Moving beyond the Redfield JR base on your pre-war model 70


 Until until WWII, the model 70 had no factory holes in the receiver bridge. Scopes were not in general use for hunting, target scopes did not require a mount in this aft position, and there was no practical need for the holes on the bridge of the receiver.

WWII changed all of this. With the war, optical sights took a huge step forward - both in terms of technology, and also in terms of public acceptance. In the span of a few years the average gun owner became interested in having a scope on his hunting rifle.

The rising popularity of scopes spurred Winchester to add two holes to the bridge of the model 70 receiver. In early 1947 the holes began to appear, but by this time there were around 70,000 type-1 and early Type-2 model 70s in the hands of hunters which had no holes for a rear scope mount. These rifles were not easily fitted with a scope without modification. 

Long before anyone imagined the model 70 would be come a collectible, it was strictly a tool. As such, when scopes became widely available, most model 70 owners found a way to mount one on their rifle. The scope may have been a Lyman, a Unertl, a Weaver or any number of brands, but more often than not the  scope was mounted used a Redfield JR base. The Redfield base was and is a great solution for the model 70, except that it requires the addition of a single 6-48 hole in the receiver bridge.

Redfield has contributed a great deal to our industry over the past 100 years with sights, scopes, bases and rings which helped enormously to advance hunting and shooting sports. The Redfield JR base has to rank among the most widely used and successful bases of all time. A one-piece design that spanned the cartridge ejection slot, the base was sturdy, had built in windage adjustment, and worked with a wide variety of rings. Tens of thousands of early model 70s were modified to accept the Redfield JR mount.

As good a solution as the Redfield JR mount is for the model 70, it has some drawbacks compared more modern mounting systems. Upgrading a type-1 rifle from the Redfield mount to something better is a frequent request at pre64win.com. This Campfire article shows how the Type-1 model 70 receiver which has been modified for a antiquated mount can be upgraded to a superior, modern mounting system.

Our first recommendation for a scope mounting system is always Talley. Long before pre64win.com became a Talley dealer, we were Talley users. In our experience Talley offers the best mounting system available for the model 70 at any price. This is why we recommend and sell Talley. It's purely a bonus that Greg and his team at Talley are fantastic people to do business with.


The author's rifle hunting in the central Cascades - a 1955 model 70 with a Leupold in Talley mounts

For  our example in this article, we will show how a Type-1 H&H action drilled for a Redfield JR mount can be converted to use the Talley mounting system.

As long as the existing hole for the Redfield base is properly sized and centered, it can be re-used with the Talley base. In our example case, an H&H receiver has a single 6-48 hole properly centered and located at the extreme forward edge of the bridge. 

To mount the Talley base we will need to add a second hole and before we can add the hole we will need to properly locate it. Modern mounting systems like the Talley system we are using do not have adjustments between the base and the ring, so location is critical. The base must be located such that when the rings are installed the front and rear ring are in precise alignment. We begin by installing the front base in the factory holes. This gives is a fixed reference for aligning the rear base. 

With the front base installed, the rear base is installed using the one available screw hole.

NOTE: This base is designed to be installed in the other direction, with the larger edge margin portion of the base forward.  However, the location of the existing hole has actually made it a cleaner installation to install the rear backward. The receiver has a constant section where the base mounts, which permits the base to be reversed without consequence. Generally speaking, Talley mounts on the model 70 are indifferent to reversing front or rear base.

With the base almost snug but still able to move with light force, a machinist's straight edge can be used on the side of the front and rear bases to achieve alignment. If the existing rear hole is properly centered, all that will be needed is to confirm the sides of the rear base are parallel and in alignment with the front base.

Now that the rear base is aligned, the existing screw is tightened and the entire receiver is placed in a fixture in the milling machine to be drilled. This could also be done with a good vise in a high quality drill press.

Using the open hole in the rear base as a guide and with a properly sized machinists round gauge fixed in the mill head, the receiver can be precisely located under the mill head for placement of the new hole.

Now with the rear base removed, the new hole can be drilled. The pre-64 model 70 receiver was manufactured from a forged hardened steel billet. The steel is very hard and will not treat a high speed steel drill bit very kindly. We always use carbide bits when drilling a receiver. The secret to a good hole with a carbide bit is high cutter speed and low feed pressure.

Because of the hardness of the steel in the receiver, we do tapping by hand. The spindly 6-48 tap is prone to snapping off in the hole and this part of the job is done slowly and gingerly to avoid the hassle of extracting a broken tap.

With the hole tapped and debburred, the receiver is ready for its new rear mount.

The completed Talley installation is all steel and very sturdy. Here the finished system is shown with the single screw fixed rings in 30mm and mounting a Leupold VX-R 1.25-4x20 Patrol scope.

We hope we've made this article both interesting and informative. If you've been looking for a way to upgrade your scope mounting system on an early rifle, we can't recommend the Tally solution highly enough and we hope this article can serve as a bit of a DIY for you to get the job done. If we can help you with advice, parts or service on your rifle, please reach us through the "Contact Us" link below. 

The parts used for this conversion were:

  • Talley 30mm Fixed Ring System #M300004 - $79.95
  • Talley Steel Base #252704 - $32.95
  • Leupold VX•R Patrol 1.25-4x20mm scope #113769 - $779.99

EDITOR'S NOTE:  A few times each month we are approached by a customer with an unmodified Type-1 model 70 asking how they can mount a scope on a rifle with no hole in the receiver bridge. Inevitably they will ask us to drill and tap the bridge for a scope mount. While we fully support every gun owner's right to do with their rifle as they please, we're not about to add a hole to a receiver that somehow managed to remain unmolested for 80 years. Usually we are able to steer them toward a Stith mount or some other mounting solution which gets around the need to put a hole in their rifle. If you own an unmodified Type-1 rifle, this article is not intended to help you modify it. If you do decide to modify your rifle, please be aware that adding a single hole in an otherwise unmodified Type-1 rifle will reduce your rifle's value by around 50%.


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