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Tell me everything you know about model 88 winchesters, their usefulness for deer hunting, accuracy, customizing etc. 8)
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

I'm always keeping an eye out for the perfect deal so I can have one myself, but I believe the fact that Milo Hanson used one in .308 to kill the world record whitetail speaks volumes.
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

I recently became the fortunate owner of a Model 88 chambered in 308 Winchester. I had wanted one for many years, but 88sa are rarely seen in this part of the country. The one I found in a local gun shop is a post '64, but is in wonderful condition. The rifle has the extraordinary attribute of fitting me perfectly. When I shoulder it, the sights fall into immediate alignment. The trigger on mine is fortunately quite acceptable. Poor triggers are a common criticism of the 88. I don't know if mine has been worked on or not, but I have no problem with this trigger. At the range, my 5 shot 50 yard groups, sitting, could be easily covered with a half dollar coin and were perfectly adjusted. So far, so GOOD! I can't wait to get it scoped up and see what she will do at 100 yards, and more importantly, in the deer woods. I believe the 88 excels as a hunting rifle. That is precisely what it was created to do. I have been a bolt gun shooter for many years. This lever gun has won a starting position in my battery of whitetail deer hunting rifles. Gee, I didn't even know about the record white tail being taken with an 88! 8)
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

Rick, I didn't know that either. On a personal note, I appreciate your thoughtful and helpful comments I see on the forums. I know you and I share a great respect for the blr .358. I have a choice of buying a very good 88 .308 or a BLR81 in .308 What would you do ? I must confess that I've gotten so used to my blr's lighting quick lever throw that other lever rifles just don't measure up. However I want a little longer bbl. than on the browing, hence my interest in the 88. I'm on the fence here, so help me out.
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

The first firearm I ever pulled the trigger on was a Winchester 88 made in 1955 or 1956, and chambered in 308. My dad still has it, and he's finally got a scope on it. It's his all-around elk/deer/bear rifle.

The trigger never bothered me, maybe because I learned how to shoot it before I got spoiled by others. It helps to pull the gun apart and clean it now and then, which may be part of the problem with some of the 88 triggers.

Anyway, I took my first deer with that gun, shot the head off my first grouse, and learned to reload for rifle rounds. It has accuracy potential equal to any bolt gun I've owned, and you can keep all your fingers in position while operating the lever, which is nice.

My grandfather had one in .284, and it was his main elk rifle for many years. They're pretty popular still around here, but most examples are either .243 or .308. If I ever stumble across a .358, I'll be sorely tempted. My dad's rifle, and my grandfather's, have never malfunctioned in any way. In fact, my grandfather's rifle even does a good job of feeding .284 rounds, no matter what the gun writers said when the round was introduced. The reason my dad started me on that rifle was because it was the only centerfire he owned that didn't have an exposed hammer. He figured he wanted my thumbs to get a little bigger before they were called on to hang onto the hammers of his other lever guns.

As you might have guessed, I have a soft spot for 88s, and I'd pick one over the BLR anytime.
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

I love mine. The trigger is a little gritty and stiff and not much can be done with it. Mine started as a post '64 .243. I'm not a .243 fan, but I got a heck of a deal. Anyway, I had it rebarreled with a blackened stainless Douglas barrel 23" long and in 7mm-08. It shoots Hornady Light Mag ammo into 2" groups at 175yds.
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

The Model 88s are beautiful to look at, BUT there are five problems that are repeatedly and I mean repeatedly mentioned by people who shoot them. (Look back over the last year or so on these boards.) These problems are:

1. The trigger is about the worst factory trigger you will ever pull. I tried three different rifles when I was thinking about buying one, and they were unbelievably bad. They are gritty, uneven, spongy, with no clean break. This has to do with the design of the rifle.

2. The stock has an odd configeration that to a very large number of people creates LOTS of felt recoil. Look back over the posts, and you will see references to the Model 88, in .308 Winchester, as being brutal on the bench. I believe that it is straighter than most styles, so that the entire recoil energy is coming straight back at you.

3. If you break a part, you are going to have real problems trying to find a replacement part.

4. Spare magazines are hard to come by, and very expensive. I have seen them go for as much as $100.

5. The stocks, being really carved out around the action and magazine, have a tendency to crack.

I will admit that they are beautiful and alluring, and that they feel great when you hold them in the pawn shop. But, I believe that the negatives far outweight the positives. If you are happy with the BLRs, then stick with the BLRs. The Model 88 will be a negative experience to someone who loves a BLR.

As an alternative, if you just must have a different lever action, in .308, then take a look at the Savage 99s made in the late 1950s. Beautiful, slick, affordable.

Big Paulie
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

Country Boy:

I've never shot an 88, but I've hefted a few and worked the action, and I like the feel. At this point, since I have a BLR (which I really like), I'd like to have an 88 to give it a try - that may just be my make-up.

The 88 seems to have a nice short throw which is something I like in a lever action, and it feels good to me when I shoulder it.

I would be buying the 88, and if it turned out - down the road - that I didn't like it I could always get a BLR later. However, I'd never sneeze at the BLR in .308 either.

I know this is a "fence sitting" type of reply, but I really hesitate to tell someone definitely what gun to buy.

As an aside, when asked by a new hunter what gun and chambering to buy for hunting in Ontario, I always recommend the .308 cartridge on either a Remington 7600 or BLR, but often add the proviso that if they can find one at a decent price to take a serious look at a Savage 99 or Winchester 88.

Rick
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

I've never owned an 88 or a BLR........but the model 88 seems to have a cult like following, and the prices for them and savage 99's seem to keep going up. Might not be a bad more to pick up an 88 if you can get it at a good price. Shoot it, hold it a few years while you make up your mind if you like it and your sure to turn a few bucks on the resale if the trend continues. I missed one a few years back before the "fad" wish I'd have bought it now........JMHO....
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

I shoot my Model 88 and the felt recoil is no problem. It kicks like a 308 Winchester, which it is. Brownells sells new magazines for around $45 if another one is ever needed. As far as cracked stocks, well, Winchester stopped production in the mid '70s. One would think that in the 30 years since all 88's would have self destructed by now. Spare parts can be a problem for many vintage firearms. Thankfully, they are seldom needed. 8)
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

Big Paulie-

After decades spent actually using different 88s, and many decades more experience amongst close family members, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with pretty much your entire post. When I weigh my own experience against what folks post on this board, regardless of topic, I tend to just go ahead and believe what I've seen with my own eyes, and felt with my own shoulder.

1. Like I said, clean the trigger group, and that will improve the feel. It's no varmint rifle, anyway. Trust me, based on multiple experiences, the trigger doesn't tend to bother anyone that's actually hunting with one. It also gave me no trouble at the bench, and it will more than hold its own against bolt gun accuracy.

2. It's a good thing nobody told me about that brutal recoil when I was a little kid learning to shoot with an 88 in .308 Winchester. I hardly noticed it, despite the flat plastic butt plate and 180 grain loads my dad gave me to hunt with. I don't remember my sister or my wife complaining about the recoil in the 88s they've shot, either.

3. None of the 88s I've used, and none of the ones owned by other family members have broken, but I bet finding replacement parts, or having them made, is no more of a chore than it is for any other vintage rifle.

4. Never lost a magazine, or had problems with one, so I can't really speak to the cost of a replacement.

5. Never had a stock break on any of mine, or my dad's, or my grandpa's.

Just my experiences, and those of a few family members, others may vary.
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

Well, its really good to get different viewpoints on this. Like I said, I researched the Model 88 for about 3 months when I was seriously considering buying one. (No doubt about it, . . they are very beautiful and alluring.) Look back at gun posts on this board and related boards for the past 1 or two years, and you will see complaints about all of the factors that I listed.

But, one thing is for sure. People either really love them, or really hate them. Interestingly enough, most of the people who love them state right up front that their Dad owned one when they were young and that they started out in their younger years using one for deer hunting. There is almost always nostalgia involved.

I think that most people who start out using a different lever action (such as the Marlins, Savages or BLRs) find that the transition to the Model 88 is pretty difficult. Again, the trigger thing, and also a very low comb if you are going to mount a scope.

However, from what I see of the cult following for the 88, and the high prices, I do agree that it might be wise to add one to your collection if you have a chance to get one for a reasonable price. And if you get one for a reasonable price, then you probably want to shoot and hunt with it too see if you like it.

I would disagree somewhat, however, with the notion that finding spare parts would be no more difficult than for any vintage gun. This simply isn't the case. Spare parts for Marlin levers and Savage Levers are pretty easy to find. Don't know about the older BLR models.

Best Regards,

Big Paulie
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

Shucks, as the owner of a 1956 model 88 I may as well get in here also! Mine shoots 1 - 1 1/2 inch groups off the bench at 100 yards, no matter what I feed it. It is a using rifle, and I had a Black-T finish applied 13 years ago. That teflon really helped with the trigger pull. It is still mushy, but the grittiness is gone.

When I bought it 20 years ago, someone had cut the stock down. I scabbed on a piece of ash to bring it back to proper dimensions. The wood is no more carved out than a bolt action rifle so I see no problems with the stock breaking. However, Boyd's Gunstocks makes them if needed ( bought their laminated stock, but it is gathering dust).

There is an outfit which makes new magazines for it, mine cost around $40 a number of years ago. I had the firing pin break on me in 1992, before Internet searches were available, and I managed to find a new one. Otherwise I haven't had any problems with the rifle. Lock up is good. I have reloaded the same brass 8 or more times by neck sizing and had no problems with feeding. All in all, it is a good firearm, though it is mechanically complex.

-WH-
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

I've had the older BLR, and my current 88 has been in the family nearly 40 years. IMHO, the older BLRs weren't worth the money at all.....mine was made in Japan.....sprayed like a shotgun no matter what ammo you used. Mine also jammed repeatedly because of the cheesy cheap magazine design they had at the time.... Browning and I went round n round over it, until I finally dumped it. Later we see they came out with the BLR 2? and changed the magazine to what appears to be a quality design like the 88 has.

Never had a single problem with the 88. It will hold its own with a bolt gun in the accuracy department, and the trigger is a little mushy.

HOWEVER there is one semi-documented problem among some 88s: sometimes they go BANG when they aren't supposed to. I've read this several places, but just never gave it much thought. As I recall, it occurs when the safety is ON, but I'd have to go dig out the information to say for sure.

I need the stock redone on mine, but other than that, its a great gun. The traveling trigger keeps your finger from getting pinch which can happen with a Savage 99. That said I'd be the first in line to buy either if Win or Savage would make them again!

RR
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

Rogue Ram said:
HOWEVER there is one semi-documented problem among some 88s: sometimes they go BANG when they aren't supposed to. I've read this several places, but just never gave it much thought. As I recall, it occurs when the safety is ON, but I'd have to go dig out the information to say for sure.
RR-

If you can track down any sources on that info, dig into your memory for some more details, or find some additional information, I'd sure like to hear it. I guess my questions would be:

1. Is there an actual design flaw that can make the 88 less safe?
2. What happens to cause the bang? Dropping the rifle, pulling trigger with safety on, fires when closing the action, etc.
3. Is there any chance that this is another one of those points of confusion between the model 100 and the 88? Several model 100 problems have incorrectly been attributed to the 88 over the years.
4. If the 88 does have a "track record" of accidental discharges, does it tend to happen in rifles that have been subjected to kitchen table gun smithing?
5. Is there any chance that this is another gun scribe camp fire story that the rest of the scribes repeat as gospel, despite a complete lack of personal experience? Or are your sources anecdotes from owners or gun smiths that have personal experience with the problem?

The accidental discharge problem with the 88 is a new one on me, but I would like to pick your brain for any details that you can drum up. I'd hate to find out the hard way that this story is true with one of my guns or a family member's gun. Thanks!
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

Hey I'll sure dig up what I have. I'm on the road for a few weeks, when I get back I'll see if I can find it. As I recall the first place I heard this was in a gun rag, I know I still have it somewhere. Being skeptical, I tucked this away in the back of my mind. Then at one point I ran into someone (a gun show?) who had one, the guy said he'd had it happen. Again I tucked this away (never happened to me as a kid with mine) and just resolved to be careful. Then I read this again, and thought I kept the article. When I get home I'll look for it...I did just move prior to leaving, so it may take a few days to dig it out but I'll sure look for it.

FYI, my dad used mine for a long time before I used the gun, and he never had an issue either. I've never run across anyone else with one that had theirs do this either....far as I know Winchester never did a recall, which I'd think they'd do if this was widespread.

:D

RR
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

RR-

Thanks! Don't put yourself to too much trouble on account of my question. Digging old articles out of the rubble of moving might be more than I'd be willing to do right after a long road trip. :)

Heck, I moved last October, and I still haven't found everything I thought I had before the move. Have a good weekend.
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

There was a safety problem with some of the older 88s. If I recall it was that if you had the safety on and pulled the trigger, sometimes it would fire when you moved the safety to off. I'll see if I can find out something more definitive.

-WH-
 

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Model 88 winchester/its use as a hunting ri

In 1971, I believe, anyway 1st year of production, I bought a belgian made BLR in 308. I hunted with that gun almost exclusely for the next 25 years. It shot military surplus ball, all weights of factory hunting ammo, as well as several thousand rounds of reloads. All with minute of deer accuracy. Not a tack driver but you could count on 1&1/2" groups. More important I liked the gun and shot it well.

When my son needed a rifle I bought him a early japanese model in 308. He hunted with it until he was killed in an auto accident 10 years later.

Since then I have owned 3 more early jap. 308's and 2 358's. Not a single problem with any of them. I don't know about the win.88's or the savage 99's but I would buy the browning BLR. Regards, Byron
 
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