The Rifle

To handle the new cartridge, Winchester gave their classic Model 1886 a modern makeover. Internally, a coil spring replaced the traditional flat mainspring, which smoothed out the action and lightened the trigger pull.

Visually, the most noticeable changes were in the stocking. The slab-styled M86 forearm was replaced by a palm-filling semi-beavertail design. The buttstock was widened, elevated and given a thicker comb. A fully curved pistol grip was added. Overall, the M71 looked like what a 20th Century lever action should look like.

Initially, two models were offered — a rifle with a 24" barrel and a carbine with a 20" barrel. Both featured a 4-shot tubular magazine and a solid frame. In addition, there was the option of a standard or deluxe grade. The deluxe was offered with checkering, a pistol grip cap, sling swivels and a military-type sling. The front sight was a ramped Lyman gold bead.

Three rear sight options were available — an early Winchester No. 98 bolt-mounted peep sight (later replaced by a Lyman No. 56 receiver sight) and a standard open leaf. In 1947 the slow-selling carbine was dropped from the line. In 1952 the standard M71 with the Lyman sight was priced at $112.25 and the deluxe version at $128.65. By comparison, the standard Model 70 bolt action at the time sold for $126.50.