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Ruger Mark II conversions bring dealer profits.

If I were an enterprising gunsmith looking to offer a specialty service that could bring me business at the national level, you know what I'd do? I'd advertise the conversion of push-feed Ruger 77 Mark IIs to the Mauser-type controlled-round feeding (CRF) system that Ruger has now incorporated into the entire Model 77 line.

Think about it. Ruger started production of the original Mark II in January of 1989 so there's nearly three years of production out there of a rifle that for all intents and purposes is now obsolete. Of course, these guns all work perfectly and will give reliable service to their current owners, their children, and their children's children.

Nevertheless, a certain percentage of those push-feed Mark II owners must be feeling kinda' left behind. They have to be thinking: "If my Mark II is so great, why did they change it so soon after its introduction?"

The reasons behind the change are these: 1) It was relatively easy to convert the original Mark II to CRF. 2) Goading by a small but vociferous faction of dealers, consumers, and writers who kept bitching that they should do it made the change seem a good (and profitable) alteration. I as much as anyone was guilty of that. Hopefully, history will prove that Ruger made the right decision.

In the meantime, though, there are still those owners of original Mark IIs out there who feel the parade has passed 'em by, and if they could have their rifles converted to CRF for a reasonable amount of money, they'd do it.

Since Ruger has long since announced their decision not to do retro-conversions to CRF, that leaves the field open to any gunsmiths who want to have a go at it.

To change the push-feed Mark II to CRF requires only that the protruding lip at the bottom of the bolt face be milled away and that the bottom edge of the extractor claw be modified slightly. Neither job presents much of a problem for a competent gunsmith and the job can easily be done in less than an hour once one is familiar with the operation.

USRAC Goes Total CRF

While on the subject of CRF, about a year ago in this column I speculated as to the high probability of U.S. Repeating Arms eventually changing the entire Model 70 line back to what in essence is the pre-'64 version of this legendary rifle.

Well, it's happened. For '94 every variation of Winchester Model 70 -- and there's a bunch of 'em -- will be offered in what USRAC is calling its "Pre-'64 Classics" version, as well as in the push-feed variant that has replaced it these past 30 years. Perhaps the best news of all is that the premium being asked for the pre-'64s will be a mere $20 at the retail level over the price of a comparable push-feed model. The only exceptions of which I'm aware are the varmint models; they will not be offered in CRF.

Three years ago when USRAC first tested the waters with the Super Grade to see just what kind of reception a resurrected pre-'64 Model 70 would get, I said it was a better-made gun than the original, as well as being of superior design, thanks to a couple of subtle but noteworthy changes in the gas baffling and venting of the action.

Well, these Pre-'64 Classics will be available shortly after you read this -- like before the end of the year -- and the guns are going to be of even higher quality, thanks to about $8 million worth of new machinery that's just been installed in New Haven.

While the Super Grade of three years ago was introduced without a lot of hoopla, a veritable media blitz is planned for the Classics. Everyone is going to know that the "old Model 70" is back, even the five or six people who didn't know it was gone.

Your Own Political Clout

They say this is the "Age of Communication," a time in which we can get in touch with just about anyone, anywhere, at any time. What with cellular phones, fax machines, beepers, E-mail, etc., that may be overstating the case, but all of us are more "accessible" than even before, whether we want to be or not.

Perhaps no single group is more aware of this than our politicians. The fact that we are more disenchanted with them than ever is something of which they are acutely aware. This disenchantment has prompted us to be much more vocal than in the past. One has only to consider the popularity of call-in radio and TV shows to see how obvious this is.

Anyway, when it comes to proposed anti-gun legislation or legislation that might affect this industry or our business, be it large or small, this accessibility to politicians and they're heightened sensitivity can be beneficial to those of us willing to let our opinions be known. Toward that end there's a new computer program called Influence that enables you, your business, your gun club, to do its own lobbying.

Influence includes a listing of the names, addresses, phone and FAX numbers of over 600 federal officials from the President on down through the House and Senate, the Cabinet, and Judicial officials. Users can make their opinions known to the entire Congress, or target specific individuals. Lobbying at the state level is just as easy with one of the optional State listings. All are updated yearly. The program, which sells for a reasonable $39.95, has a built-in word processor which can compile listings, merge, process address labels, etc.

Influence is offered by Double Diamond Technologies of Chicago. You can order or get more information by calling them toll free at 800-532-8788 -- tell them you read about their product in Shooting Industry magazine.

A Rise In Hunting

For the first time in four years the sale of hunting licenses is up, according to the NSSF. Last year some 15,746,000 men and women purchased licenses; that's 28,000 more than in 1991. That data did not reflect gender ratio, but according to related surveys conducted by the Foundation, a significant percentage of those new hunters are women.

That's not surprising when you think about it. Consider how many handgun ads we've seen over the last couple of years that target women either by the graphics used or with the guns themselves being designed specifically for them. The Los Angeles riots particularly sparked a new wave of interest in home defense and personal protection, and now we're seeing it spread to recreational shooting and hunting.

Regardless of a woman's original motive for learning how to handle a handgun, once they do it, a lot of them say to themselves: "Hey, there's nothing inherently evil about handguns. In fact, they're fun to shoot and a challenge to shoot well. I wonder what skeet or trap shooting is like? Or hunting?

And that, Virginia, is why we have a growing percentage of women in our ranks.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:rifle converted from push-feed to controlled-round feeding
Author:Sundra, Jon R.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Oct 1, 1993
Previous Article:"Fitting the customer": leather that fits like a glove.
Next Article:Attracting the traditional customers.

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