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As a rule, I'm not that keen on semi-auto long guns BUT...

when I saw this one, I had to have it. Gun shows are to shooters what malls are to shoppers. If you like guns, you probably can be found at most every gun show in your area. Me too! I keep gun shows marked on my calendar well in advance so I can arrange my schedule around them.

At the last show I was doing what I usually do – wandering from table to table looking for something I don’t need (but want).

I meandered up and down each aisle in search of some neat book, knife, gun or whatchamacallit that I just had to have.

There it was! An almost mint condition Winchester Model 100 in .308. I had been doing some reading on this rifle just a few weeks earlier, so I knew a little about it.

I knew about the claimed accuracy, how to break one down, what to look for while examining the rifle and, most of all, I knew I wanted one. I asked the seller if I could hold it, and, of course, he said “yes.” So I picked it up and began my examination. After a close “once over,” I asked if the firing pin had been replaced (he did not know) and opened the bolt to look where a stamp should have been if the firing pin had been replaced and the gunsmith had done as Winchester had requested. This one had no stamp.

This is not a big deal, because Winchester is a real good company, and even though this rifle is more than 25 years old, they still stand behind the recall. YES, recall. Model 100s had a firing pin problem that could damage the rifle and the shooter.

I was pretty sure I wanted this rifle, but I had to see what it was going to cost me. After a little haggling, I handed the seller some green and became the proud owner of a “new-to-me” Winchester 100. (Story continued below)

(Check out this Youtube video of a Winchester Model 100 Disassembly)

I headed to the house and could hardly wait to get the rifle apart to see if it had the old (or a replacement) firing pin. After inspection and a back-up call to Winchester, I found the firing pin had been replaced. The original firing pin in these rifles had a bit of a problem breaking. When this happened, the rifle was no longer a semi-auto, but a full auto.

The only problem was, the broken firing pin would strike the bullet’s primer before the bolt closed. You can imagine the problem with that. However, Winchester stands behind their rifle and will send you a new, improved firing pin and enough money to have a competent gunsmith replace it. Or, if you are even slightly mechanically inclined, you can do it yourself and keep the money.

If you are looking at one, call Winchester (1-800-852-5734) and give them the serial number so they can tell you if the firing pin has been replaced. Some (but not all) rifles that have had the replacement will have the letters B, L, N or X stamped on the inside top of the receiver as seen through the magazine well. Mine did not.

The only way to tell if the gun has been modified (if the stamped letter is not present) is to take the barrel and action out of the stock, remove the trigger guard assembly and then try to rotate the firing pin by twisting it. If it does NOT rotate, then the firing pin recall HAS been performed. If you have one, you want to be real sure the new firing pin has been installed before shooting it.

These rifles came in three calibers (the almost obsolete .284, and the very popular .243 and .308) and two versions, including a carbine that looks similar to a Ruger .44 and a rifle version. The carbine has a 19-inch barrel, and the rifle has a 22-inch barrel.

Some of the rifle versions had some real nice looking scroll work on the wood. The carbines have no scroll work. Winchester also made a cousin to this rifle – the model 88 – which looks very much like the model 100, except it is lever action. I guess I need a model 88 next!

The model 100 has a 4-shot magazine, is semi-auto, and is a very fine rifle. I have taken mine apart, and using the instruction manual, found it pretty easy to disassemble and get back together. I took it to the range today, and it operated flawlessly, so I must have got the assembly right.

Both of the model 100s have a one-piece wood stock, no recoil pad, and a pistol grip with a metal pistol grip cap with a red “W” on the cap. They came with permanantly-installed sling swivels and a well-placed safety in front of the trigger guard. They also came with front and rear iron sights and a hood over the front sight. Most of the ones out there today have lost the hood in the woods – just like most other hunting rifles.

These rifles will never win any bench rest shooting competition, but are plenty accurate to hunt with.

They can be had on some auction sites and gun shows from around $400 to $700 for the .243 and .308 and upwards of $2,000 for the model .284. To me, it makes no sense that the .284 would be more due to the lack of available ammo for this caliber. If one of you has one of these in .243, I might be interested – if it is in real nice condition and the price is right.

Now for the results of my day at the range with my Winchester Model 100 carbine in .308. I started by mounting and bore-sighting a new TruGlo Maxus XLE Scope in 1.5-6x44. I chose this scope because I will be using the rifle to stalk “Mr. Piggy,” and I wanted a scope with low power and long eye relief. This scope has what I consider to be one of the longest eye reliefs for a rifle scope (5.5 inches). The extended eye relief is great for shooting pigs on the run when you have to quickly shoulder the rifle. I mounted the scope using high rings, so I could still use the iron sights if needed.

My range time included several brands and flavors of ammo. I sighted-in at 25 yards, then moved to 100 yards. This rifle is no different from any other as far as “liking” or “disliking” certain bullets. The best results came from Hornady 150-grain BTSP, Hornady 168-grain BTHP Match and Hornady 168-grain A-MAX Match ammo.

These rounds produced groups of 0.75, 1.25 and 1.5 inches, respectively.

When I moved to the 200-yard range, the best round was Hornady 168-grain BTHP match ammo with groups of 2.5 inches.

The day at the range was by far not an ideal day to test new loads in a new gun, as the wind was 15-20 mph left to right. I feel certain the Hornady ammo would produce groups of sub-MOA in calmer conditions.

This rifle does not have a recoil pad, so you would think it would put a hurting on your shoulder with the hard-plastic factory butt pad, but it did not. I fired the rifle over 100 times from a Caldwell rest and sand bag, and my shoulder is none the worse.

This rifle shouldered easily and comfortably. Weighing in at around 7 pounds, loaded and with glass, it will make a great stalking rifle. It is short enough to carry through thick growth without hanging up on sticks and vines. When the opportunity arises, I am certain I will be able to hit the mark to bring home the bacon.

Bottom line: This is a proven rifle and has taken many North American game animals since it was first produced in 1961. Even though the last one was made in 1973, there are still a bunch available for purchase. As long as you have the new firing pin put in, you will have a rifle that will provide years of reliable service and maybe put some meat on the table.

This rifle gets a double thumbs up from me. I like the carbine model so much I just purchased one in rifle model (.308 of course). Now I need one in .243. (Hint, Hint...)

Shoot Safe, Shoot Straight.

If all guns were treated as if they were loaded, there would be NO MORE accidental shootings.


Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”