One historic collector gun: Which one?

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Jul 25, 2013
I am probably never going to have a huge collection of guns and most of what i have will be very practical in nature.

however, I am a huge history buff and love technology with a story. So i definitely want one "old" gun with some cool history. But, I don't need a safe queen, i want something that i can still shoot.

My historic leanings are toward WWII era.

i know this will probably be the priciest gun in my collection, so i want to start figuring out what the "perfect" piece would be.


Something with historic significance
Something that ammo is still readily available for
Nothing that will cost more than my car
Something enjoyable to shoot
Something US (no mosins or german guns, as cool as they are, i want a piece of my history)

I have some ideas, but i want to see the un-prompted responses first.

What are my options?
I third it.

M1 Garand.

That or a 1903-A3 Springfield.
Or a .30 M-1 Carbine.

Nothing else fits your criteria.

Am I alone in the Winchester lever camp? Any of the early Winchesters from the 66 to the 94 are significant to U.S. history. I guess along with Sam Colt's Single Action Army, but they are usually priced kinda high.
Only because I have wanted one for a while but +1 on the johnson. Not a lot of historical significance compared to the others as far as use goes but an interesting story none the less.

If it had to be WWII, and not a johnson, I would probably go with the 1903 only because everyone has a garand and the 1903s are becoming more scarce than they used to be.
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The Gatling gun would be a choice that is allowed in ALL states and as collectable as I can imagine.

Had a chance to buy a 30-06 version and it was 3K when I did not have it :banghead:
Unless Call of Duty has misinformed me, we used the heck out of the Thompson during WWII.

This is true but they became famous during the Al Capone era. I believe the NFA Act of 1934 made them hard to own and a lot more expensive.
If you're wanting a WW II American gun, it should be an '03, a Garand, Carbine, or 1911A1. All were used then, all are getting scarce now, and none are terribly expensive. Yet.

Alternatives might be Reising, Thompson, 1919A4, M2HB, or grease gun, depending on what you spent for your last car.

And yeah, if it's just WWI ERA, a 94 Winchester would be a good choice, followed by a selection of a S&W and Colt pistol.
The historic US military gun that is appealing to me is the Springfield 1903 Sniper repro offered with a 3x scope. Seems to be available from a couple different sources and and I just saw one at a gun show today for ~ $1200. There are a number of matches where they can be shot in competition. Especially with my aging eyes I find that highly appealing.
M1 Garand. Fits your bill all around - get one through the CMP, and that will serve your budget (and a good cause). As you say, if you like "technology with a story," the Garand right up your alley.

Followed by the M1 Carbine, and 1903/1903A3 Springfield.
There are so many to choose from that this is really difficult. However, I would probably go for the Browning Hi-Power. It has been used by more military than any other weapon, and has the history of John Moses Browning wrapped into it.
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I'd go with the Garand, if you want "the" Historic WWII rifle,IMHO.

The .30 Carbine, if you want a really fun, accurate shooter with reasonable ammo prices.

The 1903A3 if you ever have the desire to hunt as well as shoot targets.

The 1911A1 if most of your shooting is at indoor ranges.

Finding the "rarest" of these, that fit your niche, is the next decision... to buy a Singer 1911A1 to shoot often ...or not... and just buy a Colt,Rem. Rand..

I have these and mostly grab the M1 carbine and the 1911A1 due to ammo availability and cost.
When I want to shoot .30-06, for some reason, the 1917 comes out before the Garand or the 1903A3.

Hope you find what works for you, enjoy the search!
1) M1911A1
2) M1
3) M1 Carbine.

All three perfectly represent American arms design and technology during WWII.
No clue what you last car cost but moving right along....

Get yourself a pencil and a pad of blank white paper and start listing US Infantry Weapons of WWII. The Wiki may be helpful or just buy the book authored by Bruce Canfield. I like the pictures in the book. :)

You figure everything dragged into combat included rifles, carbines, edged weapons, shotguns, machine guns, mortars, bazookas, grenades, recoilless rifles, submachine guns, automatic rifles, flame throwers and other fun things. Obviously we can discount some of those items and refine things a little. Just find something that trips your trigger. Well trips your trigger and fits your budget.

I have a few Garands, an O3A3, and a M1 Carbine. I want to add (as they come along) a nice P-17 and a Johnson. I have also noticed that a M2 Carbine can be had in the % to 6K range plus transfer. Wouldn't mind having a M2 Carbine and 5K is manageable.

Another option is just go buy yourself a M1 Garand or M1 Carbine and be happy.

Well, it looks like a lot of votes for my initial thought, which was the M1 Garand.

And that is in my price range. For reference, the car is closer to a Honda than a ferrari. Nice enough to cost more than a garand, but not nice enough to think about an original thompson or M3.

I'll definitely look into some of the other options presented here as well, especially the Johnson. That was one I was not familiar with.

Thanks for the input.
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