Montana Mountain Gal Part 2.

September 24, 2019

Part Two.

Sweet Montana, she has a few flaws.

Montana Rifles from what I can gather through some research, are a small operation producing a limited range of production rifles suited to mountain hunting, dangerous game, varminting and ranch vermin control. I suspect they have a dedicated following from a bunch of Patriotic Western Hunters in the US. In no means a criticism but a grand concept of continuing support to a home-grown company.

Montana Rifles "99" Action

A quick email to the Montana Rifles told me that this rifle left their facility in Kalispell Montana, on the 10th of October 2014.


Established in 1999 this rifle sports a fibreglass/Kevlar sock in a classic shape. The XWR is of Stainless-steel construction and built around the Montana Rifles “99 Action” which is closely based on the Classic Winchester Model 70 Action that was re-introduced by Winchester in about 1993/94 in their return to a Controlled feed action.


Montana Rifles also do a line of the 99 action with square bridged receivers that take the same dovetail mounts as the CZ550 Dangerous Game model rifles. They are known as their Professional Hunter models, one the The African with a timber stock and The Alaskan with a fibreglass kevlar stock.


The 99 action is not a clone of the M70. Montana Rifles have made some improvements to the Winchester design, which has its roots with the Mauser 98. The first thing most users would notice is an ergonomically improved bolt release, very similar in appearance and operation to the Tikka T3. Montana Rifles have retained the 3-position bolt shroud mounted safety that acts directly on the firing pin and they wisely chose to stick with the simple but effective pre-64 Winchester M70 design of trigger. A great advantage in dust and or icy conditions given its open and simplified workings allowing easier access to inspect and clean. But it does require some detailed knowledge to tune.


Bolt Shroud, Release & Trigger

The front ring of the receiver is somewhat different to the Win M70 in that the barrel contacts the action in three locations. Obviously, the first is the threads and then the second being the front of the action to the barrel shoulder.


The third is where the difference to the M70 action occurs. And that is where the rear chamber shoulder/barrel face contacts a shoulder within the back of the receiver ring. This in effect means that the back of the Montana Rifles chamber does not require the cone faced breech as the M70 Classics have. Montana have machined the feed ramp into the action. The result is better support of the cartridge within the chamber.

Square Barrel Breech Face & Action feed ramp

The other minor variation is the bolt shroud on the left side (see first image), for a right hand gun, is extended in diameter out to slightly larger than the action diameter at the rear of the action. In the unlikely event of a case rupture, any gases escaping along the left side bolt race of the action would be more likely deflected out at ninety degrees to the action as they exit the rear of the action. Hence, providing a further level of protection to the shooter. This is a secondary protection, one would, think as the bolt has a rotating collar mounted on the extractor claw c-ring opposite the full-length extractor which blocks the left raceway when the bolt is in the locked down fire position.


The trigger guard and floor plate are one piece and use just a front and rear action screw. The magazine box, and follower, are of stainless construction.


The action is drilled and tapped for scope mounts or rings utilising mounts of the same as configuration as the post ’64 Winchester M70. The barrel on this model is 24 inch and light medium profile with a steady taper from the knox form to the muzzle, finishing at just under 15.5mm/0.6 inches in diameter.


As I alluded to, the metalwork of the rifle is in great condition showing signs of very little use. The stock on closer inspection though is a little degraded, having originally had a black textured finish. At some stage, either once or over an extended period this finish has, I suspect, been exposed to insect repellent or another strong solvent. The result being a degradation to the point it has softened and can be marred and even scratched away with one’s fingernails.


After discussion with a knowledgeable mate and two epoxy industry specialists I made the decision to strip the coating off and recoat the stock. How this would be achieved was, at that stage, undecided. But as I stated earlier in Part One this whole build was about the journey and learning a bunch of stuff along the way.


Upon stripping the coating from the stock, which was relatively easy using a gasket scraper made from a power hacksaw blade, I had made years earlier in my trade days, signs of a repair appeared in the buttstock. The rest of the stock, underlying the damaged coating remains unaffected.

Repaired damage to butt.

Now, whether the damage to the buttstock arose from poor lay-up, or removal from the mould during manufacture, or damage from the previous owner is unknown. And really it doesn’t matter. What is important is to ensure the stock is solid and has good integrity prior to bedding and recoating. And it provides another opportunity to gain more knowledge.


Some may see a reason to get the shits over this issue but neither myself, my mate or anyone else could have been aware of this prior to purchasing the rifle. And if it did happen during manufacture, well there is a balance to be met on scraping the stock or doing a repair and cutting the losses for commercial reason. And sure, that decision can be viewed from the perspective of the purchaser or the company. Has it failed? Not at this stage. My opinion, the repair could have been done better and I’m investigating ways of rectifying the deficiencies I believe exist before I commence bedding then recoating.


Montana Mountain Gal - Part  1

Montana Mountain Gal - Part 3

Montana Mountain Gal - Part 4