When did military surplus rifles hit the civilian market?


December 21, 2012, 02:15 PM
Looking to find out when surplus rifles, particularly semi or full auto, were first sold to the public. Anyone know?

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December 21, 2012, 02:18 PM
I'm not sure when the very first "surplus" sales were made. Certainly after the Civil War there were huge stocks of muskets that ended up getting sold off. But that was really the first war involving true mass production of arms. Before that all of them were hand made, and I don't think any military had an excess of arms to sell off.

If you look at an old Bannerman catalog from the 20's you'll see what people could buy back then. The prices are sometimes heartbreakingly low

December 21, 2012, 02:24 PM
Thanks for the answer, but I now realize I was pretty vague wasn't I? I'm trying to find out when each model was first made available, such as the M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, etc. Mostly WWI and WWII semi-auto or full auto stuff.

I have someone stating that semi-auto rifles just weren't widely used or sold prior to recent times, and looking for some facts to enlighten them with.

December 21, 2012, 02:55 PM
The 1911 is how old?

Semi auto rifles came in with WWII. for general use.

We used bolt actions in WWI for infantrymen.

Machine guns where crew served weapons in WWI.

December 21, 2012, 02:59 PM
The earliest I can find M1 Garands being sold to civilians is 1965 or so.

December 21, 2012, 03:14 PM
Overstock M-1 Carbines and Garands were sold to troops in quantity in the 50's (my Uncle bought his for 25 bucks while in Japan ca. 1955) and to civilians through the DCM (now CMP). In fact, THEY STILL ARE VERY MUCH available from the CMP, courtesy of people that fought to keep this government originated and sanctioned source of SEMI-AUTO (and other) guns open to qualified citizens. As for overseas sources, semi-autos surplus weapons were and are imported in quantity ~ especially the SKS rifle and such. Your pal is a noodle. Take him/her shooting and 'fix' them.

And truth be told, Civil War troops could usually buy their weapons when mustered out for a small fee - rifles and sidearms.

December 21, 2012, 03:23 PM
In the Feb. 1978 edition of the American Rifleman there is an article " The Way it Used to Be".
In this article it is stated:
"When M14 rifles were issued, in the late 1950s, the DCM released excess quanitites of the arms it was to replace.". Between 1958 and 1967, when all sales were terminated, Americans purchased 12,000 M1903 rifles, 279,000 M1903A3 rifles, 3600 National Match rifles, 1600 service grade M1 rifles, 3200 NM and 145,600 service grade M1911 and 1911A1 pistols, 8,800 12-ga. shotguns and 207,000 M1 carbines. Sales between 1958 and 1967 netted $12.3 million dollars for return to the Treasury." It was in 1978 that the sales program was reopened when the DCM announced that " a limited number of service grade M1 rifles would be released for sale to eligible individuals. The price would be $94.30 plus administrative, packing, handling and transportation charges, for a total of approximately $ 112.00 per rifle. Prior purchase of either a NM M1 rifle or a service grade M1 disqualifies a person from purchasing a rifle of either type under this sales program." Requests were to be sent to Director of Civilian Marksmanship, Room 1E053, W. Forrestal Bldg., Wash., D.C. 20314.

I bought an M1 Carbine for $17.50 + $2.50 shipping in Feb. 1965.


Baba Louie
December 21, 2012, 03:39 PM
I have someone stating that semi-auto rifles just weren't widely used or sold prior to recent times, and looking for some facts to enlighten them with. While not widely used by the masses, John Brownings Model 5 shotgun was patented in 1900, his Remington Model 8 rifle came out in 1906, Thompson's submachine gun, 1921, so the concept has been around a while now.

Those were all pricey when new, owned by few.

Govt surplus is another thing. Garands & Carbines were sold thru DCM post Korean War, call it late 50s.

Full auto, surplus... few. Probably the most famous and readily available would be the M2 Carbine or Tommy gun here in the US. Throw in the odd STEN or MP40. One would still need the transfer tax stamp and background check. Not saying a lot of vets from WWII and Korea did not have something special stashed away to bring home, because obviously some did, witness the recent Stg44 turned in.

Call it the past 60 years for wide availability of semi auto surplus sales, past 100 years for semi autos sold new. Semi auto AR15s since the mid 60s. No surplus sales for M16s to my knowledge. (I could be wrong) Full auto since early 20s, the 34 NFA tax limited later sales to the wealthier buyers who can afford to feed them.

December 21, 2012, 04:01 PM
Thanks guys, that should doit.

As for taking him shooting, probably won't happen, though I wish it would. He's not a bad guy and we have much in common, but the gun issue just doesn't fly. The best I can do is correct him when he is wrong factually.

December 21, 2012, 04:22 PM
Surplus guns used to be given to civilians when a new firearm was adopted to replaced the old ones.
Semi-auto firearms and soon select fire arms first became widespread in militaries in WW2. So after WW2 it was mainly the bolt actions they replaced being widely released as surplus.

While some soldiers could buy thier guns as noted prior as early as the 1950s, it would not be until the garand was replaced by the m14 that they would then be released for surplus.

However long before that there was plenty of surplus semi-auto from WW2 being sold in American. German semi auto firearms like the Gewehr 43 (G43)
with detachable box magazine were widely available for purchase.

Most of the rifles were full powered rifle cartridges like the G-43. Not yet using the less powerful and smaller assault rifle cartridges.

We have some catalogs posted here from the 1950s that show them and rifles of some of the others involved in WW2 that had thier semi-autos from WW2 as surplus on the US civilian market.
I forget the thread, but there is some catalogs from that time period posted around here.

Of interesting note would be the 20mmx138B Soluthurn cartridge Lahti Anti Tank Rifle used in Finland that could be purchased for about $100 through mail order and shipped to your door. This 20mm gun is much more powerful than the 20mm Vulcan round most common in military use today (20x102.)
It is a semi auto firearm with a 10 round magazine.
There was also the German Solothurn S18-1000 that used the same round and was sold surplus on the US market.
Be interesting to see one with the 20 round magazines from the Flak 30 anti-aircraft gun they could use.
(1968 GCA reclassified guns over .50 bore diameter as Destructive Devices turning them into NFA items. They were just normal rifles under the law prior.)

So yeah you could get a 20mmx138B cannon that could take 20 round detachable magazine mail ordered to your house (although I believe most had to settle for 10 round magazines.)

Surplus of fully functional rifles ended when the entire world moved on to select fire weapons as standard. That was shortly after WW2.
As these could no longer go to civilians under the NFA.

However there was still attempts to change that, it looked like the m14 might eventually go to civilians through the CMP after first being modified to semi-auto only.
I recall some rifles were so completed (full auto portion completely welded over.)
To stop this in the 1990s and insure it didn't change Clinton had nearly a million of them destroyed, and they also had the ATF come out with the "once a machinegun always a machinegun" statement to reinforce it and reduce opposition to thier destruction. (They destroyed most USGI 1911 handguns which were entirely legal for civilians to own, and several other amassed guns in US military armories during that time period as well.)

Wil Terry
December 21, 2012, 04:29 PM
Go read about the BANNERMAN's and all the surplus they sold.
The gummit only stopped when the NFA guns were then available, M14, M16, etc.
My favorite were U.S.KRAG rifles for a whopping $1.50.
You whippersnappers should really read the history of that you PURPORT to be intersted in..........yeah right....fat chance of that...
And so it goes...

December 21, 2012, 04:37 PM
These days the UN comes to agreements to destroy surplus guns, and insure the common people they rule over don't get weapons when thier professional forces move on to something better.
Few guns become surplus available to anyone other than military or police as a result.
However they still do have surplus that goes on to police or to military of other nations.
Many law enforcement departments picked up for dirt cheap or were given M16A1s when the military upgraded.

Carl N. Brown
March 18, 2013, 03:15 PM
If you look at an old Bannerman catalog from the 20's you'll see what people could buy back then. The prices are sometimes heartbreakingly low

Uh, using an inflation calculator at Wikipedia, I found that the $2 a week allowance I got in 1960 equals the buying power of $15.00 today.

In 1920s a new Ford was $400. What is heartbreaking is what inflation has done to the U.S. dollar over the years.

March 18, 2013, 03:54 PM
The British traded surplus Brown Bess muskets to the Indians here and the natives of Africa after the Revolutionary war.


March 18, 2013, 04:08 PM
I bought an M1 Carbine for $17.50 + $2.50 shipping in Feb. 1965.
So did my F-I-L in 1967. I have the carbine andthe sales receipt along with other paperwork for it.

March 18, 2013, 04:35 PM
There was an M1 Carbine with paperwork at auction for nearly $2000 a few weeks ago.

BTW, what the story on .30 carbine ammo? Will it be available for the next decade or so?

March 18, 2013, 04:43 PM
I thought Civil War veterans were allowed to take their government-issued rifles home if they so chose... does that count?

March 18, 2013, 04:49 PM
I remember walking into a big city gun store circa 1980 and finding AR-15s and Uzis on the shelf, something I had never seen in my small town where Walgreen had the biggest selection in town.

Arkansas Paul
March 18, 2013, 04:51 PM
This doesn't have to do with the OP, but I thought it was interesting. I read somewhere that model 1855 Colt revolving rifles were sold after the Civil War for surplus at $0.55 each.

March 18, 2013, 05:03 PM
Many Spencer and Sharps carbines were sold after the Civil War - indeed it spoiled Spencer's commercial prospects. Trapdoor rifles were made up from of the early pattern parts sold as scrap, and soon found their way to the Indians in the 1870s.
Scrapped and rewelded M1s were sold to the public by various dubious dealers at a time before the government released them in quantity.

March 18, 2013, 05:08 PM
I bought an M1 Carbine for $17.50 + $2.50 shipping in Feb. 1965.

Wanna double your money? I just so happen to have $35.00 burning a hole in my pocket.:D:D (I'll even throw in the $2.50 to pay your old shipping cost, since I'm a nice guy!)

Steel Horse Rider
March 18, 2013, 05:09 PM
Winchester made the 1907 .351 Self Loading rifle that was used by both the Texas Rangers and the US Expeditionary Force observer pilots in WWI. It is a semi-automatic rifle that was used by civilians and the military. Bonnie and Clyde were purported to have a Model 1907 when they were finally killed by the police.

March 18, 2013, 06:44 PM
1940s: Caliber .30 M1 Carbine: First issued to US military troops in 1942. Nearly seven million produced for military, huge numbers released into the civilian market after WWII, and dozens of companies produced them for the civilian market as well. Used both 15- and 30-round detachable box magazines.

1940s: Caliber .30 M1 Rifle (Garand): First issued to US troops in 1936. Nearly seven million produced for military. Internal magazine fed by eight-round clips. Huge numbers have been, and are being released to the public through the Civilian Marksmanship Program beginning in the 1940s, and tens of thousands have been sold back into the US civilian market from nations which received them from the US government for wartime use.

March 18, 2013, 10:59 PM
1955 at Camp Perry was probably the first time the Directorate of Civillian Marksmanship sold M1 Garands. 1958 for M1 Carbines initial sales.

March 18, 2013, 11:57 PM
Forget surplus. The Remington Model 8 semi automatic rifle became available to the public in 1908 (and superseded an earlier semi auto model) . The Winchester Model 1907 with 10 round detachable magazines a year earlier. The Thompson sub-machine gun in full auto was available to the public sometime between 1919 and 1923 (someone will be along with an exact date) . Full auto was available to John Q Public - with 50 round drums ! ) until the NFA of 1934, driven in large part by the St Valentines Day Massacre.

Here's the deal : 2A has been determined by the SCOTUS to allow RKBA to individual citizens (and qualified resident aliens) in each and every jurisdiction in the US (Heller and McDonald) and in Miller (1939) SCOTUS ruled that 2A protects the right to possess all firearms "in common use ". Semi automatic rifles and handguns have been in common use for 100 years. The AR15 itself for 50 years.

This is why the gun owner discrimination advocates will focus on banning "features " like flash hiders, pistol grips and thumbhole stocks as well as magazine capacity and taxation of ammunition. Their legal experts believe such measures will withstand challenge in SCOTUS because classes of firearms "in common use " are not banned, only "cosmetic " features that "mimick " military (not common use) firearms. Through taxation and continued programs to diminish the social acceptability of gun ownership (advertising bans and further sales restrictions will be next - sales only allowed in licensed firearms only shops) they will stigmatize gun ownership further especially among urban and suburban populations (look at an electoral map) so that they can impose ever increasing restrictions on and impediments to RKBA. Eventually they will have the numbers to either disregard 2A altogether ir secure an amendment / annulment of 2A. This is not some Roswell Area 51 Tinfoil Hat conspiracy theory. This is classic public health social engineering. This will be supplemented by litigation against manufactures, wholesalers and retailers to drive up the cost of doing business and further sway public opinion. Licensing fees, increased taxes on firearms and ammunition, the imposition of costly liability insurance and expensive training courses will diminish the number of people (particularly in urban and suburban population centers) who can afford or are willing to pay to own firearms. If they can get some of these measures through soon (like NY) they could be in a position to amend 2A in as little as 10 years.

There can be no compromise with the gun owner discrimination advocates because their goal is to socially engineer sufficient apathy to 2A to see it annulled.

Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk 2

March 19, 2013, 01:50 AM
Bannerman's catalog offered all sorts of arms, from spontoons, to halberds, and assegai; also almost every kind of military rifle and accoutrements he could find. The listing included flintlock "trade" rifles; muskets, even sections of Spanish-American war items. Also for sale were gatlings from small to medium to large (if memory serves, the 1930 edition included Vickers-built 1.1" naval gatlings with mounts). "Great War" MGs were available, and even artillery, if mostly "mountain" guns or "gallopers."

April 1934 put paid to anything rifled over 0.5 inch; and all the FA stuff.

But, they carried full ranges of military items, bayonets, cartridge belts & boxes, uniform parts, helmets, and the like. The warehouse wound up covering almost all of an island on the Hudson.

The 20th century saw military arms built to assembly-line precision, and to standards of longevity we are still testing. The number of working, and readily-available Mausers beggars imagination. Until the 20th Century, military arms were often used until they wore out. After that, they were warehoused, gifted/sold by governments, became spoils of war.

But, if OP really wants to kerfuddle their friend, simply point out that, during the First Depression years, the 1930s, the US Government's Springfield (Mass.) Armory would make 1903 rifles to spec, and mail them to US citizens (if requiring NRA membership, IIRC). They would even "sporterize" those 1903s.

Shadow 7D
March 19, 2013, 02:43 AM
Read about 'the castle' (think it was bannermans) in the middle of one eastern river, they used KRAG's and Trapdoor Springfield's as piling rebar type reinforcement to help shoal up the jetty... bayonets etc. they were brought in to clean out the place, which has been used as an over run storehouse, included were all sorts of everything including Hoskiss mountain guns, and the 2.??? ammo, part of what he did was demil the HE ammo...
BTW, this haul was the start of Navy Arms. So for a really long time.

March 19, 2013, 04:49 AM
I have someone stating that semi-auto rifles just weren't widely used or sold prior to recent times, and looking for some facts to enlighten them with.

In 1929 you could mail order a submachinegun.... (if you could afford the $175 price tag)


March 19, 2013, 05:16 AM
When Napoleon retreated from russia ... i have seen several chopped down muskets found in barns in eastern and western germany. (Some might have even seen used by the resistance vs. the nazis.....)

March 19, 2013, 06:21 AM
Sears sold a lot of guns that was used in WW 1 WW 2 for around 10.00 some less. You might go to Sears and see if you can find some info.

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