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The Winchester Model 54 was an American bolt-action sporting rifle designed in 1922 by T.C. Johnson and produced from 1925 to 1937 by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Winchester's first bolt-action rifle designed for high velocity cartridges, the Model 54 enjoyed moderate commercial success during its fairly short production run.


With the end of World War I, the market for bolt-action rifles began to increase as a testament to their reliability during their use in the war, while market shares for similar slide-action and lever-action rifles falling with the public moving towards bolt-actions instead. At the time, the leader of this market was Remington with their Model 30, and Winchester wanted to capitalize on this and join the market. As such, Winchester president Frank G. Drew assigned Winchester head of design T.C. Johnson to create a new rifle that could be instantly competitive in that market.[1]

Having experienced similar success with the Model 12 shotgun they introduced a number of years prior, Johnson and fellow designer Frank F. Burton wanted to repeat this feat, and as such began designing a new rifle for this market in 1922. Originally intending to use a Pattern 1914 Enfield's action as a base, the team eventually rejected it as its bulky action, cock-on-close and slow lock time all counted against the British action;[1] instead, the designers decided to use the well-proven Mauser action as a base.[2]

Some three years of designing later, the new rifle design was completed and was named the Model F[3] (later the Model 54) and entered the market in 1925.[4] On its introduction, the Model 54 saw moderate commercial success and set the standard for bolt-action rifles to come; many special order variants were produced and the weapon could be equipped with just about every commercially-available sight at the time.[1]

However, faults were later discovered with the Model 54, along with other factors eventually spelled doom for the Model 54; Winchester was still undergoing financial recovery at the time due to the 1930 financial collapse and the Model 54 failed to enjoy as much success as it should have. As such, newly-instated Winchester president John Olin opted to redesign the Model 54 in 1934; with new design head Edwin Pugsley, the redesigned rifle would become the highly successful Model 70. With the introduction of the Model 70 in 1937,[5] the Model 54 was discontinued; some 50,145 were produced over its twelve-year lifespan.[6]

Design Details[]

The Model 54 was a simple bolt-action sporting rifle using Mauser design cues for its action, such as the clawed extractor. The weapon feeds from a 5-round internal box magazine.[6]


Ten calibers were initially advertised for the Model 54 over its production run,[6] although special order options increased the caliber options further;[4] a non-exhaustive list is provided in the infobox above. Various calibers, such as .38-55 Winchester, are noted as being rare.[7]


Seven known configurations of the Model 54 are known. The configurations along with their identifying features are as follows:[8]

  • Standard: has a 26 in (66 cm) barrel, plain walnut stock, blued finish and chambered in .220 Swift OR a 24 in (61 cm) heavy barrel, plain walnut stock with checkered forearm and blued finish[8]
  • Carbine: has a 20 in (51 cm) round barrel, plain walnut stock, smooth forearm with finger grooves and blued finish[8]
  • Super Grade: has a 24 in (61 cm) barrel, fancy walnut stock with cheekpiece and checkered forearm with black plastic tip, metal buttplate and blued finish[8]
  • Sniper: has a 26 in (66 cm) heavy barrel, plain walnut stock, metal buttplate and blued finish[8]
  • NRA: has a 24 in (61 cm) barrel, fancy checkered walnut stock, checkered forearm and blued finish[8]
  • National Match: has a 24 in (61 cm) barrel, special target stock and forearm and blued finish[8]
  • Target: has a 24 in (61 cm) heavy barrel, plain or checkered walnut stock, checkered forearm and blued finish[8]