"Sporterizing" Milsurp Weapons..Blasphemy?


April 1, 2003, 09:10 PM
Just curious as to what folks think on this subject.

There are tons of "sporterized" weapons out on the market these days. Some make use of actions from unserviceable barrels and stocks, either rebarelling or doing what Century Arms does to the M44 Nagants, just adding a sporterized stock and removing the bayonnet. Some are made from perfectly fine weapons and then folks try to make them something different. I have no idea if the Gibbs rifles are made from good Enfields and rebarelling them to different calibers, but they are also common on the marketplace.

As for pistols, I'm not sure most folks sporterize, but rather "accesorize" by adding aftermarket parts. Most of these weapons can easily be returned to their original condition, although there are quite a few of them that were refinished. The Argentine .45s seemed to be the most recent ones.

So I'm curious..what would you accept?

1. Would you "sporterize" a serviceable rifle by cutting the barrel and reworking the stock? This includes a rebarrel.

2. Would you "sporterize" by just adding an aftermarket stock, but otherwise keeping things orginal so that it can be restored?

3. Would you purchase a sporterized rifle such as the Gibbs?

4. Or are you totally in favor of keeping history in its original form.

My answers..
1. Although I have before on an Enfield..I most likely won't again. I felt pretty bad changing a nice rifle.

2. Yes

3. I don't know...I'm not sure if they used unserviceable barrels and good actions or if my purchase actually affects the good supply of Enfields out there.

4. I'm not a diehard. Yes, I like originals, but If I had a good action and bad barrel I would use it to sporterize rather than trying to rebuild the original rifle.

Good Shooting

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Chris Rhines
April 1, 2003, 09:20 PM
Would you "sporterize" a serviceable rifle by cutting the barrel and reworking the stock? This includes a rebarrel. For the most part, yes. I'd make an exception for an individual firearm of great historical signifigance (for example, Audie Murphy's M1 Carbine) but for the most part I would have no qualms about cutting on a run-of-the-mill surplus gun.

Would you "sporterize" by just adding an aftermarket stock, but otherwise keeping things orginal so that it can be restored? Certainly.

Would you purchase a sporterized rifle such as the Gibbs? Maybe. I really enjoy doing my own gunsmithing work, so I'd be more inclined to buy a stock surplus rifle and customize it to my tastes.

Or are you totally in favor of keeping history in its original form. I'm a shooter, not a collector, and most milsurp rifles shoot poorly as issued (mostly a matter of bad sights, stocks, and ergonomics than of poor quality.) I see nothing wrong with taking a sound military rifle and making it shoot better.

- Chris

April 1, 2003, 09:31 PM
If Mr. Dremel touches Mr. Milsurp, Mr. Clue-by-Four will be looking for a pound of flesh.

If after the change it could not be restored to original condition, I would never consider doing it to one of my C&Rs, especially if a non-C&R version could be used instead. IE: a stock change is ok, but hacking and slashing a Sistema Colt when a Charles Daly would do is not ok.


April 1, 2003, 10:03 PM
#1 No
#2 No
#3 Yes, I have. A No.4 Mk.1 Enfield that was cut down but looks the same other than the fact that it is short. As a general rule, I don't approve of it.
#4 Yes

April 1, 2003, 10:29 PM
I can see both sides. Being as picky as I am, I'd be sure the donor rifle truly wasn't secretly a little produced piece. Is it just an old Enfield or is it a low production year from a low production armory? While I wouldn't have any qualms about cutting up a rifle for a project, I'd hate to think I unknowingly cut up one of 1,000 of something.

I'd obviously have no issues with replacing a stock but leaving all metal work alone. I've never done it, I've never wanted to do it but if building a hunting rifle on a super tight budget, I guess I could understand.

Only 'cut up' surplus rifle around here... very pretty, I might add. Hope you guys don't think less of me. :uhoh: Took the scope off as it was just ridiculously high. Plus this is probably best suited as a 50-150 yard cover rifle and the factory sights work just fine at that range, if shooting a bit high.


April 1, 2003, 10:29 PM
I would not personally do anything to a milsurp I couldn't undo. I would and have changed stocks, and have considered a mojo sight, but would not do anything to permanently alter one.

I find them more interesting in the original configurations, and value the history they represent.

However, I think everyone has a perfect right to do whatever they want. If someone wants to take an old Turk mauser and see what they can build it into, that's great. It's a hobby, and we ought to enjoy it in whichever way brings us the most satisfaction.

Just don't mess with Audie Murphy's carbine!

April 1, 2003, 10:30 PM
I have quite a few milsurps and I figure if it was good enough for the soliders using it in the last 100, 85 or 50 years then its good enough for whatever I use it for.

April 1, 2003, 10:39 PM

What's the string around the trigger for? You still skeered to fire that thing from the shoulder?:D ;)

Good Shooting

April 1, 2003, 10:45 PM
It would depend on the gun, what you have, and what you need.
With something like a run of the mill Enfield or Mauser, I would probably do it.
With something like a Swedish Mauser or a Finn M-39, I would definitely just let the damn thing alone. They are just too nice to cut up.
But, if you need a scoped rifle, and you can only afford an M-48, then do what you have to do.
I wouldn't sporterize any of mine, but that doesn't mean that I never will.
It is preferable to keep them so that they can be restored, unless you want a shooter instead of a wall hanger.

Andrew Wyatt
April 1, 2003, 11:48 PM
there are three circumstances in which i would possibly even consider sporterizing a rifle.

the first is if the rifle is in unserviceable condition and part cost for restoring it would be overmuch.

the second is if the modifications could be undone.

the third is if i found a really cherry looking enfield. i'd buy it and leave it unmolested and then take my current one and make a scout rifle out of it.

April 1, 2003, 11:54 PM

April 2, 2003, 12:00 AM
I am generally in the "don't sporterize" camp, however the market is awash right now in tatty Yugo and Turk Mausers, Mosins, and Ishapore Enfields.

It's kind of like hunting: if you've got an old Turk that doesn't headspace, well, the whitetail population is a little high; cutting up an all-numbers-matching WWI German 98, though, is kind of like bagging a bald eagle just to see what it tastes like.

April 2, 2003, 12:48 AM
1. yes
2. no
3. yes
4. no

I'd probably sporterize a rifle just to annoy collectors. It's my firearm, pistol or rifle, I paid my own hard earned dollars for it and I'll do just exactly what I please with it.

If I "bubbaize" it then it's still mine. You may not like it but you don't own the firearm so your opinion does not matter.

April 2, 2003, 12:53 AM
I'd probably sporterize a rifle just to annoy collectors. It's my firearm, pistol or rifle, I paid my own hard earned dollars for it and I'll do just exactly what I please with it.

You can set it on fire or throw it off a bridge for all I care; they're your guns, man. ;)

(I'll point and snicker if you do, though... :D )

April 2, 2003, 01:05 AM
Nothing says "ignorant peckerwood" like sporterizing a nice milsurp firearm beyond repair.

If the thing had problems, then chop away; at least try to do a good job.

I've seen collectors say that sporterizing is a good way to spend $400 to make a $600 gun into a $200 one.

You'd best plan on owning that sucker for a good long while, because you just flushed your bucks.

April 2, 2003, 01:21 AM
I think Military rifles are part of history. Also there are plenty of new guns that will do the the same or better job as a sporterized Milsurp. That being said, I have seen some really cool Enfield and Mauser Safari rifles that I really like. A Enfield with a full Manlicher stock and peep sights would really make my day.

April 2, 2003, 06:26 AM
Doesn't matter what I think of it.

It matters what future generations will think. I'm about 100% sure they'll want to travel back in time, and kick the Bubbas in the butt for ruining historical rifles. There won't be "millions" of rifles of historical signifigance in the future.

Old mausers and enfields are works of art. Hand fitted, furniture and metal that breathes history. Cutting it is like pissing on a vets wheelchair, IMHO. No respect for history or the future.

My .02

April 2, 2003, 06:29 AM

The pic is from the previous owner when it was for sale... see I didn't butcher it, I took it from someone who did. :p

April 2, 2003, 08:39 AM
I don't "sportsterize" mil-surp weapons. I can think of a few examples of where it worked out well, though. A shooting buddy had a nice clean 8MM K98 Mauser, tight action, almost mirror-finish looking bore, razor sharp rifling. Was a 1945 vintage German Infantry model, as i sort of vaguely recall. Apparently, the stock had not been properly "cut along the grain" when made, for an ugly crack ran from near the end of the receiver to the butt plate. He saved the original stock, but put on a beautiful grained custom "Monte Carlo" style stock.
Result.....a breathtakingly good looking rifle, in a decent caliber, based on what is arguably one of the best bolt actions around.

April 2, 2003, 09:55 AM
Its your rifle, you can do what you wish with it.
That being said, I would think twice before cutting up one with all matching #'s or some possible historical significance which would add to its value as a collector piece.

1. Yes
2. That depends on what you want.
3. Yes
4. No

Sporterized a Swedish Mauser 96 by stock replacement, glass bedding, bent bolt, safety replacement, barrell shortened (from 29" to 23", matches what amory did) and rechamfered, and reblued. I have 2 that will stay as it. And one extra that I may shorten barrell on and glass bed in original stock (I passed on an all matching # gun at same price/condition because I might alter it).

April 2, 2003, 11:07 AM
Just so I could sit there and point at him and laugh when he bubbaized a minty 1917 Amberg Gew98. Or would it be worth more to watch him cut up a split-window 1963 Corvette, in order to add a pickup truck box on the back? Hey, it's his prerogative!

I'd probably sporterize a rifle just to annoy collectors. It's my firearm, pistol or rifle, I paid my own hard earned dollars for it and I'll do just exactly what I please with it.

Dude, it's your washcloth and bar of soap, too. You can wash something as hard and fast as you want to, nobody's gonna stop you. (Well maybe your mom, so's you don't go blind and all...)

I've done such sporterizings, but only when I couldn't afford to restore the gun back to it's original condition, or it just wasn't feasible. Folks here on THR and the former TFL know I take great pains to bring those old guns back to their original condition or better. El Rojo even got a red gun stand out of sheer envy! :D

However, when a 1916 Haenel Mauser action is found without the bolt, the receiver was drilled and tapped, and has a rotten stub of a barrel, then by all means, build it into what you want.

April 2, 2003, 12:06 PM
A matching Mauser, no.

My well used Yugo SKS, yes. Don't feel bad, as there are 200 more just like it 2 blocks down the street. And there are 200k of them resting in cosmo, down in Long Beach. They have no collector value, and with those numbers, little in the future.

But I'd never mess with a quality mil-surp weapon. They are timeless beauties.

April 2, 2003, 12:23 PM
A collector's item...no way! But there's a ton of $100 military crap out there that I have no problem screwing around with. My SKS gets all sorts of stuff done to it.
Old stuff from other countries is so plentiful and cheap...have some fun!

We have this same arguement in the collector car circles. I'd never cut up a show car or a unique car but an old car that is way too far gone to restore to 100%...sure make a hotrod out of it :)

April 2, 2003, 12:27 PM
I sporterized these two ex-C&Rs and I'm glad I did. I love shooting them. Yea, yea, they ain't making them no more. Well, they aren't for sale anyway. However, the Sistema had a cracked slide and the SKS had a broken stock and worn finish. Neither was worth much in original condition.



April 2, 2003, 12:29 PM
I have a friend who has a Ruger Blackhawk Flat top, the first run of the 44 Magnum Rugers... He cut the barrel off even with the ejector housing, remounted the front sight and so on.

Collectors are horrified. Why would anyone do such a thing!!!
**Because the gun was brand new at the time. It wasn't a collector's item when he did it, it was a commercially available revolver.

I have a 581 S&W revolver at home. It's one of the first run S&W made. I round butted it, slicked the factory grooved trigger, half bobbed the hammer spur and put a neon pink front sight on it. Turns out, that first run are now collector's items. It was my duty gun at the time. I bought it to carry on duty. It did real well.

How many 1911/1911A1 pistols were "excessed" and made into target pistols between 1920 and 1960? Thousands, at least? Hundreds of thousands? How many 1903 and 03A3 Springfields were "excessed" and turned into hunting rifles? G98k Mausers? Gazillions of them. Jap rifles? Cheap enough to use as tomato stakes....

Colt Single Action pistols were junk from about 1910 to 1960 or so. Then they became collectable.... gads.

I remember in 1964, one could buy an M1 Garand, with a scope, for $69 mail order. Fifteen years later, those same Garands were going for $800 to a Grand.

The point is, the old rifles that were once just "old surplus rifles" are now part of history. Something most of us have, lying around and gathering dust (or worse) will be worth a fortune in fifty years. I don't know what it is, dangit!

In my opinion, good original rifles should be kept original. You might think twice about changing a factory commercial rifle. Do you have any idea what an excellent condition Winchester Model 88 is worth these days? See if you can even find a Remington Model 8 for sale.

April 2, 2003, 12:30 PM
For fun, I build high-end custom rifles, all one off's, and all on original military bolt actions (Read: Mausers and Enfields)

All of them have utilized non-restorable, non-servicable actions...

I would NOT and HAVE not cut up a "good" Milsurp gun... those I sell to collectors AS collection pieces...

April 2, 2003, 12:51 PM
As others have pointed out above, a feller or gal oughta be able to do whatever they want with their own stuff. That doesn't mean I wouldn't shed a tear if I saw you cutting up something with matching numbers and historically significant cartouches and such.

Personally, I'm in the "do nothing that can't be easily undone" camp. Scopes and swapped sights are okay in my book. If I wasn't getting good accuracy out of a particular rifle, I'd just use it as a plinker rather than rebarreling it etc. as a hunting / precision shooting arm. I'd have nothing against putting a scope on one of my Mausers that does 3" or better groups though, and using it for hunting.

2nd Amendment
April 2, 2003, 02:39 PM
If it has some significance; matching numbers, low production, etc then no. But honestly, how large a percentage are actually "worth" anything in that respect? Most are mismatched parts guns due to one rebuild or another in their service lives and a lot are just plain beaters, like the old Enfield I have. When I get a chance I'm going to turn it into something else entirely since as it sits it's nothing but a doorstop, and an ugly one at that.

April 2, 2003, 05:29 PM
The closest I've ever come is putting a scout mount on my Yugo Mauser, and I can always put that back to original. But if I can find a beat up M44 that can keep 3 shots in 3 inches at 100yrds I've got an idea that will make most purists cringe. But that will be it, the only one, I promise.

April 2, 2003, 06:24 PM
But if I can find a beat up M44 that can keep 3 shots in 3 inches at 100yrds I've got an idea that will make most purists cringe.

Hmm...sounds like the makings of one loud scout rifle. :D

Good Shooting

Jason Demond
April 2, 2003, 06:47 PM
Sporterized guns make Jason cry!:(

Larry Ashcraft
April 2, 2003, 06:54 PM
Actually, I have two "sporterized" 1903's. One my dad built in the 50's with bird's eye maple stock, turned down barrel, the whole shot. He bought the rifle in 1945 for $12.00. It is a Rock Island, serial # 303308. I know, it would be a good collector piece if he hadn't done it, but who was to know back then? The bore is shot out and I'm having it rebarreled to a .270 Ackley Improved and leaving the rest as my dad built it.

The other one, I built about 16-18 years ago, BUT I started with a never barreled nickle steel 1903 action from Sarco (made in the 40's). 25-06, French walnut stock, deep blue, narrowed trigger guard, polishing and engine turning in all the right places.

These are my two favorite rifles. But I would never think of cutting up a original 1903 today, they are just worth too much (I have two originals also).

April 2, 2003, 07:39 PM
"Hmm...sounds like the makings of one loud scout rifle. "

You don't know the half of it. I have visions of a ported 16 inch barrel dancing thru my head.:what: :evil: :what:

April 2, 2003, 07:57 PM
Bill Clinton cut up and melted down more Garands, M1As, carbines, 1903s and 1911s than you can possibly imagine. I sure as hell wish they had all been sporterized instead.:barf:

If I told you the numbers, you wouldn't believe it.

April 2, 2003, 08:06 PM
that does put some perspective on it.

April 2, 2003, 09:41 PM
A rifle is a tool, tools are modified as needed. An investment is another matter. Good judgement should be used, as in anything else.

But to each their own. If someone wants to drill and tap their weapon, more power to them. People who meddle in others affairs need to mind their own business, IMNSHO.


April 2, 2003, 11:15 PM
Just call me "ignorant peckerwood" then.

Am I not supposed to touch any firearm I purchase on the off chance that someday it might become a collector's item? If shooting them decreases the collector value, should I just take every firearm I purchase and put it up unfired just on the off chance that it might become a collector's item someday?

Swisher, You learn from history, use the lessons of other people's mistakes so as not to repeat them. You don't put history on a pedestal and idolize it.

As far as relating sporterizing a collectible firearm to pissing on a veteran's wheel chair.

I happen to be a disabled vietnam vet. I considered a number of ways to reply to this, most included some pretty foul language. I decided not to stoop to your level.

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