The history of the .338 "Alaskan" model 70 is as unique as the chambering itself. Winchester developed the .338 WM cartridge in 1958, being tailor-made for use in the model 70. In mid-1959, Winchester introduced the .338 chambering for the model 70 with a new and unique 25" barrel, announcing it to the world in mid-year flier that designated the rifle an “Alaskan” model. Other than the new chambering and the 25" barrel, there was nothing unique about this new "Alaskan" model to distinguish it from any other Sporter rifle. When the 1960 catalog came out, the term "Alaskan" was also applied to the only other 25" barrel model 70 - the .375 H&H. Eventually, in 1963, the .300 WM chambering was introduced and also given the "Alaskan" designation, completing this unique subset of model 70 rifles. Students of the model 70 have debated for years exactly what the "Alaskan" designation means - whether it was tied to the unique barrel lengths (magnums at 24"-25"), or for something else. One thing is certain, Winchester was looking to make money: the Alaskan designation came with a $10 price increase for the .375 in 1960 and $10 higher pricing for the .338 WM and .300 WM, even though there was no real distinguishing features to these rifles beyond the barrel length and chambering. Whatever Winchester's thinking at the time, it has created a uniquely sought after group of rifles which carry the special moniker "The Alaskans". Roger Rule covers this topic in some additional detail on page 231 of his superb book.
This .338 Win Mag "Alaskan" Sporter rifle (serial number 401400) was produced in 1959 (see note on early short magnum production years below). The rifle is in NRA very good condition.
The original bluing is very good at 98%+ with the only notable wear being on the bolt handle and bottom metal. There is some very light freckling on the barrel bluing, but no scratches, gouges, pits or other problems with the metal or finish. The bore is bright with strong rifling. There are a few very minor scuffs on the stock, which has been refinished. There are no cracks or stains. The checkering is appears to have been lightly recut. The stock is bedded at the recoil lug as well as the first inch of the barrel channel - this appears to have been professionally done without modifying the inletting or barrel channel. The original Winchester recoil pad is intact and is not hard or cracked, but has a small circular blemish.
Production year info: Like many of the first "short magnum" rifles built, the serial number on this receiver dates it earlier than the year it left the factory. This rifle is all factory correct with a ".458" short magnum receiver, which was not offered by Winchester until mid-1959. Despite this, the receiver serial number indicates a 1957 production date. This anomaly in early short magnum serial numbers is well known and consistent among the first short magnum rifles Winchester produced.
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