The Winchester Model 56 - RimfireCentral.com Forums

Go Back   RimfireCentral.com Forums > >

Notices

Join Team RFC to remove these ads.
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-19-2010, 02:15 AM
JWA's Avatar
JWA

Join Date: 
Jan 2010
Location: 
32,000 ft+
Posts: 
5,240
TPC Rating: 
100% (4)
The Winchester Model 56



Log in to see fewer ads
The Winchester Model 56
By JWA on RimfireCentral.com
This article is copyright 2010 protected, all rights reserved and is reprinted here by permission of the author (JWA)




Type: Bolt Action
Magazine: 5 or 10 Shot
Caliber: .22 Long Rifle or .22 Short
Dates of Manufacture: 1926-1931
Quantity Produced: 8,597 total (1,171 .22 Short and 7,426 .22 LR)
Overall Length: 39"
Weight: 4 3/4 lbs for the Standard Sporting Rifle and 5 lbs for the Special Fancy Sporting Rifle
Length of Pull: Approx. 13"

Introduction:
The Model 56 was designed as a mid-quality level, medium priced .22 bolt action rimfire. It was introduced in conjunction with a companion rifle, the Model 57. The 57 was the “Target” model whereas the 56 was designated as the “Sporter” version. The Model 56 was intended to be a good quality, lightweight, repeating bolt action rimfire rifle. Unfortunately, downward trends in the economy (which ultimately led to the Great Depression) and flagging sales were instrumental in its demise. After only a few years of production Winchester opted to re-focus their efforts on low cost, easily produced rifles which included the Model 58, 59 and 60. However the legacy of the Model 56 and 57 continued to survive in the form of the Model 69 and Model 75, both of which can accurately be described as direct descendants of the Model 56 and 57.

The Model 56 was offered in two variations and with two caliber choices;

Standard Sporting Rifle, in either .22 Long Rifle or .22 Short

Special Fancy Sporting Rifle, in either .22 Long Rifle or .22 Short. This variant is sometimes referred to by collectors as the “Deluxe” or “Fancy” version. Of the 8597 Model 56 Rifles produced, only 237 were ordered as the Special Fancy Sporting Rifle (Madis).

The Winchester warehouse stock number designation for the Standard Sporting Model 56 was No. 5601 (.22 Short) and No. 5602 (.22 Long Rifle). They were shipped from the Winchester factory warehouse 1 rifle per individual box and 10 boxes per case/crate.

Receiver:
The Model 56 and 57 receivers are identical and share the same serial number sequence. The serial numbers for both models are located on the right side of the receiver (similar to the Model 75) and range from 1 thru 27908 (Madis). Since the Model 56 was discontinued in late 1929 with final rifles assembled up to early 1931, serial numbers for the 56 are generally below 21600. Any Model 56 with a serial number higher should be suspected as a “parts gun” and/or utilizing a later Model 57 receiver. It should be noted that Ned Schwings Winchester Pocket Guide is incorrect with regard to the serial range of the Model 56. His book states the Model 56 serial numbers are 1-8579 but in fact, they were numbered concurrent with the Model 57 and both models shared the number sequence without duplication of any of the numbers so Model 56 serial numbers actually go higher than the published total production number since the Model 57 accounted for a good portion of the serial numbers utilized.



All of the receivers for the 56 and 57 were drilled and tapped on the left side (rear) for the Lyman 42W receiver sight. The majority of the Model 56 receivers have Winchester installed plug screws in the receiver sight holes unless specifically ordered with the Lyman 42 which was a rare option on the Model 56 although standard on the Model 57.



The trigger for the 56 was blued and smooth (non-serrated) and is not adjustable except for the trigger spring tension.

Stock:
The stock for the Model 56 is clear American black walnut with an overall length of 26 5/8” and fitted with a blued flat steel checkered buttplate. The standard stock was smooth with no checkering. The “Fancy Sporting” rifle had a checkered stock and slightly fancier walnut. The forend has a very graceful taper culminating in a classic Schnabel tip and is one of the few Winchester models offered with a Schnabel forend (the Model 1904 and the Model 54 being the other notable exceptions). The finish is a clear lacquer type with a semi-glossy sheen. The 56 stock was not equipped with sling swivels.





The trigger guard and floorplate are one contiguous unit and identical to the Model 75 Sporter. The word “Sporting” is stamped on the floorplate on most, but not all, Model 56’s. Since the Model 56 was discontinued well before the Model 75 was introduced it is logical that the Model 75 trigger guards for both the Target and Sporting models were produced on the machinery originally designed and used for the Model 56 and 57. This was another instance of the thriftiness of Winchester and these types of recycled tooling transitions were prevalent in many of their design decisions.



Barrel:
The barrel is threaded into the receiver and is 22” in length with a flat crown. In July, 1930, just prior to the final parts clean-up of the Model 56, stainless steel barrels were offered on rifles as part of the inventory close-out for the 56. These stainless barrels are extremely rare on the 56 and were offered in .22 Long R. and .22 Short. For the Model 56 there were four different barrel markings on the left side;

- MODEL 56 – WINCHESTER – 22 Long R. -
- ---------------TRADEMARK------

- MODEL 56 – WINCHESTER – 22 SHORT -
- ---------------TRADEMARK------

- MODEL 56 – WINCHESTER – 22 Long R. - - STAINLESS STEEL -
- ---------------TRADEMARK------

- MODEL 56 – WINCHESTER – 22 SHORT - - STAINLESS STEEL -
- ---------------TRADEMARK------





The same barrel marking was used on the right side throughout production;

MADE IN U.S.A. WINCHESTER REPEATING ARMS CO. NEW HAVEN CONN.
PATENTED NOV. 25, 1919. FEB. 17, 1920. MAR. 30, 1920. MAR. 27, 1923.



Bolt:
The bolt for the Model 56 is identical and interchangeable with the Model 57. It has the iconic Winchester “tear drop” shaped handle which was copied from the new Model 54 introduced the previous year. The actual handle is blued, straight and rotated downward at 90 degrees when chambering a round. The bolt body is in the white and electro-pen etched with the rifle serial number on the bottom side. The bolt number should match the receiver number. The actual Model 56 bolt design is the precursor for the Model 69 which had yet to be developed and in fact, some components are interchangeable with the subsequent 69 bolt. The main differences between the 56 and the 69 bolt lay in the firing pin and bolt handle. The 69 bolt handle is shaped and bent downward like the familiar handle found on many later Winchester .22 models. Also, the firing pin tip on the 69 is more slender (possibly to reduce lock-time) whereas the Model 56 firing pin is more robust.







Sights:
The standard sight package for the Model 56 consisted of a Winchester 40A rear and a Winchester 75C front sight. This was by far the most prevalent combination and is found on most rifles. Many of the “Fancy Sporting” rifles were also ordered with upgraded sights. Other options included:

Lyman No. 3 Front Sight
Lyman No. 4 Ivory Hunting Front Sight
Lyman No. 5 Combination Front Sight
Lyman No. 42W Receiver Sight (rear)
Lyman No. 6 Folding-Leaf Rear Sight





Of the 8597 Model 56 rifles produced, only 397 were ordered with special sights (Madis).

Nick Stroebel indicates in his book Old Gunsights that the Redfield No. 70C Receiver Sight was also an optional rear sight on the Model 56 but since the Redfield 70C sight was not developed until the early 1940’s this data is obviously incorrect and was not a Winchester option for the Model 56 but simply an aftermarket replacement sight available for the 56 and 57 long after the 56 was discontinued by Winchester.

There is also some Winchester documentation which indicates the 56 could be ordered with telescopic sights. These special ordered rifles are extremely rare and examples should be closely examined prior to purchase. Correct factory installed scope blocks must have the proper spacing and workmanship to be considered. Since ALL of the Model 56 barrels and receivers have the proof “WP” offset to the side of the receiver, regardless of sight option purchased, the location of the proofs should NOT be considered as a defining characteristic of factory scope mounts on this particular model.



Magazines:
There were 4 basic variations of magazine available for the Model 56 and 57. They all were marked on the floor plate with the Nov. 25, 1919 patent date and are distinguished as follows;

5 round, .22 LR
10 round, .22LR
5 round, .22 Short
10 round, .22 Short





Theoretically, the Winchester single shot magazine designed for the Model 52 would be interchangeable and available for the 56 and 57 although there is no documentation that indicates any 56’s were supplied with a single shot magazine.

Finale:
The Model 56 was officially discontinued in 1929 with remaining parts clean-up dragging into 1931. Since the stock, barrel and trigger guard were the only major components which differed from the still current Model 57 it can be assumed the parts clean-up was simply a matter of completing existing orders and assembling the surplus barrels and stocks which resulted in about 1800 rifles assembled after the 56 was officially discontinued. The surviving examples support this theory with many of the 1929 and 1930 serial numbered receivers having 1927 and 1928 barrels.

It is interesting that most of the current reference material states the consumer market could not support a mid-quality .22 bolt action rifle and the Model 56 sales and production numbers are certainly dismal enough to support those statements. However, it was only 4 years later in 1935 during the midst of the Great Depression that the Model 69 was introduced using most of the design concepts incorporated on the Model 56 and excepting the lesser quality sights, the overall package was nearly identical to the previous 56. As history proves, the Model 69 was a resounding success and the 56 is relegated to a few pages in Winchester reference books and is only well known to a few die-hard collectors. In the world of retail gun sales, timing and marketing are everything.

JWA

Revised 9-20-10


Additional References;

Winchester 1926-1927 Product Catalog Winchester Repeating Arms Company
WRAC 1926

The History of Winchester Firearms by Duncan Barnes, Geoirge R. Warous, James C. Rikhoff, Thomas H. Hall and Pete Kuhlhoff
Winchester Press 1980

Firearms by Winchester - A part of United States History by C.B. Colby
Coward Mann 1957

Old Gunsights a Collector’s Guide, 1850-1965 by Nick Stroebel
Krause Publications 1998

The Winchester Book by George Madis
Art and Reference House 1985

The Winchester Handbook by George Madis
Art and Reference House 1981

The Sight Book by George Madis
Art and Reference House 2005

Winchester Dates of Manufacture 1849-2000 by George Madis
Art and Reference House 1999

Winchester Pocket Guide by Ned Schwing
Krause Publications 2004

Additional Photos -


Last edited by JWA; 03-29-2017 at 01:55 PM. Reason: Revised 9-21-10 for grammar, yeah, yeah, I should leave it alone but I am a perfectionist.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 09-19-2010, 07:59 AM
22AGS's Avatar
22AGS
NRA Member - Click Here To Join!

Join Date: 
Dec 2006
Location: 
south Florida
Posts: 
9,160
TPC Rating: 
100% (1)
JW, that was a GREAT read--dang I wish I could write like that! I don't know where you dig this stuff up but it has the stamp of authenticity all over it. Definitely a worthy addition to that sticky list we're all making up. Be sure to throw in a bunch of photos if you can.
Thanks from all of us--now I've found a new rifle to seek out.

Asa, your turn........
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 09-19-2010, 08:30 AM
wundudnee's Avatar
wundudnee
NRA Member - Click Here To Join!

Join Date: 
Jan 2004
Location: 
Auburn, Kansas
Posts: 
766
TPC Rating: 
0% (0)
Thanks

Great write up! I know how frustrating it can be when you're trying to dig up information about some of Winchester's "orphan" rifles, such as the 56, 57, 58, 59 and their many variations. You find little snippets or a short paragraph and leave puzzled. Thanks for putting this together.

wundudnee
Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
  #4  
Old 09-19-2010, 09:24 AM
asa's Avatar
asa
NRA Member - Click Here To Join!

Join Date: 
Feb 2004
Location: 
Vt.
Posts: 
1,542
TPC Rating: 
0% (0)
56 writeup

JWA-nice job of compiling the disparate 56 facts and writing them up in an interesting and usable manner. Astute observation on Schwing's erroneous theory about the serial numbers; I had wondered about that also, but owning four 57's serialed from the early 2,000's to over 20K and no 56's with which to compare, it was just a niggle on the corner of this aging mind.

Once the pics are up I do believe this will be added to my Win. "documents" group.

And AGS, when you find one of them there 56's in a local pawnshop (righto!), do let me know. -Asa

Last edited by asa; 09-19-2010 at 10:02 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 09-19-2010, 12:52 PM
JWA's Avatar
JWA

Join Date: 
Jan 2010
Location: 
32,000 ft+
Posts: 
5,240
TPC Rating: 
100% (4)
Thanks for the kind words. I have inserted my mediocre quality photos (I am definitely NOT a photographer) and I think I am done tinkering with it except to tweak some grammar here and there.

I am always looking for improvement so if anyone has any additional verifiable information I would be happy to update the document.

Regards,
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 09-19-2010, 01:24 PM
leveraction94

Join Date: 
Mar 2008
Posts: 
241
TPC Rating: 
0% (0)
Model 56

JWA, BRAVO,BRAVO Fantastic story on the 56 and 57 rifles,The photo's are awesome to. I will have to get my butt in gear and post some pictures of my 56 short only rifle along with my later model 57.......... I wish i could show you my 56 to get your opinion on weather the stock has been refinished at sometime in the past.......Wish someone will do a book on the bolt action 22 rifles.ie.69,72,75's like they did on the pump guns and early 02,04's..........Great Job...Thanks Tim
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 09-19-2010, 01:59 PM
22AGS's Avatar
22AGS
NRA Member - Click Here To Join!

Join Date: 
Dec 2006
Location: 
south Florida
Posts: 
9,160
TPC Rating: 
100% (1)
Fantastical. Now we're cooking, looks like the summertime doldrums are receding at last. Great Job JW!!!!!!! You have set the standard for a good writeup. Who's got another one?

Last edited by 22AGS; 09-19-2010 at 02:15 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 09-19-2010, 02:17 PM
JWA's Avatar
JWA

Join Date: 
Jan 2010
Location: 
32,000 ft+
Posts: 
5,240
TPC Rating: 
100% (4)
Quote:
Originally Posted by 22AGS View Post
Fantastical.
Fantastical? You weren't perchance the originator of "Ginormous" were you?
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 09-19-2010, 02:33 PM
22AGS's Avatar
22AGS
NRA Member - Click Here To Join!

Join Date: 
Dec 2006
Location: 
south Florida
Posts: 
9,160
TPC Rating: 
100% (1)
Quote:
Originally Posted by JWA View Post
Fantastical? You weren't perchance the originator of "Ginormous" were you?
Why no, that was my daughter.

We need to get some commitments from some of these guys who really know their guns. Any of you, and you know who you are, that wish to contribute to this roundup have the full backup of myself and I suspect JWA regarding any help you might need either with editing, photo transferation, or proofreading. Just supply the raw data if you have it, and we will help you whip it into shape if you need.
The 57, 63, the entire single shot series (I know of an almost mint 59 out there hidden under a floorboard
We have an 1885 expert mulling that writeup over right now. Anyone else wanna be famous?

Last edited by 22AGS; 09-19-2010 at 02:38 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 09-19-2010, 02:58 PM
irl104
Fire FighterEmergency Medical Technician NRA Member - Click Here To Join!

Join Date: 
Mar 2006
Location: 
Indiana
Posts: 
285
TPC Rating: 
100% (3)
Win 56

That is a nice write up. Interesting info. I've got a short and a long rifle . My long rifle is evidently a parts clean up gun in the 28,000 serial number range. Thank you for your work and effort.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 09-19-2010, 03:44 PM
JWA's Avatar
JWA

Join Date: 
Jan 2010
Location: 
32,000 ft+
Posts: 
5,240
TPC Rating: 
100% (4)
Quote:
Originally Posted by irl104 View Post
That is a nice write up. Interesting info. I've got a short and a long rifle . My long rifle is evidently a parts clean up gun in the 28,000 serial number range. Thank you for your work and effort.
Thanks! Your .22 LR is definitely one of the last ones produced. I would be very interested in the exact serial number and the barrel date stamped on the underside of the barrel (near the receiver).

Regards,
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 09-19-2010, 05:50 PM
irl104
Fire FighterEmergency Medical Technician NRA Member - Click Here To Join!

Join Date: 
Mar 2006
Location: 
Indiana
Posts: 
285
TPC Rating: 
100% (3)
Win. 56

Will pm
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 09-19-2010, 05:52 PM
JWA's Avatar
JWA

Join Date: 
Jan 2010
Location: 
32,000 ft+
Posts: 
5,240
TPC Rating: 
100% (4)
Thanks, I got your PM and appreciate the info.

Regards,

Last edited by JWA; 09-19-2010 at 06:03 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 09-19-2010, 06:48 PM
emmagee
NRA Member - Click Here To Join!

Join Date: 
Jul 2004
Location: 
Dallas, TX
Posts: 
128
TPC Rating: 
100% (2)
Great info, thanks!
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 09-19-2010, 11:35 PM
Jolly Bill
US Navy Veteran NRA Member - Click Here To Join!

Join Date: 
Mar 2005
Location: 
Upstate, western NY
Posts: 
313
TPC Rating: 
100% (2)
jwa,

Thank you for writing that great feature on the model 56's and 57's. And special thanks for sharing the photos and article with us.

Jolly
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off




All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:50 PM.

Privacy Policy

DMCA Notice

Powered by vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Optimisation provided by DragonByte SEO (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright 2000-2018 RimfireCentral.com
x