Finding your rifle's place in model 70 production history

Knowing the details of when your rifle was manufactured and what production generation your rifle is from is essential knowledge for every model 70 owner. Whether you are buying parts, or just trying to understand how your rifle fits into the model 70 family of rifles, it begins with knowing when it was made. This Campfire article explains how to find your rifle's place in model 70 production history.

A factory original and all correct Type I-1 rifle from 1936

Pre-64 model 70s are commonly classified into one of three production groupings, framed around WWII. These groups are "pre-war" and "post-war", with a small number of rifles between these two groups referred to as "transition" rifles. In Winchester parlance, these three groupings of rifles are referred to as "Type I", "Type II" and "Type III" rifles.  

Production Period Approximate serial number range Notable characteristics

Type I

1-66350 A receiver featuring a cloverleaf tang, a clip-loading slot, and a recessed and roll-marked rear bridge. Also present is a distinctive flag shaped safety lever and a stepped bolt handle shaft.
Type II
66350-87700 A receiver with a mix of pre-war & post-war characteristics - often a cloverleaf tang, but always a non-recessed rear bridge. No clip loading slot.  No step on the bolt handle. Some transition rifles have a unique paw-shaped safety lever.

Type III

87700-581471 These rifles have a tapered oval receiver tang and a non-recessed rear bridge which is drilled and tapped for a scope. These rifles also have the dog-leg shaped safety lever still found on current model 70s.

While these three broad production periods can be a useful frame of reference to differentiate between major production eras, you will need additional information to fully understand your rifle.

Within the three major groupings above, there is a much more refined breakdown of the model 70 which takes note of numerous minor style changes. These refined groupings divide the pre-64 model 70 into ten sub-types

Generation Approximate serial number range1 Distinctive features 
Type I
Type I-1 1-3600 A square, un-beveled magazine release button
Type I-2 3600-8850 Changed from square magazine release button to beveled
Type I-3 8850-20500 Added the safety retaining pin to the bolt sleeve
Type I-4 (Std) 20500-66350 Changed from carbonia charcoal blued receiver to bead blasted black oxide bluing
Type I-4 (H&H) 20500-63200 Changed from carbonia charcoal blued receiver to bead blasted black oxide bluing
Type II
Type II-1 (Std) 66350-87000 Clip loading slot eliminated2. Receiver bridge changed to smooth 
Type II-1 (H&H) 63200-87000 Receiver bridge changed to smooth 
Type II-2 (Std) 87000-87700 Changed to dogleg safety and bolt handle modified for safety clearance
Type II-2 (H&H) 87000-1217003 Changed to dogleg safety and bolt handle modified for safety clearance
Type III
Type III-1 (Std) 87700-180000 Receiver tang change from cloverleaf to rounded / tapered with bridge drilled and tapped for a scope4
Type III-1 (H&H) 121700-180000 Receiver tang change from cloverleaf to rounded / tapered 
Type III-2 180000-225000 Bolt release changed from notched to rounded
Type III-3 225000-445000 Hole added to bottom of bolt handle knob
Type III-4 445000-581471 Right side of bolt sleeve changed to rounded

1 Serial numbers represent when the change was first introduced.  It is common for older features to continue to appear until existing parts were depleted, resulting in some overlap of features.
2 Clip loading slots were retained on National Match/Target Model/Bull Gun receivers in 30-06 only.
3 From 1948 to 1949 the serial numbers of type II-2 and III-1 H&H magnum actions overlapped.
4 The bridge of H&H length actions was not routinely D&T for scope mounting until late 1950, well into type III production.

A final reference point which is important for you to know regarding your rifle is the production year.

Most Winchester factory records for the model 70 have been lost or destroyed, which means there is less production information available for the model 70 than for most other Winchester rifles. What records do exist leave some room for interpretation about the exact production date of any given pre-64 model 70.

In the absence of factory records, it may seem logical to regard the date stamp under the chamber area of the barrel as a way to date a rifle (these stamps were present on the model 70 until 1956). However, these stamps indicate the year of barrel production only, and not the rifle. Barrel production preceded the rifle and these barrel dates commonly precede the manufacture date of the rifle by a year, and sometimes by many years.

This 1933 stamped barrel was delivered from the factory on a 1942 rifle

The cross reference below provides an estimated production date by serial number, based on model 70 polishing room room records. Polishing room records documented when each receiver was polished and are the most complete model 70 records in existence. However, polishing was just one step in production, and not the final step. As a result, the polishing room dates somewhat precede the date each rifle was completed and ready to leave the factory. The list below is based on polishing room records, but adjusted based on other available information to provide a very close estimation of when any given rifle left the Winchester factory. 

Year Serial number range Quantity produced
1936 1 - 2238 2238
1937 2239 - 11573 9335
1938 11574 - 17844 6271
1939 17845 - 23991 6147
1940 23992 - 31675 7684
1941 31676 - 41753 10078
1942 41754 - 49206 7453
1943 49207 - 49983 777
1944 49984 - 49997 14
1945 49998 - 50921 924
1946 50922 - 58382 7461
1947 58383 - 75675 17293
1948 75676 - 101680 26005
1949 101681 - 131580 29900
1950 131581 - 173150 41570
1951 173151 - 206625 33475
1952 206626 - 238820 32195
1953 238821 - 282735 43915
1954 282736 - 323530 40795
1955 323531 - 361025 37495
1956 361026 - 393595 32570
1957 393596 - 425283 31688
1958 425284 - 440792 15509
1959 440793 - 465040 24248
1960 465041 - 504257  39217
1961 504258 - 545446 41189
1962 545447 - 565592 20146
1963 565593 - 581471 15879

In a future Campfire article, we will dig into the wide variety of model 70 rifles Winchester manufactured and will cover how to determine the Winchester catalog codes for each of your rifles.


  • Dann Strickland

    I have Winchester model 70 SA 308. According to you records the serial number on mine is G67932 and the record shows mine is a 1947. It’s in mint shape and stainless. I would like to know more on this rifle. Thankyou

  • Jim G

    I recently acquired a Model 70 Safari Express in 375H&H, left hand. It says produced in New Haven and the barrel is stamped Classic. But the serial number does not make sense. It is G278854. Looking up production records, this is too low for a G prefix. Any thoughts?

  • Thomas Finger

    I just acquired a .375 H&H type 2 transitional with a serial number of 12 24 XX. The barrel date is 1949. That SN is higher than the one you show in your lists for the Type 2 H&H receivers. I’m curious as to the highest serial number type 2 that has been observed – mine should be certainly be one of the last type 2s produced.

  • Harold

    I have a Winchester 308 model 70 sel# 819836 what year. Thank you

  • Angelo Rivera

    I have a model 70 serial number 534933
    Will a “long action stock” fit?

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