…yet also pleasantly surprising.

I’m planning to take KatyBeth camping and squirrel hunting next weekend, so I figured it would be wise to take the old Winchester Model 74 in .22 LR and the new (to me) Savage Model 93 in .17 HMR out to the range and check their zeros.

This isn’t my first .17 HMR. The Missus bought me a Ruger Model 77 in the caliber a couple of years before we split, and I fell in love with the rifle. It was gorgeous to look at, and it drove tacks. I routinely shot sub-MOA groups with it. Killed four hogs with it – all head shots – ranging from 200 – 325 pounds. None of them moved from their tracks.

When The Missus and I split up, I gave the Ruger to a friend as payment of a debt I owed. I missed that gun, and vowed that I’d get another one day.

Well, a little pawnshop crawling a couple months ago revealed a little rifle much like the one you see here, only with a sling and a BSA 3×9 scope – cheap optics, but serviceable. The price was agreeable so I bought it, and today was my first day to really burn some rounds through it.


This thang ain’t my Ruger 77.

Granted, the gun is new to me, and I’m sure that once we learn each other’s nuances, the groups will tighten considerably. Still, it’s far from being a tack driver. It’ll group into an inch at 50 yards, but it’s a 2 MOA rifle at 100. Here’s hoping I can improve on that.

That was the disappointing part.

The pleasant surprise was that the old Winchester Model 74, a gun made in 1940 that my Dad bought new for $60, will put every round at 50 yards into one ragged hole scarcely larger than the diameter of the bullet.

Just for a lark, I tried the Winchester at the 100 yard target. The scope is an old 4x Tasco, suitable for a rimfire plinker but by no means a good scope. The reticle just about totally obscured a 1 inch target dot at 100 yards. Still, I managed to squeeze off a five shot group that felt good when I sent them all downrange.

Went out to check the target, and all the rounds were off the paper – roughly six inches low – but there was a satisfying little cluster of holes in the post to which I had my target stapled. I dug out the arcade token I’d been using to make my scope adjustments and laid it over the group, and it covered every hole nicely.

That’s sub-MOA accuracy with a 68-year-old, $60 rimfire plinker fitted with cheap-assed optics, folks. Yeah, I think I’ll take that.

I used my (admittedly) weak Google-fu and checked some of the gun forums, and the consensus is that Model 74s in similar condition run in the $200-$300 range, with those chambered in .22 short fetching a premium price.

Not even counting my emotional attachment to the gun, if anyone ever offered to buy it, I think I’d have to set the price at…not a snowball’s chance in hell.