical weapons will continue to be popular. But those generations which today have an affinity for plastic and matte black finishes will one day have the mind-altering experience of looking into the silvery depth of a pre-war Carbonia blue finish. They will see the flames in a figured piece of walnut and their eyesight will be forever changed. They will try running their hands down the length of their HK416 and it will become as clear to them as it is to you and me – the HK416 has a place and a use, but it can never own a piece of the heart in the same way a fine vintage rifle can.

Over a decade of buying and selling pre-64 model 70s, we have a pretty good idea of what it will cost you to pick up a nice and all original .30-06 post-war standard rifle – the most affordable and easy to come by, but still collectible model 70. Tracing those values over time, rifle prices have just about exactly mirrored the value growth of the Dow Jones Industrial average. It’s a remarkable testament to the resilience of the model 70 as an investment, even against a stock market which has delivered record growth over the same period.

We are not financial advisors, so I guess I should end this by making clear I am not offering financial advice. It’s also worth noting that past performance means nothing about what may happen in the future. But from our little knothole to the world, we believe a new generation will discover the model 70, sustaining interest and creating future collectors for this rifle. With continued interest and the scarcity of truly collectible model 70s, we expect values will continue to grow. Great news for those of us who own model 70s, but not so good for all those future collectors who will someday be trying to put a few treasures into their safe.


  • Mike B.

    I hope your projection of interest in pre-64 M70s is accurate. But if it turns out to be wrong, no worries. I say that because for me the joy has always been in the hunt more so than in the acquisition. I have sought out the finest M70 Super Grades that I could afford. I never wanted a safe full of mediocre rifles, so I’ve stuck to this goal over the years. Now I can pull one out any time and once again be taken away with the beauty of one of America’s finest rifles that looks the same as it did when it left the factory decades ago.

  • Randy Bimson

    Andy, Justin: I concur with your assessment of the current and future valuation of Pre-64 Model 70 in particular and quality manufactured vintage firearms in general, Winchester, Colt, Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Sako, the English and Continental makers. Your four points are spot on in my estimation.

    The one point that in my mind really resinates is “Because we all eventually grow up.”
    February of 2020 I retired having worked 51 wonderful years in design, manufacture, and establishing standards (SAAMI) for the firearms and ammunition industry.

    During those years it was, for the most part, the excitement of the newest innovations in firearms or ammunition development that drove us forward. One of most tumultuous times of my career was during the last three years of my time as Director of Technical Affairs, and Technical Advisor to the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) where I shepherded the introduction of the Sig-Sauer sponsored 277 Sig Fury cartridge. Up until that time the SAAMI accepted Maximum Average Pressure (MAP) for a centerfire rifle cartridge and the rifle actions was set at 65,000 PSI. The 277 Sig Fury was introduced for acceptance by the SAAMI Joint Technical Committee at 80,000 PSI. That was contrary to an industry standard that had stood for over ninety years.

    My vision has always been tempered by learning of and appreciating those that came before us. Although I had and used the latest and greatest, my all-time favorite and go-to big game hunting rifle is my 1953 vintage Pre-64 Model 70 Standard 300 H&H. We have been inseparable hunting partners since 1972.

    It is the allure of steel shaped on manually operated lathes, shapers, milling machines and walnut woodwork that draws my interest, be it rifle, shotgun, or handgun. While carbon fiber and chassis stocks, CNC & investment cast parts, may create fantastic rifles that will shoot groups the size of a nat’s eye at 2,000 yards, and “Tupperware” pistols that are stunningly reliable are undeniably advancements, they are to me simply tools with no personality or sole.

    Just acquired a near-new condition Remington Model 241 (Remington’’s version of John Browning’’s little SA-22 rifle) yesterday. Date coded October 1941, two months prior to Remington committing all their production capacity to war-time government authorized contracts. The machining, the fit, and the finish……..just phenomenal! It is firearms like this and the Pre-64 Model 70 that make one’s heart skip a beat! Yes, they will not only hold their value but increase as the next generation “eventually grows up” and realizes what they have been missing out on.


    Its the first time I have gone totally thru this site. It surely has been very interesting and educational.

  • Robert Gibson

    What would a mod. 64 be worth in good condition serial number 1208918

  • Eric

    Well written article

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