SOLD FOR: $1951
Make: Winchester’s Custom Shop
Model: 70, 1968 Palma Trophy Match Rifle
Serial Number: 868684
Year of Manufacture: The serial number indicates that the receiver was made in 1967. This rifle was made for the 1968 Palma Trophy Match.
Caliber: .308 Winchester
Action Type: Bolt Action Rifle with Internal Hinged Floorplate Magazine
Markings: The left side of the barrel is marked “-MADE IN U.S.A.- / -WINCHESTER PROOF STEEL”, “-WINCHESTER MODEL – 70 308 WIN.-” and at the rear with an ovalled “WP” proof. The left side of the receiver is marked “WINCHESTER / -TRADE MARK-”. The right side of the receiver’s chamber ring is marked “868684”, found again hand-scribed on the bottom of the bolt. The right of the barrel is marked “- PALMA TROPHY MATCH -“.
Barrel Length: 26″, Extra Heavy Profile with Counter-Bored Muzzle (approximately 1.13″ at the front edge of the receiver tapering to 0.90″ at the muzzle.
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a Redfield International Match globe-style sight mounted to a sight block at the muzzle. The sight accepts interchangeable inserts, only the installed post insert is included. There is a longer sight block screwed to the barrel toward the rear and another short sight block screwed to the chamber ring. The bridge has a pair of drilled, tapped and filled holes. The left of the receiver has a Redfield WB-490 mount with a Redfield International Match aperture sight installed, adjustable for windage and elevation.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stock is a Marksman-style one-piece smooth walnut with beavertail forend, pistol grip, straight comb, serrated black rubber Winchester buttpad, a sling swivel mounted to the belly and an inlet 4″ accessory rail in the forend with a sling swivel and hand-stop installed. The receiver and chamber section of the barrel are glass-bedded with the barrel free-floating forward of the chamber. The stock has a few scattered light handling marks and small compressions. There is one more notable nick just below the left-rear of the receiver, a more notable compression on the right about 2″ in front of the receiver, and some thinning finish at the rear edge of the butt. There are no chips or cracks. The LOP measures 13 1/4″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttpad. The pad shows infrequent light wear. Overall, the stock is in Fine-plus condition.
Type of Finish: Blue, Black Anodized Bottom Metal
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is bright with sharp rifling. There is no erosion in the bore. Our gauge shows an ME of about 1.0.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 97% of its metal finish. The action shows minor operational wear. The controls have minor handling wear. There are a few minor marks in the bottom metal. Each side of the barrel has a cluster of minor marks about 2″ in front of the forend. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with serviceable slot. The markings are clear. Overall, this rifle is in Fine-plus condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. There is a safety mounted on the rear of the bolt. Pushed to the front, the safety is OFF. Rotated back all the way, it locks both the bolt and the trigger. If pulled back half-way, it blocks only the trigger. We did not fire this rifle. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: The installed sights are included.
Our Assessment: The Palma Trophy Match is one of, if not the most prestigious long-range rifle competitions in the world. Its history goes back to 1873, when the first International Long Range Rifle match was hosted by the Creedmoor Range in Queens, New York. Teams from Ireland the United States participated in this first match with a second match held in 1874 at the Dollymount Range in Ireland, with the United States winning both matches. The National Rifle Association of America organized the first Palma Trophy Match in 1876 to celebrate the American Centennial, commissioning a massive seven and a half foot trophy from Tiffany’s for $1,500 (nearly $40,000 in 2022!). The name was taken from the trophy, a replica of a Roman standard which had “PALMA” replacing “SPQR” across the top of the standard, Latin for “victory/valour”.
The matches consist of strings of fire at distances of 800, 900 and 1,000 yards. The first matches were fired with muzzle-loading rifles and there were simple overall weight and trigger weight restrictions. Matches were held intermittently with the rules for the 1901 match updated to require each nation’s team to use a domestic military rifle and in 1968 the rules were updated again to require that the team’s rifles be identical guns provided by the host nation. In 1968, 1971 and 1976, the United States hosted the Palma Trophy Match and selected the Winchester Model 70 for the rifle to be used by all competitors.
These rifles were not standard Winchester Target models, but rather rifles specially built by Winchester’s Custom Shop. The Palma Trophy Match Model 70 was never cataloged and never offered for sale to the public, only provided to the teams at the U.S. hosted Palma matches. The barrels used for the 1968 rifles were longer, heavier profiled and had counter-bored muzzles. Their actions and the chamber area of the barrels were glass-bedded to the stocks with the remainder of the barrels free-floating. Intriguingly, their receiver’s are slotted for clip-loading and the bolts were factory-jeweled. All of the observed 1968 Palma Trophy Match Model 70 rifles have been in the 86878 to 868733 serial range with a minimum of 40 rifles necessary to provide each of the shooters with a separate rifle, which strongly indicates that the rifles were all consecutively serial numbered.
This example of the 1968 Palma Trophy Match rifle is outstanding. It should be noted that the United States hosted at Camp Perry in 1968 and also won (as the American team would in each of the three years that the Winchester 70 was selected as the match rifle), though we have not been able to find documentation of whether this individual rifle was used by the American or the visiting Canadian team. The rifle has all of the correct features, markings and falls into the proper serial range of the 1968 Match rifles as well as being one examined by Bill Grant in an article he provided to the Winchester Arms Collectors Association about the Winchester Palma Match Rifles. This will make a truly exceptional addition to a Winchester collection or a collection of long range competition rifles and, with approximately 60 rifles made for the 1968 Match, an opportunity such as this doesn’t come by every day. Please see our photos and good luck!