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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Every gun collector worth their salt requires some kind of worthy collection-conundrum! From a gun show many years ago, mine! A ‘maybe-kinda…’ Dickson Howa Golden Bear prototype or more likely, weird knockoff. The Golden Bear itself, little other than an apparent knockoff Sako L61 Finnbear. Such though apparently quite well made according to contemporary accounts.


On mine, pix below, the nomenclature notably hand stamped, with appearance of work by inebriated four year old. Exemplary, chambering shown as: “30-60”. The barrel & receiver with five digit serial numbers differing only in the first digit, ostensibly rendering exactly thirty thousand production numbers apart! Digits on the tangent comparably sight irregular and appearing hand work. In contrast to all nomenclature, the rifle itself with appearance of quite decent quality! The stock skip-line checkering well executed.
A singular feature differing markedly from the Golden Bear and Sako Finnbear formats. Mine with action mechanism amazingly as cock on closing mechanism. I’ve never fired this rifle and considerably down the "To Do" list. Much more of a curiosity seeking reconciliation!
I’ve posted this rifle some years before, but with the ever-increasing revolutionary world of Internet, perhaps reaching someone who can shed additional light on this… Whatever it is!
Below, with pix. Any information, conjecture, etc; appreciated!
Best & Stay Safe!
John

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Interesting rifle! The Dickson-Howa Golden Bear was a direct copy of the Sako L61R action in the 1960s, and as a result of either a patent-infringement lawsuit or the threat of one by Sako, its lifespan was short.

Here's one currently for sale from a dealer of used Sakos in Texas, SakoSource:


Yours looks somewhat different--apart from the bizarre stamping on the barrel. The rails on the receiver dovetail on yours appear to be parallel and thus different from the tapered dovetail found on all Sakos. Have you tried vintage Sako ringmounts on it to see whether they would work? Hard to see that they would. In addition, the shape of the bolt sleeve on yours (more like a Remington bolt sleeve) is different from that found on L61R Sakos, and the stepped barrel contour is also different from that found on Sako rifles. And the cocking-on-closing feature is, of course, completely different from that of the Sako L61R.

I wonder whether it was, in fact, an early prototype as you have suspected. The strange and crooked stamping on the barrel, "Model Thunder-Bolt, Caliber 30-60 Win" also suggests that it was never a part of the inventory of Golden Bears actually put up for sale. So perhaps it was indeed a knock-off of a knock-off!
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This seems to be a rifle, the more considered, the greater expertise - such as yours SP; the greater conundrum. Whether the terms "fake" or "knockoff", the ultimate question of WHY such, aka motive! The stock is quality right down to the checkering. The fact that the barrel channel fits precisely the unusual barrel config, suggesting never a Sako product. The hands-on quality of the rifle from all to note, suggesting efforts and skill, (versus Bubba job suggested by nomenclature). The Sako rifle differences you note & beyond my skills, moving further from ever having been some kind of pieced together Sako product. The cock on closing, something of a large clue, never such Sako postwar sporters to my knowledge! The bottom metal also alloy and that too, not suggestive even of "tool room" model. The fact that the very nature of 'tool room models' in context of fundamental design, not typically reflecting finished, blued, stocked & checkered "out the door" rifles... Perhaps best making sense in a culture where such 'package' to be presented to quite hierarchical top management as nobles in court; Japanese culture. Obviously stretching here.

My conclusion to the moment. The nomenclature likely more misleading that useful! Whomever created this rifle, reflecting care, skill and professional ground-up build. Such totally inconsistent with the quality/content of every bit of nomenclature. "YSS" was a Japanese firearms manufacturer according to US Government indices where such worldwide firms listing en mass. But without further information or anything otherwise relevant on the Internet that I could ascertain, valueless.


My best guess, itself almost laughable, is perhaps YSS was engaged by Howa to produce certain one-off model(s) for consideration. Perhaps in view of Sako patents skirting. In that theory, the nomenclature perhaps added subsequent for any such application, something of Bubba - how to say that as a term, in Japanese! :) If as post 1968 US import, likely certain mfg/model/serialization nomenclature required... And here such supplied!
I will never shoot this rifle and do intend to tag it as "non-shooter/safety-undetermined" for future estate reference! My conclusion, consonant as noted above. Too good quality for Bubba. Adding too much work for one-off amateur ground-up build from scratch, too apparent quality for slap together, too dumb nomenclature appearing as 'slapped on' to have been part of original rifle creation. Conclusion: Possibly YSS firm contracted for producing test-bed tool room model for such as Howa consideration in process leading to Golden Bear production rifle. Also the entirely subjective observation, likely only a Japanese manufacturer to request/require a complete, quality stocked & blued "sample" rifle submitted for consideration.
To be continued....
Best & Stay Safe
John
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Mystery Sako... Not. Final Chapter as update. Without going into documentation, emerged bits & pieces of info. Connotation, the following may be too dull for most readers!

1. From Howa firm history Internet page:

"Howa presented the Howa Golden Bear bolt action rifle at the Chicago Shot Show in 1967. Approximately 3000 golden bear rifles were exported to U.S.A and passed all the tests at HP White Laboratory, which is one of the world’s most prestigious firearms testing laboratories. After the introduction of the rifle, Howa won the fame and acceptance in the U.S market." (Accompanying photo below)
3755937


YSS was factually a Japanese firm as noted above. I suspect - and nothing more than that - it was likely more of a machine shop for metal fabrications perhaps specializing in one-off custom orders. It may have long since sixties era disappeared; or morphed. The "YSS" firearms name is now clouded over by totally different firm(s) on the Internet.
A single YSS reference exists in a "High Road" Forum gun Thread with an inquiry concerning a rifle Sn 00001, firing the 30 Carbine round, a bolt cock-on-closing action. The point that the firm did produce other rifle(s). Interestingly, the reference having obtained his rifle among "a lot' acquired by Wisner guns in San Diego. The area I was (& am) living and acquired my rifle at local a gun show.
Final conclusion (really :)), tending to confirm that YSS did produce my rifle as nomenclature indicates. That it was a pre-production predecessor to the Howa Golden Bear. I further believe it was supplied to Howa as a barreled action from which Howa or another sub-contractor provided the stock. Since the stock mimicks the Golden Bear though inletting differing, more to suggest the Howa connection.
At this juncture... What does it all mean... Of interest to me as rifle owner. For anyone miraculously reading this far, ending in "so what". I do 'eventually' intend to try my set of Foster headspace gauges in '06 and if nominal specs... Reversing course, may ask a gunsmith to test fire it - with due caution. The barrel is rifled and 'presumably' suggesting firing condition. But as "proto-type who to know whether Howa specs provided for firing model.
Last point, responding to your suggestion SP regarding the dovetails & trying rings. I do have one of the nifty clamp-on aperture sights which should be a good standin. All hands-on, to be not sooner than spring when I next have my hardware out for annual corrosion patrol & general inspection!
Thanks for all the great info & guidance. In addition to referring questions concerning my Sakos in the prior post to the Sako Collector Forum, I may run this by them again, but if so, definitely in 'quicky-take' format!
Best & Stay Safe
John
 

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Interesting rifle! The Dickson-Howa Golden Bear was a direct copy of the Sako L61R action in the 1960s, and as a result of either a patent-infringement lawsuit or the threat of one by Sako, its lifespan was short.

Here's one currently for sale from a dealer of used Sakos in Texas, SakoSource:


Yours looks somewhat different--apart from the bizarre stamping on the barrel. The rails on the receiver dovetail on yours appear to be parallel and thus different from the tapered dovetail found on all Sakos. Have you tried vintage Sako ringmounts on it to see whether they would work? Hard to see that they would. In addition, the shape of the bolt sleeve on yours (more like a Remington bolt sleeve) is different from that found on L61R Sakos, and the stepped barrel contour is also different from that found on Sako rifles. And the cocking-on-closing feature is, of course, completely different from that of the Sako L61R.

I wonder whether it was, in fact, an early prototype as you have suspected. The strange and crooked stamping on the barrel, "Model Thunder-Bolt, Caliber 30-60 Win" also suggests that it was never a part of the inventory of Golden Bears actually put up for sale. So perhaps it was indeed a knock-off of a knock-off!
thinking they got in trouble read something yeas ago, that's faded in my mind.<><Dan or i looked it up last time you posted it<><Dan
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, gentlemen! :) First thanks for all the comments! Sometimes the "best evidence" available is the smoking gun. "Circumstantial evidence" of sufficient credibility for some stretch of further inferences. I don't have a shred of independent evidence 'conclusively' suggesting any particularly cause for my rifle 'in being'. What I do clearly have is a rifle itself. From examination it's one built with care and purposefully. It doesn't comport with any other rifle discovered as resulting from "exposing" it to available experts I'd expect to know if at all common. An accumulation of negatives, but for, again the clear fact of the rifle's existence and what I deem as good quality product. That 'opinion' from my half century plus of collecting an eclectic variety of modern guns, with particular focus on high power bolt rifles.
"Res Ipsa Loquitur": Latin, a principle in law loosely translated as "The thing speaks for itself." The "smoking gun" inference, speaking for itself. Here, a rifle speaking. Reflecting a likely significant investment in time, labor, engineering x 'multi skill-sets'. An amount in view of product, suggesting more than just "custom". A semi "clean sheet" design less than full, but well beyond "custom" parameters. Yet too, "similarity" to an existing market product rifle, the Howa Golden Bear.

What of the nomenclature present? The possibility of purposefully applied by the rifle maker. Opposite possibility, all creatively applied after leaving the factory and whatever initial purpose presumably achieved. The fact of rifle quality, set against the fact of totally contradictory indications by both script quality & especially of 'content' of that nomenclature... My opinion, too contradictory for assumption of rifle-maker application. One piece of information not amounting to any real evidence. "YSS" the purported manufacturer, did exist. It's listed in American Government indices within firearm maker standardized codes. Thus, an import of commerce to our shores and nation of origin as "Ja"; being Japan. No information providing any further insight to YSS, other than a Forum blog concerning a totally other type rifle bearing SN 001 and "YSS". My belief, my rifle may or may not be tied to "YSS" the firm. But that all other nomenclature was likely diversionary. For the rifle to be commercially imported into the US under 1968-later provisions of law, nomenclature and serial required (such without seeking special "for cause" exemption). The childlike work none the less, 'punching' the import ticket; meeting requirements.
What does it all mean. "Inference only and the least compelling nature"! That which says 'here's my theory considering the object exists and finding no better means to account for it. A likeness "inference" that "similar" Howa Golden Eagle product was evolved from such as my rifle as prototype (and quite possibly other prototypes). Arguing that theory worthy of respect until until disproven or displaced by a "more likely" postulation. And so what? Certainly, nothing here suggesting any 'special value' consequence. It remains what it is. Ostensibly nothing more. For me personally, an interesting short excursion!

Beyond, since obvious, of purposeful build, the possibility occurring to mind as "prototype". A firm investing in following up several marketing ideas/products. This one, not making the cut. Such considering the 'thing' in existence and to account for it, seeming "more probable than not."

I do 'love a mystery' of the no harm, no foul variety! My rifle, remaining my mystery, qualifying "with inference appended'.
If you've endured reading this far... With thanks
Best & Stay Safe!
John
 
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