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Most un- or under-appreciated military surplus rifle?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Danus ex, Nov 3, 2007.

  1. Danus ex

    Danus ex Member

    Sep 9, 2005
    Minneapolis, MN
    Inspired by the "Most Underappreciated Rifle Caliber" thread. Which military surplus rifle do you think is un- or under-appreciated in the shooting world, and why do you think that? For extra credit, also list which military surplus rifle you think is over-hyped and state why.

    I think the more modern French rifles (MAS 36, 36/51, 49, and 49/56) are under- if not un-appreciated. They're surprisingly compact and well-made, shoot an excellent cartridge, and, for me, they handle better than nearly all other military surplus rifles. More for me, I suppose. (If you have a mint MAS for sale, let me know!)

    I'm gonna catch hell for my extra credit answer, but I think the Lee-Enfield is the most over-hyped military surplus rifle for the reasons people often state when they outline why they think the Lee-Enfield is superior to its peers. I like Lee-Enfields a whole lot, but when I hear or read about their ten round detachable magazine or their "quickest bolt-action in the world" I roll my eyes a bit. Yes, those two things are excellent, but do they and they alone really make the rifle a person's favorite?
  2. Ash

    Ash Mentor

    May 10, 2004
    Anywhere but here
    For the longest time, that would have to go first to the Arisaka then to the Mauser then to the Mosin. Today? What about the Columbian Madsen?

  3. Niner

    Niner Member

    Dec 14, 2005
    I agree with the MAS 1936 being almost universally unliked. Ugly. Expensive 7.5 surplus ammo. But the the aperture iron sights are pretty good as simple sights go. And the bent forward bolt is easy to work. I even like the odd tube holder for the bayonet. And best of all, it will produce a pretty tight group at 100 yards....at least mine will.

    Most over rated? How about Finn Nagants? They are really just Bubba jobs of original Russian Nagants on a government scale....small government to be sure..which is why they didn't create their own design from scratch I'd guess Sure they have better trigger pull and a modified or maybe better barrel and better front sights and bedded a bit better in a nicely constructed finger groove stock.....but....I can shoot better with a 1903A3 or a K31....or a really good 98k.
  4. elmerfudd

    elmerfudd Participating Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    In defense of the Lee Enfield, not only did it have that 10 round mag and a fast bolt action, it also had excellent sights and was extremely reliable even by bolt action standards.

    As far as unappreciated military rifles, I'd say the Carcano is probably at the top of the list. I haven't owned one yet, so I can't say if it deserves it's reputation or not, but you never see anyone put the Carcano at the top of their list of best battle rifles.
  5. JHansenAK47

    JHansenAK47 Active Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    +1 Madsen Great little Danish gun in 30/06.
    Other underappreciated rifles are the tokarevs and Ljungman AG42.

    ROMAK IV Member

    Jul 20, 2007
    ROMAK III's underappreciated, maybe MAS rifles, FN-49's, AG-42's as well. Of course, a ROMAK III isn't necessarily a surplus rifle, depends on the definition, similiar to the position of M1-A's and legal AK's.

    I agree, Enfields, and to a cretain extent, M-1 carbines and 1903's are over appreciated. None of them are bad rifles, just a little too appreciated.

    I guess you COULD add most Moisons, Yugo Mausers, and RC K-98's to the list of underappreciated. It's just amazing that these rifles, in rearsenaled condition are so cheap. Put K-31's in that catagory, except for the fact that there are quite a few people out there appreciating their K-31's at every opportunity. I appreciate them even though I haven't been able to get one yet. The availability of the rifles and the surplus ammunition has made older Swiss rifles even more economical to own and shoot, and I really appreciate my K-11 and 1896/11.
  7. Sylvilagus Aquaticus

    Sylvilagus Aquaticus Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Dallas, Texas
    I'd agree the Madsen is underappreciated, mostly out of relative scarceness.

    Of course, the same could be said for Mexican small ring Mausers and most (nice) Brazilian Mausers, too.

    40 years ago, there were more South American Mausers around, and it seems they've all been eaten by closets and collections, never to be seen again. When was the last time you saw a Chilean Cavalry carbine in 7x57 complete with saddle attachments?

  8. rangerruck

    rangerruck Mentor

    Jan 12, 2006
    Texas, baby!
    not that i have fired the arisaka, but i would totally dig a curent made rifle fireing the 6.5 arisaka round.
  9. Eightball

    Eightball Senior Member

    May 31, 2005
    Louisville, KY
    That wonky semi-automatic Mexican design that was out at the turn of the century, or the Dreyese needlegun (spelling?). For the innovations they represent, they're underappreciated. As for them being "surplus"---well, I'd call them "rare."

    Though, the 1917 Eddystone Enflields seem to be unappreciated, and almost never mentioned by anyone, anywhere. Okay, let's just forget that the British supplied us with most of our weapons for WWI at the outset.

    For that matter, so are the Krag-Jorgensons. Everyone seems to hate those things, and forgets that it was a stepping stone from those Carbines and Trapdoor springfields we were using.

    But, then again, the french rifles are unappreciated, for certain.
  10. Soybomb

    Soybomb Senior Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    I'm led to believe the k-31 but I'll let you know after I get mine to the range ;)
  11. Spiggy

    Spiggy Active Member

    Oct 10, 2005
    The Sunny PR of Kalifornistanichevolakia, Right be
    Siamese Mauser

    -And everyone says "What!?"
  12. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 20, 2002
    Know where I can get one? ;)

    As to under-appreciated, I'd go with the MAS. Many decent collections of WWII-era guns don't even have them. Mine sure doesn't.

  13. AtticusThraxx

    AtticusThraxx New Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    Bay Area Ca.
    I gotta go with Swedish Mausers. The 96 and the 38. Beautifully made, excellent fit and finish, reliable and both of mine are crazy accurate. That 6.5x55mm doesn't get the love it deserves.
  14. Slamfire

    Slamfire Mentor

    Dec 29, 2006
    It has got to be the Italian Carcano. This rifle received such bad press, that I have passed up on every one that I had in my hands. And now, I wish I had bought one. Just for historical reasons.

    WWII veterans came back with such a low opinion of the Italians and their equipment, that these rifles have been ignored. However, looking at Frank de Haas book on bolt actions, the Carcano is a well designed and rugged action. It was considered underpowered in comparison to a 30-06 or a 8 MM Mauser. But in today’s world, the standard 6.5” military load of a 130 grain bullet at 2500 fps would be more powerful than the .223”

    If you compare the 6.8 Remington, a proposed replacement of the .223, against the Carcano round, that Italian round is pretty close weight and velocity.

    Maybe the exploding head shot of President JFK, and one bullet going through a neck, arm, and John Connolly, is enough to show the Carcano round was not totally ineffective.

    With better bullet design, might have been two dead politicians that day.
  15. Z71

    Z71 Active Member

    Sep 2, 2007
    I would go with the Carcano too. A lot of bad press apparently in the past, maybe the JFK/conspiracy theory thing, I don't know.

    I can say that my little Carcano cavalry carbine shoots great!

    The Arisaka maybe as well. I think it's crude appearances plus a lack of ammunition has given the Arisaka an undeserved bad rap.
  16. Nolo

    Nolo Senior Member

    Jul 18, 2007
    Galveston, TX
    The Mexican semiauto you were talking about is the Mondragon rifle. It was touchy and fouled up easily, like many early semiauto designs. But it made a decent aircraft gun.
    Most un-appreciated?
    Swedish Mauser.
    It's a beautiful gun, rugged, accurate as Hell, and fires the ultimate light sniper cartridge (which can be loaded nowadays to speeds far in excess of the original 2600 f/s).
    Most over-appreciated?
    <flamesuit on>
    The M1903 Springfield
    It's pretty ugly in my eyes (though I'd have to say the K31s take the cake for ugliest mil-surp rifle), it's a weakened Mauser design (they gave it replaceable firing pins for a problem that didn't exist [breaking firing pins] and created a problem in the process [breaking firing pins].) and it's given full credit for a war that it was only half-issued for (WWI, where most of the rifles were actually '17 Enfields). Now, don't get me wrong, there are way worse rifles out there, but the Springfield gets far too much credit. It's really a target rifle, not a battle rifle, and the only exemplar feature I can think of about it is its cartridge, the .30-06.
    </flamesuit still on>
  17. Z71

    Z71 Active Member

    Sep 2, 2007
    Get them asbestos pants ready!!!

    I do like my 1903 rifle. I have honestly never heard of a broken firingpin in one, although I have heard numerous times about how weak they are. Personaly looks fairly robust to me.

    The 1903, at least in my opinion is about as good a 5 shot bolt combat rifle as any, and better made than most. Also has a "cool" factor that cannot be ignored!

    That said. Probably wouldn't be my first choice for a fighting rifle either. Mine kicks like a field mule!
  18. Beetle Bailey

    Beetle Bailey Participating Member

    Sep 14, 2003
    It's hard to define under-appreciated and over-appreciated. I've never heard a bad word spoken about a Swedish Mauser and I definately love my M38. The prices for these have gone up in the last couple years, and I'd argue that is an indication that the word is getting around. And the 1903 Springfield costs too much for what it is (compared to other milsurp bolt-actions), so by that logic I would agree it is over-appreciated. But I want one :uhoh:.

    Swiss K-31's are still under $200 last time I checked so they can be considered underappreciated but again, most people who have them love them. When I was just starting my milsurp collection, a very knowledgable shooter I knew told me the K-31 was the one I had to get.

    Sadly, although I own a modest milsurp rifle collection, I own nothing from France, Japan, or Italy. I've never even shot a milsurp from any of those countries.

    As for the Lee Enfield, I do love my No. 4 MkII. The .303 Brit is the most powerful round I can shoot comfortably without wearing out my shoulder. The peep sights are perfect for me and I actually do enjoy working that bolt. And since mine was unissued, it came with a brand new barrel, so it shoots pretty well. After the Swede, it's my favorite bolt-action milsurp.
  19. .45Guy

    .45Guy Senior Member

    Sep 6, 2005
    I appreciate mine, along with all my Carcanos...:D
  20. ftierson

    ftierson Member.

    Sep 17, 2004
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I agree that the Madsen 47 Columbian M1958 rifles are under-appreciated. That's probably mostly caused by the relative scarcity of the rifles. I don't shoot mine as much as I should, but I really do appreciate it's beauty.

    In general, I'd have to agree that the French and Italian military rifles are at the top of any list of both under-appreciated and unappreciated.

    I have MAS Mle. 36, Mle. 36/51 and 49/56 rifles. All are in near new condition. They are well made, compact (well, actually, a little too compact), have decent sights and are good shooters. And they fire a powerful cartridge (and, speaking of under-appreciated, the 7.5x54mm MAS M1929 cartridge is right there at the top of the list, too). I have even reached the point that the French rifles look good to me (which may say more about me than the rifles, but 'what the hey'...:)). The only downside of the French rifles, for me, is the very short stocks which make them less comfortable to shoot. Maybe the French have a law that all rifles must be designed for someone Napoleon's size, or something...:)

    I once had a M1941 Carcano rifle in 6.5x52mm. It was also like new, with the gain twist bore. It was a light, compact rifle that was well made. I sold it to dump some weight in a move, and still kick myself over that decision (dumping the rifle, not the move). Consequently, I don't currently have any of the military Italian rifles in my collection (well, accumulation), and I feel the need to add a few.

    The prices of both the French and Italian rifles have gone up appreciably over the last few years, but they're still findable at reasonable prices.

    I'm not going to mention Swedish rifles here because I think that they have become widely appreciated in the US. When I purchased my first rifle in 1964 (a Swedish M94 carbine in 6.5x55mm), I mostly did so because my father already had a M94 Swedish carbine that I liked very much. I still hunt with my Dad's sporterized, scope mounted M94 carbine (sporterized in the 1950s, by the way. I would never do that now), and it works just as well now in Colorado as it did on relatively large whitetails in northern New York back then. The Swedish military Mausers (M94/M96/M38/M41) and the AG-42B are all beautiful rifles firing the greatest cartridge ever designed by man.

    However, when I first bought my M94 carbine, I'm guessing that there might have been a couple of score of them in New York State (and I knew where two of them were). Ammunition was incredibly hard to find. Every once in a while you would find a couple of boxes of Norma ammo in a shop somewhere, but it was pretty hit or miss. And the ammo was expensive when you found it (well, Norma ammo is still pretty pricey). Then, boatloads of Swedish military rifles came into the country and everyone realized how beautifully made the rifles were and how fine a cartridge the 6.5x55mm was... Now, everyone makes cheap 6.5x55mm ammunition that you can find almost everywhere. A number of commercial rifles have even been chambered in the cartridge.

    So, for several reasons, I won't mention the Swedish military rifles and the 6.5x55mm cartridge in this thread :).


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