Those military surplus days. Top 3?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by valnar, Nov 1, 2021.

  1. Mosin77

    Mosin77 Member

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    They’re all great.

    All will have lousy accuracy compared to a 21st century rifle, all will have more kick than really necessary, all will have iron sights that don’t really compare to a decent modern scope, all will be needlessly heavy if you plan to hunt with it…. But they all have loads of character and are great fun to shoot at the range.

    My favorites change on a given day, but consistently among the top, in no particular order, are:

    1. US model of 1917 “Enfield” in .30-06.
    2. Chilean Steyr model 1912 export Mauser in 7x57
    3. US Krag model 1898 in .30-40 Krag.
     
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  2. Old Hobo

    Old Hobo Member

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    It deeply saddens me that these rifles have been priced to levels all out of reason. Lord only knows how many I've owned.

    The one's I like:

    1) Enfield, especially the #4 Mk2; got one in excellent condition (shiny bore & stock not dinged). The .303 British cartridge has dropped bunches of animals that it was "incapable of killing". I've one with a vernier sight (do they all have vernier sights?, not looked this up). I've an Aussie Lithgow #1 Mk3 SMLE -- it's in almost museum quality. Shoots great. I do NOT own collectors. If it doesn't shoot true, then it is but metal and wood.

    2) 6.5 Swede -- I never owned one but really should have gotten one. A friend of mine, way back, was crazy about them and rightfully so. The 6.5 Creedmore may be more accurate, but with reloading, the 6.5 Swede also can become a tack-driver. They are both in the same energy realm. It's just that the Swedes came up with theirs 120+ years ago. The Swedes drop Moose with them. Not a moose load, yet it is the rifleman not the rifle. Rifles are for the most part superior to the persons shooting them. Shot placement, shot placement, shot placement,shot placement,shot placement,shot placement,shot placement,shot placement,shot placement,shot placement,shot placement,shot placement,shot placement,shot placement, ...........

    3) Finnish Mosin Nagant M39 Civil Guard, 7.62x54R. Accurate accurate accurate. I had one that would shoot 2" groups with surplus military ammo, battle sights. Gave mine to one of my sons. What did he do? Yes, he sold it to one of his friends. I almost popped an artery in my head when he told me this. Anyway, he sold it into a good family, quality people. I've bought a few Polish M44 Nagants, sporterized one; sporterized a couple of M38s. I took off the forend furniture and free-floated the barrels. This lightened them and made them more accurate. A light carbine in 7.62 x 54R has some "fun" recoil.
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  3. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Member

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    I have only recently gotten into surplus, and what a lot of fun it is to learn. I am thirty years too young to have any memories of getting cheap surplus, but I've got an IBM M1 carbine and a Rem-Rand 1911A1, waiting on the call for my CMP 1911. Not bargains per se, but I suspect they ain't gonna get cheaper, either...
     
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  4. Hikingman

    Hikingman Member

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    Of the few I've acquired:

    Swiss K-31
    Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk I
     
  5. Old Hobo

    Old Hobo Member

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    I like the Enfields myself.

    Some folk have had issues with the Swiss K-31. I myself am unfamiliar with this topic. It may be worth a read (?).

    https://www.bing.com/search?q=swiss+rifle+k-31+problems&qs=n&form=QBRE&sp=-1&pq=swiss+rifle+k-31+problems&sc=0-25&sk=&cvid=DBB7F6C94E16433697C48FBC05B2A014&ghsh=0&ghacc=0&ghpl=

    "The two main weaknesses of a straight-pull action were: the complexity of its manufacture, and its very weak primary extraction of fired cases from the chamber when compared to the more leveraged camming force of a turn-bolt action."

    If you have any extraction issues, you should think about having a gun smith polish the chamber and look at other mechanisms that could be contributing. This action can't take really high chamber pressures, but then it was never meant to do so. Just don't overload. Stay within specifications. Neat rifle though. I like its looks and like the straight pull concept.

    Note that almost ALL Nagants (esp. Polish & Russian) have extraction issues -- "protective" coatings when dried-out can turn into lacquer which is very bad ... and sticky. Me, I just polish their chambers. This can be overdone and cause damage, so I'm not going to recommend how to do so. Just take any rifle with a sticky chamber to your gunsmith.
    .
     
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  6. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Sadly, with propriety factory ammo for most of the classic milsurps virtually unobtainable, I've sold off most of my beloved surplus rifles.
    With that in mind, I would rank the best ones to get now as-
    1) M1903Aa3 Springfield, excellent sights, arguably better steel than earlier '03s, many were unissued or only lightly used, can use modern ammo without modification (unlike a Garand), and most importantly ammo is still available, though pricey.
    2) Spanish FR8, all the goodness of a Mauser but can eat modern .308 rounds, maybe the best iron sights of any battle rifle ever, never really saw combat so usually in good shape. Yes, some folks argue that it's not meant for 7.62Nato ammo, read up on the issue and decide for yourself. I would avoid the weaker FR7, but have no problems feeding the 8 anything that will slide into the chamber.
    3) .410 Enfield musket, ya .410 is stupid $$ these days- but it's not going away entirely unlike, I fear, .303. Mine is a hoot and a half to shoot and surprisingly accurate with rifled slugs out to 50yds. You dont have to worry about adjusting the sights since they are riveted in place, lol.
     
  7. rust collector
    • Contributing Member

    rust collector Moderator Staff Member

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    Ah, but in the heyday, spam cans of 54r (440 rounds) cost $40 shipped, and with 2 you got the crate and the can opener. Last two spam cans I sold fetched $250. You are correct that the inexpensive ammo helped sell many greasy but fascinating rifles.
     
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  8. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

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    Top three.....ranked how?

    Increase in value? Then you are looking at things like a Johnson and the German automatic rifles, take your pick. What ever "best shooter" is. Vary between people. But there are some old stand by examples that would be hard to knock off the top. Top numbers coming in, Mosin has to be up there for just numbers, and with some examples just 30 years ago that have gone up 10x in that time might be gaining ground in the value area.
     
  9. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    Depends on the time period. All of these rank very high:

    Enfield pistols
    Webley pistols
    Lugers
    P-38
    Carcanos
    Spanish Mausers
    Swedish Mausers
    Enfield SMLEs
    Enfield No. 4 Mk I and 2
    SKS (Russian manufacture)
    M1 Carbines
    M1 Garands
    Mosin-Nagants
    Swiss Rifles

    But, the top three for me would me:

    Enfield L42A1
    Russian manufactured SVD
    and a three way tie for third between the Romanian PSL, Enfield L39A1, and the Inglis No 2 Mk 1*
     
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  10. The_Quartermaster

    The_Quartermaster Member

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    I'm not into military surplus but if I was my 3 would be:

    M1 Carbine
    M1A1 Carbine
    M1903A3

    Just my opinion.
     
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  11. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    I remember the Woolworth's newspaper ads with those Garands and Carbines. As a poor young man at the time, that was still a chunk of money that I couldn't spare due to rent and transportation costs. But I did somehow cough up the coin for an unissued SKS with all that cheap ammo.
     
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  12. trackskippy

    trackskippy Member

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    Without the cheap surplus, reloading can ease the ammo situation, even for things that are pretty rare, here anyway. As an example, cheap 7.62x51 brass can be turned into 7.92x33 brass, for those hungry Stg44's. :)

    Ive had a lot of the older stuff over the years, semis, bolts, and SMG's. Still have a couple of M1 Carbines, an 03, and an FR8.

    Those FR8's were the deal too, and one of my favorites! For $80-&100, you get a handy, accurate, stripper fed little carbine that are a joy to shoot and just fun guns. We bought a bunch of them back in the 90's.

    My one buddy bought a couple of those big green crates of Chinese SKS's for around $800 a case back then too. Came with 10 or 12 rifles in a case, and all the accessories for each of them too. Hes still sitting on one now, although he's been talking about selling them off since they are bringing pretty good money these days. Back during covid and the panic, he was making a killing by selling of some of the surplus ammo he still had around.

    Ahhhhh, the good old days. Glad I got to play! :)
     
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  13. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    I started gathering milsurps over twenty years ago with about the same enthusiasm as I gathered gold nuggets and silver coins.
    My favorites remain the Swedish Mausers, the Finn Mosins and the U.S. military bolt actions.
    -Although I have gathered a large number of Lee Enfields, Carcanos, Arisakas, other Mausers and Mosins and other milsurps and classics that happened to pop up in front of me... .
     
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  14. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    I go with the M1903A3 -- head and shoulders the best military bolt action.

    The M1 Garand -- mine was made by H&R in the mid-'50s

    The M1922 MK 2 Springfield -- a .22 made at Springfield with the tooling and gauges used for the M103.
     
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  15. Seedy Character

    Seedy Character Member

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    6.5 Swedish Mauser
    1903a3
    M1a .30 Carbine
     
  16. lionking

    lionking Member

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    The last great deals were 10 to 12 years ago when Mosin, Swiss K31, Yugo SKS , French MAS and such could be had all day long for under $200 sometimes only $100. And now even if you have those with all that has gone on in the last 2 years ammo is double if not triple for them now.
     
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  17. Jimbo80

    Jimbo80 Member

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    As a surplus collector it's difficult to pick a top 3 with "surplus" being the only category. If I had to I would go 1. M1 Carbine, 2. M1 Garand, 3. Trapdoor Springfield.

    ***I edited the Luger from #2 on my list as I missed the rifles aspect of the op.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2022
  18. The_Quartermaster

    The_Quartermaster Member

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    Oh, we're adding pistols to the mix when the OP said rifles only? OP, if this is okay then I'd like to change my three then:

    1. M1A1 Carbine
    2. S&W Victory Revolver
    3. M1911A1
     
  19. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Finn M39
    US M1 Carbine (IBM)
    FAL
     
  20. tark

    tark Member

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    That is a nice looking 98/48 Dave. I see it has a blued bolt. I thought mine was the only one with a blued bolt! I see all machined parts as will. Very nice. All you need is the cleaning rod.!
     
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  21. MikeInOr

    MikeInOr Member

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    French Mas 49/56 was on of my best surprises from the MilSurp days. It is a VERY nice shooter.
    Swedish 96 Mausers are my favorite bolt actions.
    SVT-40 is also one of my favorites mainly because it was the Soviet Garand.
    The Swedish AG42 Ljungman is probably my favorite semi auto MilSurp due to its very basic and reliable design with great accuracy.

    I also like many of the MilSurp pistols:
    [​IMG]
     
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  22. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

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    It's got one now, plus a front sight hood and a repro leather lens cover for the Zf-41.

    Yugoslavian Mauser  K98k (M4898).jpg

    Cool -- is that an 'unshaven' Webley Mk I in .455? I sold mine awhile back, but it had been converted for use with downloaded .45 ACP and moon clips. It never shot that great for me. I still have my Mk IV and Mk VI though.

    WebleyMkI01.jpg

    I'm heading to my favorite LGS tomorrow to do the paperwork on a nice Swiss P49 (aka P210-3)
     
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  23. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

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    IMHO unless you reload you are going to be spending a mint shooting some of these.....if you can find something to feed them.

    I understand some people just may not have the time to reload, but with the money to get started....well you can get a kit for the price of three boxes of ammo these days, so I can't get my head around that.

    On another forum there was a thread talking about a new source for 54R surplus ammo, and it was coming in at $1 per bang. Really that high for rot gut dirty surplus ammo, one person posted that brass costs so much he would just keep using surplus, and quoted a price on the brass.

    Well fine, if that is what you want to do, but 54R brass is not $2 per, not by a long shot and I posted up snips from websites to prove it. I then went down the hole and figured up the cost for a loaded round and it came in just under $1 with the assumption of 5 reloads per brass case. This will usually trigger the time thing, and yes it does take time to do it, and for that time you get custom ammo to your specific guns liking.

    For the last two years it has been real hard to get started in this area of the hobby....but now things are starting to show up....most things, large rifle primers are still a bit hard to find, as well as black powder caps. But most of the things are there if you look, you can find even the hard to find things.

    I really think if you want to enjoy these old girls you need to get setup to feed them yourself. This place has a really good reloading section with folk that know what they are talking about....for the most part.....and don't seem to hit new people with questions with the standard buy a manual.

    Look into it, you might be glad you did.
     
  24. gwpercle

    gwpercle Member

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    1903-A3 Springfield
    303 British Enfield - BSA No4 MKI
    7.5 Swiss Schmidt-Ruben K-11 (1911 Carbine)
    Model 1895 7 X 57 Spanish Mauser ... which I sporterized into my favorite hunting rifle

    The glorous days of 1950's & 1960's Military Surplus Rifles and baynets ... tables piled high and rifles in barrels ... the Springfield was $60 , the rest $40 to $30 ... the strange Swiss Push-ma-Pull-ya ... straight pull that no American co loaded ammo for was $20 ... me and several high school buddies all bought one because we could afford them !
    Gary
     
  25. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

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    Absolute truths here, but there's also some nuances in the breakdown. For me anyway. There are roughly three levels to my own hand/reloading efforts.

    First string are 'volume' handgun cartridges: .45 ACP, .38 Special, .32 H&R and 9x19. I handle these with a Lee progressive loading press with preset turrets that I can just drop in and rock on. I have just one or two standard loads and make an effort at economy with these rounds, aiming for around .20/round (more like .25 lately). .44 Magnum is also a fairly high volume cartridge for me, but I use a single stage for better resizing leverage.

    Then there are the 'occasional' cartridges. Reasonably contemporary stuff like .22 K Hornet, .308 Win., .270 Win., 30-06, .300 AAC. If I still had opportunities for hunting, these would be the first string. They see more variety in bullet selection and tend to cost more per round. I have some centerfire plinking handloads for these as well, using plated bullets and reduced loads.

    And there are the 'reload or die' cartridges, that can't be had any other way. I have lots of those, mostly obsolete military cartridges like 6.5x53R Dutch, 9mm Browning Long and 7.5x23 Swiss Ordnance, plus some civilians like .32-40 and 8.15x46R. I don't even calculate the cost per round, but I usually figure on an initial investment of around $100 for dies and brass. Probably somewhere around $2-4 per round for the first loading. Often some creative caseforming saves money on the latter, but not always. This stuff usually doesn't get shot very often, so a small stockpile can really last, especially with single shot rifles.

    AmmoStore01.jpg

    If I was just into handloading and shooting on more of a strict budget, I'd stick with the first two categories -- there's still a few interesting surplus rifles that would fit that bill.

    However for me, shooting a box of ammo through any one classic rifle or handgun in my collection is an infrequent privilege, even though I'm usually at the range several times per month. I rotate through the collection, and these days it's reached a point where it can take me years to get back to a particular rifle and cartridge.

    FWIW, I've got a friend who spends more trading Pokemon cards (seriously!) than I do on shooting, and he'll freely admit I'm having a lot more fun.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2022
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