Winchester Model 70 Super Grade Review - Part 2
A few weeks ago we reviewed the Winchester Model 70 Featherweight in detail, in the first of our two part series looking at the "Rifleman's Rifle." The Featherweight is Winchester's least expensive wood stocked gun and for this second part we will be taking a closer look at the Super Grade, currently Winchester's most expensive rifle with a wood stock.
The Winchester Super Grade is a premium version of the Model 70 that actually predates the model entirely. The Model 70 is originally based on the Winchester Model 54. The 54 was offered in premium grade versions with a variety of factory customizations and a standardized set of upgrades became known as the "Super Grade." This carried over to the Model 70 when it was introduced in 1937.
Before jumping into what sets the Super Grade apart, lets review what is the same as a Featherweight model. The MOA trigger system is identical, the Mauser-based controlled round feed action is the same, the action bedding is the same, and the free floating of the barrel is also the same. Since these features are identical, please go back to our part one review if you would like to read about any of these items. The biggest difference in the Super Grade is in the quality of the wood, the bluing, and the chamberings available.
When reviewing any Super Grade it's clear that Winchester has spent the most time increasing the quality of the stock. First they start with a fancy grade cut of walnut and proceed to form it into a unique stock. The wood on our review model was of very high quality with considerable character considering the $1000-$1100 street price tag which is typical of current production Super Grades. The wood exhibited some tiger stripes and deeper grain that looks pleasing under the satin finish.
The walnut wood stock Winchester Super Grade has some tiger stripe.
While the checkering depth of cut and quality is the same as the Featherweight, the pattern is different. The checkering completely envelops the forend and extends further on the pistol grip. The stock has a raised cheek piece on the right hand side that is typical of all Super Grades; however the cheek piece does not rise above the comb of the stock in a Monte Carlo fashion. This means that a left hand shooter could comfortably use the stock, although the cheek piece will be on the wrong side. As we noted before the Model 70 is currently not offered in left hand models.
Cheek piece is standard on the Winchester Super Grade.
The stock is also enhanced with a few other aesthetics. The first is the distinctive black forearm cap and the black metal cap on the pistol grip. The crossbolt that runs below the action and in front of the trigger guard is engraved. Finally the sling swivel attachments are inlet into the stock.
Knurled bolt handle and side shot of the crossbolt.
Jeweled bolt body.
The bluing on all the Super Grade metal work is excellent. Decades ago bluing quality used to be much higher than it is today, with perhaps the finest factory blue occurring on various Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers of the 1950's and 1960's. Today most folks that are new to firearms or rifles tend to assume that bluing is by default a matte nearly blackish color. Given this current state of affairs it is always nice to behold a mirror polished, deep high quality blue. Our review model has an excellent high polish blue, that has a nearly mirror finish. The pictures included in this review attempt to capture the bluing quality, but they really don't do the gun justice.
An attempt to show the high polish mirror finish of the bluing.
Target crown, also showing the mirror finish of the bluing.
The Super Grade is available only in a limited number of chamberings. There are only two short action offerings which are 270 WSM and 300 WSM. There are four long action offerings in 270 Win, 30-06 Springfield, 300 Win Mag, and 338 Win Mag. Magnums are offered in 26" barrels, while non-magnums and short magnums are 24" barrels. Owing to the longer, standard contoured barrels the Super Grade is at least one pound heavier than the Featherweight in comparable chamberings, weighing in at eight to eight and one half pounds depending on the cartridge.
The Super Grade is an excellent high quality offering from Winchester if you're looking for a premium wood rifle, especially if you're looking to keep the cost down. While the Featherweight we reviewed previously seems to be about average for the cost to features ratio, the Super Grade seems to be offering a considerably nicer gun when compared to the cost. In other words, it will be hard to find a comparable manufacturer's model that offers as much as the Super Grade does in terms of premium wood and bluing, but does so at an equal or lower price.
For more information visit www.winchesterguns.com.