comfortable vs authentic in rifles

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Feb 25, 2012
Does anyone ever think they have to make a tradeoff between comfort and authenticity when choosing a rifle and rifle accessories (slings, etc)? A GI web sling is not the most comfortable sling, but it is authentic on a military rifle. Likewise, Russians didn't fight WWII with nice soft recoil pads on their Mosins.
Resale or Cold Dead Hands.

Resale: Do not touch/tinker/alter/bubba/dremel/etc..

Cold Dead Hands: I'll do whatever I damn well please with... You don't like it?! Couldn't care less! (everything I own falls in this catagory)
well I guess the question is are you a collector,or a shooter? if you are using your firearms and want to make changes to improve accuracy or comfort why not? if it is a museum peice well then its probably not going to get shot much if at all, and making permanent modifications to a rare firearm will have a negative affect on the value. do whatever makes you happy I guess. but I like to have guns I can shoot and not feel bad!
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Do what works unless it's just going to hang on the wall.

(You can also try a recoil pad that you wear instead of on your rifle.)

GI slings (1907) are very useful and I prefer them on my hunting rifles over most other types of slings.

1907 style slings are NOT very useful on AR type rifles without a free floated barrel.
As a collector and shooter, my preference is to make no permanent alterations. Slip-on recoil pad, if you need it, but I wouldn't screw it to the stock. Scout type scope mount, if you must, but I wouldn't drill & tap the receiver. Lightweight composite stock, if you want to hunt with it, but don't hack the original into kindling.
As a collector and shooter, my preference is to make no permanent alterations. Slip-on recoil pad, if you need it, but I wouldn't screw it to the stock. Scout type scope mount, if you must, but I wouldn't drill & tap the receiver. Lightweight composite stock, if you want to hunt with it, but don't hack the original into kindling.

It depends on what the gun is for. A modern hunting gun or competition gun? Whatever works fastest/bestest.

A cool old military surplus rifle? The only reason to own it is to appreciate it for what it is/was and what it represents to history. A 1903 or Krag is not a perfect hunting rifle, or a dominating competition gun. Its value is in being the tool of a certain type of solider in a specific kind of war, and shooting it is a way to understand part of the experience of that life. Neither a Remington 11 or Model 8, or Savage 1907 or Winchester Model 1910, etc., represents the pinnacle of the shooting arts in their category. Enjoying them now is a way of appreciating the beautifully inefficient handwork that went into building them, the interesting evolutionary dead ends of gun design they explored, and a bit of the feel of hunting or "practical" shooting as it was done during their days. Trying to gussy them up into something to compete with or emulate the conveniences and ergonomics of a modern sporting or practical rifle or shotgun is an exercise in futility and a waste of a piece of the historic fabric.

Neither the Venus de Milo nor the Mona Lisa represent the modern taste in feminine beauty. A little make-up and a bust "augmentation" job aren't going to improve on history.
Before I tell you my opinions, I want to tell you a story. It was about a year and half or two years ago now I was walking around the gun show. At the time I was looking for an economically priced Mauser like an M48 or M24/47 in original condition, completely stock. Along the way I saw a sign on a table advertising a 'sporterized K98' the owner was asking $350 for it. I looked at the rifle casually and noticed a few things about it. The first thing was the owner had mauled the original stock, it wasn't even a good sporter job, it was a ‘bubba’ job that makes the milsurp enthusiast inside me cringe. The second thing, the bluing on the metal was immaculate, the bore looked brand new. The third was the rifle had all matching parts. In original condition a rifle like that one would have worth well over $1200. The seller asked me if I was interested and shook my head.

Now for my opinions.
Most milsurps, excluding the Mosin Nagant or perhaps a Turkish or Yugo Mauser, are going to be going the same price or a lot more expensive than your average Remingtons, Mossbergs and Winchesters. The last time I went to a gun show most of milsurps except for the ones I listed above were selling for well over $500. For $500 or a little more you can buy a nice hunting rifle from any of the big name manufacturers. I agree with Sergei Mosin that if you just feel like it is absolutely necessary to change a milsurp from its original condition to make more ‘shootable’ to not make any permanent changes that could potentially devalue the rifle. You never know how much that rifle could be worth if it stays in good shape.
My opinion is that you should base your choices on what you intend to use the rifle for.

If the rifle is intended to be used for hunting, plinking, or target shooting, then it should be comfortable to carry and use as such. If it's not...then you won't want to hunt, plink, or target shoot with it because it won't be fun any more. That means you'll end up NOT shooting it because you won't want to.

If it's meant to be an "authentic" representation of a historical rifle or something that's "military issue", then you should base your choices on things which support that.

There is no shame, however, in wanting an "authentic" representation of some rifle with some concessions otherwise made for your own comfort/ease of use.

The bottom line, however, is what YOU want. Not what I or anybody else wants. Compromise or not however you feel you need in order to get whatever it is that you want out of the rifle.

And if anybody else doesn't like it? They can feel free to get a rifle and make it into whatever image THEY have for it.

I think that rifles can be enjoyed in both ways. A modern rifle, set up the way you like, works great and fits and does exactly what you want. A classic gun, left in classic form, is not only collectable, it provides a classic experience. Shoulder your Enfield or your Mosin and you are feeling and seeing and hearing what thousands of other young men once felt long ago.

Part of the charm of an unmolested classic is that it teaches us things. Our first impression, if not wrong, is always inaccurate and incomplete. Spend time with a gun and learn why it was made the way it was, and you'll start to see some hidden logic in the design, some hidden beauty.

That hard butt plate is hard on purpose - it was designed, quite deliberately, for use as an impact weapon. Did you know that the odd mottled stock appearance of the Finnish M39 nagant rifles was also deliberate, a distinctive form of subtle camouflage? The reinforced nose of the enfield rifle a reflection of the British Army's belief in the power and importance of the bayonet? The ridiculously long range of the sight settings was for volley fire at distant targets, to create a 'beaten zone' like tiny artillery? Look up the details of the incredible finish the Japanese put on their wooden stocks of their rifles. While you are at it, learn to spot the late war parts, and you can see, step by step, the desperate decline of their logistical capability as they sacrificed cosmetic and seldom-used features to get badly-needed rifles out of the factories and into the hands of their troops. Look at the pride and attention and utterly unnecessary machining work that went into making a barrel band for an early K98 rifle. Look at the accuracy and precision built in to every Swede mauser. They were not weird old guns, the day they were made. They were state of the art, high-tech, quality arms made for the most important purpose in the world.

And in another fifty years they won't be any less special, I assure you.

Saw the forestock off, refinish in poly and screw a scope into the top, and all you'll have is something that does not compete very well with what you might have bought off the shelf at WalMart.

Buy them both, and enjoy them both. If someone really wants a bubba gun, they can find something that's been pre-bubbaed, and then build it back up into something they like. My favorite deer rifle is a sporterized Swede carbine, which I picked up for next to nothing and which now looks a lot nicer than it did before.
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