Pre-64 M70 Hornet Action--What's It Worth?


Copper BB
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:59 pm
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:05 pm
For the past several months I've been looking for a nice Pre-64 Winchester M70 action that would become the basis for a custom rifle I've been dreaming about. My intent is to build a Jack O'Connor style rifle in 270 for a sheep hunt I hope to take in a year or two. This past weekend I found a really nice action and the asking price was so ridiculously low that I would have instantly bought it without an inspection. Nonetheless, I picked it up for a once over and, to my surprise, found out it was a complete Pre-64 Model 70 22 Hornet action made in 1949. Bluing is original and nearly perfect, even the undrilled bolt knob shows only the slightest of wear. The correct follower, spring, magazine box, and floor plate are all intact and the bolt is serialized to the action. The only detractor is one additional hole tapped between the two factory holes on the rear bridge, but that'd be covered with scope bases. All in all, the action is absolutely beautiful and I snapped it up, even through it wasn't the piece I was looking for. So, here's my dilemma. I still want to build my 270, but now I'm thinking about putting that project off and possibly building myself a Hornet instead. On the other hand, I could sell the Hornet action and put any profit toward my custom 270. I know Pre-64 Model 70 Hornets are going for ungodly prices right now. I also know any standard Pre-64 M70 action will bring around $500. Would a Hornet action bring a higher price and, if so, any estimate on what that might be? I know, I know, I can put it up for bid on Gunbroker or another auction site with a penny starting price and let the market determine value, but I'd like some sort of estimate so I can make an intelligent decision about what to do with this action, sell it or use it to build a Hornet? Oh, one other thing, if I decide to build a Hornet, I'd like to put a Pre-64 Winchester barrel on it. Other than scouring Ebay and other auction sites for months on end, does anyone know a source for a Pre-64 M70 Hornet barrel? If anyone wants to chime in with advice, please do. I'm open to suggestions on how to proceed. Thanks.
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 9:46 am
Welcome to the Winchester Owners Forum !!

Quite a dilemma...I would go with the action in hand myself.

.410
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:28 am
Location: San Diego Area
PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:33 am
Sorry for the untimely response and for the unwhitewashed answer too. Unfortunately, absent some personal penchant for a 22 Hornet, I think you may have a white elephant. I imagine there are few people in the market for the action. The chambering isn't generally popular these days. It's been eclipsed by a variety of other chamberings. Also pretty much strictly a reloader commodity I would imagine. The chambering is attractive as a collector gun. Yet most collectors just aren’t sitting around waiting for an action. The few which might be would likely be replacing such as non-original receivers… just as you now have!
Building a Hornet on it may suit you. Building it back to Winchester specs would almost surely be unrealistic. Locating components and their costs alone would put it in the category of starting with a vintage Fairlane '66 engine and building the car around it. Well, not really, but within scope the analogy is valid. Even then, at the end of the day, you'd have a non-original gun!!!
Building a ‘modern rifle’ using the action would end up something as, politely, a labor of love. Otherwise realistically, more of a mishmash that only the creator could likely love. Here you have a diminutive cartridge in a large action. This chambering in the Model 70 is rare because even in the days of its production, it wasn’t highly popular! Not a lot were sold!
The analogy to the value of a "standard" Winchester (pre 64) action is not well taken. Such would presumably chamber a variety of popular cartridges without alteration or perhaps minimal parts substitution depending on specifics. Absent unrealistic alterations,your action is useful only for the Hornet chambering.
That Hornet chambering has simply passed into history except in the context of original and therefore collectible guns! Frankly, I would consider your action primarily a parts source. Secondarily, finding someone who happens to love the Hornet and also the idea of building something of a strange heavy action gun to chamber it. (Were I imbued with the Hornet, I’d look for a single shot Martini Cadet action or the like for a slim lightweight sporter!) Even then some $$$ in the process!
Sorry, but this wordy response represents a bit complex opinion.
A lot of the pricy collector pre 64 Winchesters are no different than other highly collectible guns, or widgets for that matter. Remove the “originality” factor and they largely become just “nice old shooters”.
Yet making lemonade, maybe congratulations are in order. You may have done what we’ve all done in ‘maturing’ into 'seasoned' collectors gaining our chevrons! A few fliers that we don’t mention except within our inner circles and usually over drink!
I hope I’m wrong in this analysis, yet best of luck and…
A seasoned take
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 8:56 pm
Thanks for your input...

.22LR
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 3:55 pm
Location: Southern Middle Tennessee
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 3:55 pm
iskra wrote:Sorry for the untimely response and for the unwhitewashed answer too. Unfortunately, absent some personal penchant for a 22 Hornet, I think you may have a white elephant. I imagine there are few people in the market for the action. The chambering isn't generally popular these days. It's been eclipsed by a variety of other chamberings. Also pretty much strictly a reloader commodity I would imagine. The chambering is attractive as a collector gun. Yet most collectors just aren’t sitting around waiting for an action. The few which might be would likely be replacing such as non-original receivers… just as you now have!
Building a Hornet on it may suit you. Building it back to Winchester specs would almost surely be unrealistic. Locating components and their costs alone would put it in the category of starting with a vintage Fairlane '66 engine and building the car around it. Well, not really, but within scope the analogy is valid. Even then, at the end of the day, you'd have a non-original gun!!!
Building a ‘modern rifle’ using the action would end up something as, politely, a labor of love. Otherwise realistically, more of a mishmash that only the creator could likely love. Here you have a diminutive cartridge in a large action. This chambering in the Model 70 is rare because even in the days of its production, it wasn’t highly popular! Not a lot were sold!
The analogy to the value of a "standard" Winchester (pre 64) action is not well taken. Such would presumably chamber a variety of popular cartridges without alteration or perhaps minimal parts substitution depending on specifics. Absent unrealistic alterations,your action is useful only for the Hornet chambering.
That Hornet chambering has simply passed into history except in the context of original and therefore collectible guns! Frankly, I would consider your action primarily a parts source. Secondarily, finding someone who happens to love the Hornet and also the idea of building something of a strange heavy action gun to chamber it. (Were I imbued with the Hornet, I’d look for a single shot Martini Cadet action or the like for a slim lightweight sporter!) Even then some $$$ in the process!
Sorry, but this wordy response represents a bit complex opinion.
A lot of the pricy collector pre 64 Winchesters are no different than other highly collectible guns, or widgets for that matter. Remove the “originality” factor and they largely become just “nice old shooters”.
Yet making lemonade, maybe congratulations are in order. You may have done what we’ve all done in ‘maturing’ into 'seasoned' collectors gaining our chevrons! A few fliers that we don’t mention except within our inner circles and usually over drink!
I hope I’m wrong in this analysis, yet best of luck and…
A seasoned take


You are wrong on all accounts . The 22 Hornet is still alive and very healthy and has in recent years been available in some high quality firearms made by the likes of Ruger, Thompson Center, Tarus, Cooper, Kimber, Walther, Anshutz and CZ to mention a few. Not to mention that it was very popular in the early years after it was developed. Don't know where you got the notion that it was ever unpopular. :shock: :? It was available in lighter rifles including Winchesters M43 and the Savage M19 that were also available for less money.

You can buy new factory loads in numerous brands for the .22 Hornet . Yes, it is better with a reload tailored to one particular gun but the good thing about that is that every one I ever owned shot the same load like a house on fire. If you ever get a chance try 12.5gr of W680,AA1680,or Little Gun lit with your choice of small pistol primer with a Hornady 35gr VMax . It will stay on a dime all day .

If I had that action and money to build a custom rifle I would Build a .22 K Hornet with a medium sporter weight Lilja barrel with some nice wood styled after an original Kimber Classic topped with an older Weaver or B &L in windage adjustable Leupold mounts. I'd build it light and easy to carry and it would be my woods walking companion till I died. :D

As usual I am late to the party but I hope the OP did not take your advice and kept the action to build himself a Hornet. Once you own one you will never want to be without one. Same goes for the .218 Bee.

Eddie
Grumpy Old Man With A gun - Do Not Touch

.410
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2013 5:02 pm
Location: The shoreline of Lake Erie before the Great Black Swamp was drained
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:11 pm
I tend to agree with Eddie
Doom and gloom do not apply to the Hornet. It is desireable
I am one gun away from Happy

.270 WIN
Posts: 104
Joined: Fri Jul 11, 2014 7:56 pm
Location: Northern California
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 12:26 am
I will also side with Eddie as a Ruger No. ! sold for just over $ 2,500 last year (this was an anomaly) usually they are around $ 1,400. I have 2 Hornets and love them and shoot them regularly.
Too old to be nice, never too old to learn!

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