Most Accurate Vintage Rifle?


December 12, 2009, 09:07 PM
I'm fairly new to 'vintage rifles' (K31, Mauser, SKS, etc) and wanted to get a better idea for some of the more desirable vintage rifles that can shoot sub moa without much work needing to be done. Price range would be helpful, and pictures welcomes :)

If you enjoyed reading about "Most Accurate Vintage Rifle?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
December 12, 2009, 09:16 PM
that can shoot sub moa without much work needing to be done.

Any service rifle, given enough ammo through the barrel, just by statistical variance, will shoot one sub MOA cluster.

We see these targets and claims all the time by guys who don't show us the huge target spreads they normally get.

Service rifles are not sub MOA. They were never built to that standard. The M14 had to shoot ball ammo within 3.5 inches. The 50’s NM Garands were acceptable if they shot within 3.5 inches at 100 yards. An M1 Carbine won’t stay on a pie pan at 100 yards.

What I have read is that the average service rifle accuracy requirement was close to 3 MOA. The military looked at average engagement distances, the size of the target, how long the target was visible, and 3 MOA is reasonable.

My AK and SKS’s are 8 moa at best.

You will not find a sub MOA rifle for the price of a military surplus rifle. Sorry.

Of the military surplus rifles I have owned, pre WWI Mauser 98's in 7 mm Mauser were very accurate, the Swedish service rifles are very good, and the K31 is very good. A M1903A3 is very good, given a good barrel and bedding.

You take any one of these relics to a 100 yard high power match and the best you will do is win Marksman class.

You are not going to shoot a HM score.

December 12, 2009, 09:31 PM
K31 or 1903 Springfield period. No other military surplus rifles come close to them in accuracy. Oh yeah, the M1 Garrand, K31 is your best bet, 1903 and M1 are up there in cost and good samples can be hard to find.

December 12, 2009, 09:40 PM
Ive had vintage rifle matches here on THR and one recurring theme isthat the individual rifle is much more important than country of origin.

In one match a Mosin Nagant won with a well under 1/2" group

December 12, 2009, 09:44 PM

Join Date: December 6, 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 46 K31 or 1903 Springfield period. No other military surplus rifles come close to them in accuracy. Oh yeah, the M1 Garrand, K31 is your best bet, 1903 and M1 are up there in cost and good samples can be hard to find.

You are being rather absolute. I have to agree the K-31 is up there but I think the earlier models, 96/11 and 1911 Schmidt Rubins are a bit more accurate, probably because of longer sight radius. The model 96 Swedish Mauser is being overlooked, It has been outshooting the K-31 in some of the Camp Perry matches over the last few years. Personally I like both.

I have never had the opportunity to try one of the Springfields and do not think a stock M-1 will match a stock K-31 or M 96 Swede on average. Turn some of the accuracy specialists on the M-1 loose and it would be interesting.

There were plenty of fine military rifles out there that should be up there in the accuracy dept if you compare apples to apples. The Swiss and Swedes were never used in combat so were well maintained. Were the Springfields used in competition reworked for better accuracy. What would happen with a properly treated Mauser 98 or some of the other earlier Mausers had most examples not seen extensive combat or poor handling and storage in some third world countries.

December 12, 2009, 10:21 PM
When i first shot my K 31, it gave me one rugged hole at 15 yds. Then at 100 yds, it was an inch . I didnt waste my GP 11 bullets after a few rounds. Packed up and left with a smile on my face.

Id say get u a blonde and a walnut stock of these super accurate mlsurp rifles. They are still quite available today and hard to beat .

December 12, 2009, 10:27 PM
Jed Clampett's percussion rifle. HE could shoot a fly on the wall across his courtyard.

December 12, 2009, 10:42 PM
I tend to disagree that the K31 and the 1903 are the alpha and the omega when it comes to military surplus accuracy. Ever heard of the Whitworth rifle?
"Most of the men in the Army of Northern Virginia's sharpshooter battalions used Enfields, and only one or two men per battalion carried Whitworths. Thus in the approximately thirty-six infantry brigades of the Army of Northern Virginia, there were most likely between thirty-six and seventy-two of these rifles in service. Although some claims of its accuracy are no doubt exaggerated, the fact remains that the Whitworth could and did strike at a thousand yards and beyond. "The claim of 'fatal results at 1,500 yards,'" concluded one modern expert, "was no foolish boast." Overall, it was a deadly weapon that, in the right hands, repaid its high cost many times over. "I do not believe a harder-shooting, harder-kicking, longer-range gun was ever made than the Whitworth rifle," asserted sharpshooter veteran Isaac Shannon. (courtesy West Point Museum)"

December 12, 2009, 11:34 PM
Since most of us will never see, much less afford, a Whitworth, I'd go with the Swiss milsurps first, then the Swede Mauser as the best chance for finding one that shoots MOA on a regular basis, but even that will be a matter of luck.

Following up closely some of the 1891 and 1893 Mausers are very accurate with mild loads in them. And of course some of the Model 98's were accurate as well, a particular Persian model comes to mind that used to outshoot me and my 1891 on a regular basis.

December 13, 2009, 12:14 AM
Andrew; are you talking about milsurp rifles only, or just vintage rifles in general?
I think a nice mk 4 enfield can be pretty accurate, as well a 1917 eddystone, and yes even Garands. But I also agree, if you get the right rifle, and the right load, it depends more on the shooter. I have a m38 mosin, that with the 205 grainers, is pretty darn impressive. I shoot a lot, so I know how well it performs, compared to my other rifles.

December 13, 2009, 01:10 AM
We tend to forget that for a military formation, the rifle is part of a SYSTEM, along with its ammunition. Most military ammunition is far from "optimal" for the thousands of rifles that fire it. Some of it is frankly horrible....I wonder how a Pakistani or Indian trooper can have any confidence in his armament whatever.

When we as individuals obtain a military rifle, it can be a different story.

I've owned dozens of military rifles over several decades, including virtually all the major types from the dawn of the cartridge era onwards. Having handloaded for all of them, I can safely say that an "average" military rifle will usually deliver better accuracy with loads tuned to that rifle, than it ever will when firing the issued ammunition.

It's no great trick to easily better the "acceptance standards". M14 and M1 rifles have given me very decent accuracy, down in the 2"/five rounds/100 yards area with their issued iron sights....and often smaller than that.

Yeah, this is a plug for handloading, but as stocks of military ammo continue to dry up, we shouldn't think that we're bereft. We can make BETTER ammo, and our rifles will do better for us.

December 13, 2009, 01:27 AM
the old modle 700 winchester used in viet nam was a tac driver,as far as ww2 the 03a3 was no sloutch ither,see saving private ryan,and the myth busters a:Dre wrong,with a armour piercing round to shoot thru a scope and into an eyeball is possible,and did happen.8 mm mauser k98 was very accurate,as was the mosin nagant,7.62 x54.

Dr.Mall Ninja
December 13, 2009, 01:30 AM
what do you guys think is a better rifle the k-31 or the Swedish masuer

December 13, 2009, 02:17 AM
Count my vote for the Schmidt Rubin too.

Perhaps a Mauser 96 in good condition in 6.5x55 might also be a contender...

December 13, 2009, 04:42 AM
Slam Fire said it all in my opinion

December 13, 2009, 06:21 AM
That's easy.....K31.

Ohio Gun Guy
December 13, 2009, 06:49 AM
Many WW2 era rifles can shoot 2"-3" @ 100yds if in good condition.
Granted this is not below the 1" standard that most new bolt guns can easily accomplish, but when standing at 100 yds looking down the iron sights....2-3 inches gets pretty small (IE. the gun may be better than the average shooter). Plus most of the WW2 rifles shoot a round very similar in size to 30-06 which means they are virtually shoulder fired cannons :D....(Kind of)

If your looking to scope it...well for 300 +/- get a new savage, Mossberg ATR, or the like.

The K31 rifles use ammunition that was essentially made to match grade. It is available in surplus but is more expensive, not as plentiful. THe K31 is more accurate due to the rifles generally being very well made and in great condition, plus shooting match grade ammunition.(IMO)

December 13, 2009, 07:35 AM
what do you guys think is a better rifle the k-31 or the Swedish masuer
The K-31 Karabiner, you may find an individual rifle in other platforms that shoot as well, but just about any K-31 you pick up well shoot extremely well. There are some very simple tweaks you can apply to the k-31 to make them shoot even better. Add quality hand loads and sub moa is not out of the question.

December 13, 2009, 07:57 AM
K31, or perhaps any of the Swedish Mausers in 6.5x55.

December 13, 2009, 08:21 AM
1903 national match rifle or a AR and then swiss 6.5 but then its all ammo and shooter not the gun though as the gun is limited by the shooter and the ammo at that point.

December 13, 2009, 09:06 AM
Swedish m96s, Swiss 1911s, with K-31s being a close 3rd.

December 13, 2009, 10:39 AM
My Mosin 91/30:neener: and then my 03a3.

December 13, 2009, 11:08 AM
My Mosin 91/30:neener: and then my 03a3.
Glad to see I'm not the only one that has a 91/30 that produces exceptional accuracy. Before you guys jump all over me for that statement, I full well realize that I got extremely lucky when I bought this one from Gander Mountain. It was NOT that accurate off the shelf, but following a few tricks learned from other 91/30 owners off another forum, a barrel re-crown and a careful sear stoning brought it into consistent sub MOA. Mine is the one Krochus was talking about that was under 1/2" in one of his matches. .383" 5 shot group to be exact and it IS repeatable. (optics @ 100 yards, indoor range/no wind).

December 13, 2009, 11:46 AM

December 13, 2009, 01:42 PM
Hey, I'm OLD! I can't see that far without optics. :evil: No gunsmithing mount from Advanced Rifle Parts and a BSA Contender 3-12 power scope. Rifle can go back to original in less than 10 minutes for the purists.

It was going on a Whitetail deer hunt this month until I wound up in the hospital having to have a pacemaker implanted. Dr. says I can't shoot it until everything heals up & stabilizes, somewhere around Valentine's day now. I have hunted coyotes with it and it's tumbled several out to 150-175 yards so far.

December 13, 2009, 02:09 PM
Get well and get back to the range.

If I do my part...At 100yds,from a bench,open sites,I have achived groups that a dime would cover.
I do have witnesses.:)


December 13, 2009, 02:20 PM
I have a Swede M96/38 and a MN 1944 (bayonet removed) that that I can regularly shoot 2" at 100 yards.

I have no doubt that, a better shooter or me with better eyes, could improve on that.

The Swede is a 1905 CG. I sort of expected that kind of accuracy out of it.

The MN was made in 1944.....the accuracy is MUCH better that what I expected from it. Especially considering it's DOM.

I don't own and have never shot any Swiss rifles or a 1903.:mad: Maybe someday.

December 13, 2009, 02:59 PM
Here are the results from a recent service rifle 300m challenge (iron sights only) in Obernai in Alsace, and you'll see a lot of K31s:
Top score is a K31 with 169 points combined in the precision and speed event.

As for the scoring, here's a picture of the type of target used for the 300m match with a score of 85 out of 100 (that picture wasn't taken at that particular match, it was shot by a Steyr AUG A1) :

If you read French you can check out their site here:

I've only had a chance to visit it once, but a truly great atmosphere and the only 300m range in eastern France as far as I know.

Erik M
December 13, 2009, 04:41 PM
1903 Springfield period.

For sure. Aim Surplus has them. Other places do to but be prepared, they carry a hefty price tag.

December 13, 2009, 05:08 PM
Honestly, many SKS's aren't half bad. With a good shooter and good ammo you are looking at a 3" group. Now that they cost $400, its not worth it. If you are looking for a good shooter without much fuss, get a modern rifle. If you want a milsurp, buy it for its history and then appreciate the accuracy that you can squeeze out of it.

December 13, 2009, 08:16 PM
This afternoon, I hit a beer can sitting on a birm at 100 yards with a short-barrelled M1944 Mosin-Nagant. I consider myself a lousy rifle shot.

December 13, 2009, 09:25 PM
Lookup mag30th on youtube guys. (

He'll show you all you'll ever need to see about accurate "Vintage Rifles".

EDIT: In case anyone thinks twice the puff of smoke you see below a target of his, after you hear a "ping", is the round bouncing off the metal plate. Hard targets beyond 300-400 yards do cause solid lead bullets to bounce. Especially when the cartridge was loaded for optimum accuracy and not velocity/penetration.

December 13, 2009, 09:40 PM
The MAS-36 isn't quite up to a K-31, but it's not too far behind.

-And much easier to find with a low round count... .

December 13, 2009, 09:48 PM
All the MAS 36'es Ive fired have indeed been astoundingly accurate. The sights are far superior to those on other Milsurps save the british No4 and American rifles

gun addict
December 13, 2009, 09:54 PM
uhh, the 1903 is a copy of the Mauser design, my K98k shoots 1.5 inches at 100 yards with portugeses 70s ammo.

Mauser mauser mauser......

December 13, 2009, 10:18 PM
Certain Finnish M39's can be very accurate as well. If you disassemble the trigger and stone all the parts, it can be a pretty decent trigger for a surplus rifle. Someone said that 3MOA is typical for a surplus rifle? Is that statement including handloads or just surplus ammo? My father has a k31 with a perfect bore, next time I see him we'll go shoot it and I will post the results.

December 13, 2009, 10:57 PM


Winchester 1885 High Wall

Remington Rolling Block

Old Time Hunter
February 24, 2010, 09:12 AM
My vote based on fifty six years of experience...'course these are generalizations of standard Mil rifles and no hot-rodding:

1. M96 Swede with 29.1" barrel and diopter sights
2. K31 Schmidt-Rubin Swiss w/diopter sights
3. Commission 88 w/.3215 "S" barrel (this rifle has a full floating barrel!)
4. M4 (Rem 700BDL) .300WM, with an optical enhancer (scope for the untrained)
5. Springfield Trapdoor...only Mil rifle to meet the 3200 yard test with open sights. (see Sandy Hook trials).

February 24, 2010, 12:43 PM
My K31 is spooky accurate!! On shots where I know I pulled the shot or flinched, when I look in my spotting scope there is a bullet hole exactly where I thought it would be, even if it is a miss.

Not to mention they are a breeze to disassemble and clean!!

February 24, 2010, 09:14 PM
My picks for accurate mil-surps are the Finnish M39, the Swiss K31, and the Swedish M96.

On the other hand, I have two German Kar 98Ks that group under 2 inches using Yugo or Portuguese 70's ball or Yugo M75 "sniper" ammo.

February 25, 2010, 09:21 PM
The model 1896 Swedish Mauser has been the longest lived battle rifle, in service with a regular army, in the world.
It served from 1896, until, in 1941, standard rifles were selected for accuracy, fitted with scopes and a bent bolt, designated as m/41 and m/41B sniper rifles. They served unchanged until 1955, when, rather than switch to a newer design, a few minor modifications were made (different scope, blued bolt, extra mounting screw, and a 'back-up', open sight), the designation was changed to SM-Sikte M/55 and it served until 1995, when the last sniper variants were removed from regular service from the Swedish infantry. That was three years short of one hundred years service, and the last fifty-four years it served only for its accuracy, as a sniper rifle.
During this period, there was not a time when it was not considered as a top(if not THE top) contender for accuracy, in both its military and target variants.
I have one, which I bought off the mil-surp rack at a local gun shop, for $149.99, in 2001.
I cleaned it up and ended up with a surplus rifle that shoots moa with two types of off-the-shelf ammo, and is beautiful, to boot.
There's really no need to say "LONG LIVE THE SWEDE!!!", because it's already outlived everything else.
Until someone proves otherwise (not just by sentimental attachment), I'll stick with the "SWEDE", and I don't have an ounce of Swedish blood in my body.
Thanks for your time.

If you enjoyed reading about "Most Accurate Vintage Rifle?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!