A Van Orden Model 70


This is a pretty good write up of a Pre 64 Model 70 bought through Evaluators LTD. Though it is full of mistakes about the USMC Model 70s used in Vietnam and the roll Van Orden played in that. Which is none actually. A common mistake made by people. You can see my write up on the history of the guns on this site to see the real story. The rest is pretty solid . Post came from the facebook group in the water mark of the first image.

In July 1952 a wooden crate was delivered to the quarters of Robert Gates on Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The crate was from Evaluators Ltd in Quantico Virginia. Evaluators Ltd was a weapons contractor which specialized in military and law enforcement firearms and which had recently begun delivering on a contract with the US Marine Corps for the newest generation of USMC sniper rifles. The new sniper rifle was based on the Winchester model 70 target rifle, tweaked and accurized by Evaluators Ltd. The design of the rifles and oversight of the contract had been entrusted to Brigadier General George Van Orden, inevitably resulting in the rifles becoming known as “Van Orden sniper rifles”. Not even close to true. Van Orden and his company did sell rifles he ordered from Winchester in certain configurations and they did get the name “Van Orden Sniper rifles” But they were never bought by the military/USMC and never saw combat. they were private use only.-Shawn

For Gates, the crate delivered to his quarters did not contain a rifle issued to him by the military. Instead, his was among 59 Van Orden snipers which were special ordered by private individuals.

As Gates opened the crate, inside was a brand new model 70 chambered in .30-06 and in what Evaluators Ltd had named the “SPECIAL TARGET” configuration. The serial number was 220619. At first glance, the stock was a factory target stock, but on close examination it had some changes to pitch and length of pull which were made at the direction of Brigadier General Van Orden. The rifle had scope blocks which were ready for a Unertl 8x target scope, which was not included with the rifle. What was included was a 60-pt Lyman 48 WH receiver sight and Lyman 77 globe style front sight. Gates’ rifle included one additional special feature which he had special ordered – his rifle was fitted with a stainless steel barrel finished in Winchester’s distinct silvery satin “iron plate” bluing.

Until yesterday I could only imagine Gates’ excitement as he opened the crate and first laid eyes and hands on what he knew was truly a one of a kind rifle. Last night I was able to experience a bit of what Gates must have felt after a special delivery arrived here. Inside was serial number 220619, still in the same pristine new condition as when Gates first received it. The rifle is breathtaking. We plan to study it and document it before making it available for sale later this year. In the meanwhile, we will post more pics and will share our learnings with you along the way.


  1. I find it jarring and incongruous how crude the crown is. It looks as though it were just sawed off, or someone took some rough sandpaper to the crown.

    For target crowns, I like the recessed/counterbore crown or an 11 degree conical crown. But the above looks as tho there isn’t any crown at all.

    In general, I’ve found that crown changes affect accuracy, but not precision. ie, a rifle might still group quite well with a really crappy crown (or a damaged crown), but the point of impact might change with crown damage.

    • All pre 64 target and varmint barrels have a 90 degree crown from the factory. All the ones I have ever seen anyway. LIke you I prefer a 11 degree or recessed crown though. just for protecting it more than anything.
      Years ago one of the writers for Precision Shooting took a barrel and cut all kinds of crazy angled crowns on match barrel and installed it on a BR gun and shot it. groups stayed nice and tight but it did shift the POI low/high/left/right I will try to dig that issue up later


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here