I had a little time to kill last night so I went window shopping at one of the local Big Box sporting goods stores (you know, the same kind of store that I think is helping to make gun shows irrelevant), in this case a Gander Mountain.
There are two nice things about GM. First, unlike most BB stores, they buy and sell used guns, and not just high-end collector guns, but run-of-the-mill guns, too. Second thing is, they don’t keep all their guns behind the counter (I hate bothering a salesman to look at a gun I know I won’t buy.) At this GM, the new guns are behind the counter but the used guns are available for customers to fondle (albeit with security locks on them.)
On the rack with all the old sporting rifles, I saw one that looked out of place. With its phosphate (a/k/a “Parkerized”) finish, protected front sight and flash hider-equipped barrel protruding from a fine wooden stock I thought it might be a variant of the Ruger Mini-14. But this one turned out to be something else entirely: Australian International Arms M10-A2 (pictured above.)
The rifle-savvy among us will immediately recognize the AIA’s parentage as the venerable British Lee-Enfield (Officially, “Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield” or SMLE for short.) However, this one is intriguingly available in 7.62 x 39 caliber, that is, the same caliber as the AK or the SKS.
The caliber issue is significant to me. I don’t put any upward limit on the number of guns I may own but I do try to avoid “caliber creep.” Having too many different calibers makes shooting a more needlessly expensive hobby. By limiting the number of calibers I can concentrate on acquiring ammo for the few calibers I have and then go shoot them. Less $$ spent on ammo = more $$ to spend on actually shooting.
As for the 7.62 x 39 cartridge itself, it is in many ways the perfect mid-range, all-around cartridge. With ballistics similar to that of the venerable .30-30, the 7.62 x 39 (a/k/a 7.62 Russian) is suitable for just about any kind of hunting or shooting you might want to do except for the biggest game or the longest ranges. In fact, it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that the 7.62 x 39 is a sort of “Goldilocks” cartridge: Not too small (as the 5.56 is), not too big (as the .30-06/.308 is), it is the “just right” cartridge for mid-range shooting (say, out to ~300 yards.)
The 7.62 x 39 also has the advantage over the .30-30 in that you can use pointed bullets in it (you can’t do that with a .30-30 because so many .30-30 rifles use tubular magazines where the point of one cartridge rests against the primer of the cartridge in front of it.) The final factor in the 7.62 x 39’s favor is that it has been manufactured in quantities that probably approach the billions, and much of that ammo has been offered for sale at highly discounted prices, which makes shooting a cheap proposition.
As I stated before, I’m a big fan of the 7.62 x 39’s first rifle, the SKS, but even those who prefer the SKS’s younger, sexier sister the AK-47 have to be thankful to Mr. Simonov for introducing us to this great cartridge.
But back to the AIA M10-A2. The rifle is absolutely gorgeous, with a flawless and businesslike Parkerized finish. Hefting the rifle reveals…a lot of heft! It’s quite heavy (chat-board discussions attribute this to the teak wood stock, which is also beautiful) and feels rock-solid in the hands, even with the SMLE’s signature two-piece stock. As a former infantryman, my first thought was that getting head- smashed or butt-stroked (not as much fun as it sounds like) by this heavy stock would definitely have you taking a nap. Maybe one you wouldn’t wake up from.
For civvie shooters, the heavy weight of the rifle combined with the reduced power of the intermediate round means that recoil would be a non-issue. In fact, this might be the perfect rifle for a younger or smaller (or female) shooter who is reluctant to fire a “high powered” shoulder cannon.
The SMLE action is predictibly “buttah” smooth. GM guns have locks on the trigger, so no dry-firing was possible, but there’s no reason to believe the trigger pull is not as high-quality as the rest of the gun. The front sight, a military-style post protected by “ears” is decent, though the rear sight seems a bit cheap. Of course, the presence of the M1913 Picatinny Rail forward of the rear sight shows that the AIA folks obviously intended the iron sights to be mere back-ups to the shooter’s favorite optic.
There was no mag with the rifle, but internet scuttlebutt seems to indicate that it has been specifically designed to use the ever-plentiful AK magazines. This is another point in the M10s favor, seeing as how AK magazines are as tough (and probably about as numerous) as cockroaches.
My only negative response came when I glanced at the pricetag. For this used gun, GM wants $699, or just about $50 less than I paid for my new home-built Del-Ton AR15. In fact, as 7.62×39 shooters go, you could buy a semi-auto AK clone like the Wasr and a case of ammo for less than the cost of the M10. Or, two SKS and a case of ammo for each one.
Not that this is really in the same class. The AK and SKS are mass produced bullet-slingers, plain and simple. This one is a by-god rifle.
I’m already saving up my pennies.
EDITED TO ADD: Those of you feeling an odd sense of deja vu might be recalling the Gibbs Sport Specialty rifles. Gibbs modified some SMLE rifles to shoot the .308 (7.62×39) and offered them in some gorgeous looking rifles. While Gibbs is still in business, alas, they no longer make or sell any of their SMLE based guns, more’s the pity.
I work at a Gander Mountain in MN. I first saw this rifle about a year ago and was instantly attracted to it because of how obscure it seemed. What turned me off about the rifle though was the price. If I remember correctly the new price was $699. In your case I think some employee asumed that the rifle was used and tagged it as such. A simple UPC check will tell them wether it is new or used. If you do get it I would love to hear how it shoots!
The one I came across didn’t have a rail…
Caleb: The gun certainly looked and felt new. It may also have been a customer return, which would probably have to have been classified as a “used” gun.
Some years ago there was an importer who was assembling 7.62 x 39 rifles on Mauser M96 actions (the “small ring” Mauser.) I think it might have been CZ or some other Eastern European country. I missed the boat on that one but I would still like to have a nice 7.62 x 39 bolt gun.
One thing I’m not sure of is the actual caliber of the gun. The ComBloc 7.62 x 39 is actually a .311 caliber bullet, whereas Western .30 cal rifles like the .30-06, .30-30, .30o Win Mag and .308/7.62 x51 (NATO) all use a .308 caliber bullet. Would three-one thousandth’s of an inch make a difference? I don’t know.
In my search for a 7.62 x39 bolt gun I came across a few choices. There was a winchester bolt gun supposedly (when I say supposedly, I mean I never found one) made/ imported off of a Mauser action. CZ makes a great one, the 527 carbine, that I almost bought. The other Object of desire of mine is the Russian-American Amory BARS-4-1. This is made my the makers of the SAIGA Shotguns. Only a couple of these make it in to the country every year because of limited production, and I could not find a waiting list to get on. Thats about it as far as blot guns in the caliber go. If any one else has another one to add to the list, I plan on buying all of these when/ if I can.
I saw my first short barrel Enfield yesterday for the first time. I have only seen pictures etc. This lady, I am dating, pulled out of a closet along with a dozen of other guns. I almost had an awesome orgasim on the spot. Her kids are trying to beat her out of the collection saying the Enfield was only worth mabe 100 bucks. Don’t you just love the kids?
If you can forgive me for picking at nits, the 7.62 Russian is the alias of the 7.62x54R, at least according to Hornady. However, they do also refer to 7.62×39 as 7.62 Soviet.
As to the rifle itself, it does look very nice. I was going to say that I would prefer a mini-thirty, but then you mentioned that it took AK magazines. Now I’m torn.
Vigilantus: I don’t know if the Mini 30 suffered from the same accuracy shortcomings as the Mini 14 but if it did, this one would be the hands down winner, especially since it’s roughly the same price (if not a little cheaper.)
Been looking for a 7.62×39 bolt gun. Handled some CZs but have heard conflicting stories about them. Except for the price, this M10-A2 is very tempting.
Gun Tests magazine reviewed the Mini-30:
“Our recommendation: The $609 Stainless Mini-30 is a fine, reliable and handy rifle that gives good-enough accuracy from its 0.308-inch diameter, 18.5-inch long barrel. The sights and trigger might need work, but the gun is reliable with its proper magazine. Consider a scope.
Accuracy was quite good, leading us to believe the Mini-30 would respond to tinkering just like the M-14 does. The Ruger has a groove diameter of about 0.308. The smallest test bullets were in the Russian ammo, and we got best results with it. Smallest group was 2.5 inches, and average was 4.8 inches.
It was a handy and pleasant rifle with no bad habits. The Mini-30 has a lot going for it, but could stand a trigger job. Its big strength is its relative ease of supply, and you can always get spare parts. “
This firearms is chambered for 7.62×39 and does infact accept AK mags. It does look pretty sweet with a 30 rounder 🙂
This is similar in concept to the Remington 7615 pump-action .223 carbine: a light, handy NON semi-auto rifle in a ubiquitous miltary caliber, using standard cheap magazines. I like that concept, and would love to have either one.
But $700 is too freaking expensive for a gun that is neither terribly powerful nor amazingly accurate, or which cannot sling lead downrange in Costo quantities. For $700 you can just about get a high-quality Arsenal AK, which will be nearly as accurate and just as reliable. And it feeds the same cheap ammo through the same magazine.
Or for half the money you could get a lever-action .30-30, which won’t raise any eyebrows even in California.
Wow. Ammo for that weapon is cheaper than 9mm!
I bought mine at GM used for about the same. They had a “new old stock” one that was also available for $799. I bought the used one and was terribly disappointed that the scope rail did not come with it. I guess the previous owner did not bother to turn that in with the rifle when they sold it back. I have since modified weaver mounts to fit, and I have a Nikon Omega 1.6-5×36 scope on top. I am hitting 1.5 inch groups at 100 yards with yugo “METAK” surplus ammo.
I love this rifle. It is worth every penny of 700 bucks. In addition, there won’t be any more coming into the states. The Teakwood blanks for the stocks come from Viet Nam, so the ATF has banned further import. You also have to appreciate the craftsmanship of owning a hand made rifle.
You might not know but “METAK” means “bullet” as in the pointy end of a cartridge.
“Gibbs modified some SMLE rifles to shoot the .308 (7.62×39) “
Don’t you mean 7.62×51?
7.62×39 is .311
See Enfield Envoy & Enfield Enforcer for some fine .308 versions of the SMLE, or the L42 for a military 7.62 NATO version.
Unfortunately they’re ALL far more than $699 these days.
I am proud to say I own 3 AIA rifles:
* The M10A3, which is a longer barrelled version of the A2 discussed here, but with extended forewood and foreend bipod mount. Mine is blued, not parkerised.
* The M10B2 match, which is a 7.62x51mm NATO chambered, 25.2inch heavy barrelled rifle designed for long range target shooting. it has a sporterised configuration.
* The M10B1HB, which has the same heavy barrel as the M10B2, but 22inches. It is lighter than the B2, but has almost the same accuracy up to about 500 yards. I bought this one as it was a limited edition – only 10 ever made. The standard M10B1 has a lighter standard barrel.
All of these rifles shoot brilliantly. My gf did her first ever shoot with the M10A3, and a red dot sight. After getting used to the feel and the recoil, she was soon shooting MOA groups at 100yards with Norinco steel cased FMJ ammo.
With the M10B1HB, I picked up the rifle 2 days before a service rifle competition I was entering. Our club permits use of the M10s as they are so closely matched to the SMLE – particularly the 7.62×51 chambered variants. Anyway, after getting my sights right, I was regularly scoring Xs, 10s and 9s on international spec targets, at 600m with the standard iron sights, on what was quite a blustery, windy day. I was using ADI F4 mil-surp ammo.
There’s more information on the AIA facebook page – just search for Australian International Arms.
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I got my M19-A2 in 2010 at GM. They had bought out the distributer. Mine is beautiful. the teak wook wi matched with the grain so well it looks like it is made out of a block of wook. the finish is flawless. I Pd $700. Too bad they can’t be imported due to the fact the wood was made in Vietnam and the metal in N Korea. Thus banned.
The .308 is 7.62×51. Its NOT the same as 7.62×39.
I too was searching for years for one of these rifles to come up for sale in the UK and now Im the owner of one I must say this is the best fun budget full bore shooting Ive ever had.
My only moan is that it is a rather heavy rifle and I’d liek to change the stock for a lighter Polymer ATI stock. Can someone tell me if this is possible or has anyone changed the stock or sporterised one?
Well, for a 2018 update, I just bought one of these on an online gun forum, asking price was 1300 with a vintage 2.25x scope, original owner, less than 100 shots fired, had pictures of the rifles grouping, and its sufficient for any US game, or use on bipeds.
Yes, I paid the asking price, as my research showed these increasing from the original price up and over 1K, the vintage scope is worth 150, so, I paid 1150 for the rifle, and its absolutely BEAUTIFUL.
To date, no one has come up with another AK mag fed bolt action rifle, so, as far as I am concerned, the value of these is what someone is willing to pay, and if you want a durable, cheap to shoot rifle, for ammo you already have, well, this is the shiznit.
Soviet calibres are called 7.62mm but are all actually .311 calibre.
That is the 7.62x54mmR rifle and machine gun cartridge, the 7.62x25mm Tokarev calibre, and the 7.62x39mm AK calibre are all .311 calibre.
I have a 303 rifle that has been modified to accept 7.62x39mm ammo… basically the chamber is adapted to the different shaped case, but the calibre remains the 7.7mm used with the 303 round.
The reason they use the same diameter bullets is so a Mosin Nagant rifle barrel can be made on the same machine as the PPSh SMG in 7.62x25mm and if needed you can cut the barrels to length and make TT-33 pistol barrels, or AK barrels.