I was rummaging around the Trading Post last Wednesday as one of the boys began bringing out rifles from their unclaimed pawn area. On one trip he came back with two seemingly identical Winchester Model 70 SA's and set them in a rack to be priced. Both were of the later vintage with the Mauser-style extractor, both were short actioned, and both carried the usual amount of Reservation dings and scratches in what were otherwise very nicely checkered walnut stocks. Both sporter over-sized, cheap scopes and both were pawned by the same person. One was a 308 and the other a 243. The 308 immediately caught my eye and my companion eyed the 243. Both were dusty and carrying the dirt and debris they were pawned with 4 years ago. My buddy tossed the 243 into the cleaning cradle and ran a rod down the bore to push the dust out and then relinquished the cradle so I could clean the 308. The patch went through the barrel with some drag. I put another patch on the rod and pushed it through. Same thing. Just barely a perceptible tug at the patch. Both patches came out charcoal black. I look at my buddy and he's holding the 243 at arm's length and looking at the barrel. We put it in the cradle and put a strong light in at the breech. A shadow appears just at the muzzle. The barrel was what we call 'blown'. Shot with some obstruction that bulged the barrel at the barrel at the muzzle.
I take a look at the 308 and sure enough, a three-eights of an inch in from the muzzle there is a ring in the barrel. Additionally, I'm looking at the bolt face and there is a circular ring of pitting around the firing pin hole and some additional pitting on the lower edge of the bolt. Conclusion? Someone was using corrosive primed ammo in the 308 and failed to clean it. Probably the Russian steel cased hunting ammo that was so popular on the Reservation 10 years or so back. It is a common practice among some locals to drive around between deer hunting spots with their rifles loaded and the muzzles down on the floor board of the truck for "safety" reasons. Unfortunately, the muzzles pick up mud or snow and so it is common to see blown barrels in local rifles.
Both rifles can be fixed. The 308 will be fine with a little TLC and a crown. The 243 needs a little trim to get rid of the belled muzzle. We made a collective offer on both after pointing out the problems. My friend needs a gun for his 10 year old and I need a loaner. We might end up with them if the price is right. It's a shame to see a pair of nice rifles so badly cared for. ~Muir