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Q&A 2

This is the second session of LooseRounds.com Q&A.  If you have a firearms related question please email it to [email protected]. We will post the your questions anonymously and give you our answers.

Shawn and I thank Catherine Kim for the article she submitted and to thank Duncan Larsen for the articles he has submitted and for his help on our Facebook page.  We also appreciate the work CJ does as an editor on LooseRounds.com, he keeps us from looking as illiterate as we are.  Thanks also to Adam O’quinn for taking the 901 in action shots.

 

1.  How are the Surefire 60 round mags?

Howard:  Both Shawn and I own Surefire 60 round mags and we like them very much.  While we haven’t torture tested them, or run them very heavily, they appear to be good mags.  We recommend them, but be sure to test each mag before you rely on them.

2.  ar15 bolt face ring

Howard: Well that is not much of a question.  Normal wear on the bolt face may leave little pits, and a ring corresponding to the primer on the round.  If any pits extend into the firing pin channel, replace the bolt.

ARMY TM 9-1005-319-23&P and AIR FORCE TO 11W3-5-5-42 page 3-22 explain:

(a) Bolt faces with a cluster of pits which are touching or tightly grouped, covering an area measuring approximately 1,8 Inch across, will be rejected and replaced.

(b) Bolts which contain individual pits or a scattered pattern will not be cause for rejection.

(c) Bolts that contain pits extending Into the firing pin hole will not be rejected unless firing pin hole gaging check determines excess wear.

(d) Rings on the bolt face (machine tool marks), grooves, or ridges less than approximately 0.010 inch will not be cause for rejection.

3.  Winchester Model 70 used in Vietnam?

Shawn:  There were two types, one was the heavy barrel national match that had a target stock and a heavy barrel with a sporter stock.  The sporter stock model started off as sporters and then the Rifle Team Equipment (RTE) armorers added match heavy barrels.  Both were glass bedded and free floated by the RTE armors.

4.  Duty holster for 1911 with light

Shawn:  LooseRounds uses a Dark Star Gear holster kydex that can be used for IWB or outside carry.  Found it to be best of its type tested so far.

5.  scar 17 vs sig 716

Howard:  Right now you can get more parts and accessories for the Sig, such as cheap quality Magpul mags.  However as for company quality control and function out of the box, I would trust FN more then Sig.

6.  What cheap asian are good?

Howard:  Well, the following are optics and accessories are junk.  UTG, NcStar, Leapers, Counter Sniper.  Some of Tapco stuff is good, but much of it is junk.  ATI is similar with mixed quality items and plenty of junk.

The USMC M40 Sniper

The USMC decided to replace the Winchester model 70/Unertl combination  in late 1965  due to the recent changes to the M70 from the  pre 64  version and for a lighter  rifle scope combo that made quick first round  hits easier.  The MTU was tasked with coming up with a rifle suitable for the Corps needs for the new sniper program. The MTU conducted tests comparing COTS rifles and  scopes  currently on the market in December 1965 and January  1966. The testing concluded that the Remington 700- 40x target rifle and the Redfield accu-range 3x-9x  rifle scope the best  choice for standard sniping issue at the time.

The urgency for the testing resulted in only COTS rifles and optics to be tested by the MTU.  Due to the  pressure for a fast decision, the MTU worked with the following self imposed assumptions.

The cartridge used would be the the 7.62 NATO.

Most shots would be made at 600 yards or closer.

The scope would be adjustable  to 1000 yards

The rifle/scope should be capable of  2 MOA

The combo should be simple and robust and easily trainable.

After the MTU  finished the report they recommended that the rifle used be the remington m700-40x. The stock have a dull oil finish. Swivels be military type non removable. The rifle finish to be dull non=glare. The rifle barrel should be 1/10 inch twist, free floating and the action be clip slotted. The USMC wanted a 308 caliber rifle with a medium heavy barrel in a sporter stock and remington company made every effort to give them exactly that,

On April 7th 1966 the remington M700 with redfield scope was adopted for sniping use in south east asia. The USMC stated that nothing about the rifle was unique, just the right combination of parts.

The rifle was planned to be in service by June of 1966. the rifle had a expected service life of 10 years and was to manufactured entirely by remington which would furnish all support equipment for the rifle including optics, carry case and ammo.

The amount of M40 rifles produced by remington for the USMC by year is as follows:

1966/700 rifles

1967/62 rifles

1968/87 rifles

1969/137 rifles

1970/8 rifles

1971/ 1 rifle

By 1973 according to official documents, there was only 425 total density of M40 rifles still in service by the USMC.

The M40 was issued to be used with the Lake City M118 special ball match ammo. the USMC was the fist to use specialized match ammo dedicated for sniper use and the US Army followed.

The rifle was well liked upon first issue by personnel in the sniping and marksmanship community. Reports of the rifle easily shooting 2 MOA from bags with match ammo were normal.  Some problems with the redfield scope had already started to surface however, with complaints that it was not easy to adjust for range, would loose focus if turned to 9x and  the range finder in the scope would melt if the sun  was directly on the objective. The rifle can be uncomfortable during recoil with its light weight and metal butt plate. Marine sniper school students often used rubber shower shoes under their Tshirts during practice to damped the recoil and cut down on the pain.

The rifle was sent to Vietnam and was issued to scout snipers  who loved it early on.  A number of  famous snipers used the M40 to great affect. Chuck Mawhinney made his record 109 kills  using the M40 for most of his time and Carlos Hathcock using a M40 for his 2nd tour.

After  being issued and seeing service, the problems with the rifle/scope started to show. The rifle, nor the optic were meant for the tropical climate of asia or combat use but did preform well over all. The problems normal for the rifle was  the stock warping and putting pressure on the barrel, rust, the scope fogging and the ranging scale melting in the sun. To help the situation Marine RTE armorers were assigned to take care of the rifles and optics while the sniper were responsible for standard PM.  The rifle were soon found that they needed to be glass bedded often. The barrel channel had to be constantly check and rasped to keep the barrel free floated and the stock water proofed.  The trigger needed to be checked along with the action. Lube was needed often as it was with everything in asia and special “hot lockers” were made by the RTE personnel to dry out the scopes over night after operations to make sure they did not fog up when needed.

RTE personnel soon traveled to keep a check on the rifles and help keep them working. It was found not all losses were combat related. Sometimes a rifle could be out of action just from a ride in a truck. Most being out of action due to scope failure. Most scopes would be out of focus over 8x so the snipers learned to  focus only as high as 7x or 8x. Another problem was the optics would sometimes freeze in place if left at one power setting too long.  Eventually the snipers learned to watch the optics and glass bedding was authorized for the M40. The stock would warp so badly with  the un bedded actions that armorers would take the gun apart and find the action screws tightened so tight that they would not be making contact to the stock from warping and shrinking in the heat. Once glass bedding was OK to do the barrel was floated with 1/8 inch space between barrel and stock and waterproofed. Much of the problems were controlled with careful PM and use.

After most of the problems were understood the general attitude for the M40 was that accuracy was fine and the gun worked as meant and did well. Most liked it fine and felt the gun was almost the equal of the M70 used by earlier Marines. Few had the time and experience to have used both for sniping during the course of the war but Carlos Hathcock who did have the chance  thought the M70 better at the time but liked one as well as the other.

After the war the M40 was retained as sniper standard for the USMC and upgrades were made to the original rifle. Improvements included at SS match barrel, a Mcmillian fiberglass stock with a woodland camo patter and a 10x Unertl scope to name a few. The rifle was renamed the M40a1 and has remained in service now in the M40A5 form.

The gun used in the pictures in the remington 2006 scout sniper association re issue. A limited number were made to the same specs as the original. The gun came with a letter ot authenticity from Iron Brigade Armory who helped make sure it was correct. IBA has long been THE source for USMC sniper history.  The rifle came correct with the oil finished walnut stock, metal butt plate, barrel parkerized with matching receiver finish. The action is the remington 40x action that has been clipped slotted for stripper clips and has the left side drilled and tapped for rear peep sights. The serial number begins with the SSA ( scout sniper association ) prefix and has the correct U.S. stamped above it.

Standing in for the original redfield accur-range USMC contract scope is a modern redfeild painted green to resemble the original which is very hard to find. The original M40 came with the original redfield JR bases and rings along with the scope.  Badger arms made a limited run of these bases and rings for the M40 limited re issue and Leupold has a small run of green finished 3x-9x scopes for the same rifle. Neither was completely correct in make or type but was close enough for most wanting a clone or the original and a considerable amount cheaper.

Above is a picture of the original SHOT SHOW remington flyer for the M40 signed by 3 famous Vietnam USMC snipers  and members of the SSA, one being the president at the time, for the author. To the left is the gold scout sniper challenge coin that came with the rifle depicting a USMC sniper in the setting position with a winchester M70/Unertl.

The remington M40 re issue is a nice  rifle and a piece of history. They made a very small run  but if you are interested in sniping history  or the history of the M40 in USMC service it is worth your time to track one down. In 2006 the rifle was around 1100 dollars but would be higher today as everything is. But its a fast way to get started on a sniper rifle collection.

Winchester Model 70 Sniper: A Brief History

 

 

 

 

 

Five years before WW2 kicked off , Winchester started production of their masterpiece the Model 70 rifle.  The M70 was known as the rifleman’s rifle and was known as the highest quality factory produced sporting rifle of its time. Little really needs to be said about the quality of the rifle even to this day.  It does not take very long to find some one talking about the “pre 64 model70.”

The start of the model 70 finding its way into sniper use starts Nov 12 1942 when Van Orden and Lloyd  wrote a study on “equipment for the american sniper.”  The testing of the model 70 showed it to be superior to the rifles then in use by the military. Of course the military decided it was unsuitable for combat use because they worried the rifle was not sturdy enough for use by the average infantryman in war.  This, however, set the stage for the Model 70 to be remembered when something else was needed in tough times and US military sniping  was still in its early days.

The model tested by the equipment board was a .30-06 caliber with heavy barrel of 24 inches and sporter stock. The optic was the commercially produced Unertl 8x scope with target blocks and the provision for target iron sights.

In these early days Winchester delivered 373 rifles with unertl optics to the USMC  for testing.  After deciding not to use the M70 or the 1903, the Corps decided to go with the 1903a4 rifle for sniping use.  Though the M70 was not officially adopted for sniping use, it was reported by 1st-hand accounts that a few did see service against the Japanese in the early days of the US fighting in the pacific.

After the war, the rifles remained in the hands of the USMC for target use or to be loaned out for hunting while on leave and even given away as prizes for winning shooting matches.

After the war Winchester continued to refine and upgrade the M70 for highpower shooters. The model 70 was offered in three versions: the national match, the target grade and the heavy weight “bull gun”.  The difference of these models was in the stocks, barrel weight and length.

During the Korean war the model 70 was called up again to be considered for sniper use. One Ord. officer tried very hard to get the military to look closer at the model 70 by showing men in the field what a trained marksman with the M70/Unertl combo could do.  Several 1000-yard kills of chi-com troops were confirmed by Captain Brophy.  The USMC took another look at the Winchester but judged it the same as before, saying it was not durable enough for standard sniping use.

At this point the USMC had around 1000 Model 70s that are currently known of.  Around 1956-1963 the USMC had the existing in-stock Model 70s rebuilt into target rifles . The serial numbers ran from 41,000 to 50,000.  These are the rifles that would later go on to see use in the Vietnam war where the model 70 showed what it could do and went on to help make legendary status in the hands of Carlos Hathcock.

The M70s in stock after rebuild by the corps the have receivers slotted at the top.  The sporter lightweight barrels were removed and either heavy Winchester target barrels were installed or douglas custom barrels were used all in 30/06 caliber.  Existing sporter stocks in good shape were used but relieved to take the heavier target barrels.  If the sporter stock was in too rough of shape, the winchester marksman stock was used. The action and barrel was then glass bedded into the stock and 1 1/4 sling swivels were used along with metal buttplates.

At the end of this period, sadly, Winchester stopped making the version of the model 70 that would go on to be so desired. In 1964 the arms maker went on to change the rifle in many ways to make it cheaper and easier and faster to make.  I will not list all the changes here, but it was enough to damage the company’s reputation for many years and was something many fans never forgave.  It also ended any chance the M70 had of becoming sniper standard in the years to come.

In 1965 the war in Vietnam started to really heat up.  The need for snipers and sniper rifles was remembered after casualties from enemy snipers reminded the US military how effective the sniper can be.  Very early in the war it become apparent the M14 rifle was in no way useful as a true sniper rifle in current form.  In fact the army spent a lot of time and money trying to make the m14 into a sniper system and finally gave up in the 80s before going to a bolt action system.

In the early days of rifles being pressed into service as sniper rifles, the model 70 was the un-official USMC sniper rifle.  The first rifles sent to Asia to be used were from the third marine division rifle team.  These were the rifles rebuilt for use for highpower competition at Camp Perry.  One of the rifles was used by S/SGT Don L Smith to win the 1953 championship.

The rifles were used to great effect by many snipers during the time.  One of these was of course Carlos Hathcock to make most of his 93 confirmed kills in his first tour in Vietnam.  Hits were recorded out to 1000 plus yards with most kills falling into the 500-700 yard range for the more average sniper.

All Ammo used for the Model 70 snipers was the Lake City, NM ammo.  This was a 173-grain boat tailed FMJ match bullet at around 2600 FPS in the 30-06 caliber, the same ammo used at Camp Perry.

Most optics were the original WW2 contract Unertl scopes built for the USMC by John Unertl  in 8x. The power was actually closer to 7.8 but was marked as 8x.  Other powers were used but 8x was the most common. Other brands were used, such as those made by the Lyman sight company and some other optics companies which are now long defunct.  The optics, though of the highest quality for target and sporting use at the time, came up short in the humid jungles of Vietnam.  The scopes sometimes fogged in wet weather and had a small field of view.  The Unertl scope of the time period is still very sturdy and if you can find one today there is no need to worry about it not working.  The elevation and windage adjustment were external and the scope body is one piece steel making it tough.

The scope was a real weak point as far as the USMC was concerned and did not provide enough light-gathering ability and had a small FOV.  These are very important things for combat sniping.

model 70

As the need for more snipers and rifles became more urgent, the USMC needed more rifles.  Parts for the “pre-64 model 70 began to dry up since Winchester had stopped making the older, better rifle in 1963.  Because this version was no longer made and the new Model 70 was of decidedly less quality, another rifle was sought.  The corps ended up with the Remington M40x, a more refined target version of the M700, with a few changes they speced out themselves and type classified the M40.  Also the Unertl was replaced by the Redfield 3x-9x optic with a range finder. Both had their own problems in early use but went on to later become the M40A1. the M40A1 went on to use a more modern Unertl that replaced the problematic Redfield scope and is still in use on some rifles. the M40 is now the M40A5.

The M70 / Unertl was issued again right before the M40 was delivered. Fifty more model 70s with Unertls were ordered and converted to sniper use and sent immediately to vietnam by HQMC.

The model 70 Winchester was never officially issued for sniper use by the USMC or the Army but it saw a lot of service anyway.  The gun has since become legemdary.  The Army even tried the rifle suppressed for special operations use in Vietnam and fired a version of the .458 magnum round.  Many well known snipers during the Vietnam war used the M70 with Hathcock being the most famous by far.  When asked about the rifle he used during the war he stated he loved it.  It is no wonder.  If you have one of these truly fine rifles or get the chance to try one you will see why it was so highly regarded in its time.  Even before WW2 it was the most expensive sporting rifle made in the USA and you can see and feel the quality that made it so.  For years after ’63 it was a shadow of its former glory until Winchester brought the original action back with a few  upgrades to it to make it safer.  The M70 is still made with the Winchester name today by FN and the action is used by FN for their sniping rifles.

Link to   short M40  history

http://looserounds.com/2012/07/11/the-usmc-m40-sniper/

more vietnam USMC  equipment

http://looserounds.com/2012/08/02/usmc-scout-sniper-weapons-of-the-viet-nam-war/