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Posted: 9/23/2015 10:50:09 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/24/2015 12:32:31 AM EDT by imarangemaster]
Hello the Camp.  Just checking in with my retro brothers, even though my path has diverged for a time.  Now for the topic.  My retro interest has turned to the 1957 Winchester .224 Light Rifle SCHV trials weapon that competed  the AR15 in the trials.

This interest woke up as I recently reread a copy (attached) of Jeff Cooper's 1975 Guns and Ammo article on the "New Ruger Mini-14."  It made me recall, that when I read it 40 years ago (in 1975), the "New" Ruger .223 reminded me of the Winchester SCHV trials .224 Light Rifle I had seen a some years before in "Small Arms of the World" as a teenager.  When you look at the early 180 series Mini-14 in the Cooper Article, with its wood handguard and early 20 round magazine (identical to the .224 Light Rifle's), the resemblance is remarkable.

Cooper Article:

Winchester 1957 SCHV .224 Light Rifle:

I always thought of the Winchester .224 Light Rifle as a M1 Carbine with a "hard on."  (In fact some trials rifle that were evaluated at the same time as Armalite's AR15 were beefed up or modified M1 Carbines (i.e. the Gustavson .22 Carbine).  If you think about it, the .224 Light Rifle was the obvious natural evolution of the military rifle for the 1957 SCHV (Small Caliber, High Velocity) trials, based on the traditional, existing military small arms doctrine of the time - wood and steel.  The Armalite weapon was so far outside that traditional doctrine with its polymer and aluminum, it is really surprising to me that it actually succeed!

I am a traditional wood and steel guy, and the M1 Carbine is my favorite martial long weapon to shoot off hand.   With this love of the M1 Carbine in mind, reading the vintage Cooper article again, and the opportunity to shoot a current 580 series Ruger Mini-14, I decided to have my very own .224 Light Rifle.  Since there are only about a dozen and a half in existence at Springfield Armory, NRA, and Cody Museums, that would make it a tall order.

I had tried several Mini-14s and Mini-30s in my LEO career.  I liked the feel and handling, just like the M1 Carbine, BUT HATED THE SIGHTS.  The horrible "mile high," unprotected front sight post made good sight picture an impossibility.  Ranch rifles had the terrible rear leaf, and even early Mini's M1 Garand looking rear sights were awful.  Add to that the whippy, thin pencil barrels that wandered zero after heating up, the Mini never made the grade for me.

Then I had a chance to shoot a New model 580 Series Mini-14. IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST SHOT!  It really is an M1 carbine "with  a hard on!"

It has an M1 carbine style protected post and wing military front sight, and a rear ghost ring with protective housing that also resembles an M1 Carbine rear sight.  The barrel is heavier, stepped, and tapered, and doesn't wander after heating up.  To make a long story short, I bought a used (like new- 99.9% finish), 2014 production at a local gun shop.  Now I just need to get an early wood handguard on it to make it look a little more .224 Light Rifle-ish".

My ".224 Light Rifle" and M1 Carbine:

Link Posted: 9/23/2015 10:55:20 PM EDT
Glad to see you back, hope things have been going well for you in your absence!

Dad had one of those early Mini's with the wood upper handguard when I was a kid. I sold it for him (he wanted an AR instead) during the panic along with 3 factory ruger mags for $1100
Link Posted: 9/23/2015 11:19:47 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/23/2015 11:30:18 PM EDT by imarangemaster]
Thanks! Things are actually going OK now.  Still building my Realtor business, but starting to get clients.  The housing market in northern CA is awesome.  Low mortgage rates (3-4%) and homes still at pre 2002 levels!

I am fortunate that I kept all my high capacity magazines when I sold my last Mini-in 1995 or so.  Our Kalifornication mag ban grandfathers in all pre-2000 possessed in California High Capacity mags.  I have Ruger factory mags in 5, 10, 20, and 30 round, and even about a dozen of the old Thermold "Zytel" 30 round mags.  Right now I have an old Fed Ord slim line ventilated handguard on it to replace the lawyer designed monstrosity that was on it.  I do have a walnut handguard ordered from Gunville, however.  Also probably going to put an M1 Carbine sling on it, also.
Link Posted: 9/23/2015 11:52:05 PM EDT
I was communicating with Jim Mock of the "M1 Carbines Inc." web pages.  He is a firearms historian of the first order, and the best resource on Commercial M1 Carbines, and post war usage of USGI M1 Carbines by Bavarians,Germans, and Austrians.  He shares my interest in the Winchester .224 Light Rifle.  He was working on a project on the truth about Carbine Williams, and his true (albeit somewhat limited) involvement in the M1 Carbine eventually adopted by the Army. For this research, he was at the Cody Museum's firearms division.  They have a total of seven or eight on display and in the safe.

The following are his pictures of the Winchester .224 lIght Rifles that I am sharing with his express permission.  If you re-post, please give Jim the Photo credits.

Link Posted: 9/24/2015 2:32:06 PM EDT

imarangemaster,  In the last pic, is that a Johnson LMG, to the right of the Win1300 Riot Gun?

Nice little write up of the Winchester .224 Light Rifle and Mini-14.

Link Posted: 9/24/2015 4:01:13 PM EDT
Yep, though actually the 1941 Johnson RIFLE variety.  A friend of mine had an original "as Issued" one with all the accessories.  He sold it for lots of $$$$$$!  The Winchester may be, I am not a shotgun authority.  It does look like a Winchester, though, with its stepped barrell at the chamber end.
Link Posted: 9/24/2015 4:06:02 PM EDT
Welcome back range master and great write up. I'm still kicking myself for not picking up a johnson rifle in near mint condition in VA about 8 years ago it was $1800 at the time and i was broke but I don't think they knew what they had!
Link Posted: 9/24/2015 4:06:10 PM EDT
The proprietary .224 Winchester cartridge was nearly identical to the .222 Remington Special (later renamed .223) used in the AR15 development.  The Winchester round shot a 52 grain projectile at 3300 FPS.  While the case was almost identical to the .223, it used a shorter bullet with a more rounded ogive, that was seated deeper in the case.  Winchester round on the right.  Practically speaking, performance was identical to the .223 to 200 yards.

Here are a couple links.  The first is to an article on on the Winchester .224 light rifle, and the second is a PDF of the original manual.


Link Posted: 9/24/2015 4:28:47 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/24/2015 5:04:47 PM EDT by imarangemaster]
A little sidebar:

The conventional wisdom on .223/.224 projectiles is: they need 1/12' twist to stabilize the 50-55 grain bullets used in the SCHV tests that birthed the AR15 as we know it. 1/14" did not stabilize enough.  Then with the advent of the 62 grain M855 Nato loading (a longer projectile than the Winchester 64 grain power point spitzer that worked in 1/12s) needed at least 1/9 to 1/7 twists.  In 14.5" to 16" carbines the 1/9s did not stabilize anything above 65-69 grains reliably.  I've been on the Ruger Mini forum on Perfect Union, and found out some surprising information about Minis.  Apparently their 1/9 twist barrels are doing very well with 75-77 grain ammo, at least to 200-300 yards.  

It is counter-intuitive on the face of it, as conventional wisdom being 69 grain is the max for a 1/9 twist. I know it is not just the weight, but also projectile length that needs different twists for stability. That's why Winchester vintage 62 grain Power Point works fine from a 1/12 twist, where 62 grain M855 penetrator core ammo is dismal at best from a 1/12 twist barrel. The 75/77s working in Ruger's 1/9 might be because the 75 and 77 grain OTMs have a void in the front making the majority of the weight to the rear (making the effective length of the projectile shorter, and moving the center of gravity to the rear , also like a shorter projectile), and the Mini's longer 18.5 inch barrel, (as opposed to the M4s 14.5" or 16" ones). These two factors seem to contribute to this divergence from what is conventional wisdom  . I am not a ballistic or reloading expert, these are just my random thoughts.  I do know that a number of Mini users with 1/9s are getting their best groups with 75-77 grainers.

What excites me about this is that I can use my MK262 MOd1 ammo in my (Ruger) modern day ".224 Light Rifle!" At 300 yards, the MK262 MOD1 still has about 800 ft lbs ME, and will still tumble and fragment.  That's more than a 44 Magnum at the muzzle or an M1 carbine at 100 yards. By contrast, at 300 yards, the M193s 55 grain only has about 620 ft lbs ME, but is 450 fps below the 2500 fps threshold for tumbling AND fragmentation.  That threshold with M193 from a 16" barrel is 200 yards.  

The Mk262 Mod1 will do at 300 yards what an M193 will do at 200.  Imagine if Winchester had coupled an effective light rifle design with a 75-77 grain bullet (of which there were some experimental rounds with that weight range bullet out there at that time).  We all would be doing retro "Light Rifles" now, instead of retro AR15s!
Link Posted: 9/25/2015 2:42:53 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/25/2015 2:43:34 AM EDT by Banshee35]
This photo

reminds me of this a bit for some reason
Link Posted: 9/25/2015 9:08:13 AM EDT
YES!  I have always loved the G43!  i wonder if there are any design similarities?
Link Posted: 9/27/2015 11:29:04 PM EDT
As an aside, I took the Ruger Mini up into the forest and sighted it in. WOW, I love it!... Incredibly light and handy.  Quick pointing and fast shooting.  Truly an M1 carbine with a "hard on!" It really makes me wonder in Winchester won and Armalite lost..

Here's a link to the range report I posted on the Mini Forum on Perfect Union.

Mini range report MK262 Mod1
Link Posted: 9/28/2015 9:12:35 AM EDT
That looks like a flip rear peep sight.
That is genious. I wish Ruger had used that on the Mini14.

All of that machine work on the .224 Light Rifle would be really expensive rifle now days.
Great pics and very interesting history.

Really looks close to the Mini14.
Wonder if there is any correlation to why Ruger built his Mini and the .224 Light Rifle?
Link Posted: 9/28/2015 10:56:19 AM EDT
The flip speaks to the M1 Carbine roots of the 224 Light Rifle.  Aside from looking similar and both being an M1 carbine with a "Hard On", if you compare hammer/trigger mechanism of the Ruger and the 224 Winchester, they are nearly identical, as is bolt and some aspects of the slide.  I really do think that Bill ruger took the Light Rifle concept and ran with it.  Before the Ruger Mini, Melvin Johnson made the 22 Spitfire, a 30 carbine with a case necked down to .223 using a 40 grain bullet for his version of the SCHV concept.  The Mini-14 has more in common with the light rifle than the M1 Carbine.  Ruger goes back to the 224 Winchester design/concept instead.
Link Posted: 9/28/2015 11:15:11 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/30/2015 12:05:11 AM EDT
Wow, great thread. You've been busy!

I was just looking at a 184 range Mini the other day next to a modern polymer stocked Mini. Quite a bit of evolution from one to the other in the details. The similarities to the .224 SCHV never occurred to me. But there it is.

Link Posted: 9/30/2015 10:24:37 AM EDT
It is ironic that the thin, lightweight barrel on the .224 Winchester was one of the things that made it loose to Armalite.  The early Mini's accuracy problems were also the Ruger's weak point until the started making them thicker in the 580 series....
Link Posted: 10/9/2015 11:11:20 PM EDT
Here's my 1957  ".224 Winchester Light Rifle" clone.  The Mini with a wood handguard. Wow!

Original .224 WInchester for comparison

Ruger Handguard close up:

Link Posted: 10/10/2015 12:45:47 PM EDT
Very pretty stock on that ruger.
Link Posted: 10/11/2015 5:19:04 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/13/2015 4:47:36 PM EDT by SmegHead]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By 1NAVYCHIEF-RET:

imarangemaster,  In the last pic, is that a Johnson LMG, to the right of the Win1300 Riot Gun?

View Quote

That, my friend, is a johnson (semi)auto-carbine!  Only five were made.  Magazine of the rifle, grip/stock of the lmg.  38"OAL.  I read a magazine article by Canfield last in year's mil surp magazine from  Harris.  

Edited for more info
Link Posted: 10/12/2015 5:34:08 PM EDT
My Son found this one for me for my Birthday last year.  He knew I missed the 181 series I had in the 70s that I sold.

Link Posted: 10/12/2015 6:56:37 PM EDT
Sweet!  Looks like an original walnut stock!  Very nice.  This muzle device has post and wing front sights like the new ones.  If you didn't like the brake, cut it off and just use the front sight.

Ruger front sight
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