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M70 US Property Marked
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November 23, 2022 - 3:43 pm
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I would like to know what the original configuration of this rifle was when shipped to the DOD,

It is a 40,000 serial number 30-06 heavy barrel, heavy target stock checkered metal butt plate,

this rifle was sent off by Air Force shooting team member for custom refinish not sure where maybe somewhere in San Antonio I believe,

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November 23, 2022 - 7:01 pm
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Steve Bell said
I would like to know what the original configuration of this rifle was when shipped to the DOD,

It is a 40,69XX serial number 30-06 heavy barrel, heavy target stock checkered metal butt plate,

this rifle was sent off by Air Force shooting team member for custom refinish not sure where maybe somewhere in San Antonio I believe,

  

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November 23, 2022 - 7:24 pm
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Hi Steve-

The McCrackin Library in Cody has a set of “Quotations and Orders” ledgers for the years 1942-1945, which is (should be) a complete list of Winchester products sold to US/State Government agencies during the war years (everything from guns to flashlight batteries and lubricants).  Some time ago I extracted the information related to M70s:  

WWII-Model-70-Quotations-and-Orders-copy.jpgImage Enlarger

Excepting for a few R&D guns, there are basically two big M70 orders in the ledgers.  One, from the USMC consisting of (373) M70 standard rifles in 30 GOV’T’06 (G7004C and G7014C depending on whether it had a standard 22G sporting or Lyman 48WJS sight).  The other, from S.O.D. was for (2593) standard rifles (G7004C and G7014C) and (81) 20″ barrel carbines (G7024C and G7074C).  So if your rifle was originally part of one of those orders, it would have most likely been a standard rifle in 30 GOV’T’06.  Insofar as I know, there is no more specific information available than this, e.g. by serial number.

Sometime after WWII, allegedly a order went out to gather up all the surviving USMC M70s.  At that time the serial numbers of (250) of them were written down.  This list is published in Chandler’s “Death from Afar Volume 1” but it is obviously incomplete as only 250/373 rifles were recorded.  Important to your question, some of these rifles were arsenal rebuilt into “sniper” rifles in the 1950s.  They received target weight barrels either purchased from Winchester (and so marked) or from Douglas.  If the stock was deemed serviceable the barrel channel was opened up and the standard stock used.  Otherwise, the guns were fit with Marksman (target) stocks from Winchester.  The famous Carlos Hathcock M70 Sniper rifle was one of these rebuilds, so some of them did find their way to Viet Nam.

If you would like to give the full serial number I can check it against Chandler’s list.  As I said, that list is incomplete and only covers a fraction of the USMC order.  So if your S/N isn’t there it doesn’t mean much, but if by chance it is you’d learn something.  Another question would be the barrel.  Is it a Winchester 24″ target barrel?  If a Winchester barrel, can you check the two-digit year stamped on the bottom under the chamber (it should be stamped with ‘”1906″ and a two-digit year)?  The Winchester barrels used in the rebuilds were from the 1950s, even though the receivers date to 1942.  So the exposed roll marks would also help date the barrel.

Hope this helps,

Lou

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November 23, 2022 - 8:08 pm
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Excepting for a few R&D guns, there are basically two big M70 orders in the ledgers.  One, from the USMC consisting of (373) M70 standard rifles in 30 GOV’T’06 (G7004C and G7014C depending on whether it had a standard 22G sporting or Lyman 48WJS sight).  The other, from S.O.D. was for (2593) standard rifles (G7004C and G7014C) and (81) 20″ barrel carbines (G7024C and G7074C).  Louis Luttrell said

  

Lou, for what principal purpose were these 70s ordered? 

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November 23, 2022 - 8:50 pm
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Hi Clarence-

Hopefully someone with more knowledge will chime in… Laugh

My understanding is that they were intended for Stateside use, e.g. guard duty, etc.  Presumably like the bunches of M97, M12 and even M37 shotguns that were ordered from regular production inventory.  On larger bases, some were eventually used as “loaner” rifles to servicemen for hunting.  Several of the ones that weren’t converted to sniper rifles were eventually (1960s-70s) given away as “prizes” for winning base shooting competitions.

The use for which they were NOT intended was combat.  As far as I know the M70 was never officially adopted as a combat weapon by any branch of the service.  The M70 “sniper” conversions that did go to Viet Nam were in the hands of specialized sniper units like Hathcock’s.

I’m not even sure whether the larger S.O.D order for (2674) M70s was ever filled (partially or completely).  There was a “quote” to S.O.D. and there was an “order” from S.O.D. recorded in the ledger, so there’s a good chance it was filled.  But I not have run across other/independent accounts of these rifles or where they went.  The 373 that were to the USMC were definitely delivered.  There is even a followup letter to USMC from Edwin Pugsley in 1942 that refers to the prior 373 rifle shipment and details how many M70s were still in stock at the factory.

Pugsley-1942-Letter.jpegImage Enlarger

Best,

Lou

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November 23, 2022 - 10:14 pm
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Louis Luttrell said

My understanding is that they were intended for Stateside use, e.g. guard duty, etc.  Presumably like the bunches of M97, M12 and even M37 shotguns that were ordered from regular production inventory.  On larger bases, some were eventually used as “loaner” rifles to servicemen for hunting. 

  

Poor choice for guard duty, compared to, say, a Model 92 or shotgun.  Or a 1903A3 equipped with bayonet.  I’d heard some were made available to officers, but that’s a large no. for such a limited purpose. 

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November 24, 2022 - 3:50 pm
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Hi Clarence-

True…  It may have been a bit if a “beggars can’t be choosers” situation.  Wink I suspect that at the outset, the US armed forces found themselves in the position of having to post military guards in many more locations than in peacetime, e.g. civilian factories and government offices deemed to be potential targets for sabotage.  The Springfield 03A3s in-hand were likely assigned to soldiers in combat/training units, since early in the war they didn’t have a million Garands and M1 carbines to issue.  Within a year or so, the supply of more capable combat weapons for real front line soldiers would be greater, and the stop gap second line Stateside M70s were probably retired…

The M70s (rifles and a few carbines) purchased by USMC/SOD were 30 GOV’T 06, so unlike a M92 or M94, they used the standard government cartridge.  Moreover, the number of civilian production shotguns (not contract trench guns) purchased was far greater than the number of M70s.  So the authorities were likely thinking like you as to the greater utility of a 12 gauge for guard duty.  But they even bought thousands of M37s, which wouldn’t be a very good choice either…

FWIW… There’s record in the Porter catalog of maybe a dozen pre-war M70 30 GOV’T’06 carbines that were surplussed from the California penal system in the 1990s.  Probably issued to prison guards in towers…  Maybe the WWII military had similar ideas about where a M70 rifle might be serviceable (if not optimal).  I sure wouldn’t want a M70 if standing guard at a vehicle checkpoint (or a M37 for that matter)!!! Laugh

As to the OP’s original question, the earliest/latest of the (250/373) USMC serial numbers recorded in Chandler’s book are 41222 and 50784.  

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! Laugh

Lou

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