A Tradition of Bolt Action Rifle Excellence Since 1878.

Winchester has been building world-class bolt-action rifles since 1878.

Winchester began its experience with bolt action rifles with the Winchester Hotchkiss rifle. The Winchester Hotchkiss was a unique rifle with a number of innovative features. It was originally designed and patented by rifle designer Benjamin B. Hotchkiss in 1876. Winchester purchased the design, did some significant improvements and -- after a short industrialization period --  the rifle was approved by the U.S. government and a contract was signed. Winchester began producing the rifles at the Winchester Repeating Arms factory in New Haven, Connecticut. A number of rifles were also produced at the Springfield Armory starting in 1878.

Original patent drawings of an 1876 Hotchkiss design prior to the acquisition of the rifle that became the Winchester-Hotchkiss bolt action.

How unique was the Winchester Hotchkiss? It was not ground breaking, but was a good learning experience for the company that virtually owned the lever action rifle business world wide. The Winchester Hotchkiss had a single rear locking lug that was integral with the bolt handle. It utilized a tubular buttstock magazine quite similar to the successful Spencer rifle of that era.  Different versions were developed (in 45-70) for the US Navy and the US Army. This use by the U.S. military, along with purchases by a small number of state militias, made it "the first center-fire bolt-action repeater to be adopted by any major military." Read more about the Winchester Hotchkiss on Wikipedia and at the Forgotten Weapons website.  

Jump forward 135 plus years to the new XPR. The XPR is the latest in a long line of groundbreaking bolt-actions from Winchester Repeating Arms, and continues our tradition of creating innovative rifle designs. You can believe it when we say “We Know Bolts,” because we’ve been building world-class bolt-action rifles since 1878.

When most people think bolt action Winchesters, they think Model 70. And for good reasons. The Model 70 was "The Bolt Action of the Century," and has established itself as the rifle all other bolt actions are judged by. Generations of bolt action experience went into the Model 70 and the same can be said for today's new generation Winchester bolt action, the XPR. 

Winchester's first bolt action rifle was the Winchester-Hotchkiss in 1878. It has the distinction of being "the first center-fire bolt-action repeater to be adopted by any major military."

The Winchester Hotchkiss bolt-action, circa 1878 – Photo by forgottonguns.com.

According to the Cody Firearms Museum this Model-E-2536 is the T.C. Johnson prototype that likely preceded the sporting Model 54. The 54 was the basis for the legendary Model 70. Photo -- Cody Firearms Museum.

Using advanced materials and the latest manufacturing technology results in an accurate and rugged hunting rifle that will get the job done every time. And while the XPR is priced just right for today’s hunter, it’s no entry-level, bottom-of-the-heap budget rifle. The XPR is packed with features and details that are usually reserved for rifles costing hundreds more.

Other Reading.

A series of articles on Winchester bolt action rifles and the new XPR.

The legendary Herbert G. Houze and Winchester bolt actions. In his comprehensive book, Winchester Bolt Actions Military and Sporting Rifles 1877 to 1937, Herbert G. Houze offers a perfect historical overview: "Winchester was the first American arms maker to commercially manufacture a bolt action repeating rifle . . . from the famous Hotchkiss through the to the popular Models 54 and 70. 

He highlights little known forays in bolt actions "like the Murata Year 17 Rifle, Model Model 1895 Winchester-Lee, the Willam Mason Straight Pulls, the T.C. Johnson Model A and B Magazine Rifles, the Pattern 1914 Enfieds and much more."

No firearms manufacture has more experience with bolt actions than Winchester Repating Arms.

If you are doing research on Winchester bolt actions this is a must have book. MORE INFORMATION IS ON AMAZON. 

Outdoor Life on the Winchester Model 54. Outdoor Life did a review of the Most Influential Deer Rifles of All Time in 2008. The Winchester Model 54 was on the list. In their words, "knowing that any bolt-action rifle would be critically compared to the popular '03 Springfield and Mauser of 1898, Winchester overcame the challenge successfully in 1925 by combining good features from both."

They continued detailing that the 54 was "offered in a full range of popular calibers from the .22 Hornet to the .30/06, the Model 54 raised the bar on rifle accuracy and incorporated distinctive features and styling that were later inherited by Winchester's Model 70." Two interesting facts pointed out in the article were that the .270 Winchester was introduced as a new cartridge in 1925 and first offered in the Model 54, .and the Model 54 was offered in a heavy-barrel sniper model, most of which were chambered in .30/06."

The famous Model 70 was an improvement on the Model 54 which is impressive when you consider that the 54 was clearly one of the best bolt action rifles available at the time in the world. 

T.C. Johnson's experimental bolt actions done at Winchester during WWI and shortly after. Photo, Cody Firearms Museum.

Winchester made a significant contribution during WWI. In addition to producing over a half-million 1917 Enfields for the war effort, Winchester continued a process of improvement, research, and development.

As researched by Danny Michael, the Assistant Curator of the Cody Firearms Museum, the P14 Enfield and the M1917 along with the 1903 Springfield "became the basis for a series of experimental rifles at the Winchester factory. Thomas C. Johnson worked at the center of the project beginning in the summer of 1914. By the end of the war, Johnson built a full range of experimental rifles that led to his post-war designs."



Copyright Winchester Repeating Arms, 2017. Photos are used with permission, from Winchester Repeating Arms archives or in the public domain. Special thanks, as always, to the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center for information and archive photos. The Cody Firearms Museum -- and its associated historians and massive archives -- is likely the world's top resource on the development of Winchester Repeating Arms Bolt action rifles. Series written by Winchester Repeating Arms bolt action rifle enthusiast and staff writer, Scott Engen.