Firearm Showcase: Winchester’s Forgotten NATO Light Rifle? – at the Cody Firearms Museum – HIGH RES PICS!

In January, just before the 2017 SHOT Show, I got the opportunity to travel to Cody Wyoming to visit the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, to see some of their rare firearms and bring photos of them to our readers.

The gun we’re taking a look at today is a real mystery, and by that I mean, I have no idea what it is. I don’t know its name, or have a date, or any other piece of concrete information about it. However, there are some clues about this gun in its style and construction, so I’ll run through those.

First, the gun is a multi-lug rotary-bolt locked breech firearm that is probably gas operated. It has a plain barrel with a foresight on the front handguard retainer and a folding backsight at the rear of the receiver. There is a large chute where a magazine would go (the magazine was missing). A straight line fiberglass stock and handguard complete the gun. The diameter of the bolt face and length of the magazine well suggest the 7.62×51 NATO/.308 Winchester caliber. The receiver design suggests semiauto sporting rifles and shotguns of the period, like the Winchester Model 100 and Remington 740. However, its bolt design is unlike that of any sporting rifle or shotgun from that era of which I know.

These details hint at a military, rather than sporting arm, and in particular the flip up rear sight, large magazine chute and assumed 7.62mm caliber suggest to me that this was an abortive attempt by Winchester to design a rifle that would meet the requirements of the US Army for a NATO “Lightweight Rifle” in the late 1940s and early 1950s, although I must emphasize this is speculation only.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the Cody Firearms Museum, I highly recommend taking a trip out to Cody, Wyoming to see their awesome and extensive collection. They have over 7,000 firearms, about 4,000 of which are on display. In particular, if you have an interest in Winchester firearms and their history, Cody is the place to be. If just a visit isn’t enough for you, then check out the museum’s 79-page book, which highlights some of the finest pieces in their collection!

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • billyoblivion

    The problem here is that the designers did not understand the problem space they were solving in. That is all together too…passive looking a rifle. Good for shooting a deer with, maybe.


    Douglas Adams nails it here:
    “The designer of the gun had clearly not been instructed to beat about the bush. ‘Make it evil,’ he’d been told. ‘Make it totally clear that this gun has a right end and a wrong end. Make it totally clear to anyone standing at the wrong end that things are going badly for them. If that means sticking all sort of spikes and prongs and blackened bits all over it, then so be it. This is not a gun for hanging over the fireplace or sticking in the umbrella stand, it is a gun for going out and making people miserable with.'”

    That is the mindset with which you set out to design a military rifle.

    • GetBackToReality

      Wth youre talking about, do you as a civilian trust troops more with a normal looking Rifle, / or do you trust them more when they have evil looking rifles or with “spikes” , pentagrams, devil faces and some other bulls*th…?

      • billyoblivion

        My “trust” (or not, depending) is based on the senior NCOs, officers, and the civilian leadership of the military. Under Trump/Mattis I feel more comfortable (because of Mattis mostly) than I did under Obama/Ash Carter–because under Trump/Mattis at least one of them knows what he is doing 🙂

        I can’t say what a normal civilian would think. I am a former Marine, former Army National Guard, ex-Air Force reserves, and I spent a year in Iraq as a contractor. As well, I have a safe full of scary black rifles, and some not so scary ones.

        What is the effective difference between a (well maintained) Ruger Mini-14 and a (well maintained) M4/M16 as *normally* issued (meaning no bayonet) other than the latter is select fire (and there were select fire Mini-14s)?

        Between the Mini-30 and an AK?

        Between the AR-10 and a Springfield M1A?

        That “Spike”? It’s called a bayonet. And I do *NOT* want to be facing a squad/platoon/company that decides it is in their best long term interests to fix bayonets, because life is about to get VERY hectic. Honestly I don’t want to be the one FIXING the bayonets either because it means I’m down to a short list of BAD options.

        And I really don’t think “pentgrams, devil faces and some other bulls*th(sic)” was what Mr. Adams (a humor/science fiction writer) meant.

        He meant, as he said “Make it totally clear that this gun has a right end and a wrong end. Make it totally clear to anyone standing at the wrong end that things are going badly for them.”

        Pentagrams and devil faces say “I’m a prat”. A bayonet pointing at you says “I may or may not hate you, but I’m utterly focused on being the proximate cause of your death, so you’d best get right with your God because the interview starts as soon as I can finish this.”

        • Isa Akhbar

          Amen, brother! Same applies to the current falderal surrounding the selection of a new service pistol…if you’re down to drawing your sidearm, you’ve got way bigger problems than who made the pistol…

          • billyoblivion

            It doesn’t matter *who* made the pistol, but when that’s what’s in your hand it *HAS* to go bang every time.

            Every Stinking Time.

            As long as it does that (within the bounds of reality), it’s GTG.

  • Caliber=Diameter

    Why not “suggests its chambered in 7.62×51 NATO / .308 Winchester” , instead of ” “7.62×51 NATO / .308 Winchester “caliber” “?

  • B-Sabre

    Rifle, Generic, Mk 1 Mod 0.

  • Jason Culligan

    The sights look like they’re inspired by the FG 42 / M1941 Johnson / StG 57 irons. The rest of it looks like someone tried to modernise one of the old Winchester Repeating Rifles in the early 70’s and had utterly bad taste when doing it.

  • Ryfyle

    That looks like a Dank rifle with an MSRP under 200$

  • nighthawk9983

    It is the Winchester Gun

  • That definitely looks like a Winchester shotgun bolt.

  • Ian Mahaffey

    Looking at it, it could be a well-made amalgamation. I mean, the gun looks brand new with the plastic still shining. Also, the safety button looks like that on a sporting rifle, the receiver looks like that from a shotgun, yet it has the layout of a military rifle.