Winchester Model 70 Custom African Express - is this somewhat of a sleeper?

buckstix

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Hello All,

The day after Christmas I got a postcard in the mail from Cabela's. They were offering "Employee Discount Pricing" on all items in their store. Since I have 2 stores in my area, one 35 minutes north, the other 60 minutes south, and since I didn't get myself anything for Christmas, I decided to "road-trip" to see if there was anything in their respective Gun Libraries that I really needed (wanted) for which to use the discount coupon.

Well, it didn't take long to find something. I had never before seen one of these in person, only in pictures, and very few of those. The rifle was a little known Custom Safari rifle, built by Winchester. It was a "Winchester Model 70 Custom African Express". (they also made a lesser standard production model called the Safari Express)

I believe this rifle may be somewhat of a little known sleeper having been introduced in the late 1990s through the Winchester Custom Shop. It was discontinued within only 5 - 6 years, for reasons unknown, perhaps it was the high price, selling for nearly $5000 in 2007. I was told most of the orders for the Custom African Model came at Safari Club Shows, where the rifle was displayed a lot.

This particular rifle was 99.9% condition, looked unfired, and is chambered in 416 Remington Mag. It falls midway between my 375 H&H, and my 458 Win Mag. Its my first, and only 40 cal dangerous game rifle. Well, I used this "self-justification" for the purchase, as well as the additional 15%+ employee discount pricing I received.

The first picture shows an advertisement I found. The subsequent pictures show the rifle that I purchased. It came with a Leopold 1-1/2-5 scope on Talley lever-rings. I have contacted Winchester's Historical Department to obtain specific history on the rifle's configuration / purchase. Apparently stock dimensions, recoil pads, scopes and mounts, could all be specified when ordering the rifle. One reference I located told of ordering a rifle in September of 2000, and receiving it 13 months later in October, 2001.

As usual, I couldn't go to bed with an unfired rifle in the house, so I ventured out in sub zero temperatures to test fire it. 5 shots produced a nice one-hole group at 100 yds. I improvised some handloads by reforming 375 H&H brass, and using a set of 416 Hoffman dies for loading. I'm anxious to see what it will do when the real 416 brass and proper reloading dies arrive.

I'd be interested to hear if there are others out there that own this model, and their opinions about it.
416.jpg

100 yards
5 shots = 1" group
400g Horn RN
67g IMR 4895
F215
2050 fps
416targ.jpg
 

spike.t

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nice rifle. i recall looking at them at sci and was nearly tempted one year when the exchange rate was very good, pushing $2.00 to a pound sterling, but never got around to it. the next year the rate wasnt anywhere near as good ,and as always you think why didnt i get it then.......:doh2:
 

BRICKBURN

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..............
I improvised some handloads by reforming 375 H&H brass, and using a set of 416 Hoffman dies for loading. I'm anxious to see what it will do when the real 416 brass and proper reloading dies arrive.
.......

Improvised some loads... and that is the kind of group you got. :hail:
I am not sure if you are a wizard or an evil genius.
I think AH just got another resource for reloading information...


By the way. Congratulations on your purchase.
 

buckstix

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Hello spike.t,

I once had a great collector tell me, "you never remember the rifles you bought - only the ones you should-of bought." - That's why my signature below is what it is.

Thanks for the kind words.

Hello BRICKBURN,

Yes, an improvised load. I just wanted a low velocity load to test the rifle. The only bullets I found local were 2 boxes of Hornady 400g RN. (they were pretty old - under all the shelf dust were $32 price tags)

I searched the net until I found a load that started with "20" (2050) instead of "25" (2500). That's what I used.

I didn't even have full-length sizing dies, just a set of 416 Hoffman RCBS dies that I once found at a local gun show for $25.

Since I was using once-fired 375 H&H brass, they were undersized and fell right into the chamber. I used the Hoffman dies to open the neck to 416, neck size, and seat and crimp the bullets. Some of my best groups have come from "fire-forming" cases.
 

enysse

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Wow, what a gun! Welcome to the .416 Rem club!!!!!
 

spike.t

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Hello spike.t,

I once had a great collector tell me, "you never remember the rifles you bought - only the ones you should-of bought." - That's why my signature below is what it is.

Thanks for the kind words.

yup that sounds correct, and i had checked your signature and did have a laugh to myself as its very true :beer:. mind you i have done the opposite with cars , selling them only to watch the price go through the roof a couple of years later :cryingcry:
 

Wheels

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Nice Christmas present.

Looks like a real shooter. Congratulations.
 

buckstix

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Hello Wheels,

Thanks for the reply,

I always wanted a .416 caliber, and Christmas was a good excuse. The big discount didn't hurt either.
 

bebo

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Good shot and good rifle.
I'm sure you can do less than 2" @ 200yds on a bench.
 

buckstix

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Hello Wheels,

Mind you I had to "learn" these things myself.

I used to be a gun nut ... I would "buy high" and "sell low" and then try to make it up with volume.
 

Wheels

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Hello Wheels,

Mind you I had to "learn" these things myself.

I used to be a gun nut ... I would "buy high" and "sell low" and then try to make it up with volume.

Oh Yes.....volume.

I have done the same thing, just not with guns. The good news is it becomes a self correcting situation. We all have learning curves....some steeper than others.

It is nice though to get a hobby to a breakeven point so it is not costing money.
 

sierraone

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What a gorgeous M70! I would imagine that most of the members of this site are very jealous about now.
 

peras

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Nice,enjoy playing with the new toy!
 

vette447

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I know this post is very old but I came across it while I was searching for one of these Custom African Express rifles in .458 WM or .458 Lott (if anyone has one that they wish to sell, please let me know).

This is a very nice rifle and I am sure you have enjoyed owning it. I too have one in .416 RM and used it on two lion and a buff last year. Beautiful, top notch rifle and my action is as smooth as glass. Congrats on the great buy back in January of 2014! :Happy:
 

bassasdaindia

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great rifle and a great caliber, mine has become one of my favorite hunting rifles.
congrats
 

larry4831

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Beautiful rifle, when it comes to buying guns I can always justify it in my mind, but sometimes my wallet doesn't agree
 

Panielsen

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Very nice rifle! Welcome to the Model 70 Safari club!

:S Flag:
 

CTDolan

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That is a beautiful rifle and, considering the price, was a real sleeper, I agree!

By the way, in my opinion the current, standard Winchester Safari, at a little over $1100, is a sleeper as well.
 

Panielsen

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That is a beautiful rifle and, considering the price, was a real sleeper, I agree!

By the way, in my opinion the current, standard Winchester Safari, at a little over $1100, is a sleeper as well.
I wish I could like that twice! :A Clapping::A Big Thanx::D Drunk:
 

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