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GUNS Magazine December 2010 - Page 40

T he reason “.270” and “Jack O’Conner” are inextricably linked is simple—the cartridge worked exceptionally well for him and he used it extensively with great success. From his bully pulpit at Outdoor Life magazine, he reported what he had learned. Lots of folks fussed and fumed, not the least of which was the bigbore school of shooters led by Elmer Keith, continually dropping not so subtle hints suggesting O’Connor was disingenuous. To that group, the .270 was useful only as a “pest” cartridge. I can distinctly recall Keith using those exact words while condemning the cartridge. But, O’Connor held true to his beliefs, and backed up by his solid experiences with the cartridge, he continued to use and write about the .270 in favorable terms. Some 18 years after its introduction, O’Connor summed up his thoughts on the .270 WCF in his “Arms & Ammunition” column, published in the December, 1943 issue of Outdoor Life. He began the column by writing: “Assuming that a cartridge can make its way on merit alone, that cartridge is the . 270 WCF. In its early years it sat in the corner, dressed in sackcloth and covered with ashes, while few riflemen suspected that underneath it had a figger like Miss America, a disposition Tom Turpin Brad O’Connor, Jack’s son and often his hunting companion, holding his dad’s favorite rifle of all time—the one called No. 2. Brad now owns the rifle, but has it on loan to the Jack O’Connor Hunting Heritage and Education Center located in Lewiston, Idaho. Photo Courtesy Bradford O’Connor. like an angel, and that it could bake pies like Mother used to make.” It is doubtful if anyone knows precisely how many .270-chambered rifles O’Connor owned during his long career. There were several to be sure. He purchased his first one the same year Winchester introduced the cartridge in 1925. It was a Winchester Model 54. He later had the rifle custom stocked and fitted with a Lyman receiver sight. Needing money to pay off some medical bills, he parted company with it, and most of the rest of his firearms, during the Depression in 1931. O’Connor claimed to have shot more game with his 2nd .270 than any other he owned. Starting with a Mauser action, the team of Bill Sukalle doing the barrel and other metalwork, and Al Linden whittling out the stock, completed the rifle in 1937. O’Connor went through at least two barrels on that rifle and maybe more. He kept the old Mauser until 1966, when he gave it to a friend. His 3rd .270 is one I’ve played with quite a bit. He bought a new Model 70 in 1943 in Tucson, Az. He sent it to Al Linden for a custom stock, and he also had a Weaver 330 scope mounted on the rifle in Stith mounts. He then took the rifle on his first Canadian pack trip to Alberta and British Columbia that same year. Custom makers must have worked faster in those days than they do today. He took his first Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep with it, as well as his first mountain goat, caribou and moose. O’Connor eventually sold the rifle to a friend, the late Jim Wilkinson of Rifle Ranch fame. Wilkinson was a good friend of mine, and he allowed me access to the rifle whenever the urge hit me. O’Connor’s 4th .270 was another Mauser Bill Sukalle metalsmithed. Bob Owen crafted the stock for the rifle. It was finished in 1946, just in time for a 40 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • DECEMBER 2010

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