Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: .450 Alaskan help

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    3

    Question .450 Alaskan help

    I have come to own a beautiful Winchester 71 that a gunsmith artist converted to .450 Alaskan long ago. 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 of the barrel near the reciever".450 ALASKAN" the right side of the 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 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 hollow for 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 are distinctive 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 attached a couple photos. Thank you for any information you may be able to provide as to solving the mystery of the origin of this beautiful rifle.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2

    Default

    You got me. Mine was produced early on by Harold Johnson of the Johnson Kenai Rifleworks in Cooper Landing, and is marked JKR 450 Alaskan on top of the barrel about 6" forward of the action, with no markings on either side of the barrel like yours. There's a bit of information on this page including a photo of the round. It references Johnson's use of a different forend cap arrangement to deal with the recoil forces (in order to keep the magazine tube and forend from popping off in recoil), but mine is different in detail than yours. Mine also has a shorter magazine than yours, terminating just in front of the forend.

    A couple of years back someone here on the site stepped forward as a descendant of Harold Johnson, if I recall correctly, and provided lots of additional info on the rifle, but memory fails exactly who and when. Do a search or scroll back a ways, and you should come up with it.

    I've reloaded quite a bit for mine, starting with Remington 348 Win cases opened up using a custom RCBS neck expanding die that I got with the rifle, along with a set of Pacific custom loading dies. Along the lines of the data in the link I provided, it's proven best with hefty charges of IMR-3031. Mine has a 22" barrel and averages 2190 to 2210 depending on the individual lot of powder with the 400 grain bullet and the same charge they list, making me suspect the rifle used in compiling the data also had a 22" barrel.

    It's a comparatively light rifle (receiver sight) at just under 8# , but a joy to carry. The butt is an oversize "shotgun" version and not at all painful for me to shoot, even if it's a little hard to keep my front foot on the ground in uneven terrain rather than the range. The very straight comb is a help, too. The recoil pad is old and virtually inflexible now, but it still doesn't bite when I shoot. It fits me perfectly, which could be another factor. Smaller friends (I'm 6'4" and 220#) who've shot it only did so once after being eaten alive by recoil due to poor stock fit for their frames.

  3. #3
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Tanana Valley AK
    Posts
    7,217

    Default

    Suspect the "B" with date 6-65 is the barrel makers mark (William Bruton ?). Bruton, an apparent associate of Johnson, was co-developer of the .50 B&M Alaskan (Harold Johnson's original .450 Alaskan (which was a .348 Winchester necked up to .458) necked up to .500 (A semi-WAG).
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
    The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It
    #Resist

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    3

    Default

    I know that the famous barrel maker John Buhmiler made barrels at some point for Harold Johnson. I don't think he marked his barrels like this one. Also, the rifle doesn't conform to the design of the forend cap that I have seen on Harold Johnson's rifles. It seems really odd to me that a custom barrel maker or rifle maker would sign his masterpiece with a simple "B." (Unless you were sooo famous everyone would know that was your mark). It is obviously the work of a very experienced smith. Just seems so odd to have a one letter signature. The quality of the lettering is as good as the best I have seen on any firearm so lettering was not a problem and so lacking a full inscription identification as to the maker on such a beautifully made piece seems a mysterious quirk.

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •