Design work on a new bolt-action hunting / sporting rifle in .22 caliber for the Winchester Repeating Arms Company was started by Frank Burton in 1934. Following the requisite testing period, the rifle entered serial production in 1935 and this ran into 1963 with over 355,000 examples completed. The "Model 69", as it was designated, was intended to shore up company profits after the Model 56 and Model 57 guns failed to deliver.
The Model 69 was chambered for the small .22 Long Rifle, .22 Long and .22 Short rimfire cartridges and operated through an operator-managed bolt-action system. Feeding was by way of a 5- or 10-round detachable box magazine or a single-shot adapter. The rifle's general appearance was highly traditional with a single-piece wood stock used and the metal components inlaid. The forend was curved and smooth and stopped a good distance away from the muzzle. The bolt-action lever sat over the right side of the receiver in the usual way. The trigger group was slung under the grip handle. A scope could be fitted over the receiver for ranged work. Iron sights (front and rear) were standard fittings.
In early-1937, the related Model 697 was delivered to the market as a Model 69 off-shoot. This model lacked the open sights and proved unpopular with market needs. It was dropped as soon as 1941.
In late-1937, the Model 69A was brought online as an improved Model 69 form and this version featured a reworked bolt, safety and barrel assembly. Trigger pull was now adjustable and, in the next year, precision Match and Target models became available.
The Model 69 was only ever intended as a hunting / sporting rifle but was pressed into limited service during World War 2 (1939-1945). It was cast as a weapon for British Home Guard units and used in training for a time. After the Fall of France in June 1940, Britain stood alone against the might of the German war machine and an invasion of Britain was imminent. While the Model 69 lacked true military value it offered valuable training exposure and served as a vital psychological instrument during a time when all hope seemed lost. Some were rigged with tactical accessories such as sound suppressors and ammunition pouches in addition to their scopes and shoulder straps. Luckily for the Home Guard, the invasion of Britain never took place and the guns were never pressed into frontline duty.
In all, about 355,363 Model 69 rifles were delivered.