In my last article I went on a 1,000 word rant about how and why a large segment of the CMP sports are in a nationwide decline. I voiced my opinion quite pointedly and blamed the outgoing generation for the problems we have when it comes to the availability of rifles that are of historical significance to American culture.
Today I am outlining a proposal that I hope you can help me spread. I am calling this the American Heritage Hunt and it’s intended to preserve our traditions and culture.
The basic premise of what I am proposing here is to use the widespread and diverse hunting community to ensure the preservation of our historical rifles by allowing their use in either special hunts or across a season provided that the rifles are in original condition and chambering.
Why Do We Need A Heritage Hunt?
This idea would encourage owners of sporterized rifles to restore them to their original military configuration. Existing unaltered rifle owners would be incentivized to leave their guns in their original condition.
The restorations alone would foster a cottage industry centered around making stocks, barrel bands, and many other small parts necessary to bring mutilated guns back to their former glory. This cottage industry would see a younger generation of gunsmiths become familiar with the M1 Garand, 1903 Springfield, Krag, and other rifles like Mausers and Enfields.
Saving guns would become an occupation and not just a hobby for many gunsmiths out there. It would also allow the special skills and knowledge of the old smiths to be passed down to our current generation, thus ensuring that it is not lost.
Why not sporterized rifles in this proposal? Firstly, if you “sporterize” an original 1903, you should probably go to jail or be subjected to some other suitable punishment. Why? Because when you sporterize/butcher an classic American military rifle, you’re defacing a monument to freedom and are no better than the bedwetting communists that are currently screeching about this week’s imagined outrage.
Simply put, what we are trying to do here is preserve our history and heritage. If special hunts are opened to the public who use these rifles, more people will want them. If more people want the guns, the hoarders will be enticed to sell, which will mean more historical rifles in circulation and hopefully a dip in prices.
More circulation of these rifles will mean more economic activity and thus a boost to the gun business nationwide. We would see more replica barrels being made, new stocks produced, and proper ammunition being sold in more places.
Hunters are easy to motivate and many would find it rewarding and challenging to hunt with an original historical rifle.
So, this is part of my call to the collectors and hoarders out there: sell your guns. They’re collecting dust and you’re contributing nothing when you take one or two out to look at it once a year.
Sell that M1. Sell that Springfield. Don’t sell it to another collector. Sell it to a kid who’s interested in history. Sell it to someone who will use it. By holding onto these historical guns, you are literally robbing the next generation of their heritage.
History In Action Creates Lifelong Learners
If the old guns are more widely available, younger generations would be exposed to their history. You can’t talk about a .30-40 Krag without talking about Teddy Roosevelt and his battles in Cuba. You can’t talk about the M1 without talking about Patton.
Likewise you can’t talk about a K98k without talking about Hitler or a Mosin without talking about Stalin. Knowledge brings understanding and context, which will undoubtably lead to a real understanding of the world and an understanding of why exactly it is so important to keep and bear arms.
Think I’m wrong? I guarantee you that the coolest gun you can ever show a beginner is one with history to it. Plastic is fantastic, but today’s best-looking AR rifles are ugly compared to Garand masterpiece.
What the next generation needs is understanding and context and this proposal will, in a small way, help connect them to that. You can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been and the powers against us know that, which is why they want people blinded and devoid of their heritage.
It is extremely important to connect American youth with their American culture. The gun is the most important symbol of American individuality, exceptionalism, and independence.
“Dad, what gun is that we’re hunting with?”
“Son, this is an M1. This rifle was used in World War II. Your great grandpa carried one when he went to fight the Japanese in the Pacific. I’ll show you his pictures when we get home. This could even be his. You never know. I’ll pass it to you when you are ready.”
That small exchange puts that young person into the context of their family and country. There is history and tradition right in that little vignette. I want my children to have access to the same things I did and this is a way to help that goal along.
The Rules of the Hunt
Here are my proposed rules. You may disagree with them, but this is more of a draft than anything. The rifles used must be the following:
1.) A United States service rifle or foreign equivalent designed prior to 1945. Examples of this would include the M1 Garand and variants, 1903 Springfield and variants, .30-40 Krag, Mauser 98, 96, and variants, Mosin Nagant and variants, Swiss K-series rifles and variants, Lee Enfield and variants, etc.
2.) All rifles must be in original as-issued military configuration. No replacement stocks except faithful replicas of originals may be used. Laminated wood stocks are acceptable for this purpose provided they are identical in contour to original examples. Rifles may make use of modern surface finishes provided they are faithful to original examples.
3.) All rifles must have original sighting system. Match-grade sights are allowable provided they are otherwise identical to as-issued sights. No rifle may make use of optical sights with the exception of replica optics on models that were originally issued with optical sights. Ex. M1D, 1903A4, Mosin M91/30 with PU/PE. Aftermarket replacement peep sights may not be used. Modern scopes may not be used unless they are a faithful replica of the original military scopes.
4.) Rifles must be chambered for the cartridge that the model was originally issued in. Rifle barrels may be replaced, but must be identical in contour and chambering as as-issued military barrels.
5.) Replica rifles are allowable provided they are identical in form and function and chambering as as-issued rifles.
There may be a little more that I’m missing, but I think that you get the idea. I think that people would be good about following these rules. It would obviously be up to each state to decide how this would be implemented.
As far as concerns about the guns being too powerful for certain areas, I think that we could pretty easily debunk that.
In Michigan we are allowed to hunt 24/7 state-wide with any centerfire rifle .264/6.5mm and below for coyote. That’s day and night with a 6.5-.284, 6.5 PRC, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 6.5x55mm Swedish. It is pretty obvious that the 6.5-.284 is much more powerful and has greater range than a .308 Win, but the .308 is only legal in daylight.
To make it more frustrating, I can’t hunt deer in the lower part of Michigan with any bottlenecked case. I can hunt the same field around the clock for coyote with any 6.5mm, but can’t shoot deer with the same rifle. People who say it’s to reduce the chance of hitting houses are clearly misguided.
Most of these military rifles with iron sights are good on deer at 100-200 yards as that is about as far as most people can aim with no scope in field conditions. That’s the same range as a .450 Bushmaster is good for.
A case can be made that the effective range of many of the old guns is relatively short and they pose no greater threat to the area than coyote and deer rifles already in common use year-round.
What Can You Do To Help Preserve American Tradition?
In all, I think this proposal would be able to gain traction with hunters, hobbyists, and just about all rifle shooters. Remember that there are generally no more or fewer old guns in circulation than there were ten years ago. But lots of them are languishing in collections or being bought up by collectors and hoarders. The sum total of M1 rifles isn’t decreasing in general, just the number of quality rifles still on the market.
Here’s what you can do to help. Start by talking to your state DNR or congressman/woman and give me feedback to develop a more detailed outline of what you want to see. I want to make M1, Springfield, Enfield, and other rifles accessible to everyone in a useful context.
It serves nobody to have these treasures rot in gun safes. These rifles belong on the competition line, in the hunting fields, and in the hands of the next generation. This is not an end-all answer to preserving our culture and traditions, but it is a start.