Sangamon County Rifle Association
Right Reason on Second Amendment Rights
Springfield, Illinois

Phil Davis

Winchester 1907 Self Loader

100 year old "Evil Assault Rifle"

 Phil Davis
SCRA meeting 5/7/07
June 2007 GunNews

 Davis said he chose a rifle that is going to be 100 years old just to show us an evil assault rifle that has an attachable magazine.  It was in fact used by the world military at one time. It had an extended magazine that held twice as many as a standard magazine.  One variation had a bayonet lug on it.  This is an evil assault weapon, the Winchester 1907 self loader.

Winchester 1907 self loader

It's smaller brother is the Model 63 Winchester which is a .22.  It loads through the butt stock but it cocks in the same manner.  You press the release and it actuates the action.   It is a recoil operated semi-automatic rifle.  It is actually a neat design.

Davis said the first time he ever fired one, he thought it was gas operated because of the little ridge on there.  It looked kind of like that gas block on a mini 14 or a M1 Garand that's recoil operated.  So he just threw it up to his shoulder really loosely, "OK, this is going to be nothing."

Blam!! It rang his bell. It's a 180 machined grain bullet going just under 2,000 feet per second.  Its better ballistics than a 30-30 Winchester with a bigger diameter bullet.  It is a real hard hitter.

This rifle was introduced in this caliber in 1907.  The 401 was introduced in 1905.  There were 57,000 of the 1907 model made.  This one was made about 1946-1947 due to the serial number on it.  It has a 5-shot magazine on it and it is available with a 10 and a 15-shot magazine.  The magazine is released by pressing on the release.  By the way, in Cook County this is an assault weapon because it has a magazine in front of the trigger guard.  This is banned in Cook County.

Davis showed everyone the 351 self loader cartridge.  It has a 180 grain bullet.  It is what they call a semi-rimmed cartridge, it is not rimless like a .45 and not rimmed like a .30-30.  It has a slight rim much like a .32 automatic.

It kicks about like a .30-30 but it is a semi-automatic.  These guns were originally designed as a medium game cartridge for deer, black bear and other medium size game, up to about 150 yards.  It is a well machined piece of work.  It is not a slapped together stamped metal piece of equipment.  It is so well machined that you have to have a special tool to take the hand guard off. If you don't have this tool, you cannot take the hand guard off of this weapon because it has a little spanner ring in there that you have to turn to slide this off to take the hand guard off.

It is a very well built machine and it balances very nicely but It's not light.  They cost about $600 right now.  The gun Davis showed us was in excellent shape.  They shoot very well.  Davis said with the one he was shooting, he was able to get about as good a group as he could with an M1 carbine at 100 yards.

Up through 1914, the 5-shot magazine was all that was available.  In 1914 they came out with the 10-round and the 15-round magazine.  In 1915 the French government put in a contract for several hundred of them to test.  So they were actually used by a military power during the first world war.  By all accounts, this rifle did acquit itself very well in trench warfare in places like Gordon.  If you can imagine in a trench your enemy has a 5-shot Mauser bolt action rifle.  If you've got one of these with a bayonet lug and a 15-shot magazine with that cartridge, which would you prefer to jump into a trench to hit people at 25 feet with.  Davis said he would take this rifle, especially if he could have three or four magazines that he could stick in there.

It is fairly closed up so the mud didn't hurt it that much and it was not a gas operated so it was very forgiving as far as cleaning was concerned.  It was very reliable.  Where the 1907 really found its niche was not in the hunting community, not in the military community but in the police and law enforcement community.  At least twenty of the holes in the infamous Bonnie and Clyde death car were put in there by 351s.  Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger and several other well known individuals were partially if not wholly ventilated with 351 Winchesters.  It was probably popular with both sides of the law. 

Melvin Purvis' posse, the ones that shot him down, and several of the people who were after Dillinger, etc., were armed with these.  They hit hard, they shot fairly flat up to 100 yards and they shot fast.  They handle a lot better than the BAR and they had a lot better long range trojectory than a Thompson.

The prison guards loved these things.  They were sold at prisons all over the country.  Davis has seen these marked with prison branded into the stock, such as the Illinois Dept. of Correction and one from Minnesota.  Davis believes the federal government actually bought a few of them for prison guard guns for places like Leavenworth, etc.  They were popular with officers because they gave them something with a little more reach in the trunk of their squad cars.  Davis commented these might have been pretty good for dispatching a white tail that someone thumped with their F-150.

Davis dislayed an ad that showed the "Police Model" with the 10-round magazine affixed.  The bayonet they chose
for this weapon was not the 1903 Springfield bayonet but the .30-40 Krag bayonet.  Davis passed the ad around and it showed a couple of different variations of the 1907.  They quit making it in 1957.

1907 Winchester 1907 self loader ad

An old newsaper ad shows the variations on the 1907
rifle that were available.  The rifle found its niche in the
police and corrections community.

It was one of the sporting rifles to come factory with inch and a quarter swing swivels.  That was predominately from the effects of men coming back from World War I, they wanted a strap to carry their rifle on by gosh, they knew what it was like to carry their rifle in their hands all the time, they wanted a sling.  After 1918 it was standard on the 1907 self loading.

They came in two barrel lengths, an 18-inch carbine and a 20-inch riffle length.  This one was made in approximately 1947, you can tell by the butt plate.  This one has the steel checkered butt plate rather than the plastic one.  Anything after 1947 would have had a plastic Winchester Arms butt plate.  They are in a time of their own.  It was during an era when America was still innovating in the world of firearms, when making a firearm was not a nasty thing.  Making a firearm that shot faster and more powerfully was not something that was scowled upon but was actually applauded.

Buffalo arms is still making 351 self loader and the dyes and brass are still available.  If anyone needs ammunition, Davis knows where to buy it.   Original boxes of ammunition are worth about sixty bucks a box.  A little more than a dollar a shot for the original ammunition, fifty rounds in a box which is really not that bad when you consider what a lot of center fire cartridges are going for.  Good premium .06 ammo is going to cost you a buck and a half a shot.

 If he was going to Missouri tomorrow and hunt where he usually hunts deer, where you're not going to get a shot over 75 or 100 yards because of tough brush, Davis would have no qualms at all about taking this gun with a good 180 grain soft point in it.  It's quick, it handles light and, yes it's heavy but the weight is right over where your forward hand is.   It comes up quick and swings fast just like a shotgun.  Davis  would not feel outgunned and he would pretty much laugh at anybody who was using a super powered 300 whiz bang short action magnum to hunt deer at 50 yards.

Production stopped on this in 1957 about the same time that Winchester dropped a lot of their highly machined required work.  This is about the same time within eight years that they dropped the highly machined Model 70 with the claw extractor in favor of the easily CNC machined push extractor. 

So far this is about one of the only old Winchesters they haven't brought back for a limited run.  Davis still believes if they would come out with this in a more modern cartridge like a 10 mm or something like that, they would probably sell quite a few of them. 

The 351 self loader is, again, one of the forgotten guns from Winchester that just didn't make it real big, but those who used it had a lot of respect for it.  Anyone who has fired it will have a lot of of respect for it too.  Like he said Davis was expecting a thump and he got WHAP!!  There have only been a few guns that have taken Davis by surprise where recoil was concerned, the 600 Nitro Express was one of them and this.

The stocks on this gun are a little short because they were designed for a hunting gun.  Never, ever bring them up like this.  Davis showed us where his knuckle was.  When he fired the gun his knuckle hit him and he ended up with a bloody nose.

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