30-80 WCF aka 308 WINCHESTER

Excerpted from my article, JOURNAL Issue # 463

As early as 1948, Winchester was considering the development and marketing of a new bolt-action rifle costing less (cheaper) than the popular Model 70. Designated the Model 80, records indicate that one of the first prototype rifles, caliber not recorded, was tested to destruction. Three other Model 80 rifles, in 30 caliber, appear on Winchester firearms reference collection data sheets but their whereabouts is unknown. The Winchester Collection, Cody Firearms Museum, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, in Cody, Wyoming houses four surviving prototype rifles, three right-hand and one left-hand bolt actions, with non-detachable box magazines, open sights and chambered for a developmental cartridge called the 30-80 WCF. One other rifle chambered for the cartridge is based on a Model 70 action, with a 21 3/4" lightweight barrel. This could be a prototype Model 70 Featherweight rifle.

So, what is this 30-80 WCF cartridge? References tell us that Winchester was contemplating using the FAT1E3 case as the basis for commercial cartridges in several different calibers ranging from 224 to 358. The original 30 caliber was the most likely candidate to be first in the series and, with the prototype Model 80 rifle as the test platform, designating the cartridge as the 30-80 WCF was only logical.

There are no cartridges that actually have a 30-80 WCF headstamp that I

So winchester was planning to market an entire line of cartridges based on the same case with bullet diameters raging from 224" to 358" but were later marketed only the 6 mm and the 358" versions as 243 winchester and 358 winchester?


They were “considering” it. They ended up with the 243, 308, and 358. I will do a short article on the 243 later. They also considered the .18 caliber but thought it too small for any commercial value.

Don’t forget, Winchester had the contracts to produce the SALVO cartridges in 18, 22, 25, 27 and 30 caliber. So, they had an inside track to the FAT1E3 case. Of course, Remington had an inside track to the 5.56x45 case and they introduced the 222 Remington Magnum and the 223 Remington.

Spread the $$$ around.



Regarding the slightly shortened case length of the .30-80 (1.960"-1.980" per your article, for a nominal 50mm) vs. the FAT1E3 (nominal 51mm), I was wondering if you had any new insight on the reason for on this change? It would be neat to be able to measure the magazine well length on those museum pieces to see if that 1mm would make sense.

Very interesting history there. Keep the mini-series going. Might encourage folks to join the IAA so they can enjoy your articles in their full length glory…



I never did find anything more as to why the case length. I still assume it had to do with the magazine of the M80 rifle. You wouldn’t think that small an amount would make much difference, though. Maybe it is simply manufacturing tolerances.

I sure wish I could find an IAA member who would go by the Cody Museum and get permission to handle those rifles. But, it’s not very likely that they would permit it. I buttered and begged the Curator for access to them but was turned down. Bureaucrats!!! I got even, sorta. I didn’t send him a copy of the article.