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why sporterize?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by coosbaycreep, Jan 2, 2010.

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  1. coosbaycreep

    coosbaycreep Well-Known Member

    I now own three sporterized milsurps, and after checking prices and finding out that all three of them would cost more to return to original condition (although finding some of the parts is not only expensive, but almost impossible too), I can't help but wonder why everyone bubba'd up so many cool guns way back when.

    I can understand someone drilling/tapping for a scope. I can even understand some of them being cut down to make "carbines", because a lot of those old school guns are more like logs than rifles. What I can't understand though, is why so many people have butchered up the stocks.

    Of the three I have, all of them are just as ugly sporterized as they would have been if original. Unless you put a really nice custom stock on one, then you're probably not doing anything to improve ergonomics either, because pretty much all of the milsurps I own or have handled had less than stellar ergonomics before or after bubba'ing. The weight savings from cutting off part of the stock, removing steel bands, etc., is probably negligible too.

    Same thing with removing parts of the sights. What's the benefit to grinding the ears (or whatever you call them) off of the front sight? I thought that was there to protect it?

    Why grind off a bayonet lug? I think bayo lugs should be mandatory on all long guns, so why remove something that weighs basically nothing, especially when it's not going to help the gun look or perform any better? That's like trying to polish a turd.

    I know commercial hunting rifles use to be too expensive for most folks, and since milsurps were everywhere and dirt cheap, that's what led to most of the sporterizing, but judging from a lot of the guns I've seen, I can't for the life of me see how they thought they were making an improvement.
  2. sumpnz

    sumpnz Well-Known Member

    Sporterizing includes all of the changes you listed, not just hacking away at the stock. Shortening the barrel makes it a lot easier to walk through the woods as the shorter tube won't catch on as many branches, etc. It also, of course lightens the gun. Hacking the stock not only reduces the weight it can make the stock a bit more functional if done right. That many weren't done well just means they weren't done well. Most good sporterizing jobs involve an entirely new sporting style stock though. Removing steel barrell bands reduces weight and can improve accuracy by alllowing the barrell to be floated. Add all of those small things up and you can take a couple pounds off some guns.

    Some sporterizing also involved turning down the profile of the barrell. This would significantly reduce the weight in addition to removing corroded areas.
  3. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    The key words you used are "way back when." As one of those guys around back then I can explain.

    In the 1960s surplus military rifles were everywhere. There were tons of them and every gun shop and sporting goods store had what seemed like an endless supply. Few were thinking about preserving historical rifles, all we wanted were cheap guns to shoot... or guns to play with as amateur gunsmiths.

    Fast forward 45 years and things have changed. The once plentiful rifles are becoming scarce and the cost of customizing one makes little sense when a ready made rifle from any of the name manufactures will be much cheaper than chopping a 98 or an '03. But in the old days it could be done on the cheap. Numrich and others sold kits to sporterize the Mauser or Springfield, with stock, triggers, bolt handles, etc. Cutting up the old military arms was encouraged by parts suppliers.

    Some dealers did it for you. I bought a cut down 1903 from Woolworth's for $69.

    Times have changed, and so have our sensibilities. It is no longer economically feasible to modify a Mauser or Springfield given the high cost of the starter rifle. It made sense back when a 98 could be purchased for $29 in any gun shop, and a complete sporter kit cost $60, but not now.

    But I have to admit that I still appreciate a nicely done conversion.

  4. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Well-Known Member

    Most mil-surp rifles cost under $20 back in the late 50's early 60's. They made cheap reliable hunting rifles, all you needed was a hack saw.
  5. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Well-Known Member

    The stock on a sporterization is what sets the rifle apart. Most do not do much with the stock. They either cut off the front portion to make it into some semblance of a sporter stock or it gets "custom built" really horribly.
  6. dirtyjim

    dirtyjim Well-Known Member

    most of the botched stocks are simply because the person who did it doesn't have any woodworking skills. right now i think at least 75% of the population would butcher the stock on a new remchester if they tried to improve it.

    most of the people who bought milusurps from the 40-70's to use as a hunting rifle wanted it to at least look somewhat like a remington or winchester rifle so they cut the forearm down, some of them also tried to reshape the pistol grip and most of them failed miserably in that area. then they had the bolt takedown sleeve in the buttstock that had to be dealt with. here's where we get into inlaying all sorts of stuff from white plasic to silver dollars. inlays were cool at that time thanks to roy weatherby. everyone say thank you mister roy for those god awful inlays.

    if you had a WWI era rifle with a 29" barrel you had to cut it down so it wouldn't look funny sticking way out past the shortened forearm. then you had to remove the rear sight base leaving a big step in the barrel & a big gap in the stock.
    now since the average person cant checker so he carves deer into the side of the stock on his new fangled hunting rifle. all it needs now is a thick coat of varnish.

    now comes the scope. they clamped the barrel in a vise just in front of the action then eyeballed a redfield base on the receiver then clamped it down & drilled the holes using the base for a guide. then tapped them & low & behold your bubba rifle was complete.

    now i've also seen some very nice rifles built from the 40's-70's on milsurps & i've built a few of them myself.
  7. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Well-Known Member

    That is one of those "you hadta be there" situations.
  8. dirtyjim

    dirtyjim Well-Known Member

    here is a butchered spanish 93 that i picked up for $41.00 with the intention of saving it.
    the only thing things it had going for it was the sights, hinged triggergaurd & the price.
    if it couldn't be saved i could at least use the sights on something else & sell the triggergaurd for around what i paid for the whole rifle.
    as it started out.
    the stock was already shortened to around 12 1/2" lop so it will mostly be used by my nephews & neices for plinking at the deer lease. i added a curved metal buttplate & slightly scalloped the comb.

    reworked the fore end to a small schnable.

    trimmed down the grip area & sides of the stock. welded a shotgun trigger to the upper half of the military trigger to make it resemble a single set trigger.
    then added a talley style bolt handle that pushed the price of the rifle up a whopping $5.00

    i still need to finish the stock, re-crown the barrel & rust blue.
    when i recrown the barrel i'm also going to move the step back about 4" so it will be right at the end of the forearm
  9. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Yep! You had to be there.
    Nobody even guessed in 1960 that all the great old mil-sups would one day be worth as much as a Model 70 Winchester if left unmolested.

    Kind of like Mossys are today.
    Can you imagine a $79 dollar Mossy ever being scarce, or costing nearly a grand if left alone?

    Back then, 98 Mauser's were $20-$25 bucks a pop, and gun-shops had wooden barrels full of them setting in the aisles.

    And the DCM was selling un-fired 03A3 Springfield's for $17.50!
    Cheap platform for making a $100 sporter you wanted but could not afford on $1.25 an hour.

  10. skidooman603

    skidooman603 Well-Known Member

    Well put RC....Ahhh for a time machine :mad:
  11. d2wing

    d2wing Well-Known Member

    Also do-it-yourself was a big deal back then. If you can think of it someone tryed to make it at home. Airplanes, campers, and "customizing" anything.
    Having stuff that wasn't functional wasn't very manly either. It's hard to remember how different things were even if you were there.
  12. Dr.Mall Ninja

    Dr.Mall Ninja Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't buy a sporterized milsurp.
  13. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    Good. Leaves more for me.

    Dr. SaxonPig (really)
  14. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Well-Known Member

    Don't forget that most commercial hunting/target rifles are the result of sporterized military designs.
  15. Ohio Gun Guy

    Ohio Gun Guy Well-Known Member

    I bought a half done sporterized swedish mauser and had fun finishing it. I have about 150 in it +/-.

    Attached Files:

  16. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Well-Known Member

    Back in the day, these rifles were so cheap they were nearly throw away guns.

  17. GunsBeerFreedom

    GunsBeerFreedom Well-Known Member

    I'm all for historical preservation, but the sporterized milsuprs represent one such instance in history. As previously mentioned, they're from a time when an old military bolt gun was as common a gun that you could find. That's just as worth a history as some major war. It ALL represents a chapter of our freedom.

    So in short, good or bad, I'm not against the idea of sporterizing a old milsurp.
  18. TCB in TN

    TCB in TN Well-Known Member

    During my youth, a combination of un-sported and sporterized milsurps were what I cut my centerfire teeth on. The first rifles of my broke @ss young adulthood were more of the sporterized variety. Have a couple now, and wish I had many of the ones I used to have back.
  19. elmerfudd

    elmerfudd Well-Known Member

    I think you've got to put this in a little perspective. Back during the 50's and 60's, it was just a decade or two after the greatest war ever fought and it had been mostly fought by tens of millions of troops armed with bolt action rifles. Ten years later however, all those rifles were completely obsolete, having been totally outclassed by M1's, FAL's, AK's, SKS's and many other self loading rifles. That was back in the days when they sold military surplus and because there were so many these rifles were dirt cheap.

    Now also keep in mind that most hunters weren't using scopes back then either and a new Remchester cost a pretty penny and you can see why so many of these rifles were sporterized.
  20. Float Pilot

    Float Pilot Well-Known Member

    While I collect milsurps, I do have a few very nice hunting rifles that started their lives as either Springfields or Mausers.

    There are instances where a milsurp is basically worthless shoot and a re-birth is better than the junk pile.

    I have one Custom Mauser (a Brazilian 1935) that I bought back in 1973 for $35.
    It was the most inaccurate rifle I had seen until then. The chamber was so over sized that the brass could not be re-sized for hand loading. So it became my first rifle rebuild while working in a gun shop during high school. While not perfect, it was OK for a 16-year-old's first try. It has been hunted with for over 30 years now and still will shoot some ammo at half minute of angle groups.

    Now I am finishing another milsurp conversion. In this case a very worn out 7x57mm Brazilian VZ24 that had a totally rusted barrel. Plus the parts were not number matched.
    I re-barreled it to 416 Taylor and set it up as a classic safari type rifle . I will have photos here soon. The barrel action is currently off at the Bluer's shop...

    Attached Files:

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