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Pre-1964 Winchester Model 70 rifle

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  • Pre-1964 Winchester Model 70 rifle

    Couldn't help but get interested in the rifle Brigadier Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, 25th Chief of Clan Fraser and 15th Lord Lovat is carrying in a post Dieppe picture.

    Pre-1964 Winchester Model 70, very interesting rifle and just a few clicks on the internet I realized it has some connection with the Marines at Guadalcanal I just started reading about. I hadn't known it was the iconic sniper rifle.

    The United States Marine Corps purchased 373 Model 70 rifles in May, 1942. Although the Marine Corps officially used only the M1 Garand and the M1903 Springfield as sniper rifles during the Second World War, "many Winchester Model 70s showed up at training camps and in actual field use during the Pacific campaign." These rifles had 24-inch shorter barrels chambered for .30-06 Springfield. They were serial numbered in the 41000 to 50000 range and were fitted with leaf sights and checkered stocks with steel butt plates, one-inch sling swivels, and leather slings. It has been reported that some of these rifles were equipped with 8X Unertl telescopic sights for limited unofficial use as sniper weapons on Guadalcanal and during the Korean War.

    Martin Pegler in his "Out of Nowhere" book describes Lt. John George using one at Guadalcanal but also the fight of some Marine officers to get the Marine Corps to adopt the rifle. Have to get a copy of the book and check it out.

    and use in Vietnam

    Winchester Model 70 Pre-War

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    Last edited by OttoHarkaman; 07 Apr 20, 05:15.

  • #2
    The pre-war Winchester Model 70s in use were also an excellent design and equally competent for hunting or target use. A number of them, equipped with Unertl scopes,were tested by the Marine Corps in 1941, but eventually rejected. They were perfectly capable of 1,000yd (914m) shooting, but the Corps believed that adoption of a non-standard rifle would further compound supply and repair problems. Nevertheless, some found their way to the Pacific in private hands, where their effective use in combat was not lost on the Corps. The Winchester would surface again, when the Marines broke radically with tradition by adopting the M70 as the first sniping rifle that was not a military-issue long arm.
    Sniper Rifles: From the 19th to the 21st Century (Osprey Weapon)

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    • #3
      "The Beast, Father of Marine Snipers"
      George Owen Van Orden (September 9, 1906 – May 13, 1967) was a highly decorated officer of the United States Marine Corps with the rank of brigadier general. He is most noted for his service as executive officer of the 3rd Marine Regiment during the Bougainville Campaign, where he received the Navy Cross, the United States military's second-highest decoration awarded for valor in combat. Van Orden completed his career as director of First Marine Corps Reserve District in Boston, Massachusetts.

      He is considered to be the "Father of Marine Snipers" due to co-authoring in 1942 a Marine Corps report recommending adoption of the M70 rifle with Unertl 8X scope for military use (ultimately unsuccessful) and his subsequent role establishing the training program for USMC snipers.

      Van Orden assumed command of the rifle range at Quantico in December of 1939. The primitive scout sniper school fell under his purview. Van Orden and Marine Gunner Calvin Lloyd undertook formalizing the program. After extensive research, they published “Equipment of the American Sniper.” This expert treatise defined sniper usage and made specific recommendations for their armament. After testing hundreds of rifle/scope combinations, Van Orden picked his perfect match: a Winchester Model 70 bolt action with the 8-power Unertl scope. The USMC purchased limited quantities, but opted against the rifle’s adoption. The scope, however, was selected. Attached to the Model 1903 Springfield, the long slender scope entered WWII and became an icon of early Marine snipers.
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