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.
How do you find them? Aside from local gunshops with an affinity for surplus guns, good sources to shop are Shotgun News, the CMP, Samco Global Arms and Century Arms. The following 10 military surplus guns earned their way into this article, virtue of current availability and pure, got-to-have cool factor.