Surplus firearms have been the lifeblood of on-a-budget American shooters for nearly a century. We’ve all heard the stories of M1903 Springfield rifles for sale—literally barrels of them—for $5 apiece. Our grandfathers purchased them, modified and sporterized them, and fed their families for decades with them. My first high-powered rifle was a sporterized Springfield 1903—as was my brother’s—and he still hunts deer and elk with it.
However, the days of inexpensive, American-made surplus firearms is drawing to a close. M1 Garands—the legendary battle rifle of WWII—can still be had through the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). There’s also a scant trickle of M1 Carbines, M1917 Enfields and once in a great while a 1903, but all are becoming rare and desirable.
Do surplus buyers have a future? You bet they do. Foreign surplus arms are still relatively inexpensive, as is surplus ammunition. The classic Mosin-Nagant M1891/30 rifle—think of the Russian rifles in the film Enemy at the Gates—is becoming our generation’s Springfield 1903. Yugoslavian Mauser-design M24/47 and M48-type rifles are readily available and make great shooters, as well as a great foundation for custom rifle projects. Even surplus semi-auto handguns—such as the Serbian Model 57—are available.