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The Winchester That Could Carry a Tune

 
Museum

In the 1950s, with the airwaves filling with the sounds of rock n’ roll, America was changing into a “transistor” nation. Deciding to capitalize on the popularity of radio with one of its guns, Winchester designed a prototype .308 Model 70 with a built-in radio in 1955. A speaker was set into the right side of the stock with a series of holes—carved in the trademark “W” outline—allowing the sound to be heard. The small am radio, the Regency TR-1, was the first commercial American-made pocket transistor, which retailed for $49.95. It was fitted with matching wood volume and tuning knobs.

Presented as a glittering show gun with nickel-plated metalwork, the new Winchester soon proved a hard sell. It was quickly realized that playing a radio mounted in one’s rifle while hunting would ward off most game species, while others felt that the heavy recoil of some cartridges might quickly render the radio useless. For whatever the reason, Winchester decided not to go into full production with the concept, and this single prototype rifle was the only example ever made.

Donated to the National Firearms Museum by North Carolina collector Melvin Gordon, this unusual Winchester is part of a special exhibition of 120 Winchester Model 70s.

The National Firearms Museum is open daily and admission is free (donations gratefully received). Arms enthusiasts of all ages are welcome. For more information, please call (703) 267-1600.

National Sporting Arms Museum Opens at Bass Pro Shops

We’ve reprinted this look at the musical Winchester, which first appeared in our July 2006 issue, to commemorate the opening of the new National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops’ original location in Springfield, Mo. This intriguing firearm is just one of hundreds of historical Museum firearms now on display there.