Classic Firearms: Winchester Model 62

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Winchester Model 62 4
The pre-World War II Model 62 shown here wears a shorter slide handle than the 62A version.

Slide-action rimfire rifles were very popular during the first half of the 20th century. Among the best were the Winchester Model 62 and 62A series.

What Made the Winchester Model 62 Such A Thrilling Rimfire:

  • The Model 61 and 62 were both introduced in 1932.
  • The 61 id s hammerless profile styled somewhat after the Model 12 shotgun.
  • The 62 has a more traditional “Winchester look,” featuring a visible hammer and straight-grip stock.
  • The 62 originally retailed for $17.85.
  • More than 409,000 Model 62 and 62A rifles were manufactured during their 26-year lifespan.

America has certainly changed in many ways over the course of the past century. During the first half of the 20th century, many of us lived in rural areas. We grew up either in a small town or, if we were lucky, on a farm or ranch with acres of land where we could enjoy the outdoors.

A natural part of growing up in that world was being taught how to shoot and safely handle a gun by our dad, uncle, another relative or a family friend and dreaming of the day when we could have our own rifle or shotgun. Often, that first dream gun was a .22 LR rifle.

All types of rimfire rifles were around in the mid-1900s, including single-shots, bolt-action repeaters, several semi-autos, a few lever-actions and the pumps — or, if you prefer, “slide-actions.” There weren’t a lot of .22 LR pumps on the market: a couple of Remington offerings, a Savage (made by Marlin) and the fairly unknown Noble.

Winchester Model 62
The history of the Model 62/62A goes back to the Winchester Model 1890. It was chambered individually and only for the .22 Short, Long, Long Rifle or the now-obsolete .22 WRF — but not interchangeably. Classic features included a 24-inch octagonal barrel and crescent buttplate.

And then, there were the Winchesters. Two of the finest rimfire rifles ever made were the Model 61 and Model 62 Winchester. Both were introduced in 1932 — the Model 61, with its streamlined, hammerless profile styled somewhat after the Model 12 shotgun — and the Model 62, with its more traditional “Winchester look,” featuring a visible hammer and straight-grip stock.

In 1932, the Model 62 was priced at $17.85, and the Model 61 was $24.65. Throughout the production history of these two firearms, the Model 61 was positioned by Winchester to be the more modern rifle and was priced accordingly. When the Model 62 went out of production in 1958, it was selling for about $60. The Model 61 was priced at $70 when it was discontinued in 1962.

A Long Time Coming

The history of the Model 62 goes back to the Model 1890 and the Model 1906 (each of which was named for their year of introduction). Like many other successful Winchester firearms, the Model 1890 was designed and patented by John M. Browning. Winchester bought the patent from him in 1888, and Browning began the work of building a prototype.

Winchester Model 62 1
The Model 1906 was made in several variants, all with 20-inch barrels. For the first 2 years, from 1906 to 1908, all were chambered only for the .22 Short. The .22 S/L/LR interchangeable model came in 1909.

When Winchester engineers saw the design drawings, they suggested that Browning not go ahead with the project, because they didn’t believe the rifle would work. Mr. Browning made the prototype anyway, tested it and sent it to Winchester with a note stating, “You said it wouldn’t work, but it seems to shoot pretty fair to me.”1

Indeed, it did, and the Model 1890 became one of Winchester’s most popular rifles.


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Winchester decided to add a more economical .22 slide-action to its lineup with the Model 1906. It had the same receiver and trigger guard as the Model ’90 but with a shorter, 20-inch barrel and a length-of-pull of just 12 7/8 inches. The price for the Model 1906 was about $10 — half that for the Model 1890. This was one of the reasons it became popular as a “first gun” for many young shooters.

It was chambered to handle .22 Short, Long and Long Rifle cartridges interchangeably, whereas the Model 1890 was made for only one of those rounds or the Winchester Rim Fire (.22 WRF). The Model 1906 was also available in .22 Short only; and, in that chambering, it became very popular as a gallery gun. Both the 1890 and 1906 models were phased out with the introduction of the Model 61 and Model 62 in 1932.

The ‘New’ Model 62

The new Model 62 was essentially an improved version of the Model 1906. It shared some of the features of the ’06 — the receiver, a visible hammer and interchangeable chambering for Short, Long and Long Rifle (or .22 Short only). The most visible changes included a 23-inch barrel and a newly designed stock and slide handle.

Winchester Model 62 3
The Model 62A was the last version of the Model 62 series. It was in production from 1939 to 1943 and then again from 1946 to 1958, after the culmination of World War II.

Like the Model 1906, a special Gallery model was offered in the Model 62, chambered for .22 Short. These rifles are usually stamped “Winchester” in large letters on the left side of the receiver. Some of these stampings are in red. Winchester wanted to make sure the shooting gallery customer knew what brand of rifle they were using.

Another identifying factor for the Gallery model is the loading port on the bottom side of the magazine tube. It has a triangular shape and is much larger than the small port on a standard .22 Short model. This larger port was designed for the 10-shot loading tubes that gallery operators used to quickly reload the rifle. It’s estimated that no more than about 3 percent of the total Model 62/62A production was for the .22 Short cartridge.2

The Model 62 evolved into the 62A in the late 1930s. The most significant change was from a flat mainspring to a coiled hammer spring. From 1939 through 1940, both Model 62 and 62A variants overlapped, and it can be confusing to determine whether you have a Model 62 or 62A. No matter what is written on the barrel, a model 62 with a flat mainspring has four holes in the lower tang; the 62A with the coiled hammer spring has a single hole in the lower tang.3

Winchester Model 62 2
Early marketing materials for the Model 62 Winchester

Other changes from the Model 62 to the 62A included changing the pattern on the hammer thumbpiece from checkered to grooved. Also, the slide handle on the Model 62 is shorter than the one on the 62A, and there are seven grooves in the older slide handle and 10 grooves on the 62A. This change occurred at approximately serial number 98,000.

As with many other firearms of the day, collector interest is highest for pre-World War II models. Premiums should be added for Gallery guns or for .22 Short-chambered non-Gallery models.

More than 409,000 Model 62 and 62A rifles were manufactured during their 26-year lifespan from 1932 to 1958, minus a hiatus during World War II (1943-1945). Total production of Winchester’s slide-action hammer Models 1890, 1906 and 62 totaled almost 2 million rifles during their 69-year history from 1890 to 1958.4

These rifles, like their Model 1890 and 1906 ancestors, are icons of the great .22 rifles of the 20th century and are fine examples for any collection.

FOOTNOTES

1: Winchester Slide-Action Rifles Vol. 1, Ned Schwing. Krause Books, 1992
2, 3, 4: Winchester Slide-Action Rifles Vol. 2, Ned Schwing. Krause Books, 1993

The article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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