Author: Dan Carlson
The journey that began on a kitchen tabletop in 1961 continues today across the globe as Cabela’s celebrates 50 years as the World’s Foremost Outfitter®. Cabela’s is offering a number of special products to mark this anniversary milestone, including a line of fine firearms that collectors and shooters alike will admire.
These firearms represent the culmination of a project that began several years ago when Cabela’s firearm business leaders began talks with several major firearm manufacturers. Their goal was to produce a series of exceptional limited-edition firearms along two main lines. One was to be period-specific to 1961 – guns as close as possible in every way to firearms hunters would find on gun store shelves in 1961. The other line was to consist of commemorative editions of classic firearms that would capture the essence of excellence Cabela’s is known for. Winchester, Browning, Ruger, Smith & Wesson and Cooper embraced the challenge and work began on the specifics of the designs in 2009.
Cabela’s firearms specialists spent countless hours researching which sporting arms were popular with hunters and shooters in 1961 and have stood the test of time. Our experts combed the gun libraries of Cabela’s retail stores to find period-specific samples to study. One of the first firearms chosen for the special-edition line was the venerable Winchester Model 70 in three versions. Winchester worked tirelessly with Cabela’s to re-create each with classic features that defined “The Rifleman’s Rifle” in 1961 with a few modern refinements.
Cabela’s special-edition Super Grade Safari Model 70 rifle is crafted as close to the original 1961 version as possible. It’s chambered in the powerful .458 Winchester caliber because it was a popular dangerous-game safari cartridge in the early 60s and able to take down any big game on the planet. Everything about the gun is pre-1964, including the contour of the 24" barrel and the controlled-round-feed bolt action. The Monte Carlo stock is constructed of Grade-III walnut with handsome and exclusive checkering that surrounds the grip and tang. The barrel and receiver have the same matte-blued finish as the original. The period-correct red recoil pad is a Pachmayr® Decelerator that makes shooting this powerful rifle more comfortable. The rifle is outfitted with a flip-over, 1960s-style express rear sight Winchester specially machined for Cabela’s to match the one on the originals. A Cabela’s 50th Anniversary logo is engraved on the floorplate. Only 500 will be produced.
To add even more authenticity to these fine firearms, Cabela’s invested considerable time and effort researching the authentic packaging and documentation provided with Model 70s in 1961. Working closely with Winchester, examining the few original boxes Cabela’s was able to locate and researching images of the boxes Winchester made in 1961 allowed the reproduction of boxes, labeling, price tags and owner’s manuals nearly identical to those 1961 Model 70s would have come with. Each of Cabela’s 50th Anniversary Winchester firearms comes with these accessories.
Cabela’s 50th Anniversary commemorative firearm collection also includes a special edition of the Winchester Model 94, a rifle that was produced for more than a century and holds the distinction of being the best-selling high-powered rifle in U.S. history. Production ceased in 2006, but Cabela’s brought back this classic, fast-handling lever-action rifle with understated. The Grade III walnut stock is combined with a richly blued crescent buttplate, receiver and 24" octagonal barrel. It sports a vintage button magazine that hasn’t been made on the Model 94 since the early 1950s for classic Winchester appearance. While the button-magazine, round-barrel version wasn’t in production in 1961, such rifles would have been common in used-gun sections of sporting goods stores at the time. Chambered in the potent .38/55 caliber, it is suitable for big game such as deer, elk and black bear. Original-style buckhorn sights lend functional vintage appeal. The Cabela’s logo appears on the receiver’s top strap and the muzzle has a handsome gold-wire wrap. Only 750 of these rifles will be made.
Ruger is also an enthusiastic partner with Cabela’s in its 50th Anniversary celebration, and firearm experts from both companies collaborated to create an exquisite special-edition version of the renowned Ruger No. 1 rifle. A number of caliber options were considered before the hard-hitting .300 H&H was selected because of the game-anchoring reputation it enjoyed in 1961. This rifle features a stunning high-grade walnut stock and Alexander Henry-style forend for stabilizing shots off shooting sticks. The stunning finish is a high-luster, highly polished, deep blue on the barrel and receiver. Renowned for the strength, simplicity and reliability of its design, the Ruger No. 1 features a lever-operated falling-block breech mechanism. The ejector mechanism is adjustable for ejection or extraction. A gold-plated Cabela’s 50th Anniversary logo appears on the bottom of the receiver, and the Ruger logo is displayed on the red rubber recoil pad. Sling studs are mounted on the barrel and rear stock. Only 500 of these rifles will be made.
Cabela’s and Ruger also felt there should be an affordable, small-caliber, heirloom-quality firearm in the commemorative line that a parent or loved one would be proud to present as a memorable gift to a young hunter. A customized, limited-edition version of Ruger’s venerable 10/22® rimfire rifle was the logical choice. The exquisite Circassian-walnut stock with a checkered grip and forend is outfitted with a red rubber recoil pad and laser-engraved with Cabela’s 50th Anniversary logo on the bottom of the pistol grip. Handsome blue finishing complements the stock and enhances the sleek looks of the rifle. Ruger’s reliable 10-round rotary magazine is included. Only 750 of these .22-caliber rimfire rifles will be made, and they are priced less than $400.
Cooper of Montana teamed with Cabela’s to create a Cooper Custom .22-caliber rimfire rifle unlike any other for the 50th Anniversary of the World’s Foremost Outfitter. The beauty and accuracy of this firearm are breathtaking and amazing. Because only 100 will be made, they are certain to become prized favorites of collectors. The splendid stock is crafted of hand-selected, high-grade-AAA walnut with a Neider-style inletted buttplate that extends over the top of the rear stock. It also has an ebony forend tip. The handsome wood and a richly blued barrel and receiver make the appearance of this rifle truly striking. A silky-smooth action feeds cartridges from the five-round magazine. Each of these rifles comes with a target shot at the factory demonstrating the tight groups this gun is capable of. The engraved buttplate commemorates Cabela’s 50th anniversary.
No Cabela’s commemorative line of firearms would be complete without a fine shotgun, and Browning rose to the challenge by offering a limited edition of its ultralightweight and fast-handling Citori Featherweight over-and-under 12 gauge. Its quick-to-shoulder straight-grip English stock is crafted of premium Grade-VII American walnut with a high-gloss finish, giving this firearm a striking appearance unrivaled by anything in its class. A super-light alloy receiver helps to keep the gun’s overall weight less than 6.5 lbs. The receiver features a Cabela’s 50th Anniversary logo, silver-nitride finish and high-relief engraving. The Citori single-trigger action sports a tang safety/barrel select switch and hammer ejectors. Full-, modified- and improved-cylinder Invector-Plus™ choke tubes are included for the 28" barrels, and the shotgun is chambered to accept 2-3/4" shells. Only 200 of these exceptional shotguns will be made.
In 1961 there were many outdoorsmen running trap lines, and household incomes in rural areas were often supplemented by fur trapping. Cabela’s handgun specialists turned to Ruger to develop an affordable, period-specific, limited-edition version of the Single-Six® .22 LR rimfire revolver, a popular firearm with trappers, plinkers and small-game hunters in 1961. To faithfully reproduce the box, a sample was located at a museum display of Ruger firearms and meticulously copied to match the box a new Single-Six would have come in back in 1961. Each of these revolvers has a Cabela’s 50th Anniversary logo engraved on the backstrap, old-style medallion grips and a special serial number. The gun sports a 5-1/2" barrel and satin blued finish.
Cabela’s handgun experts wanted to add an exceptional firearm to the commemorative line that captured the historical essence of a handgun shooter. Few people in the firearm industry during the 20th century could match the blend of colorful character and handgun knowledge embodied by Elmer Keith. In fact, the Cabela’s retail store in Boise, Idaho contains an Elmer Keith museum. Keith’s impact on the industry and his inspiration in developing the .44 Magnum handgun cartridge made the classic Smith & Wesson® Model 29 an obvious choice for a Cabela’s commemorative firearm. Experts at Smith & Wesson collaborated with Cabela’s to produce a version of the Model 29 that is as close as possible to what you would have seen in a sporting goods store in 1961. From the four-screw design to the Coke-bottle-style wood target grips and beautiful blued finish, this handsome revolver is a sight to behold. It sports a pinned, red-ramp front sight, adjustable rear sight with a white inlay and a gold-finished Cabela’s 50th Anniversary logo behind the six-shot cylinder. It’s chambered to shoot both .44 Magnum and .44 Special cartridges. An eye-catching wood presentation box with an engraved Cabela’s logo is included.
Cabela’s firearm specialists have worked hard for several years with industry specialists, historians, archivists and gun experts to develop this special line of firearms. It contains guns that will evoke fond memories of the past while offering shooting performance that rivals their contemporary cousins. From young small-game hunters to upland bird shooters and big-game hunters venturing to the farthest parts of the globe, every marksman and collector with an eye for quality and excellence has something in the Cabela’s 50th Anniversary commemorative firearm offerings to choose from. And though supplies of these guns are limited, Cabela’s work and research continues in order to offer you even more unique selections in the future.