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September 15, 2006

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Winslow Arms: Wildly Impractical, Yet Works of Art

Winslow

From 1963 until 1996, Winslow Arms (first based in Florida, then in South Carolina) produced bolt-action sporting rifles the likes of which were never seen before, and will never be seen again. They were bolt-action centerfires, all based on commercial FN Mauser actions. All had blind magazines, and all were heavy rifles. Not many were made, and photos of them are extremely rare, so you’ll have to use your imagination. In fact, the only photos I know of are on p. 108 of the 1966 Gun Digest. [Editor’s Note: We searched the Internet after Dave wrote this and lucked into the picture above.]

Winslows were made in three stock styles, and in six grades. The Bushmaster was the basic stock, a slimmed-down version of the Weatherby Mark V stock. The Powermaster was a Bushmaster with a fluted, rollover comb and a flared recoil pad. The Plainsmaster was the Powermaster to the 10th power; all lines swooped, flared, dipped, and dived. It looked like a prop from a Buck Rogers movie.

Grades ran from Commander (plainest) to Imperial. Regardless of grade, all Winslows shone like mirrors. The stocks were finished in some kind of synthetic that was polished like glass, and the metalwork was polished and blued by a secret process that involved a cyanide hardening bath, and resulted in a brilliant black finish that I’ve never seen duplicated.

But what really set Winslows apart was the checkering, carving, and inlay work you could have lavished upon them. This was done by a fellow named Nils O. Hultgren who was, simply, a master. You could get basketweave checkering or oak leaf carving in place of standard checking, contrasting-wood-and-ivory inlays, metal engraving and a choice of walnut, myrtle, or maple for your stock wood.

But this scarcely conveys the effect of seeing an all-out Winslow in person. It was like a Christmas tree gone berserk, or a laser light show. As a hunting rifle, it was as wildly impractical as you could get. And yet…in their own overdone way, they were fine guns, works of art, even. And if you can find one of the high grades today, it will fetch over $6,000, which is nearly five time what it cost in 1966. So someone must appreciate them. Can Pamela Anderson act? Who cares?

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Comments

JA Demko

That is one stylin' gat.

jstreet

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To me, that's one ugly rifle. Impractical, expensive, heavy and butt ugly. I guess ugly guns need love to.
Jstreet

AJG


Jstreet - well said

I think of firearms as tools to accomplish a task. All of my rifles are workhorses - Weatherby, Browning A-Bolt and Wincherster 94. All solid platforms to do my 'work' with.

In my opinoin there's no need to dress up a hammer to pound nails.

concerned_soldier

Bravo Dave,
A real gun article with No politics.

I'm so proud of you!!

V/R

C_S

PeterC

Superb craftsmanship; hideously bad taste. It looks like something crafted at great cost for Saddam Hussein. The Emperor's new gun.

mike shickele

Though I'm not really old enough; I remember looking at a Shooters Bible with a lineup of Winslow Arms guns in it. If memory serves me correct, I thought that the bottom end one was a rather nice looking gun. The stock wasn't too wild. With all of the negative comments about these guns, doesn't it make you wonder how Weatherby got away with it?

O Garcia

I agree with Mike S., the Winslow looks no more than an overdone Weatherby. Maybe that was the point.

PbHead

I also think that this was an attempt to go one up on the Weatherby line. Styles all come and go, some stay. The ones that stay are the classics. The Winslows left and provide us with a fine memory, sorta like the back end of a '59 Impala.

Ralph the Rifleman

I happen to see one of these rifles back in the 1980's, one of my Flight sergents had one..at least I remember it being one of these?
Anyway, I agree, beauty is subjective,but as I recall his rifle was quite accurate and handled rather nicely, and that's the bottem line to any rifle. I like the wood, too, hey the curves are a bit crazy, but if it fits the shooter-Have at it!

AlaskaDave

I have one in 300 Win. Mag. It is one of the lower grades without the curls ans swirls and a fine shooter. How much might it be worth in good to excellent condition?

craig j. curtis

this story reminds me of my experiance buying my new shotgun a few years ago. i grew up with meat and potatoe guns that servrd me well and i still have and use them ,but it was time to own something a little more special , even though it was still a working mans price it was special to me to own my ruger red label all my fellow shotgunners thought id put in a case and never shoot it for fear i would scratch or dent my blued beuty! no way its in the duck blind everyyear and it still looks brand new with just a little extra love and care ! anyhoo building these extravagant guns is deffinatly a work of an artist and though it may not appeal to the average joe and would probably be out of pres. kennedys budget lol, the fact is theirs a place for fine art in weapons ,a nd i for one love to see these guns even though they will probably never end up in my sortted collection . kudos dave im sure the nra museum has a few in their collection?

Gene Hempstead

I ran into a Winslow salesman at
Durham's Camp on Saline Lake, La.
back in 1964 or 65. He had a car and trunk full of the most beautiful rifles I have ever seen.
Even the memory makes me drool.
They were all fantastic!!

jeres

A gun designed for people with as we say in the South "More money than brains" further prooof you "Can't Give a Redneck Money to quote Ol' Mr Foxworthy! ;-)

JA Demko

Lavishly, even tastelessly, embellished guns have been around ever since there were guns. Have you never seen any of those matchlocks, wheellocks, and flintlocks from various museums? They're encrusted with gold, ivory, engravings, and carvings.

Ralph the Rifleman

AlaskaDave-
Any luck on finding a money/value on your rifle,yet?

Phil VanHagen

Funny how the same folks who turn up their noses at stock carvings and ivory/exotic wood inlays will drool over metal engraving and gold metal inlay. The information I get is that a lot of do it yourselfers still prefer the California style stocks.

mike shickele

Phil V
Not so, I turn up my nose at both.

Mike

Gordy Hesselberg

I've read with interest the above comments. In most I sense a bit of jealousy for their not owning or even seeing Winslow. Many, if not most of the Winslows these people are whimping about, do not realize that they were presentation rifles. (Not to be used in the field) They are works of art. The craftsmenship was superb. However, the Winslow that I bought in the mid 1960's, is called a HUNTER GRADE --. A cal. 270 WIN. A floating barrel, bolt action, and spring loaded. Nothing fancy about the rifle regarding inlays of gold and ivory or any cross hatching. To me the stock is a pretty graceful flowing piece of work. The front of the stock is tipped with Walnut, separated with a fine white line of some material. The bottom of the flarring pistol grip is finished also the same way. It has a graceful raised rolled over cheekpiece that slopes downward and forward. The black rubber butt is separated by a 1/8 inch white material and next to the stock is a 1/4 inch black material. It is for a right handed person. I am left handed. I qualified expert, shooting right handed in the USMC. I am a bit ambidextrous. To me, this rifle is not heavy. I have been successful in my deer hunts with this rifle shooting left or right handed. If anyone finds this rifle heavy, they are wimps. I at 71, have no problems with it. I also have a small catalogue showing colored pictures of the varlious rifles and grades, and I believe prices, and what you can have to personalize your purchase. I don't remember just what I paid for the rifle, but think about $300. My scope mount covers some letters after the words Hunter Grade. I opologize for being so brash. I do know that it is worth more today than when I bought it. If a picture of the rifle would be appreciated, I would gladly oblige. Respectfully submitted. G.D. Hesselberg

alaska dave

Still no idea what my Winslow is worth (I hope more than $300). I will just have to take it to a gun show or two. Thanks to Hesselberg, sounds like our guns are comparable. Mine handles well and is certainly accurate.

Phil VanHagen

I recently discovered an old Gun World magazine from the '60s in my collection in which they tested Winslow rifles. According to the article they were guarenteed to hold 1moa and that guarentee was good for 100 years. I have always had a soft spot for the ornate Weatherby and Winslow rifles. I have tried to emulate them in rifles I have built up but with only very limited success. The originals were carved by the likes of Leonard Mews and Nils Hultgren.
I saw a Nils Hultgren rifle in a gunshop about 20 years ago, the stock shape had less flair than the Winslow but it had multiple ebony and ivory animal inlays and the forearm tip was ivory and carved in the likeness of a ram's head. I didn't have the $2400 the dealer wanted and have kicked myself ever since.

Jamie MacMillan

after years of waiting i was finally given my grandfathers 264 win mag which is a high end winslow . just for a step back in time i had to take it on a hunt not only was it a very personal experience but with no doubt it is one of the finest shooting rifles i have ever owned and shot . let me know if you would like to see pics >>>Jamie

Phil VanHagen

I would very much like to see pictures. The Hultgren rifle I saw was also a .264 on some sort of Sako action.

Phil Van hagen

I would also appreciate any pictures of Gordy Hesselberg's rifle, or of pictures from the catalog he mentions.

Jamie MacMillan

i am trying to get some pics to come out clear

ROBERT BRIDGFORD

All of you Winslow lovers out there who said you passed on one of these beautiful rifles and wish you had that chance again, WELL HERE IT IS! I have in my possession a Winslow Imperial Grade rifle with the basket weave checkering in combination with oak leaves and what I believe to be ebony and ivory inlay of a stag on each of side of the back stock.The forestock has a unicque inlay similar to that seen on the pistol grip of Weatherby rifles but it's inlaid directly below the bolt slide on each side. The pistol grip has an inlay exactly like Weatherby rifles. On the bottom of the forearm is an inlay that is similar to the
Belgian coate of arms. There are also inlays on each side at the back of the stock that start where the recoil pad butts against the stock. The gun is chambered in .300 Weatherby Mag. As far as the accuracy of this gun, nobody knows, as this gun is UNFIRED! The cost of this gun is not cheap. Items like this that are fit for a king rarely are.
The price is $10,500.00. Call 414-305-7569 for further information. Ask for Bob.I have pictures and am willing to share. E-mail rkbridgford@hotmail.com.





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