In 1925, the renowned Winchester Repeating Arms Company unveiled their Model 54 bolt-action rifle for the civilian sporting market. The type became the company's first successful civilian market venture regarding a bolt-action centerfire rifle system (the action based on the stellar German Mauser approach) and production led to 50,145 units being produced until 1930. From 1936 onwards, the Model 70 was released which continued the Model 54 story with some changes instituted. Production of this rifle ran until 1963 to which manufacture was then picked up again from 1964 to 2006 producing the "post-1963" run which was a streamlined model attempting to lower production costs. This initiative only served to elevate the value of pre-1964 rifles in turn. In 2008, the rifle once again entered serial production and additional manufacture has been seen through the Belgian concern of FN Herstal.
The Model 70 quickly became a well-liked sporting rifle system. It took on a conventional rifle appearance with its wood stock that made up the body, forend, and shoulder stock. The pistol grip was an integral component of this stock and elegantly curved for the contours of the primary shooting hand. The trigger unit was underslung in the usual way with the vital metal components inlaid into the wooden body like normal. This included the turn-down, knobbed bolt-action handle and bolt, ejection port, all requisite moving parts, and the barrel. Telescopic sights could be fitted over the receiver for accurized ranged fire though iron sights were retained as backup (adjustable rear). Barrel lengths of 22, 24, and 26 inches were offered and rifle weights therefore ranged from 6lb to 8lb. The feed system incorporated an internal spring well magazine with floorplate which typically held five cartridges ready-to-fire (depending on cartridge in play). A wide variety of chamberings and cartridge types were eventually seen with the Model 70 line.
The Model 70 saw use beyond the civilian market when it was picked up law enforcement groups and military services for the sniper role. The United States Marine Corps (USMC) took on a stock of about 373 rifles (.30-06 chambering) during World War 2 in 1942 and saw service in the Pacific Theater against the Japanese. Others were used in the training role to lead into operational use of M1903 Springfield sniper rifles and modified M1 Garand sniper forms. Some managed additional service in the Korean War (1950-1953). In 1954, the United States Army began purchasing a special Model 70 breed with a heavy barrel. Both Army and USMC elements used Model 70s in the upcoming Vietnam War (1955-1975) for a time but the weapons were never officially standardized sniper platforms.
Law enforcement groups also procured the Model 70 in numbers. Use of the rifle outside of the United States occurred in Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and the Philippines. Special police versions were manufactured by FN Herstal.