POTD: A Different Hunt – Vietnam Era Winchester M70
Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here we have another Vietnam-era firearm. This is a Winchester Model 70 (M70) that has a Unertl 8x telescopic sight mounted on it. This particular M70 rifle is a sniper rifle made for the USMC during the early part of Vietnam. At the end of World War Two, the United States had replaced the M1941 Sniper Rifle with that of an M1C or M1D rifle. These rifles had fixed 2x scopes and acted more like designated marksmen rifles. There was very little literal precision in these guns. This became very apparent to advocates of the snipe rifle and they pushed the military to search for an alternative that was more literal. The first real result was the Winchester M70 with a heavy barrel and sporter stock. These M70 rifles were never fully adopted but they were issued to troops. During the Korean war, there are instances of specialty sniper troops bringing their own 30-06 rifles to act as their sniper rifles instead of using the M1C or M1D.
“Winchester Model 70 “standard Rifle” manufactured in 1941 with medium-heavy target barrel and “U.S.M.C.-SNIPER” Unertl telescopic sight. The rifle retains the original style sporter stock with checkered pistol grip and forearm and steel checkered buttplate. The Marine Corps utilized Winchester Model 70 rifles in this configuration in 1966 and early 1967 as the primary sniper rifle until the adoption of the Remington Model 700 sniper rifles in mid 1967. This rifle is the same as the Model 70 sniper rifle used by famed Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock near Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam, in 1966. Most of the Model 70 sniper rifles issued by the Marines to snipers in the early stage of the Vietnam War were pre-war or early WWII production Model 70 .30-06 Standard Rifles purchased during WWII. These rifles were subsequently used for recreation and target shooting. In 1966, the Marines determined that the M1C and M1D Garand sniper rifles lacked the accuracy required for operations in Vietnam and modified the available Model 70 target rifles and standard rifles to sniper configuration by fitting them with the 8x Unertl “USMC-SNIPER” telescopic sights mounted on the Springfield M1903A1 sniper rifles during WWII and the Korean Conflict. The Model 70 Standard Rifles were fitted with Winchester medium-heavy target barrels in modified stocks and the Unertl telescopic sights. The stock were fitted with 1 1/2-inch sling swivels. Some of the stocks were fiberglass bedded. This rifle is illustrated and described on pages 66 and 67 of “The One Round War” by Peter Senich. The serial number of this rifle, “48213” falls within the serial number range of Marine WWII Model 70 rifles listed on pages 49-50 of Death from Afar Volume 1″ by Chandler & Chandler but is not included on the list. This rifle has all of the characteristics of the Marine Model 70 sniper rifles issued in Vietnam c. 1966. The barrel, receiver, bolt handle, cocking piece trigger guard, and buttplate have the Winchester charcoal blue finish. The bolt body is polished bright and electro-penciled with the rifle serial number “48213”. The stock is nicely figured American walnut with checkered forearm and pistol grip and has the Winchester semi-gloss varnish finish. The medium-heavy target barrel is a post war replacement. The left side of the barrel has the standard Winchester legend and trademark followed by: “MODEL 70-30-06 SPRG.-“. Oval Winchester “W/P” proof marks are stamped on the left side of the barrel and receiver. “WINCHESTER/-TRADE MARK-” is roll stamped on the left side of the receiver rail. The serial number, “48213” is roll-stamped on the right side of the receiver below the rear sight base. The rifle has no Marine or U.S. property marks on any component. A Lyman micrometer sight base is mounted on the left side of the receiver. The WWII U.S.M.C. Unertl 8X telescopic sight has a charcoal blue finish and is fitted with anodized aluminum Unertl target mounts on Winchester bases. The scope tube is roll-stamped: “J. UNERTL/USMC-SNIPER” in two lines above the serial number “2232”. The scope has a fine crosshair reticle and is fitted with screw-on steel lens covers.”
Lot 3542: Rare and Well Documented Winchester Model 70 U.S.M.C. – Outstanding, Rare and Well Documented Winchester Model 70 U.S.M.C. Bolt Action Sniper Rifle with Unertl Telescopic Sight. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/74/3542/rare-and-well-documented-winchester-model-70-usmc.