Winchester Model 52 Sporter
Category: Shotguns and Smoothbores
The Winchester Model 52 Sporter is a bolt action .22 rifle whose pedigree goes back to 1920. It was designed by T.C. Johnson, Frank Burton and A.F. Laudensack. It was an accuracy rifle designed to be a lot like the .22 rimfire rifles that World War One veterans had become familiar with during the war. However, the U.S. Army only bought around 500 of the version.
The Winchester Model 52 Sporter is as good as many center-fire rifles. This is often considered one of the best .22 rifles made. It was called the “King of the .22s”. Its World War One design was almost unchanged through the 1970s.
Its design is based on the Model 52 Target design, with workmanship as good as the Winchester model 70.It had a non-rotating, rear-locked bolt action design.
The Winchester Model 52 Sporter is regularly listed on the top ten rifles you should own before you die lists, such as the one compiled by Wireshots. It was rated one of the top 50 guns ever made by “Field and Stream” magazine. Historian Houze called the model perfection in design.
The Winchester Model 52 Sporter was discontinued in 1980, when US Repeating Arms took over Winchester. The later versions of the Winchester Model 52 Sporter were made in Japan. The Winchester and Browning Winchester Model 52 Sporter re-issues of the 1990s are not considered to be as good in quality as the originals. Around 125,000 of the original design were manufactured over the 60 years they were in production.
Original versions of the Winchester Model 52 Sporter in good condition are around $5,000. Both a sporting model and international match model were made.
The gun ranged in weight from nine pounds to thirteen pounds for the standard version. The standard gun was 42 inches long with a 28 inch barrel. The sporting version weighed around seven pounds and 41 inches long, with a 24 inch barrel. Both versions have a five round feed system and a ten round box magazine.
The Winchester Model 52 Sporter guns have serial numbers on them. Each receiver received a serial number after it was milled. However, the letter suffix (A-D) were applied to reflect changes to the receiver, so the letters do not represent specific models or designs of the Winchester 52.
The original design of 1920 was upgraded with a speed lock in 1930, where the firing pin had a much shorter travel distance and faster lock time. The model 52A came out in 1935 or 1936. The safety stem was shortened to eliminate a bending problem with the safety pivot stem. At the same time, a single shot adapter was made available to facilitate manual loading of the gun. The Winchester Model 52 Sporter model B had an even better speed lock. It came out in 1937. This version added an adjustable trigger return spring. In 1951, model 52C came out. This design includes a micro-motion trigger, which uses two levers and a tiny travel distance. However, Winchester model 52D was a significant redesign over prior versions. This version was the result of changes made to accommodate the 1956 Olympic team. It became a single shot rifle. The magazine aperture was removed, and a radically different micro-motion trigger lock was inserted.
Model 52E came out in 1969. Model 52E was not a radical redesign, but a change in serial number prefixes driven by the Gun Control Act of 1968.