Costly To Produce

I rescued my M70 Hornet decades ago. It’s a fascinating example of ingenious engineering that took one basic action and adapted it to a span of cartridges ranging in length and size from .375 H&H to the .22 Hornet. Here’s how they did it:

Contrary to what many believed, the pre-’64 M70 action was not a forging. It began life as a 7.5-lb. block of chrome-moly steel. After undergoing 75 machining operations, the action emerged as a 19.3 oz. example of gunsmithing art — streamlined, stylish, extremely rigid — no action was more elegant. With an ideally located and massive recoil lug and stiff midsection, it was a stable platform when bedded. For decades it reigned as the action-of-choice for big bore competition.

Unfortunately, it was those 75 machining operations and machining time that doomed the pre-’64 action. It simply couldn’t compete on a cost basis with investment cast actions and actions machined from round bar stock.

The bolt was a chrome-moly forging with an integral, graceful handle and tear-shaped bolt knob. A subtle feature, not always understood, is the small guide lug located at the middle of the bolt to assure smooth, non-cramping cycling. Fitted with a Mauser-type extractor and a 3-position safety in the bolt sleeve, the bolt was as functional as it was good-looking.