The more I’m around old guns, the more I realize a lot of the “new” trends aren’t so new. Beyond the resurgence of the 6.5 mm (which had been around for over 100 years), you’ll see more subtle reminders.
Let’s take a look at fiber wrapped barrels. Nowadays it is hard not to stumble across someone selling carbon fiber wrapped barrels for your precision rifle, but what if I told you Winchester was wrapping shotgun barrels back in 1959 (or 1960, depending on the reference)?
The Model 59 was marketed with a fiber wrapped barrel known as the Win-Lite. I was fortunate enough to have one come through the shop for a cut and crown so I managed to section the piece we removed.
This is a the barrel from a Winchester Model 59. Note the thin core of steel around the barrel. It looks fairly thick here, that’s because I ground the barrel at a bias. The liner measured around .020″! Beyond the steel liner is a white fibrous layer, that looks like fiberglass, and beyond that is a final black layer which appears to be an epoxy gel coat.
This is the front view of the factory muzzle. You can see how thin the steel liner looks from the front. The white layer is died black to match the outside coat.
The few references I’ve come across, put the number of Model 59s produced at around 82,000. I’ve met a few guys who own them and they all love them.
Looking at it through today’s lens, it is hard to imagine an older gun maker like Winchester being this cutting edge; but they were, and they were about 60 years ahead of their time!