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Evolution if any of Win 52 barrels for accuracy

2518 Views 25 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  wwace
I had an opportunity to examine a 52 pre A and 52B recently for sale. I realized how little I knew about these guns. I came back to this forum and also did a quick read a wiki pedia.

I think I have a general handle on triggers, actions, and stocks. What I have not found are reference to how the barrel making may have evolved over time.

Specifically were all 52 choke or taper bored? Or when did that start?

Logically, I would expect a lot more care into an Olympic grade E than a sporter. How does a D compare to a B? Or, exactly what models and when are the key differences in boring and chambering barrels?
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I have a 52 of about 1935 vintage. It has a Remington 37 barrel. After some digging I found that some shooters preferred the Remington barrel to the stock 52. Both are target type rimfire. My Remchester shoots well, better than I can. This is my only venture into a 52. I have always wanted one but didn't want to pay $1000 and upward for one. This was a very clean rifle and the cost was $525.
As a plus it came with a Vaver / Vartek aperture sight. I understand this is a premium addition. I have added a Lyman Super Target 20X on external mounts.
I just shoot it for fun and use it to test various brands of rimfire.
This might not answer your question, but once I started typing I got carried away.
I believe the 37 barrel was desired over the pre A and A 52 barrels, as was the rest of the rifle. I certainly wouldn't go that direction.

What you probably have is someone rebarreled a model 37 and the smith then used the 37 barrel to resurrect your 52.
I guess barrels may not be a well researched topic?
The problem is a general lack of concise information. Certainly not in any one thread or the Houze Bible. Not a couple of months ago I made a thread about the "Choking" process seeking more info on this subject also, if you care to look it is not too far away.

To answer your question it seems that the barrels were line bored and rifled until the later guns which used hammer forged barrels. I have never heard of the Winchester being described as "tapered" bore. However some are certainly "choked" to some extent. The process certainly involved witchcraft of some type to come up with the final desired internal bore and external dimensions. I think it is easier to hammer forge a barrel upon a mandrel of the final dimensions of the bore but that isn't even an accurate description. They will forge it and the final bore will be determined by turning the barrel to the final external size.

While all of this is certainly fascinating to those of us who know everything else already I am guessing it wasn't important enough to include a chapter in the Book. At the time when our antiques were in development and early manufacturing process being setup and developed the old Guru in the barrel shop who slugged and lapped your barrel was certainly as important as the process used to manufacture it.
I would guess that was still true when number 125000 left the shop.

Regarding accuracy I would say your statement is misguided. While great care would be taken with any rifle intended for an Olympic match if it went down the Model 52 assembly line it got pretty much the same care as the next. If your rifle went to the Custom Shop you would get what services you paid for. While it is true that the E model is slightly more capable with its hammer forged barrel there are thousands of others nearly as adept. That is why the 52 is the King.

The above is my opinion and experience, nothing else. The real experts here have more info than H.H. did when he wrote the book, I am not one of them.
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wwace, I found that thread. I should have said choked. I am making assumptions all around.

At this point, I think I would like to own a nice D. I like single shots so; that is not a negative for me. No rush, someday.
Other than triggers and ammo I would say barrels are the 3rd most looked for item, just because there isn't a ton of info out there about them.

I own a B, 2 Cs, a D and E and none of them are slouches but the Bull C and E are just a bit better with the C being easiest to shoot well. I giggle while watching the bullets head to the target, most right into (or close) the hole of the last shot. Any of the Post slow lock guns can be very capable, good luck on the hunt for a D.
wwace, That is an interesting observation. I have no history as the owner prior to me passed a while ago. He was a tool maker and machinist and I suspect he did his own work. More than one person commented he was a force to be reckoned with at the range.I am just having fun. I wish I could put my CZ trigger on the 52. When ZI shoot them back to back, I have to shoot the CZ first or my trigger muscle memory really is out of whack switching from 52 to CZ.
I own 2 Model 37s and most of another. Remington put their best people on that rifle and it was superior to the preA and A model 52s and at least equal to the B model in my opinion. As Remington was playing from a poor market position the rifle never sold as well as it should have. Winchester did have a solid 20 year head start and almost immediately countered with marked A models and Bs within a short time.

When these guns were in production shooters regularly modified them. If you owned a pre A 52 that didn't shoot so good I promise there were 37 barrels kicking about to buy if you knew of any popular smiths of the time.

Practice trigger control when you shoot enough and you will find it doesn't matter much what the pull weight is. I own a CZ also and it cant touch the trigger on any of my 52s or other target rifles. The closest is a 1939 Model 75 in feel. I am always switching guns on range trips and they vary from a couple ounces to 3 lbs. If there is nothing mechanical wrong it should feel good still at a 3lb pull weight which is what your gun was designed at.
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I bought this 52 on impulse for the most part. I cleaned the barrel and action that could be reached without taking the action from the stock. It is currently at a measured 6# and acts like it is very dirty. I am going to break it down and give it a good flushing and go from there. All I need is time.
clean it up and see if there is any crap in it. it should be between 3 an 4 iirc
Not having any skin in this game I would suggest that the biggest difference would be the improvement in ammo. I would be fun to see a comparison of the various models all shot with a range of the current high end ammo and see the differences.
I would like to do this type of stuff. There are no local competitions that I am part of so I would get something to do with my spare time. I already do a lot of this usually shooting 5 types of ammo per rifle each trip to the range. Getting ammo is always the hard part for me. The rifles I could use a few more early 52s maybe.
I also believe advances in ammunition likely played a large role in the improvements, and testing older rifles with modern ammunition is always interesting, but remember to not lose sight of the intimate relationship between ammunition and chamber/rifling configuration, something with which many here, particularly the BR crowd, continue to tweak and experiment.

Winchester knew what it was doing, having at its disposal the best of the best for research and development. I think we must assume Winchester designed and manufactured its rifles and ammunition to maximize accuracy and performance of its products, first and foremost. So, while most of the rifles remain in largely fine shooting condition today, the ammunition painstakingly designed and made to perform in those rifles is long gone, making it impossible to gauge performance against modern ammunition in modern rifles.

Looking at those 200-yard average groups, it doesn't seem to me there have been leaps and bounds of improvement in accuracy with more modern rifles and ammunition. Rifles shooting those 1.25" 200-yard groups would have been averaging less than .3125" at 50 yards...with 10-shot groups, no less. I'm pretty sure none of my rifles have ever done that well, even with the best Eley or Lapau ammunition...well, maybe one in the last 20 years.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, many in the BR community use a chamber made for a specific, currently produced ammunition. The vintage 52 chambers may or may not perform with ammunition made for modern chambers, so, who knows whether or not modern barrels and/or rifles are "better" than the vintage ones?

Food for thought,

I think we can disassociate what the Bench crowd is doing today in the quest for ultimate accuracy from what the 1930s Winchester people did. Today we have some outstanding ammunition but the rifles lack the detail hand work by Master craftsmen that was applied to the top of the line rifles of the day. To be fair of course they used the same basics tuning to their own ammunition and vice versa but I am a firm believer that they could massage a few tenths extra with some loving care.

As proof look at the Skip Line and other Custom Shop 40x repeaters that the lucky owners are shooting sub half inch groups at 100 yds. Remington had a couple of guys who flatassed knew what they were doing.

I have at least two 52s that will shoot quarter inch or less at 50, I do not have an adequate supply of ammo to test at any farther range and my shooting club has poor wind characteristics for those ranges also. I would hate to toss $20 a box ammo away under any but near perfect condition.

Popular story from the 70s regarding craftsmen: The WWII German Daimler Benz crankshafts were nearly perfectly balanced in the aircraft engines powering the Luftwaffe. It was said that they were so finely balanced that the results were not able to be duplicated with the machinery available at the time. The Germans were hand building incredibly well made engines and that was probably one of their mistakes. Automation may not have produced such a fine product but they could have increased quantities which we all know have their own quality.
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Wouldn't it be interesting to see how many man hours were involved in producing a 52 in 1939 vs a CZ today?
I would imagine that it is less than 10 for a modern CZ. Probably 4x that for a 52. Just guessing.
These tests were shot in a very controlled environment off benches that were locked down like a vise. They were going for the best they could get. No off hand, no sitting or even prone for these tests.
Were there some testing rigs for sale recently? I thought i saw something about them here somewhere.
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