Winchester Model 74 – .22 Short

This is one of the three guns my grandfather owned. He had a Remington Model 11 in 12 gauge for rabbits, a BB gun for the neighbor's dog, and this rifle was primarily for squirrels. Grandad had four pecan trees, three black walnut trees, and a chestnut tree which were overrun with squirrels. He knew no hunting seasons or bag limits, squirrels on his property were nothing more than pests that stole his crop. He was a crack shot with this little gun and always shot squirrels in the head with iron sights. That way no meat was wasted because he always said "if I feed 'em, I eat 'em."

My dad and his two brothers used this gun a lot when they were children. They shot at bats with it to watch them dive, shot seagulls in the creek from a bridge, killed sparrows roosting in the purple martin birdhouses, and aerated numerous tin cans. Growing up the three of them would load their pockets with .22 shorts and spend the day romping through the woods.

According to the serial number, this gun was made in 1940 and the Model 74 is listed for $18.45 in a 1941 Winchester catalogue. Adjusted for inflation, that would work out to about $273.68 in 2010 money. It has a 20 round capacity tubular magazine that runs through the butt stock which is loaded through a hole in the side of the stock. The gun does seem to stovepipe rounds fairly frequently and my uncle sheared the charging handle off years ago trying to unjam it. My dad and I bought a new handle and installed it to get it working again. Recently I decided I'd take it out and see how it did: