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Thread: .450 Alaskan identification

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2015

    Question .450 Alaskan identification

    I have come to own a beautiful Winchester 71 that a gunsmith artist converted to .450 Alaskan long ago. The rifle is in beautiful condition as the original owner passed away 40+ years ago and it has sat in storage since that time. There was no information as to who made the rifle and the friend I purchased the rifle from is the son of the original owner and he was a small child when his father passed so he has no info on the rifle. However there are clues on the rifle and in the work that was done that are distinctive and I thought perhaps someone who is knowledgeable with such conversions may be able to solve the mystery of who did this work. The barrel is marked on the left side beautifully near the reciever".450 ALASKAN" the right side ofthe barrel is marked "B." and below that "6-65". The fore end tip is unique and beautifully made with a clever fixture anchoring the cap to the barrel that is distinctive in design and was well thought out and marvelously executed (see pictures). Additionally the barrel has 12 deep grooves and lands and the rifle has a full length magazine tube with a distinct fixture at the muzzle end and even the barrel is scalloped out to provide a snug hollowfor the mag tube to set securely into at the muzzle. An intermediate eye relief 2x Leupold scope was mounted on the barrel sometime after the rifle was built (unfortunately) but it is clean. As the design and fixtures aredistinctive as are the markings on the barrel I hope that someone familiar with these conversions from "back in the day" may recognize who the craftsman was that built this fine rifle. I have tried to attach several photos but ran into issue, I think two came through. Thank you for any information you may be able to provide as to solving the mystery of the origin of this beautiful rifle.

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  2. #2


    Many years ago in Cooper Landing Alaska a gun smith named Harold Johnson and a machinist I believe named Bill Fuller converted the Mod. 71 Win. to the .450 and .500 Alaskan. A school teacher from Seward named James "458" Watts was around about that time and he also claims to have been involved in designing the wildcat .450 case. Which as I understand it when blown out to .45 caliber it holds about 2% less powder then the .458 Win. It is a powerful round for sure.

    Any way if yours is an older rifle Johnson very well could have built it or some gun smith from the states may have. Did the original owner come to Alaska? Any way, from the pictures you have a nice old rifle and I am jealous. Load it up and blast a big critter with it. But, hang on when you pull the trigger!

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