Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Featured Gun: Western Field model 45

For those of you too young to remember, a person could, at one time in this country, buy rifles, shotguns, ammunition and sometimes handguns at the local department store. In fact it was a pretty big business from post -WWII era until the late 70's.
Sears, K-Mart, Napa, Coast to Coast, Western Auto Supply, J.C. Penny, Montgomery Wards and others had guns made for them by most of the major manufacturers. They were usually "budget" versions of the originals, offering a good quality gun at an entry level price.

If you have one of these brand labeled guns, you can check your guns true manufacturer here.

Western Field was the trademarked name for rifles and shotguns sold at Montgomery Wards department stores. Which is what we have here, a Western Field .22 bolt action rifle, seems simple enough, right? not so much.

This particular gun is a bit of a mystery. For starters Western Field guns did not always have the model number stamped on the gun, this one does not. To add to the mess, they used the same model numbers for different guns, made by different manufactures at different times.

 This is supposedly a Western Field Model 45.  Although there were two model 45s marketed by Wards, this one is supposedly a Mossberg model 42. I contacted the Mossberg experts at Havlin Sales & Service and they confirmed this information

This Western Field model 45 is a box magazine fed bolt action .22 rifle, featuring a unique walnut stock with larger forearm piece, 24" barrel and a steel butt plate.
The gun is well made and has a bolt that looks like it came off of a center fire gun.
Here are the pictures of this gun:

 All the pictures I found online showed a different looking gun with birch stocks, plastic butt plates and trigger guards and different bolts.

I cannot imagine the the Ward's version of the Mossberg was better outfitted than the Mossberg labeled ones, or were they?

I found this picture of what is supposed to be a Western Field model 45 and it does look like my gun, but no checkering.
Here is what I found online regarding the Mossberg model 42:
It looks pretty close, but mine has some checkering (could have been applied after it left the store), a different rear sight and a different stock.

It appears Mossberg made a tube feed version of the model 42 and called it the model 46.

The detachable box magazine looks like this:

The bolt in the picture is actually an adapter that allows the use of .22 Short cartridges
As time progressed the Mossberg model 42 became a different gun and saw service with the US Military during WWII as a training rifle.
 If this gun is a Mossberg model 42, how can we tell when it was made? 
Well, this gun, like many of its day, did not get a serial number assigned to it. It was not required and the gun companies saw no need to serialize cheaper rifles and shotguns.
According to my sources, the Mossberg model 42 was made from 1937 to 1950. My guess is that this Western Field was made before WWII, probably circa 1937-1939.
I did find an auction for this Western Field model 41 that is said to be "pre-War".

So the one above may be from the same time frame as mine. I cannot tell from the picture if the wood is walnut. Also this gun does not have the checkering on the wrist, but it does have the steel butt plate and trigger guard.
In regards to my gun.....did someone install a new stock at some point and copy the lines of the original? According to the experts at Havlin Sales, this gun left the Mossberg factory in "plain jane" configuration, no checkering

Did Wards perhaps commission a "deluxe" version using a walnut stock with a checkered wrist? Did a previous owner pay a gunsmith to checker the stock? We may never know.

January 2016 Update:
After searching for a magazine for this gun I came to learn that this gun was not made by Mossberg after all. It was made by Savage Arms.
The gun is a copy of the Savage model 4S (or one of the decedents of the model 4).
Note the similarity of the checkering...the peep site mount and the action/bolt

This one pictured above is a later model, it has a plastic butt plate.
The location of the caliber roll marks on the barrel is in the same place & font as is the proof mark.
 The trigger guard and magazine floor plate are also a match
Here is what the correct magazine looks like, fortunately they are plentiful and inexpensive.

 Aftermarket 10 round magazines are also available

Gun Parts Corp. 
Havlin Sales & Service
Gun Auction 

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