Model 54 Rifles
By Wayne R. Miller, Featured Displayer July 2008
Winchester introduced the Model 54
Bolt Action rifle in 1925 and it became their first successful bolt
action centerfire rifle.
Design was obviously derived from the world famous Mauser rifles. Manufacturing of this fine rifle spanned only a ten year period. Our country suffered a depression during several of those years restricting the sales of firearms for sporting use.
Approximately 51,000 rifles were assembled during this time period in ten calibers. Quite interesting is that there were three in metric configurations not readily accepted by the American sportsman at that early period. Following are just a few of the examples included in the display.
9 X 57 Mauser - The 9 X 57 MM Mauser caliber was introduced to the Winchester Model 54 in 1929. This caliber, strange to American sportsmen, sold in very limited quantities and is possibly the rarest of the Model 54’s. The rather odd bullet diameter of .356 creates problems for handloaders. Extremely rare, especially in this condition.
.25-35 Winchester - This early style standard grade rifle is chambered in the super rare .25-35 Winchester caliber, a special order only. Less than six are known to exist. This caliber is simply the .30-30 Winchester necked to .25 caliber. It originated in the model 94 Winchester. This rifle has a unique hunting history. The original owner took a blacktail deer in California. The second owner a mule deer in Oregon, and I added a whitetail in Pennsylvania.
.30-06 Sniper’s Match - One of the very rarest of the Model 54 variations. Chambered only in .30-06 with a 26” heavy barrel. Since Model 54’s were manufactured between WWI and WWII, little interest was shown by the military, so obviously only a handful were produced. Unlike the first Model 54 target rifles, the redesigned stock was essentially the same as the later Model 70 target rifles.
.38-55 Winchester - Although a fairly popular caliber in the Model 94 Winchester at one time, a bolt action rifle is almost unheard of. No records are available as to how many Model 54’s were special ordered in this caliber but most collectors agree that production numbers were probably less than 10. An extremely rare rifle that I feel very fortunate and privileged to own.
.250-3000 Savage Carbine - This variation of the Model 54 was produced in limited numbers in .30-06, .270, and .30-30 calibers. Any other caliber in this 20” carbine version is quite rare. Only this one style was offered with plain uncheckered stock and no sling swivels. This carbine is the extremely rare .250-3000 caliber. Only very recently has the word “carbine” been attached to bolt action rifles even though Winchester had the foresight to offer it in the 1920’s.
.30-06 Bull Gun - Bull guns were never offered for sale by Winchester in the Model 54. This rifle is a prototype indicating that Winchester was seriously thinking about presenting it. But the decision was obviously made to wait until the Model 70 made its appearance in 1937 to make the bull gun a catalog item. Perhaps one of the rarest Model 54 Winchesters in existence.
.22 Hornet Target Rifle - Winchester’s announcement of the .22 Hornet chambering in the Model 54 was a breaking out event in the field of varmit hunting. The mild muzzle report and virtually no recoil was welcomed by hunters and the .22 Hornet quickly gained a following among the shooting fraternity. Only a very few were produced in this target variation with a 24” heavy barrel.
.30-30 Winchester - The .30-30 Winchester caliber, of course, needs no introduction. Many find it strange, nevertheless, that Winchester chose to add it to the Model 54 in 1928. The Model 54 Winchester in .30-30 sold reasonably well and was exceeded in sales by only three other calibers. With this rifle, I bagged a rare female antlered whitetail deer in 1985.
7 X 57 MM Mauser -One of three metric calibers introduced by Winchester in the Model 54 in 1929. This caliber is world famous and the foresight by Winchester proved correct as it was accepted by American riflemen. This rifle is an excellent example of the later style stock design on the Model 54 Winchester.
Wayne R. Miller has been a member for 36 years and is a wealth of knowledge on Winchester firearms. He was one of our Featured Displayer in July, and we hope to see him back soon with another display from his collection. If you are interested in exhibiting, please contact the business office.