Despite the ravages of the Great Depression, Winchester released two of its finest rifles in the mid-1930s: the Model 70—the “Rifleman’s Rifle”—and the lever-action counterpart, the Model 71. Chambered for the new .348 Winchester cartridge, the Model 71 was designed to replace both the Model 1886 and Model 1895, and the .33 Winchester and .405 Winchester cartridges they were chambered for.
The .348 Winchester ammunition used three bullets of nominal diameter, weighing 150, 200 and 250 grains. The 250-grain load was fully capable of taking any and all North American game, including the brown bear and bison. Marketed as “the world’s newest universal big-game rifle”, the Model 71 developed—and still has—a devout following, in addition to being highly collectable. The rifle was discontinued in 1958 (having been replaced by Model 88 and the .358 Winchester cartridge), with the exception of a brief run by Browning in 1987, and recent limited reissues by Cimarron and Winchester.
Ammunition has been an issue since the 60s, when Winchester dropped the 250-grain load, but for 2019 the .348 Winchester gets a facelift. Hornady has added the classic cartridge to the LEVERevolution line, using the 200-grain FTX bullet. With its proprietary Flex-Tip meplat, the FTX bullet is perfectly safe to use in the tubular magazine of the Model 71 (and so many other lever guns) yet offers the downrange benefit of a spitzer bullet, expanding the range of the lever gun cartridges significantly, when compared to the flat nose and round nose bullets that are usually employed.
Leaving the muzzle at 2560 fps, the 200-grain Hornady load produces nearly 3,000 ft.-lbs. of energy at the muzzle, and when zeroed at 200 yards, drops 11 inches at 300 yards. Hornady has given the perfect excuse to take that classic Model 71 out to the deer woods this fall.