SCI Honors Winchester Anniversaries
By Steve Comus, Editor-in-Chief
It was a century ago this year that Winchester internally developed the .270 WCF cartridge (now known as the .270 Win.), although they did not introduce it publicly until 1925 — the same year that Winchester introduced the Model 54 rifle and Holland & Holland introduced what is now known as the .300 H&H Mag. cartridge (née H&H Super-Thirty).
Which got me thinking. Since SCI members are such hardcore hunters, it might be nice, between now and 2025, to assemble a group of SCI member articles and photos about their experiences with the .270 Win. cartridge, the Winchester Model 54 rifle chambered for the .270 and the .300 H&H cartridge.
If it took Winchester three years from development to introduction of the .270, then it seems logical to allow three years between now and when SAFARI Magazine can honor its 100th anniversary.
That way, SAFARI Magazine can publish a special section focusing on that rifle and those two cartridges in 2025, honoring all their 100th birthdays.
The reason I broach the subject now is that it can take time for folks to write about their experiences with these items and to find photos to go with the articles.
Although the Model 54 Winchester rifle didn’t experience a long new sales lifespan (1925-1936), the .270 Win. and .300 H&H Mag. cartridges (both of which generate muzzle velocities more than 3,000 feet per second) continue to be used around the world to this day. So, they are valid subjects of discussion regardless of their age.
Interestingly, the Model 54 Winchester was replaced by the Model 70 in 1936, and the Model 70 became known as the Rifleman’s Rifle. But not immediately. Unsure what kind of rifle would dominate, the year before, in 1935, Winchester introduced the Model 71 lever-action rifle chambered for the .348 Win. cartridge.
So, in back-to-back years, Winchester introduced the Model 71 and Model 70. As much as the Model 70 is an evolved Model 54, the Model 71 is an evolved Model 1886.
The years of introduction of the Model 70 and 71 hint that Winchester had tandem sales numbers in mind, since the 71 was introduced a year before the 70.
For those not familiar with the Model 54 Winchester rifle, it was Winchester’s first shot at a high intensity bolt-action rifle. The Model 70 essentially is an “improved” and evolved Model 54.
It was unclear at that time in the 1930s whether the lever-action or the bolt-action would win the sales wars. Hint: The Model 70 won hands-down, although the Model 71 in .348 is one heck of a great hunting rifle/cartridge combination.
I have no doubt that SCI members have a great number of stories to tell about the .270 Win. cartridge, the Winchester Model 54 rifle and the .300 H&H cartridge.
Members interested in submitting their articles for the special section in 2025, please contact SCI Managing Editor John Geiger at [email protected].
This article originally appeared in the May/June issue of SAFARI Magazine.