Back in the early 90s, Winchester started making an action that very closely resembled the classic much loved, pre 64 Model 70 action of legend. This was an immediate hit with riflemen with taste. There was some differences between the new and old, but it was close enough. Some would say it was probably better, or at least made out of stronger modern steel. After the initial offerings of the typical boring hunting sporters proved to be a hit, Olin started offering the good stuff.
The picture above is one of the very interesting rifles they made and sold in the mid to late 90s. It is the Model 70 Laredo. The Laredo came with a H-S Precision stock that was pillar bedded and had an aluminum bedding block. Instead of having to send it off to a gunsmith or glass bedding it in some do it your self project, it was ready to go. The barrel was free floated and the bedding block gave a solid bedding that would not wear out or break down over time from recoil or solvents and oil. The fore arm was flat with stud for sling or bipod and the pistol grip and a very ergonomic palm swell that fit the hand nicely and was ambi in its shape
The action was the new M70 “classic” action, which as I said above was a modern pre 64 CRF action. The Laredo was a long action and came in magnum chamberings. This one was chambered in 7mm remington mag. The barrel was non SS and was 24 inches long with a medium heavy target taper to .950 at the muzzle with a very nice recessed target crown. The trigger was standard Model 70 adjustable down to 2.5 pounds very easily.
The gun was marketed as a “beanfield” deer rifle. That was a marketing term at the time meant to get deer hunters interested in a rifle they could shoot further with. At the time of this guns birth. the AWb had not become law. And in a sad twist of fate, this led to the guns demise.
If you are too young to know, or maybe not interested in this type of rifle during those years, here is the story.
Before the AWB of 94. it was easy to find just about anything you wanted when it came to semi auto versions of combat rifles. You could some stuff that is very exotic now and so hard to find it would approach Class III prices now. On top of that. the popularity of snipers was non existent. Most shooters did not know much about the USA’s heroic snipers or the rifles used in sniping. After the AWB, people wanted some kind of military or tactical type rifle and at the same time a few things got very popular, very fast. A slew of Vietnam vets wrote books about their time as snipers. Carlos Hathcock became more and more well known to shooters who otherwise never heard of him. And of course, the government telling people “no” instantly drove them to want something “tactical.” A few other things combined as the 90s came to a close to make sniping and tactical rifles very popular. Th e internet, more and more small custom shops, movies and more really made that market pick up.
But, it was too late for the Laredo. the gun was out before this wave of interest in long rage shooting hit big, and Winchester stopped making it right when it would have possibly taken off. Another reason was the gun rag writers constantly telling every one only the M700 remington was the standard. The Army using the M24 and the USMC the M40 took people wanting what the military used sealed the deal on it having a chance at being considered.
It is a real shame.
I used the Laredo as my 1st 1,000 yard gun. the 7mm mag may not be the best 1000 yard choice, but its a great choice for a college kid, with little money to spend and needed a factory offering. I loaded the gun with 168 grain 7mm matchkings and later 175 gr HPBT match kings. The flat shooting 7mm Mag and the mild recoil compared to the 300 win mag, made it pleasant to me since I am not a huge person. The 7mm is more forgiving out to 1,000 then the 308 even if the barrel wears out faster. Shooting that far is mostly mental. Confidence is a big factory in making hits at 1,000 to 1,200. And the 7mm helped me think i had an edge. Really , it is a pretty good choice, but not great. Having a great deal of confidence in it did help me shoot better and shooting better let me concentrate on what mattered instead of worrying over the wrong things.
This rifle now belongs to some one else. Sold when I realized it was collecting dust more then being fired after I moved on to better rifles. Now the rifle has picatinny bases and rings canted for long range and a Millet scope.
Scope has a wide range of magnification up to 25x and has a 56 mm objective lens. It has target turrets in mils and has a mildot crosshair along with a 30mm tube. Base is Badger with leupold Mk4 rings. To finish it off as a factory made affordable rifle for 1,000 yard plus shooting is a set of Harris Bipods.
The rifle still shoots sub MOA but is likely getting tired. I shot it a lot and new owner is hell on a rifle barrel and does not have my obsession with cleaning match barrels. the gun has been used to hit a 16 ounce coke bottle at 850 yards repeatedly when shooter actually meant to do it!!
The Laredo Model 70 is a fine rifle and it is a real shame it is not being made now. Current FN produced M70s are fine guns but they are not New Haven guns with that rich tradition and, worst of all, do not have the classic model 70 trigger that is so easy to adjust to whatever pull weight you wish within safety reason.
If, you are looking for a rifle to get your feet wet in the 1,000 shooting game. this is still a great choice. If you could find one in 7mm mag or 300 Mag and the barrel is in good shape I would not hesitate. The reliability of the control round feed does not need even more words about how reliable and desirable it is from me. Its rep speaks for itself at this point.
The Laredo is a hard model to find these days. But in some areas of the country you are more likely to find a used one if good shape. Even if the barrel is shot out, this is a outstanding choice to start a custom project for a long range gun. You would get a long action that would take a wide variety of long range chamberings and the stock is essentially a drop in match ready stock. Having a new barrel installed to the caliber of your choice, would result in a rifle that could do anything you asked it to do within reason.
The 1990s did not have much good news for the gun world. We had the AWB, Clinton and other crimes against humanity. But it did give us the bitter sweet Laredo. The sweet, sweet laredo M70 with the pre 64 action ready for anything and the bitter news of its early and sad demise before the next generation of shooters of tactical rifles and sniping could discover and rescue it from the doom of countless other rifles ahead of their time.