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WWII Sales of Model 70s to US Government Agencies
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January 28, 2021 - 8:17 pm
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All-

I don’t know how much interest there might be in this topic, but quite a few people seem to be interested in WWII Model 70s and the later conversion of some of them into Viet Nam era sniper rifles.  Anyway, I took the time yesterday to go through the Winchester “Quotations and Orders” ledgers for 1942-1945 and extracted everything that related to M70s.  I put it all in the attached table.  This is everything I found.  Predictably, there’s almost nothing after 1942 since by 1943 the factory had switched over to making M1 Carbines and Garands:

WWII-Model-70-Quotations-and-Orders.pngImage Enlarger

If we assume that these ledgers are a complete (???) record of Winchester Arms sales to US Federal and State Government entities during the war years, it’s clear that there were only three sales of M70s (quotes resulting in orders) during the period that involved more than 50 guns.  The first was the “famous” USMC order for 373 Model 70 30 GOV’T’06 standard rifles (G7004C and G7014C) in April 1942. 

1942-USMC-Quotation-Order.pngImage Enlarger

I’ve seen a copy of a follow-up letter to USMC from Edwin Pugsley in July 1942 soliciting further Marine Corps orders for M70s, but apparently none were forthcoming.  Note that Puglsey references the previous sale of 373 M70s to USMC in the letter, so the numbers in the ledger tally with what was shipped.

Pugsley-Letter-July-1942.jpegImage Enlarger

There must have been other solicitations that went out, however, b/c there was apparently a BIG order from Secretary of Defense (S.O.D.) for 2674 M70s in August 1942.  That particular ledger entry doesn’t indicate the Catalog Symbol, but judging from the prices and Catalog Symbols of the earlier USMC quote, I’d say it was for 2388 G7004C (standard rifle with 22G sight), 232 G7014C (standard rifle with Lyman 48WJS receiver sight), 30 G7024C (carbine with 22G sight), and 51 G7074C (standard rifle with Lyman 57WJS receiver sight). The only other order of any size was a follow-up S.O.D. order in February 1943 for 57 additional G7004C.  

1942-SOD-M70-Quotation-Order.pngImage Enlarger

It’s not clear, of course, whether these S.O.D. orders were actually filled.  But they were placed, as the order/contract number was written in beside the quotation (in red pencil) if a quote was followed by an order.  Anybody have an idea how to check into this from the US Government side, as I assume those were the Government contract numbers?  If all those orders were filled then genuine WWII US Government-owned M70s must be pretty commonplace.

Several of the small orders that were filled are interesting as well… 

Some are clearly R&D guns, like a SMOOTHBORE 300 MAGNUM bull gun (G7093C) for the Naval Research Lab in May 1942.  Some might have been related to playing with “sniper” applications, like four (unknown) M70s factory fitted with G330 scopes for Springfield Armory in April 1942. 

Others are simply inexplicable…  In May 1942, SOD apparently bought four 30 GOV’T’06 standard rifles (G7004C) and four 300 MAGNUM standard rifles (G7009C) all FACTORY fitted with Lyman Alaskan scopes and G&H side mounts.  Why???  More sniper tests?  Deer rifles for Generals or Roosevelt Administration bureaucrats?  Or my favorite…  In September 1944, Winchester provided five (!!!) 375 MAGNUM Super Grades (G7057C) to the Rubber Development Corporation (presumably at taxpayer expense).  I can only imagine that some civilian contractor types were planning a junket to India to look at rubber plantations and decided to take in a little tiger hunting along the way (????).  ?

If anybody has a documented example of one of the USMC or S.O.D. ordered Wartime M70s, I’d love to get photos or information for research purposes.  Military markings, etc. The S/Ns of about 250 of the 373 USMC rifles are in a table in Chandler’s “Death from Afar – Vol I” (I don’t know the source of his information), but there may be a heck of a lot more out there with unknown S/Ns.

Hope someone finds this post entertaining!!!  Laugh

Lou

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January 28, 2021 - 10:18 pm
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Very interesting Lou.

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January 28, 2021 - 10:49 pm
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With the 1903A3 in full production (1,300,000+), hard to understand why any additional bolt-actions of any kind were needed, except a few for very specialized purposes, like big game hunting.  Esp. since the A3 had a better rear sight, & was in general more suitable for military service or any other gov’t service I can think. 

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January 29, 2021 - 5:32 am
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Lou

I truly had to giggle when I saw the entry about the S/G 375sLaughLaugh

I thought the same thing although maybe not India, mucky mucks on a hunting event at taxpayer expense.  

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January 29, 2021 - 4:54 pm
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Hi Clarence-

My suspicion is that these M70s were intended for Stateside guard duty, while the 1903A3 rifles were being reserved for troops overseas.  As you know, the M70 was never officially adopted as a US military firearm.  These ledgers are fascinating to look at, as the Government seems to have been buying up a lot of the existing inventory of firearms produced for civilian sales.  M97, M12, M24, M37 shotguns, M52, M70, M75, even M94 rifles, were being quoted and many ordered.  Sure… Some of the large orders for M97 and M12 were specifically for “trench guns” but some were not, and the M24 and M37 must have been for Stateside guard duty assignments.

Hi Deerehart-

Yeah…  I was trying to figure out what big game requiring a 375 MAGNUM might be found in the vicinity of places the “Rubber Development Board” might be planning to visit… Confused  You’ll note that on the last SOD quote for G7004C in February 1943, there was also a quote for one G7054C (Super Grade 30-06 with standard sporting sight).  The SG wasn’t ordered, but I have to conjecture that it was quoted at the request of some Pentagon mucky muck who wanted a new hunting rifle.  If you go through the ledgers, there was even one M21 shotgun that was quoted/ordered.  Another “perk” at taxpayer expense?  Or a guard duty gun for some Senator’s son in the service??? Wink

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January 29, 2021 - 6:00 pm
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Louis Luttrell said
Hi Clarence-

My suspicion is that these M70s were intended for Stateside guard duty, while the 1903A3 rifles were being reserved for troops overseas. 

Maybe that was the intention, but a poor choice for that use compared to a fast-handling ’94, or (better yet) a shotgun; probably not too many trained riflemen assigned to guard defense plants. 

As for the 373 acquired by USMC, Clark Campbell reported that, after examination, the QM deemed them unsuitable for sniper deployment, & went on to add that the Corps’ ’03s were more durable AND more accurate! 

Believe I’ve read that the A3s were assigned one to a squad (or was it platoon?) for use as rifle-grenade launchers (no launcher had by then been developed for the M1), so their distribution was limited.  I would not want to be that man armed with an A3 in a firefight!

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January 29, 2021 - 8:11 pm
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Hi Clarence-

I suspect that the Armed Forces, in general, were thinking very much along the same lines as you.  Compared to the mere 3100 civilian production M70s ordered, there were many more shotguns.  I’m not talking about the orders for thousands of M12 and M97 trench guns (that are also in the ledgers), but M12, M97, M37, even M24, shotguns that were quoted/ordered under their civilian Catalog Symbols.  They vastly outnumber M70s.

What is the Clark Campbell reference you cite above?  I’d like to read it.  I’ve read about the original report co-authored by USMC Col. (later Brig. Gen.) Owen Van Orden that recommended the M70 as a combat sniper rifle and the USMC decision to go with the existing Springfield 03A3 sniper rifles due to perceived weaknesses in the M70 design and the desire to avoid having another supply chain for spare parts.  But I don’t think I’m familiar with the Campbell account.

Heck, Winchester even built a prototype M70 “musket” that never went anywhere (it’s in the CFM).  As for as I know, the only “sanctioned” combat use of M70s related to the arsenal rebuilt pre-war USMC standard rifles that were outfitted in the 1950s with Winchester M70 (or Douglas) target barrels, (mostly) left in their standard stocks, and given surplus USMC Unertl 8X scopes.  Those, apparently, went to Viet Nam as a sniper rifle stop gap until the Remington sniper rifles were available.  Of course once in Viet Nam, Carlos Hathcock and his colleagues made them “famous”.

I’ve considered the “Van Orden Sniper” rifles made for Evaluators Limited in the 1950s to have been Owen Van Orden’s personal idea of an “ideal” sniper weapon.  M70 target rifle barreled action (G7044C) in an uncheckered standard style stock with Springfield National Match rifle butt stock dimensions.  It’s true that the military never agreed and that the hundreds of Van Orden “Sniper” and “Special Target” rifles that were purchased from Evaluators Limited were for marksmanship team (not combat) use.  But by then Brig. Gen. Van Orden was retired and his company could have Winchester build whatever he wanted as long as he could find a market for it.  Laugh

I’m still curious if anyone has any sources of information about the other 2700 (non-USMC) M70s that were ordered by SOD.  Were they delivered? Where did they go?  How were they marked compared to how the USMC guns were marked?

Thanks,

Lou

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January 29, 2021 - 9:50 pm
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Louis Luttrell said
What is the Clark Campbell reference you cite above?

I’m still curious if anyone has any sources of information about the other 2700 (non-USMC) M70s that were ordered by SOD.  Were they delivered? Where did they go?  How were they marked compared to how the USMC guns were marked?

Thanks,

Lou  

What, you don’t have Campbell’s ’03 trilogy?  He was writing about them long before Brophy, his first book in ’57.  The last & largest is this one:

https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=30829049361&searchurl=bi%3D0%26ds%3D30%26bx%3Doff%26sortby%3D17%26tn%3Dspringfield%26an%3Dclark%2Bcampbell%26recentlyadded%3Dall&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-title17

But this one, the 2nd., is almost as good:

https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=30722391480&searchurl=bi%3D0%26ds%3D30%26bx%3Doff%26sortby%3D17%26tn%3Dspringfield%26an%3Dclark%2Bcampbell%26recentlyadded%3Dall&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-title1

You can’t go wrong by buying it, but I paraphrased all he said about the USMC order, just a short paragraph; he wasn’t writing about 70s. 

Let’s not forget that Gen. Van Orden was in BUSINESS for himself.  And by his time the pool of ’03s had dried up, esp. the NM quality guns used to convert into sniper rifles.

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January 30, 2021 - 9:23 am
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Very interesting information and reseach.

 

As to some of the misalliances shotgun orders, some were used for the training of air gunners in addition to guard duty.

 

Regards

 

AlanD

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January 30, 2021 - 6:06 pm
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I don’t know much about military weapons or government purchasing but I strongly suspect purchasing firearms for sporting or recreational purposes is a likely occurrence. Some could have even been purchased as gifts. 

 

Mike

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February 6, 2021 - 1:58 pm
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Lou,

That is all very interesting, thanks for posting your research!

I just went through those ledgers last fall for the exact same reason except to cull the information for the Model 75 orders for my next book.  To answer your question whether the ledgers are complete and contain all of the Quotations and Orders, I am not sure if they are.  The total Model 75 orders and contracts listed in the ledgers are several thousand less than the number 16,937 quoted by Thomas Batha in his book “U.S. Martial .22RF Rifles”.  I am still trying to determine the source of his totals for the Model 75 because they do not match the WWII ledgers or other existing Winchester documents no matter which way you add them up.  I even tried factoring in the commercial 75’s sold during the same period but still cannot match his higher number.  So it is possible that there is some additional WWII government order info somewhere or Batha made a mistake in the total for the Model 75.  Let me know if you run across any other source for the government orders.  

Thanks and keep up the good work!

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August 6, 2021 - 1:11 am
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Louis Luttrell said
If anybody has a documented example of one of the USMC or S.O.D. ordered Wartime M70s, I’d love to get photos or information for research purposes.  Military markings, etc. The S/Ns of about 250 of the 373 USMC rifles are in a table in Chandler’s “Death from Afar – Vol I” (I don’t know the source of his information), but there may be a heck of a lot more out there with unknown S/Ns.

Hope someone finds this post entertaining!!!  Laugh

Lou  

Here’s my two USMC M70’s from the 1942 shipment, both of them are listed by serial number in Death From Afar vol. 1. These are the only serial number matches I’ve seen from Chandler’s list in that book, so I assume these rifles are pretty rare. I also have a bunch of original USMC M70 sniper rifle takeoff parts – stocks, barrels, etc.

Norm Chandler is a good friend and we’ve discussed these rifle extensively. After the Vietnam War, the RTE shop recalled all the M70 and M40 sniper rifles, and the armorers inventoried the guns and rebuild them. Chandler’s M70 serial number list came from this post Vietnam War inventory, these were all the known M70 rifles still in service in the Corps (both sniper rifles and original configuration sporters).

However, some M70’s in USMC possession were missed. I have no idea how they didn’t end up on the serial number list, but I know for a fact that there’s a handful of M70’s currently at the PWS shop (marksman stock/Douglas barrel configuration, so snipers and/or shooting team rifles). I’ve also collected about 10 more known serial numbers to add to the DFA serial number list.

Since the M40 became the primary sniper rifle for the Marines, the M70 became obsolete for field use. They took the best M70’s and turned them into shooting team rifles. The sporters that were in serviceable condition went out to various bases for BSS (Base Special Services) use, mainly to rent to Marines to use as hunting rifles. More than likely my two rifles were used as BSS guns, but could have also been used in Vietnam in this configuration (these rifles came from a Recon unit).

Another friend had an M70 with paperwork from a base in Japan, a Marine purchased it on his way home from Vietnam when the war ended. We think that it was a war used rifle and was sold on base as surplus after the war. After the war, the US government sold a ton of stuff and dumped even more stuff in the ocean, they didn’t want to pay to have it shipped back to the US. It’s not on the DFA serial number list, but it’s a legit USMC rifle with provenance. The CMP occasionally auctions off M70’s in the USMC 5 digit serial number range, none of those have been on the DFA list either.

Enough talk, here’s some photos of my rifles and parts:

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August 14, 2021 - 1:27 pm
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Hi USMCSGT-

Thank you for the information.  Very neat!!!  Laugh I’ve wondered where the DFA list came from!!!  

In your experience, are there any markings, e.g. inspector stamps or cartouches, on the stock of the USMC M70s that are still in sporter configuration (possibly still in their original stocks)?  I can see that the S/N was impressed in the pistol grip of the Marksman stocks you’ve got.  One sees a few M70 standard rifles in the right S/N range turning up in auctions (seemingly never on the DFA list), that have cartouche-marked stocks.  I’ve always been suspicious of those…

I also wonder about the 8-31-42 order in my table above, which was from SOD, not USMC.  If that order (which was placed – not just quoted) was actually filled, there would have been many more M70s in government hands than the famous 373 USMC rifles.  One of these days I’ll have to see if I can track down that later order from the US Government side.

Cheers,

Lou

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August 16, 2021 - 8:14 pm
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Good afternoon Lou,

Is it possible that S.O.D means something besides SecDef?  Reason why I ask is that the SecDef position, actually the entire Department of Defense was not created until the National Security Act of 1947.  This act renamed the War department the Department of the Army, made it equivalent to the Department of the Navy (Remember, SecNav & SecWar were originally cabinet level positions), and established the USAF as a separate and independent organization within the Defense Department.  

Perhaps the State Department?

I will try and research if there were any other possible organizations during the late 30’s.

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August 17, 2021 - 1:41 pm
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USMCSGT,

Do the scope blocks on any of your M70 Sniper rifles have any identifying stamps on the underside? 

Thanks in advance,

Ted

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August 17, 2021 - 8:33 pm
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Hi CHolms10-

Excellent point!!!  I really do not know what “S.O.D.” denotes as I cannot find it defined in the Quotations & Orders ledgers.  It shows up A LOT, so apparently Winchester knew it so well that they didn’t need to define it.  I’m sure someone here can answer!!! Laugh

The first few pages of the ledgers have a kind of “index” and I’ll put a couple screen shots below in case it helps someone figure this out.  That way folks don’t have to troll endlessly through the McCracken Library digital files to find this:

1942-Quotations-1.pngImage Enlarger1942-Quotations-2.pngImage Enlarger

Besides the ubiquitous “S.O.D.”, there are entries for “S.O.D. War Department” and “Springfield Ordnance District”.  Maybe different typists saying the same thing?  An intriguing one on the second sheet is “S.O.D. (J.W. Hession)”.  Major Hession, the famous long range shooter and winner of the Wimbledon Cup in 1932 had been, at least as of 1940, working for Winchester.  Perhaps someone can have more luck than I just had finding Major Hession’s posting in 1942.   Maybe that will explain it!!!

Help!!! Embarassed

Lou

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August 18, 2021 - 11:35 pm
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Lou,

Probably already known, but in March of 1942, Major Hession was listed as shooting promotion manager at Winchester.

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August 19, 2021 - 12:57 pm
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Thanks!!!  So Major Hession must have been the Winchester contact who requested the quote on behalf of S.O.D. or otherwise brokered the deal.  If anyone’s interested, order 293-42, the “S.O.D. (J.W. Hession)” entry in the ledger was a contract to purchase 2695 Model 75s:

Order-293-42.pngImage Enlarger

I’m sure JWA has already got all the WWII 22 rimfire sales cataloged!!! Laugh

Cheers,

Lou

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August 20, 2021 - 1:09 am
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Louis Luttrell said
Thanks!!!  So Major Hession must have been the Winchester contact who requested the quote on behalf of S.O.D. or otherwise brokered the deal.  If anyone’s interested, order 293-42, the “S.O.D. (J.W. Hession)” entry in the ledger was a contract to purchase 2695 Model 75s:

Order-293-42.pngImage Enlarger

I’m sure JWA has already got all the WWII 22 rimfire sales cataloged!!! Laugh

Cheers,

Lou  

 

Hi Lou, et al.

Yep, been there, done that with all the WWII .22 sales.

Since you are discussing Major Hession, here is an interesting .22 ammo crate I have.

In case my poor cell phone pictures don’t show it clearly, it was shipped to:

Major J.W. Hession

Winchester Tent

Camp Perry,

La Carne, Ohio

From

W.R.A. Co.

Div. of W. Ctg. Co.

New Haven, Conn.

It was a case of 10,000 rounds of Winchester All-X Match .22 Long Rifle (Staynless).  For those that are wondering why it says “La Carne” instead of “Port Clinton”, La Carne was an Army POW camp on the grounds of Camp Perry during WWII.  I have been to Camp Perry many times and it confused me too until I googled it.

I wish I had the original contents but the case is pretty neat nonetheless, just the addressee name makes it super-cool in my opinion.

I have wondered if any of it was used in the Model 75 training rifles, we’ll likely never know……

One of Hession’s early competition rifles is on display at the NRA Museum.  I have always liked the plaque inscriptions –

http://www.nramuseum.org/guns/the-galleries/wwii,-korea,-vietnam-and-beyond-1940-to-present/case-39-wwii-the-united-states/major-john-w-hession's-springfield-03-rifle.aspx

Best Regards,

 

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August 20, 2021 - 5:13 am
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JWA said

One of Hession’s early competition rifles is on display at the NRA Museum.  I have always liked the plaque inscriptions –

http://www.nramuseum.org/guns/the-galleries/wwii,-korea,-vietnam-and-beyond-1940-to-present/case-39-wwii-the-united-states/major-john-w-hession's-springfield-03-rifle.aspx

Photos of this famous rifle appear in many sources, but I’ve always been frankly suspicious that the Major’s magnanimous “donation” was a propaganda stunt…of which there were too many to count before & during WWII.  I mean, do you believe that the Brits were truly SO desperate that they handed such an exceptional target rifle off to some farmer in the Home Guard?  If so, I’d like to see some documentation of how it was used & to whom issued during the war.  If it was put into the hands of a a special sniper unit, I’d be more willing to believe that it saw some actual service on the home-front, although the Brits surely had their own sniper-rifles & scopes left over from WWI. 

 The rear mount is a rare Stevens Special double-micrometer, with 1/1600″ adjustments–the best rear mount made before Fecker introduced his own design in 1925.

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