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When did military surplus rifles hit the civilian market?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by roadchoad, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. roadchoad

    roadchoad Well-Known Member

    Looking to find out when surplus rifles, particularly semi or full auto, were first sold to the public. Anyone know?
  2. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    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
  3. roadchoad

    roadchoad Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. brickeyee

    brickeyee Well-Known Member

    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.
  5. roadchoad

    roadchoad Well-Known Member

    The earliest I can find M1 Garands being sold to civilians is 1965 or so.
  6. Neo-Luddite

    Neo-Luddite Well-Known Member

    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.
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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

  8. Baba Louie

    Baba Louie Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. roadchoad

    roadchoad Well-Known Member

    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.
  10. Zoogster

    Zoogster Well-Known Member

    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.)
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
  11. Wil Terry

    Wil Terry Well-Known Member

    IT STARTED IMMEDIATELY after the Civil War.
    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...
  12. Zoogster

    Zoogster Well-Known Member

    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.
  13. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Well-Known Member

    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.
  14. Iggy

    Iggy Well-Known Member

    The British traded surplus Brown Bess muskets to the Indians here and the natives of Africa after the Revolutionary war.

  15. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Well-Known Member

    So did my F-I-L in 1967. I have the carbine andthe sales receipt along with other paperwork for it.
  16. btg3

    btg3 Well-Known Member

    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?
  17. c4v3man

    c4v3man Well-Known Member

    I thought Civil War veterans were allowed to take their government-issued rifles home if they so chose... does that count?
  18. OldTex

    OldTex Well-Known Member

    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.
  19. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Well-Known Member

    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.
  20. Mk VII

    Mk VII Well-Known Member

    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.

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