Military Surplus Guns You Can Still Afford

affordable military surplus rifles

Arielny2011 [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Oh, the days when military surplus guns like a Mosin-Nagant could be had by the armful for about $100 each, along with all the corrosive steel case surplus ammo you could shoot. Those were the heady days back when I had hair, my knees didn’t make weird noises, and I even had some self-esteem.

Just kidding; I never had any self-esteem. But one digresses.

Granted, most people piss and moan about not being able to get an SKS anymore, which is understandable, but the fact of the matter is you actually CAN get some military surplus rifles these days at decent prices. Time, tide and inflation wait for no man, so they ain’t as cheap as they used to be…but they aren’t THAT expensive.

Some of them, however…well just forget it. M1 Carbines? You can get a repro, but not a legitimate vintage model. 1903 Springfields and M1917 Enfields? Dream on. Actual German Mausers from WWII? Vergeßen Sie. And so on.

But which military surplus guns are still out there that you CAN still afford? Rifles that you actually could pick up for not too much money?

Here are a few to look for.

Mosin-Nagant

Mosin-Nagant Rifle

Mosin-Nagant. Credit: Armémuseum (The Swedish Army Museum) – Armémuseum (The Swedish Army Museum) through the Digital Museum (http://www.digitaltmuseum.se)

First on the list is still going to be the Mosin-Nagant. While they certainly aren’t as reasonably priced as they once were, they’re not RIDICULOUSLY expensive either. There are plenty of them in circulation. The Russians made more than 30 million of them. Every time I go to Cabela’s, there are about 10 of them on the used gun rack.

For those unaware, the Mosin-Nagant was the service rifle of both Imperial and Soviet Russia, from the end of the 19th century until the adoption of the AK-47 in the post-war period. It’s a tough bolt-action rifle, firing the 7.62x54mmR cartridge.

Some variants used by other countries are chambered for different rounds, such as the 7.62x53mmR in Finnish variants and rifles captured by various other governments that were re-barreled for use with their military cartridges (German captures were repurposed for use with 7.92x57mm Mauser). The rifle holds five rounds in its internal magazine, and it can be used with stripper clips.

7.62 Russian is broadly comparable with the .308 Winchester. Granted, most ammunition you’re going to find is FMJ, so if your thought was to get an iron-sight gun for hunting, you might need reloading equipment to go with it.

Will you pay more than you arguably should for a very old gun? Yeah, but they’re still affordable enough, usually starting at about $250 or so.

Mausers

While German Mauser military surplus rifles are rare and (too) expensive, there ARE some Mauser rifles that you can pick up for not too much geld. A number of countries started making them at various points for various reasons that we won’t get into (one could literally write a book about the gun) but suffice to say that Mausers of non-Teutonic origin are plentiful and some can be acquired reasonably.

Turkish Mausers are a good example. You can have this Turkish delight on a moonlit night without draining your wallet too much; often they’re priced in the $250 to $400 range, though your mileage will vary. They’re commonly chambered for the 8mm Mauser (7.92x57mm) cartridge, broadly comparable to .30-06 but with a .323-caliber bullet for those unfamiliar.

It’s all the stuff you could expect from a 98k-pattern Mauser: five-round internal box magazine, can be loaded with stripper clips, the safety flips left-to-right and a straight bolt handle.

Fun fact: many Turkish Mausers were actually made in Germany, but given to the Ottoman Empire and converted to their M38 specifications, but many M38 Turkish Mausers were made in Turkey as well and spotting the differences is the devil’s own job.

Why did the older Mausers get the works? That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

Speaking of Mausers, also keep an eye out for two additional variants.

M24 Mauser rifle

M24 Mauser. Credit: Armémuseum (The Swedish Army Museum) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

M24 Mauser rifles were built by Fabrique Nationale (FN) and were sold to various militaries around the world. It’s a licensed copy of the 98k and most are chambered in 7.92x57mm, though you’ll find some that use a different caliber, such as 7.65mm Argentine.

There are a few different variants with differing specifications and barrel lengths, such as the M24/47, M24/30, M24/52C and others. Again, I’m skipping a lot for the sake of brevity because you could – seriously – write a book about all the minutiae involved in all the different Mausers made and sold around the world.

Most common will be Yugoslavian M24/47 rifles, which can be picked up in the $300 to $400 range. Provided the barrel and action is in good working order, they are excellent big-bore plinkers and iron-sight hunting rifles. Expect the stock to have been beaten like a rented mule.

Yugoslav M48 Mauser rifle

Yugoslav M48 rifle. Credit: Szuyuan huang at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

A related rifle is the Yugoslav M48 rifle. The M48, manufactured by Zastava, looks almost identical to 98k rifles but the action was changed to be a little simpler to manufacturer as well as a little shorter, despite chambering the same cartridge. Many are still in excellent condition due to fastidious storage by the then-Yugoslav government, so you could expect to find one for not too much that’s still in decent shape.

If you were to ask me, those two would be my preferred purchase from this list.

Arisaka

These days, some of the cheapest military surplus rifles to pick up are Japanese Arisaka rifles, which were in the service of the Empire of Japan. Two commonly-found variants are out there, the Type 38 and Type 99. The Type 38 chambers 6.5mm Japanese Arisaka and the Type 99 chambers 7.7mm Japanese Arisaka. I don’t know why the ammunition industry named it “Japanese Arisaka” since there’s no other kind, but one digresses.

Japanese Arisaka rifle

Arisaka 38. Credit: Ca.garcia.sOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

They’re typical military rifles of the time, bolt-action with a stripper-clip loading internal box magazine holding five rounds. They’re good rifles, being lighter by 1 to 2 lbs than other rifles of the day (easier to carry) and accurate.

The 6.5mm and 7.7mm rounds are a bit weak compared to 7.62mm Russian and 7.92mm Mauser, but on the plus side are a bit easier to tolerate the recoil from. 7.7mm Arisaka is roughly comparable with 7mm08 Remington, though a little bit slower.

Japanese Arisaka type 99 rifle

Arisaka Type 99. Credit; Tom LoghrinOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

However, there’s a reason you can get them cheap, and that’s because ammunition isn’t easy to come by. There are some companies out there making 6.5mm and 7.7mm JA (and you can find in from some of the larger online retailers), but don’t expect to ever find any in your local gun store. Provided you can come up with a source of ammunition, Arisaka rifles have strong actions and make dandy hunting rifles with proper bullet selection.

SKS

If you want a surplus semi-automat rifle, you can still get an SKS…but expect to shell out a bit more. It’s not unheard of to find them for around $500, and sometimes a little less. You might as well forget the ones made in Eastern Europe; the Chinese models are going to be the most affordable.

Norinco SKS semi-automatic rifle

Norinco SKS. Credit: JonmallardOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

It used to be that you could get an SKS and get all the fun of an AK-47 without as much expense as it’s a semi-automatic rifle in 7.62x39mm. Today, you have to pay a bit more for the privilege.

Not ideal, to be sure, but not completely unobtainable.

Other military surplus guns are just getting too rare or too expensive. Feel like I left one or two out? Sound off in the comments!

comments

  1. avatar No one of consequence says:

    I occasionally see some straight-pull K31s (I think – im not looking at one at this exact moment) at the local Cabela’s. Any thoughts on these?

    1. avatar Draven says:

      the ammo isnt exactly plentiful, the bolt is … well, like a swiss watch… but they are accurate as all get out.

    2. avatar Wedge259 says:

      Great rifles, but the price is rising steadily on them. Ammo isn’t a huge concern ,PPU makes high quality new production ammo in fmj and soft point, with excellent boxer primed brass for reloading. Uses standard 308 projectiles so it’s very easy to reload for.

      1. avatar Southern Cross says:

        Reloading is an absolute must with many of these calibers. Even then it can be tricky as some use non-standard projectiles as well.

    3. avatar Alan says:

      They too have undergone significant price increases.

    4. avatar doesky2 says:

      The surplus ammo GP11 is essentially match grade.
      It will appear for 2-3 months every 18-24months.
      My spreadsheet shows I averaged 64c/rd on the two different buying periods.
      Well worth getting one.

    5. avatar Mork says:

      They’re fantastic. I snagged one maybe 7 years ago for about $350. I absolutely love it.

      1. avatar LKB says:

        +1. I snagged a circa 1941 K-31 off Gunbroker a few years ago for a bit over $300 — very good condition, all matching numbers, and even still has the troop tag under the buttplate. Grab yourself a pile of GP-11 when it comes around (just be patient — you can find it for about $0.55-.065/round (SG Ammo gets some in periodically) and it is indeed match grade ammo), and you have a shooter that’s more accurate than just about everyone.

        Best trigger of any milsurp rifle, period. And the action is truly a work of Swiss craftsmanship — someone told me awhile back that if someone were to make the same action today with the materials used in the K-31, the action alone would have to sell for >$1000 to break even.

        Watch Gunbroker and the racks at your LGS and you can get lucky. Hands down, it’s my favorite milsurp shooter.

    6. avatar Corey Lynch says:

      I collect swiss rifles. The K31 is a great gun and can still be found for decent prices. They can be a beat heavy and not as ‘elegant’ in handling as some contemporary bolt-actions, but they are robust reliable actions and usually very accurate. Stocks are often quite well-worn from training/drilling. They can come in either walnut or beech (beech for the later guns, and more common). A lot of the ones out there these days have been used over the years for various competition shooting events, and may have aftermarket diopter sights. These guns can be very very accurate. Factory surplus GP11 ammo is non-corrosive and literally match-grade accuracy. It will show up in brief spurts of availability on a 1-2 year cycle. Just buy a case or so next time its around and youll be set.

    7. avatar Robert says:

      Collectors Firearms in Houston TX has most of these guns for sale pretty consistently even German 98ks.

  2. avatar jkmoa says:

    And all these years I thought R stood for rimmed. Go figure.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      So does most of the (knowledgeable) gun world. But this is TTAG, and a Hoober article, so ‘facts’ are just what he makes up.

      1. avatar Bobadocious says:

        I heard that we’re supposed to value “truth over facts” so maybe it’s true that it stands for Russian and it’s a fact that it stands for rimmed.

    2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      J, it does stand for rimmed/Russian. Either or.

      1. avatar tmm says:

        I gotta go with “R” stands for rimmed, although I think “7.62 Russian” is a somewhat acceptable colloquial term for 7.62x54R, even if the implied R=Russian is incorrect.

        1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          tmm, upon reflection I have to agree or 7.62X39 would have an R attached also.

  3. avatar RA-15 says:

    Classic firearms had SKS sale price $300 , there may be some left for $350 these were Chinese model 56 .

  4. avatar Draven says:

    Yugoslavian M24/47 Mausers were also made by Zastava, and are the same intermediate-length action as the M48. They were made in the 1920s and rebarreled to 8mm starting in 1947- hence 24/47.

  5. avatar jwm says:

    I had a bunch of the mosin nagants when they were 50-100 dollars. And the ammo was practically free. But in june I was in a gun shop in Utah and they had a rack full of the 91/30’s. For 4-500 dollars. No effing way.

    I had a ball with mine when they were cheap. I gave away some with ammo to noobs. I still have one. I have fun with it. But it ain’t a 400 dollar rifle.

    1. avatar SoCalJack says:

      That makes me wonder, are Mosin Nagants much more popular/rare today that the price has gone up? These appear to be the rifles you’d see at a gun buybacks, yeah? I know a few owners and have never seen them taken to the range. They sure do sound like fun to shoot.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I’m a history buff. The old timers are, for me, a hoot to shoot. So many modern shooters are only concerned with self defense of civil war 2.0. I shoot primarily for fun.

        For the past year or so I’ve been drifting into archery for much the same reason. Fun.

      2. avatar strych9 says:

        “That makes me wonder, are Mosin Nagants much more popular/rare today that the price has gone up?”

        They seem to be very popular with the prepper community. I’ve always found that odd since one of their mantras is that when we hit TEOTWAWKI they prize the idea of easily available ammo (9mm, 5.56, 7.62 x39/51) yet they like 7.62x54R which isn’t anywhere as common now as it was a decade ago.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          When you could buy M_N’s buy the crate for cheap and ammo by the pallet some of those preppers were buying to equip their ‘militia’. Friends, family and neighbors that did not see the need for a gun until it would be too late. Being a lone wolf is a lousy way to survive a major upheaval. Or so history tells us.

          As for available ammo in the shtf. I bought my first 9×19 simply because it was the worlds pistol caliber. Ammo was available every where and was the cheapest center fire ammo out there.

          But then came the ammo shortage. And which ammo vanished from the supply line and was years in coming back? 9×19 and all the other ‘common’ calibers.

          If the shtf and you do not have a stockpile of your own there will likely not be a re-supply of any caliber until some sort of order has been restored. So caliber isn’t as important as stockpiling.

        2. avatar strych9 says:

          I get what you’re saying.

          I’m just pointing out the oddity of supposedly being completely dedicated to the idea that it’s “easy” to get the ammo post-apocalypse and then picking a caliber that, even in the best of times, really never fit that bill.

          I mean, if you were wandering around Mad Max world and stumbled upon a cache of say, 300 rounds of rifle ammo, would you think that 7.72×54 would statistically be a goodly portion of that ammo, or even any of that ammo? Maybe in other parts of the world, but I wouldn’t pick that as a “common” ammo you’re likely to “pick up” post SHTF on this continent just because it doesn’t make up a huge fraction of the bullets sold.

          Don’t get me wrong, I like my Nagants, but even for me as an owner 54R is a small percentage of the overally ammo supply I keep on hand because realistically I don’t need that much of it compared to other calibers. Really, it’s the ONLY ammo that when I think of doing a bulk purchase, I might go down the list and consider marking that item as being as low as 500 rounds as “good enough” for that particular order.

          As such it’s just always been strange to me that they beat that “ammo after the apocalypse” drum so much and then many of them pick a round that doesn’t meet their supposedly #1 criteria.

        3. avatar strych9 says:

          *7.62

        4. avatar GluteusMaximus says:

          I certainly have my own stockpile but in a end of the world scenario i wouldn’t expect to be shooting unless someone is shooting at me. I can be optimistic but really have to question how many firefights you can be expected to survive

      3. avatar Someone says:

        “are Mosin Nagants much more popular/rare today that the price has gone up?”

        Yes/yes.
        Low prices of rifles and especially the ammo for it made Mosin very popular.
        Importers are scraping the bottom of the barrel and those MN rifles you find at Cabela’s today for $240 are mostly rusted out rejects with cracked furniture. My Mosin is 1938 Tula with no rust and dark, but serviceable bore. It cost me $120 ten years ago, including bayonet, cleaning kit and ammo pouch.

        There will never be another “golden era” for surplus rifles like the one just ending. WWII stuff is gone and newer rifles are full auto. If you like these old war horses, grab what you can, while you still can, the prices will only go up. I still kick myself for not getting the K-31 when they sold for peanuts.

  6. avatar Someguy says:

    The only Japanese rifles ive even seen for sale in person have been almost a grand, not exactly what I’d call cheap. I actually already have all the other guns listed. My m48 is actually one of my favorite rifles.

    1. avatar Daikken says:

      Look online. Most Arisaka rifles (without Chrysanthemum intact) go for < $500 easily. As the article says, the issue is finding ammo. Fun guns to shoot though.

      1. avatar TruthTellers says:

        Reloading 7.7mm Jap is not a difficult chore or rocket science. .30-06 brass can be used, just need to be full length resized, .303 British bullets are compatible. If I had to choose a milsurp bolt action to reload for, the Arisaka is a far better choice than a Mosin that costs twice what the Arisaka does.

        Given the ammo rarity, getting an Arisaka in good condition for a good price is not difficult.

        I wouldn’t bother with 6.5mm Arisakas.

  7. avatar enuf says:

    So whatever happened to the 80,000 M1 Garands and M1 Carbines that South Korea wanted to sell back to American buyers during the Clinton State Department mess? At first the State Dept approved an import license, but then some anti-gun idiots got a campaign going to prevent those guns from getting into the hands of inner city gangs (yeah, that’s what they came up with) and so State reversed itself.

    Haven’t heard a peep about it since.

    Shouldn’t Trump be ordering his State Dept to approve all re-imports of American made guns and ammo? Especially very old military collectibles that no gangster in their right mind would ever have any interest in?

    1. avatar Hank says:

      I would like to know this as well! Though I could imagine the stupid hilarity that would be seen, as there is some dumb gang banger out there who is dumb enough use one in a drive by.

      *Turf war erupts.

      *9mm and .22 pops

      *BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG, CLING

      Everybody deaf.

      1. avatar Mack The Knife says:

        Without researching the progress, the guns were held up because they suffered damage in storage. Bugs and moisture that had to be addressed before they could be shipped.

  8. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    enuf, they were called Blue Sky Imports. Mid ’80s. They were shot to pieces. They worked, but no rifleman would want one.

  9. avatar former water walker says:

    Saw Mosin Nagant’s for $69 at Cabelas Black Friday 2011. Could’ve bought one-didn’t-and now don’t care…

  10. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Sam, when I was 18 the sporting goods department at the local Woolworth litteraly had a wooden barrel with K98k and 1903 Springfields stacked in it. Mausers were $90. Springfield were $110. Reggie bought a Mauser and was berated by the old guy behind the counter for buying a rifle that probably killed a lot of “young American boys.” Reggie told him I just want to shoot a deer and I can’t afford the 30-06. If I knew then what I know now, and had the money, I would have bought every one. Those are real rifles. Not the aluminum and plastic shit they sell today.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Gadsden Flag,

      Those are real rifles. Not the aluminum and plastic shit they sell today.

      Don’t hold back Gadsden — tell us how you really feel!

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        Uncommon, I thought I did.

    2. avatar Pierre Chevous-Courts says:

      In the mid 80’s found a 1915 Swede M96 for less than 90 bucks in the same kind of display you mentioned: a bin stuffed with old milsurps in a local Woolworth’s sporting goods section. The stock was dinged and beaten, the action and barrel clean, and all numbers matched. Woolworths didn’t have a box to put it in, so I had to carry it (minus the bolt, which was in my pocket) thru a significant portion of the mall that the store was part of to get to my vehicle. I settled on a “trail arms” carry to appear as unthreatening as possible and left without incident. Try that now…

  11. avatar Cletus says:

    Classic has Yugo M57 Tokarev pistols for $230-250. They have a trigger safety to meet import requirements, but you can get a new trigger for $20.

  12. avatar Mike. says:

    Paid $50 for my Mosin Nagant. Between $59-100 for Enfield’s SMLE and No4. $299 for MK5 Jungle carbine.

  13. avatar strych9 says:

    Recently I’ve seen a number of Lee-Enfield rifles, mostly No. 1 Mk IIIs and No. 4 Mk I’s but a few No. 5’s too, at quite reasonable prices the only problem is that the cheaper ones are all in .303 Brit so over time that’s going to cut into the cheapness of the rifle to some degree.

  14. avatar Waffensammler98 says:

    Many of us didn’t realize it, but the mass panic we all lived through post-Newtown was the beginning of the end of cheap Milsurps. The countries of export watch the news too. They saw us panic buying everything, and suddenly Dmitri from Kiev decides he wants to sell his pallettes of Mosins to the Americans for $125
    a rifle instead of $50 like before, and so the continually rising price cascades down to your local gun shop, and now we have $400 Mosins not because that many were actually bought since Newtown, but because everyone got used to the rising prices instead of refusing to pay them, now that the panic buy mindset is in full swing. Conflicts like Syria and Ukraine slow stuff down too. Guys got comfy and thought all those palletes of surplus 7.62x54R were reserved for the American gun owner by divine right or some shit, forgetting that international arms dealers still exist.

    I could go on, buy I’m too angry at what’s become of the milsurp market after I fixed a father/son’s Mosin on the range, first firearm for both of them, and realized the douchebag who sold the father the rifle for $400 did so knowing it had a faulty sear that could’ve accidentally killed someone in the wrong circumstance. I gave the father a spare fresh Mosin sear I had in my parts box and scrapped the old one.

    Rant over.

  15. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Don’t know when it changed but I remember 6.5 and 7.7 Jap labeled on Norma ammunition.

    1. avatar Daikken says:

      Norma (and most other ammo manufacturers) still label the 7.7 that way. I can attest to it because I have bought 7.7 from quite a few manufacturers.

  16. avatar Political gristle says:

    I wish there were a massive dump of Korean / Vietnam era milsurp M-14’s .
    A guy can dream…….

  17. avatar Chuck says:

    I remember buying sn SKS in the mid 80’s for $80 pick of the lot. Had I known then what I do now, I’d have bought a case and left them packed in cosmoline. Hindsight is 20/20.

    1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

      I bought one at a gun show in Atlanta when I was stationed at Benning. Never shot it, rear sight was broke too, paid similar $75.00. Threw it in safe and sold it in 2013 for ballpark $400.

      Stock looked hand carved in places…never wanted another one.

  18. avatar Jeffrey Dees says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t include Spanish Mauser’s and the variety of South American Mausers.

    The original M1893 Mauser’s are expensive, but I still remember M1916 Spanish Mausers and the M1943 Spanish Mausers selling for 200-400 USD.

    South American Mausers tend to run for 300-600 USD, and frankly tend to be in better condition than most of their European counterparts because they usually haven’t gone through quiet as many wars on their side of the pond.

    1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      A Mauser 1893 in 7 x 57 in good shape is a fantastic rifle, so is a good Mosin. Both are easy to reload. The Mauser with around 139 gr. spire point will help fill up the freezer.

  19. avatar Sean G./The Rookie says:

    I’m told (and I’m by no means an expert on this sort of thing), that the value of an Arisaka can be affected significantly if the Chrysanthemum marking is intact. Most of the Arisakas I’ve seen for sale online have had the emblem ground off (which I assume had something to do with its association with Hirohito and WW2).

    1. avatar Jeffrey Dees says:

      It does affect the value, but not as significantly as most people think. Price’s seem to go up by 25-100 USD for the chrysanthemum depending on the gun itself. More important factors usually are whether the rifle is numbers matching, if its a less produced model or harder to find model of Arisaka, and the state of its receiver and barrel.

      1. avatar Anymouse says:

        The way I heard it, the chrysanthemum meant it was property of the emperor, so surrendering soldiers would deface it before handing them over

  20. avatar Nate in CA says:

    It was a $50 Turkish Mauser from Big 5 back in the 90’s that gave me the incurable collectors bug I still deal with today. There was so much sand and cosmoline in that poor old soldier, but still did all that was asked of it. Then, the Mosinitis took over… (shudders)

    And yes, heaven forbid TEOTWAWKI does get started, I have enough Mosin party favors to go around!

  21. avatar SoBe says:

    I recently got a Russian Tula refurbished (in true Soviet style refurbishment) SKS for about $250. The dealer is a friend and he had just gotten a dozen when a collector needed to dump them. He was planning to sell them at $350. I did not know much about SKS at that moment, but when I returned a few days later he had the few remaining listed at $600. Today I was at a gun show and someone had a Russian SKS, obviously refurbished locally, not at the factory, for $800.

  22. avatar ROBERT Powell says:

    from an old fossil, remember the japanese were working on the last notch of their belts at the end of the war ,the arsaka was made with CAST-IRON RECIEVERS near the end ,two grove riffling and damn dangerous with hot loads.. so look the receiver over very close .. i remember them selling for 15. 00 and shipped free.

    1. avatar John in AK says:

      No.
      Right up to the very end of production, Type 99 rifles intended for military service were still made of suitable materials, and are completely safe with full-powered ammunition. The changes between the Type 99 standard short rifle and the ‘last ditch’ guns are limited to cosmetics and elimination of features such as a steel buttplate, adjustable sights, and the ‘interesting’ accessories such as wire bipods, anti-aircraft sights, dust covers, and so forth. Actions and barrels remain just as strong as before. A ‘last ditch’ rifle is as safe as any other military rifle, just not as ‘pretty.’

      TRAINING or SCHOOL rifles, on the other hand, are normally modeled upon the Type 38, range from military-grade rifles condemned for school use and so marked, to actual replica ‘drill’ rifles manufactured for training and schools that were never intended for firing, particularly with service ammunition. Such guns may not even have rifling, and their mechanisms are made of inexpensive and weak materials. All are easily recognizable from a condemned military rifle or an actual service weapon.

    2. avatar LKB says:

      John in AK is correct; OP is relating an urban legend.

      As long as you are not dealing with the “trainer” rifles (which weren’t designed to shoot anything much more than blanks, but can be identified by anyone taking even the slightest amount of care), even so-called “last ditch” series T-99’s might have been a bit rough cosmetically, but they were still mechanically sound.

      Ones from before or during the early part of the war are damn fine rifles. Too bad so many of them got the “bubba” treatment after they got brought home.

  23. avatar SoBe says:

    For TEOTWAWKI I recommend investing in a backup 9mm carbine; you won’t find much in affordable antiques, but new ones won’t break the bank. That way when all the rifle ammo starts running out, there will likely be some 9 mm Luger to be found somewhere. One of the dealers at today’s show was complaining that he completely sold out of 9 mm and was dreading dragging more out tomorrow.

  24. avatar GS650G says:

    Luckily I have no interest or need for a 70 year old rifle with a battered stock and 5 round capacity. I’ll stick with my crappy aluminum and plastic guns which use cheap commonly available bullets and are reliable. And new.

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      GS650G, that is really great news! That leaves more real rifles for rifleman. And the Matel toys for, well, everyone else.

      1. avatar GS650G says:

        Also fortunately I couldn’t care less what someone else spends their money on.

  25. avatar Wayne Wynick says:

    An Uncle brought a batch of Arisakas back from Okinawa at the end of WWII. In the mid 50’s my dad sent a 7.7 to Flaig’s in Pittsburgh. They set the barrel back and re-chambered it to .308 Win. They also cut the barrel to 20 ” and mounted a Lyman peep sight. With a new stock the little carbine worked for years to bring in venison. The 7.7 barrel actually shoots rather well with the “undersized” .308 bullets, which have been its diet these many years. When my dad passed away, I ended up with it. It is an interesting way to continue using an old war horse!

  26. avatar Texas Twostep says:

    Ahhhhhh… gone are the golden days of milsurp rifles. In the late 90s/early 2000s, I remember getting Excellent condition Enfield No. 4 Mk1s for $120, Romanian SKS for the same price, German K98s for $150, and Turk Mausers for $50. Oh, and Mosins could be had in Excellent condition for $79 all day, every day.

    How I long for those days.

  27. avatar Alan says:

    The days of cheap, but entirely serviceable surplus rifles, pistols too, and add ammunition are gone. As to why, think of the following:

    1. The supply thereof was never endless, and we might well have come to that end point.
    2. To what extent did your elected things, and the bureaucrats they allow to operate absent the requisite oversight manage to screw up the supply chain? Consider that, if you will.

    1. avatar LKB says:

      Yup, the days of cheap milsurp arms is drawing to an inevitable close. Sad but true.

      These days, it’s now politically incorrect for militaries to sell off their unused/obsolete arms. (E.g., if the British Army came across a stash of Enfields in a forgotten corner of an armory, do you think they would even consider selling them to any civilian or for export?) Instead, they’ll just chop them up rather than be accused of contributing to the international trade in small arms, etc., and score Brownie points with cool kids at the next international meeting for being so “woke.” For this reason, expect the next Dem in the White House to issue an immediate executive order banning all further importation of milsurp arms (and probably cutting off the domestic trickle of arms to the CMP entirely).

      Plus, most militaries are now using select fire weapons, which we’re never going be allowed to have even if the seller removes the giggle switch — which is why CMP can’t offer us M-14’s, and why if you can find an FAL or L1A1, it’s usually one that was built from an Imbel receiver and a parts kit.

      We might still be able to import some more Mosins and SKS’s (and maybe some parts kits) for a few years longer, but the days of truly cheap milsurp rifles are gone. Fortunately, there are tens of millions in domestic circulation, but the supply is likely only going to get smaller as time goes on. Ergo, if you see a bargain on one you like (K-31, Enfield, Russian SKS, Arisaka T-99, MAS 49/56, M-1 Garand, etc.), you might not want to wait.

      1. avatar Chuck says:

        I think we’ll see more and more of that trend for a lot of surplus items, and not just the firearms. Germany’s Bundeswehr recently announced that they would be scrapping a lot of the items rather than selling them to the surplus market dealers as they had in the past. Flecktarn camo clothing or Field gear is going to dwindlr. It’s just another PC “Virtue Signal” in my mind, and a waste of perfectly usable surplus gear. For some of us, our first camping/hiking/hunting gear was old Army surplus sleeping bags, tents, packs and so on. I had an old Korean era Great Coat with the heavy wool liner I used to hunt Elk with all through my teens, until I finally outgrew it. Was perfect for slogging through the woods or sitting on point.
        It’s a shame and a waste all because of Political Correctness.

  28. avatar Timothy Toroian says:

    I have a 91/30 I paid less than $100 for and a Garand I bought a quarter of a century ago for $367. Both are fun. Constructed a second stock of pistol grip configuration for the M 1 which makes it interesting.

  29. avatar Frank Vazquez says:

    I feel that the cost of a vintage firearm is comparable to a new one, so practically speaking, the old guns seem less attractive a purchase. I can’t see spending $500-$600 for a World War II firearm when I could just as well purchase a nice shotgun for home defense and spend $200 on it and get to use it for a long time before any parts needed replacement. The whole appeal to old guns was a good value for the dollar, but a brand new rifle, pistol, shotgun or carbine can be purchased for around the same prices as these 50-60 year old pieces.
    Understand I used to re-enact and I own a very nice K98, but as practical (and beautiful) a rifle as it is, it’s an old design and I’d never sell mine, but I can’t see paying the prices they’re asking today when I could buy an AR-15 or what have with better ergonomics, lighter weight, less recoil and it’s easier to obtain parts and accessories.

  30. avatar SkorpionFan says:

    If you are interesting in military surplus rifles and pistols, check out EmpireArms.com and sign up for their “New Stuff” emails. “Our specialty is firearms that were actually issued to a soldier of any country 1880-1960 and little else.” They list each firearm separately with descriptions and photos. Many are $400-$800. Twentyfour hours before they add a batch of firearms to their public website, they send out a New Stuff announcement email, so you can get first crack at a particular gun. You can also tell them what specifically you are looking for.
    Example of recent New Stuff announcement.
    https://www.empirearms.com/080719.htm

    1. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

      This is a “for sale” web site for the very well heeled as the prices are far above what one can pay at the local home town gun show. Its a site not only for the super rich but for those who want the convenience of not having to haunt many gun shows looking for their next purchase. If you think mil surp prices are high locally right now you have not seen anything yet until you visit this site. Be prepared for sticker shock unless you have money to burn,

  31. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    The out house crowd does not realize that Nato passed a law that forced the European Countries to melt down all obsolete surplus firearms so that they could never be sold to civilians. There is still a U.S. Ban on weapons from Russia and China. All this resulted in military rifle prices going sky high and you will never again see surplus rifles for $100 bucks. Count yourself lucky if you can find any military rifles these days for less than $300 with most now in the $400 range and up, way up.

    I might add I warned the out house Morons for years that this would eventually happen and any idiot that sportsitized his mil-surp would be not only trashing a historical rifle but devaluing it to basic junk compared to what the untouched originals would some day be worth and that day is now here forever as prices will in the future go way higher than they are now and $400 will seem like a steal in the not to distant future.

    I remember a number of years ago when on idiot gun writer (Chub the Bub) to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the 1903 Springfield butchered one into a sporter. He spent a lot of money doing it and when he got done with his trashing of this historical rifle he could not have got enough money for it to buy a case of toilet paper. What a Moron. He passed away some years ago and that is one less Moron running around the country butchering military surplus rifles.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      vlad is a hate filled fascist that wonders why folks don’t pay attention to his ignorant rants.

      Priceless comedy relief.

  32. avatar Will Drider says:

    German origin Mauser: be advised that early versions had a .318 “J” bore while newer “S” bore is .323.

    Not listed is the Swiss Rubin-Schmidt straight pull bolt action. In several models. 98, 98/11, K31 with rifle, carbine and trainer variations. Routinely these were very well maintained and exceptionally accurate. I’ve used surplus and Norma cartridges. There are cautions for early guns and some ammo. Read the history on these technical wonders of the cartridge and the action. Its faster cycling helped keep the Germans away. Lol

    1. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

      “quote——————————There are cautions for early guns and some ammo.————quote

      The great gunsmith P.O. Ackley proved decades ago back in the 50’s that this was and is a total myth. Ackley made actual pressure tests shooting .323 diameter ammo out of .the earlier .318 bore guns and found pressures were not excessive.

  33. avatar adambomb286 says:

    I remember going to Dunham’s back in the early 2000s and it was always well stocked with milsurp rifles. I bought a Mosin M44 and a Turk Mauser. I wish I had the job that I have now because I missed out on reasonably priced Enfield .303s, Yugo SKS, Schmitt Rubens, Carcanos, all kinds of stuff. I did, however get a WASR 10 for about $350 that I recently sold to buy a sig p365.

  34. avatar MaddMaxx says:

    Bought 2 “new” Mosins 5 years ago for $75.00 each (both 1932 editions). Bought a 1916 Gerwher 98 (aka Mauser) for $45.00 a few years back. Left the Mosins alone, mounted the Mauser intact in a modern (plastic) stock with a modified AK style scope mount which precluded having to butcher the bolt… Shoots great with 15 round detachable magazine and new 8mm ammo.. can be reassembled as original no harm no foul…

  35. avatar Roy F. Wilt says:

    I have a 1891 Argentine 7.65 Mauser. It was made in Berlin. The Bolt Is simple and reliable. I have 1000 rounds and only fire it yearly, i have put a scope on it, but now I have to feed the magazine one round at a time. I bought the gun in 1968 for $20.00. Best gun I have ever fired! That’s after 20 years in the Army and shot most all individual operated rifles and Machine guns ever made.

  36. avatar Jack says:

    I have a WWI Mauser. Any idea what it is worth?

    1. avatar Al Bondigas says:

      Maybe.

  37. avatar fteter says:

    I came to the milsurp game late, but did manage to grab a few before prices really shot through the roof. A Mosin M44, a Chinese SKS, and a previously-unissued Yugo SKS. Actually was concerned that I overpaid a bit on the Yugo, but I see them going these days for $100 to $150 higher. They’re all fun shooters and great pieces of history, but no way would I pay today’s going prices for any of them.

    I’ve generally stopped purchasing milsurp due to the high prices. I do have a wish list of rifles I’d love to grab if the prices ever come back down – but I don’t expect that to happen in what’s left of my lifetime. I’m actually considering letting my C&R license expire later this year, as I just don’t see many good buying opportunities in the milsurp market anymore.

    For something not quite milsurp, but still historically interesting, CZ-82 pistols are still popping up for decent prices. The 9×18 ammo is still fairly cheap and the two I own are fun shooters. Other than that and maybe the Tokarev and variants, it seems like the window has closed for buying inexpensive milsurp.

  38. avatar SurfGW says:

    Bought a Russian SKS (bolt face showed it was likely never fired) for $89 in the mid 90’s and sold it a couple of years later when the firing pin started to catch and it effectively became an open bolt weapon.
    SKS later became a California assault weapon so I don’t look back.

  39. avatar BusyBeef says:

    Pricing on Mosins and SKSs are shooting up

  40. avatar Ugly Tooth says:

    Ah yes, all the hallmarks of a price bubble. Rampant enthusiasm and claims that prices will go up forever and that supplies are scarce. Speculation galore; guys buying rifles made in the millions for “investment”. I’ve seen this song and dance before. Houses, silver, comic books, classic cars, German porcelain figurines, et. al. Yet this is the magic slice of the market that will somehow be different, even as we verge on a recession and downward pressure begins to be seen in unsustainable prices coupled with all the boomers with guns beginning to keel over. And don’t even try to get people to understand the concept of opportunity cost. That $80 you’d spent on a Mosin might make you quite proud until you realize what it could have done in stocks over the same period.

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