There it was, no mistakes in bold type, a Winchester Model 70 for $129.95. That was the price of a brand new Pre 64 Model 70 as presented in the book I was skimming over.

Can you imagine that the retail price of a collector’s favorite was just under $130.00? I admit it was last winter at the winter gun show at the fairgrounds in Arden and I was looking through a Shooters Bible. Today it would cost 10 to 15 times this price to buy a used pre 64 model 70 depending on condition and chambering. And that’s if you can find one to buy.

It is probably commonplace to daydream a bit about the old workmanship coupled with the quality of the work performed by the human hand. Of course, I was looking at an old book and yearning for those old prices while slipping into a winter dreamlike stupor. As we age, we find our physical abilities questionable and we turn to books and magazines more and more. That is just one reason for having a good library.

While I don’t have a library such as shown in the movies, I do have a collection of books like the Shooter’s Bible and the Gun Digest to refer to. Books like these have enough addresses and data to strengthen a disagreement. A good example of a useful article printed in the Gun Digest of 1982 was on the work of designing the Remington 721 and 722.

There is something about the 721 and its shorter brother the 722 that leads me to consider these rifles creating a crossroads in rifle manufacturing. They are the perfect example of function over form. That statement that means they ain’t pretty, but they work well. The rifles lacked checkering and had a finish that wasn’t pretty. This Gun Digest article answered some of my questions as to this Remington product.

We have accepted many of Remington’s short cuts today. While most rifles at this time period were of the accepted control feed style, Remington’s new design was a push feeder. The extractor wasn’t the old hook type but was a little more than a half moon spring like piece that was the most expensive and difficult to make piece of this new gun. Remember no checkering to pretty it up on the outside that stock was plain to say the least. Sling swivels were also illuminated to save production costs. Later the 721 would get dressed up and be named the 700. Under both guises the 721 and 700 went on to become the most popular sporting bolt action rifle ever offered to the public. How do I know all this?

That’s easy, the book of course, I turn to my collection of books over and over. The books are what keep Jack O’Connor and Warren Page alive and Elmer Keith shooting deer at 600 yards with a handgun!

If you want an article on scopes and manufacturers of them, look at well written articles by gun guru Bob Bell. Books offer up much in detail. I realize that now people use computers and ask them their questions, issuing forth their commands to the air itself – Alexa (you magical genie) tell me gun facts.

But in reality, Alexa only knows what you ask it. So, if you don’t know, you can’t ask. And don’t get me started about forgetting that computer things name. Books are full of stuff worth knowing. You can pull one out and look through it and learn a wealth of things in the time it takes to figure out how to ask that magic dot thingy a question it can answer. So when you see me next time at the aisles of a gun show, I may not be buying a gun but instead be buying a book.

This week, I will be looking at the entries for the George Block Conservation Scholarship. I think we have a few decent entries this year and will be shortly declaring someone this year’s recipient. So if anyone has any entries, send them in. Remember, it is in today’s youth that the future lies.

George Block writes a weekly outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.

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