Originally Posted by Jim K
That gun is something of an oddity in that, AFAIK, it was made ONLY in .348 Winchester, and was the ONLY rifle ever chambered in that caliber.
Your assessment of the Model 71 is very close to hitting the nail on the head.
In July of 2011, I began a research study (survey) of the Model 71 at the request of several WACA collectors, and it is my intention to publish a detailed article about this model within the next 24-months or so.
To give everyone a bit of the background information, the Model 71 was introduced in the 1936 catalog. It was introduced as a replacement for the old Model 1886. They share a very similar action, but there are differences that prevent them from being fully interchangeable. Production of the Model 71 actually began in October of 1935, and there were (477) of them manufactured in that year. Production ended in 1958 at approximately serial number 48,300.
There were four different variations of the Model 71 that were cataloged;
(1) Sporting Rifle,
(2) Deluxe Rifle,
(3) Carbine, and
(4) Deluxe Carbine.
There were two sub-variations; (1) long tang, and (2) short tang), which refers to the length of the upper tang. This precipitated a corresponding change to the butt stock.
The only caliber/cartridge listed was the 348 Winchester, but there were a scant few made in the 33 WCF and 45-70 cartridges (these were the final two cartridges that were available in the Model 86). Thus far, I have found (1) rifle in 45-70, and (2) rifles in 33 WCF. The total number of them out there is unknown, but based on my ongoing survey, I expect that I will find a few more.
There are no "warehouse" ledger records surviving for the Model 71, so it is not possible to verify what the true production numbers were for the caliber, and the different variations. Hopefully, my research survey will provide a relatively close approximation of those aspects. The Cody Firearms Museum research office does have the Polishing Room Serialization records for the first 23,010 serial numbers. That does allow us to determine the exact dates of manufacture for those serial numbers (October 18th, 1935 - December 14th, 1945).
Throughout the 24-year production run, Winchester incorporated a number of identifiable production changes to the Model 71. My research survey is designed to identify when each of the changes were made.
Finally, for anyone who reads this, if you would like to participate in the survey or provide information about a Model 71 that you own or are aware of, please contact me at Win1885@msn.com
, and put "Model 71" in the subject line.