Briar Engineering
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Briar Engineering on the Winchester 670


William E. Allendorf


One story that got lost in the rush of deer season is the tale of how I turned my buddy, John, into a gunsmith. Now that things are starting to wind down for me, I thought I would let you all hear it.

One morning, I was out with my Winchester Model 670. Everyone remembers the Model 70, but the 670 is a very popular variant that was sold in places like K-Mart. Mine probably came from the early 70's. It was their value-priced model: matte finish, hardwood stock, plain bolt. However, it was a fairly handsome rifle from afar. It certainly shot as well as the full-priced version. Mine came from a gun show in the late 80's. I bought it out of a fellow's trunk. The price was right. The guy and his brothers had been sharing the rifle for years, shooting deer down in Kentucky. They had finally scraped enough money together for a new rifle.

"It may look all beat-up, but it shoots real good." he said. He was right. It did. After refinishing the stock, I tried some Remington 30-06 Accelerator in it, and it drove tacks. I decided to use it as a groundhog gun. It became my "Vaporizer." I mounted a Bushnell Banner 4-12X scope on it-- the one with the fancy bullet-drop compensator. I used the little dial, set for 22-250, and it did a perfect job of keeping the Accelerator's sabboted .223 55 grain bullet on milk jugs and 2-liter bottles as far out as I cared to shoot. What it did to groundhogs is unbecoming to write.

That was 20 years ago. Since then, I have started shooting more standard 165 grain bullets from this rifle, changed the dial to 30-06, and used this rifle for the past 10 years as my long distance deer rifle. If there is a chance of shooting beyond a 150 yards or so, this is the rifle I carry.

It was cold on the first morning of Kentucky's Rifle Season. That is probably what caused the problem. The cold probably made the plastic brittle and as I brushed the top of the scope across my safety harness, I heard a "click" and saw two little pieces falling to the ground. The top cap on the scope was gone. So was the dial. There was a plastic shaft sticking up. I'd broken the little top of the scope. It did not hurt the scope's accuracy any. I used the binos and scoured the ground around the stand and found the little dial. All I needed to do was replace the top screw cap.

After I came in from hunting, I went into town. I needed to go in anyway. The bathtub was clogged and I needed some drain cleaner. I took the cased rifle hardware store. You have to love a world where you can still carry a rifle case into a store without raising an eyebrow. I found a 6mm hex-head bolt and a washer that nearly fit. All I needed now was a gunsmithing bench.

My buddy, John Holleran, runs the mower repair shop in Browning's Corner. Browning's Corner is just that, a corner on the way between McKinneysburg and Bachelor's Rest. There is an abandoned store there. That's downtown Browning's Corner. John's shop is uptown, on the way to Neave. John was in the house getting warm. He saw me pull up. Normally we start each conversation with the same greeting.

"Are you the man that repairs mowers?" I always ask.

"What remains of him." John always answers. This time it was different.

"Are you the gunsmith?" I asked.

"Not at all." replied John.

"You are now." I replied. "Open up." I just needed a well stocked bench. John was curious enough to let me try.

First, I widened the hole in the washer a bit. Then I hacksawed a slot in the top of the bolt. John found a file that would widen the slot up enough for a dime. In five minutes, I had my replacement top screw. This one was made of steel and much more sturdy than the original. Since then I have tried to decide how to finish it off. Epoxy it, grind it, and paint it so that it is unrecognizable from the original, or just leave that hex head where it is as a fine example of briar engineering on a hillbilly rifle.

Through all of it, the scope never lost zero. Thursday afternoon was the next chance I had for taking out the Winny and I nailed a nice 8 pointer on the same stand just after sitting down.

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