"Fixing" my 1953 Model 70, the saga begins.


Well-Known Member
Aug 5, 2009
Carlisle, PA
Updated: "Fixing" my 1953 Model 70, the saga begins.

Late last September my brother in law gave me my Dad's 1953 Model 70 .30-06Spr that my Dad gave to him in the late 1970's. My brother in law never did shoot it. The rifle shows a lot of field time but not much shooting near as I can tell. It looks better in the picture than it does in person. I like the "feel" of the rifle and enjoy shooting it. I took one deer with it last fall two weeks after it arrived here. tt also has some sentimental value so I'd like to make it shoot.


In another thread Kiwi Nate mentioned that there are frequently multiple problems. Somewhat surprisingly given their reputation, this rifle has multiple problems.

It's shooting very erratically. 3 shot groups from 1" to 3-1/2" and sometimes 4". The 1" groups are very rare. 5 shot groups are always over 2-1/2". 6 shot groups over 3" spread all over. The only reason it was hunted with is that it pretty much puts the first shot in an inch and a half of the same place. The rest can go anywhere.

Inspection results/diagnosis:

The bore coppers very heavily and quickly. It takes 3 over night soaks with WipeaOut with two aftenoon soaks with BoreTech and morning soaks with SLIP2000 (to get the carbon) to get a clean patch out of it. I took out the carbon with M-PRO7 then inspected it with the borescope. The copper starts in the throat and just gets worse and worse as the inspection progresses toward the muzzle. The bore is quite rough with tooling marks and chatter of varying intensity the length of the bore. It's worst just beyond the throat though there is a bad patch about mid bore as well. No place is completely chatter free. Even though it's 57 years old the lands in the throat still have rea,er cross hatch marks and smearing (it was a dull reamer) though the chamber appears to be centered as best I can tell given the rough condition in there. If I ever saw a candidate for firelapping (a last resort) this bore is it. I've never used it before but I'm going to try it on this barrel. I don't see how it can make it worse and it might allow me to save it.

The chamber itself is very very rough. In 4 firings I've had brass thin almost .005" in an annular groove inside just above the base and I'm only bumping the shoulders .002". Polishing the chamber will fix that.

Looking at the stock one can see the pressure points as shiny dark places on the wood. I'll get pictures of this when I take it apart to start the process - for sure before I bed it. The compressed shiny wood shows the action is resting only on the lip around the magazine and the rear screw, not the intended front flat area just behind the recoil lug, so tightening the action screws bends and stresses the action big time. Changing screw torque moves the group all over the place. The recoil lug is not touching anywhere. It's literally hanging almost centered in it's "slot" when the receiver is installed so the floor plate will close. Bedding the action to the receiver will fix these issues.

There is a 4th screw that screws through the stock into the rear sight lug on the barrel to clamp it to the stock. The rifle shoots somewhat better with the barrel mounting screw removed. I'll float the barrel.

The good news, the M70 factory trigger is totally excellent. It adjusted to be as close to perfect as any hunting rifle I own including my CZ's with their single set triggers. Creep free, breaks like glass, no perceptable over travel. Gotta like that. The other good news is the scope, a new VX-II 3-9x40 with the bullet drop dots on it, is just fine. It shoots bugholes on my .243 - I tried it on that known good rifle before mounting it on the M70.

I like the rifle, don't want to sell it, I can do it all the work myself which makes it pretty much a no-brainer, so I'm going to fix it.

The treatment plan pretty much in this order:

1) Put a very few rounds of firelap bullets down the barrel cleaning and inspecting it with the borescope in the throat area and just beyond after each round. My buddy has a Hawkeye borescope I can borrow and I have a good place to do this back on my sister's farm (about 500 yards from where I'm sitting now). I'll slug it and inspect it the full length of the bore at least every 5 rounds to be sure all is feeling right the full length of the bore. I'll take my tracter back there. The loader bucket will make a 5' wide work bench to set the gun vise on and clamp the press to so I can load the lapping bullets one at a time into primed cases changeing grits as needed, and have a place to clamp the barrel for slugging it as seems appropriate. Once the throat cleans up I'll stop. The rest of the bore will be finished by hand lapping it if it needs it.

2) Pull the action, unscrew the barrel, stick it in the lathe and polish the chamber. I'd set it back a turn and rechamber but if I do it will cause all sorts of issues - this rifle has a rear sight bulge mid barrel, and integral fron sight ramp. If it doesn't shoot well enough after all is done, I'll just rebarrel it rather than trying to set it back.

3) While it's out of the receiver I'll slug and hand lap the barrel till the finish is as good as I can make it within reason.

4) Before I reassemble the barrel to the receiver, I'll inspect the crown once more while the borescope is here and maybe, just to eliminate it as an issue, I'll indicate it thorugh the headstock and re-crown it. I'll have to make a special tool to do that because of the front sight ramp but that's part of the fun.

5) Give the barrel one last inspection, if all looks good, screw it back on the receiver.

6) I have some 1/2" drill rod that I'll use for the front and rear pillars (there isn't much room for the rear pillar - I may have to make the pillar slightly smaller back there). I'll machine some grooves around them to make sure the epoxy gets a good grip. I also have some 3/4" aluminum rod I could machine into pillars but I like the idea of steel better.

6) Float the barrel by carefully enlarging the barrel channel.

7) Bed the action to the stock after putting the stock in the mill to get rid of excess wood and the receiver to make sure there is "draft" on the recoil lug. I'll do it as a two step process (like shown in the Holland video - it's worked well for me in the past) gluing in the pillars first, then doing the rest of the bedding the next day.

8) After the bedding is cured and cleaned up I'll inspect and touch up the barrel channel if necessary.

9) The rifle's value as a collectable isn't much now and it will be less after I work on it so some place in this process I'll cut the stock off and install a good recoil pad so the length of pull is about 1/2" shorter than it is now. Probably a Limbsaver, KickEEZ, or Decelerator. I'm OK with the recoil now, and it's a heavy rifle at 9+ pounds with scope, but as I get older I'll start to notice it more and that blued steel butt plate isn't exactly shoulder friendly.

10) Reassemble the rifle and see how it shoots. I think it will shoot well enough (consistant 1 MOA or less at 100 yards) to be a decent 300 yard deer rifle.

If it doesn't shoot an inch or less, I'll take it apart, true the receiver, fit, chamber, and install a new barrel. I'm doing a lot of work to avoid the new barrel but it it won't shoot, it won't shoot.

Anyway, that's the plan for now. I'll take some pictures and post my progress along the way. I already have some "before" targets.

There's no rush. My two rules for retirement are:

1) having fun is job 1.
2) Nothing is urgent.

Deer season is in the fall. That said, I have all the material in hand to do it except the firelap and sllugging bullets which are on the way from NECO, the weather for the next few weeks won't be conducive to a lot of outdoor activity so I might as well be in my shop having fun..

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Please keep us posted on how your project goes. I am curious to see how the ol girl will shoot after her tune up.
My Grandpa gave me his Model 70 in '06 and I love that gun. I still havent found another gun with an action as smooth as that rifle. It shot really well too. He had the barrel glass bedded years ago and it seemed to help with the accuracy. It would always put 3 shots around a half inch for me w good handloads. That always impressed considering the gun is over 50 years old.

I am a model 70 nut and I am curious to see how yours shoots. I love old guns like these, they have so much character!
This is what the stock looks like now - the "before" picture:


The compressed area around the magazine well and where the tang rests on the stock behind the rear action screw are obvious. the lack of contact on the flat where the front action screw is located is also obvious. Not seen in this picture, there is zero evidence of recoil lug contact with anything.

Wood is missing down the front of the hole for the rear action screw. I think that is a factory screw up or something that happened to it in its long history because near as I can tell there is no need for it to be missing for clearance reasons. I'll epoxy an aluminum pillar in there ~ 1/2" in diameter.

This should be a fun project.

I'm going to go ahead and bed it before I do anything to the barrel and chamber. If all goes well I'll get time to work on it Wednesday or Thursday.

Great write up. Looks like you have your work cut out for you. Sounds like it will be a real labor of love. keep us posted on progress as it comes along. Thanks for sharing.
I love my Winchesters! But what I love even more is the thought of someone going to such great lengths to preserve an ''icon'' for sentimental purposes. Preserving an icon (to me anyway) doesnt always mean keeping the monitary value by keeping it ''stock''. To some of us it means keeping grandpa's ol rifle in good and proper/usefull condition. Hats off to you for taking on the project! Good luck. I wanna see the progress and look forward to reading more of your posts.
doesnt always mean keeping the monitary value by keeping it ''stock''. To some of us it means keeping grandpa's ol rifle in good and proper/usefull condition.

Winmag, +1 couldn't agree with you more.
I have finished bedding the rifle. It was a lot of fun.

I set it up in the mill for most of the work. It isn't nearly as sophisticated as Chad's CNC setup, but taking my time and working carefully, it got the job done.


After milling it looked like this:


Ready for reassembly it looked like this.


The 2 goobers just forward of the bolt handle slot are due to my lack of skill with modeling clay but i don't think they will hurt the accuracy at all. The receiver is a snug fit but it goes in and out without undue effort.

As this next picture shows, the action has a very rough finish on it from the factory so the Devcon 10110 didn't finish up looking smooth and shiny.


I made pillars and a set of temporary alignment studs. The front pillar is 5/8" OD, the ID was drilled with an "N" drill. The OD of the shank of the alignment studs is 19/64" OD. The short threads are .245"-32 to screw into the action, the longer threads are 1/4-28 to screw into the tooling nuts. The rear pillar is 1/2" OD, "N" drill ID.


The goal was to have the pillars aligned during the glue in process so when i was doine the 1/4" action screws would go right down the center of the pillar hole and wouldn't touch anyplace in the pillar. It worked.

This is what it looked like once I got it back together but before installing the scope, etc.:


I've loaded some ammunition to take it to the range and see if it shoots any better than it did. After that I'm going to go to work on the barrel and see if I can teach myself to hand lap it. I have some lead to make laps with, and some grit. The next step will be an even bigger learning experience.

Thats a big project, Ive been wondering how your progress was. Thanks for posting, looking forward to the next instalment. Keep it up:) she'll be a shooter!
I admire you for taking that on, stay with it. Seems to be coming along pretty good. +1 with winmag keep us posted. Pics were great too.

Just noticed this thread this morning. Your motivation is outstanding. The write up is great. The work looks very good.

I like the following:

1) having fun is job 1.
2) Nothing is urgent. (I can't get thru this one. I'm spending way more time in my garage/shop than I should. The lathe is teaching me patience though I'm not accepting it well.:rolleyes:

I'm very interested on how you will do the Barrel Lap if you have to go that far.

Good timing. I got to the range with it this week - your post reminded me I need to show some progress photos. In the course of things (I had two other rifles at the range with me) I shot three groups with it. The barrel cooled to ambient between groups. The first group of 3 (not shown) was for tweaking the scope.

The next two groups are these:


I adjusted the scope (3-9x40 Leupold VX-II) up one MOA between group 2 and 3 - it looks like I need to fuss with the scope alignment a little before I'm done. I'll install a level on it before the next range trip.

At this point it looks like floating the barrel and bedding the rifle may have made a significant improvement. I'd like to see 3 or 4 more groups like those to be sure but I'm out of those bullets. I have some "before" targets. When I get a chance I'll post a typical "before" group. Trust me on this, they don't look like these two!

I am not necessarily done with this yet. I have some more bullets on order - 150g Hornady SST - and plan to work up a load for those bullets. When I get that done I'll post another picture. If (there is that "i" word) it will shoot the 150g SST reliably into groups like these I'll load up 40 rounds for future whitetail seasons, install the recoil pad, declare victory, and move on to my next project.

If it won't, it's on to the lapping. If that doesn't work, I'll put a new barrel on it. I have a .30 Cal 1:10 twist #3 contour barrel on the way here. It could go on any of several rifles including this one if it's needed.

Excellent groups. Once you had a chance to shot more groups as you say then let us know whether your satisfied or going on to lapping.
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