Many firearms intended for civilian use (or which have become immensely popular among civilians) are extremely practical. The Remington 870, 700, and the Colt AR-15 come to mind.
However, in some cases, the military gets it right, and if you know how to shop for military surplus rifles, oftentimes you can get an excellent rifle at a fair price, and one that will be practical for everything from competition to putting meat on the table.
Can we not say, in fairness, that the venerable M1 Garand is the king of kings among military surplus rifles?
It’s so popular that the CMP, or Civilian Marksmanship Program, still holds dedicated M1 Garand matches. Its popularity is not likely hurt by the fact that it is also a stately, handsome rifle.
This is the rifle that, in the hands of American servicemen in two major theaters of combat “won” the Second World War. It was carried with distinction through Korea as well. Some may not know this, but the Garand saw combat in Vietnam, too.
It is dependable, reliable, and packs a punch. The .30-06 with which it is paired is very powerful and maintains excellent ballistic performance far downrange - so whether you’re a hunter or a long-distance shooter, that sort of thing is good news.
Also, over 5 million M1 Garand rifles were produced and many owners still keep them in excellent shape, so you still stand a chance of finding one among military surplus collections.
Just make sure you don’t get Garand thumb!
The 1903 Springfield is in many ways the predecessor to the M1 Garand, and it is also built around the .30-06 Springfield, which after well over 100 years of service has not fallen out of favor. You can still find it on the shelves of any gun shop (well, notwithstanding the present ammo crisis, at least).
The 1903 Springfield handles recoil very well due to its weight, and thanks to its reliable bolt-action, long barrel and pairing with the .30-06, is a highly suitable platform as a long range rifle with an effective range of nearly 1,000 yards.
That means if you can find one that’s in good shape, you’ve not only scored a piece of living history, but you’ve found a rifle that you can still use for long-range competition shooting, hunting, and more.
Plus, with its walnut stock, the M1903 Springfield is, much like the M1 Garand, a handsome, timeless rifle.
There’s only one ding against the M1903. Since it’s considered one of the best rifles of all time, it’s still im very high demand, and as a result, it’s typically not an affordable option.
The Lee-Enfield was the British Empire’s counterpart to the American M1903. The Lee-Enfield and Short Magazine Lee-Enfield rifles were both carried widely by British Commonwealth forces throughout the First and Second World Wars.
Whereas the previous two rifles were chambered in .30-06 Springfield, the calling card of the Lee-Enfield is the .303 British. This means you’ll be able to find ammo for the M1903 and M1 much more easily than you’ll be able to find .303 for a Lee-Enfield.
All the same, the Lee-Enfield has its admirers, and it deserves them. The rifle itself is extremely dependable and reliable, even under grueling conditions, and is famed for the integrity of its bolt action. Its design also enables a short throw, which makes rapid cycling very easy.
Consequently, this rifle was a favorite among hunters of big game in Africa, Canada and elsewhere, where rapid follow up shots could become a pressing necessity and a matter of life-or-death. It was also reported that British infrantrymen in World War One fired upon the Germans so quickly from these rifles that the Germans suspected they were beset by machine gun crews.
The Mauser M98 is one of the most influential rifles ever designed. It has been eulogized as one of the best rifles ever created, is still in production and over 100 million have been made. These rifles also own the distinction of seeing service through two world wars, although they were carried on the other side of the battlefield from us.
Thanks to the third, redundant locking lug in the Mauser M98’s design, its bolt action has been called one of the (if not the) strongest firearm actions ever designed and produced. The bolt also features two primary locking lugs that mitigate the effects of bolt thrust.
Historical influence aside, the Mauser 98’s bolt action is still as reliable and strong as it was over 100 years ago when it was first put to the test. Strong, reliable, resilient in the face of harsh conditions, and and accurate out past several hundred yards, the Mauser 98 is firmly entrenched in the minds of history enthisiasts as one of the best rifles of them all.
Plus, with so many having been produced, you probably have a better chance of finding one of these among a military surplus rifle collection than the other platforms mentioned here, so be read to strike when you do.
Why Military Surplus Rifles? Why Not New?
Military surplus rifles are, to many buyers, and in many ways, preferable to factory-new models. They are typically more affordable, and since they were developed for military use tend to offer straightforward functionality and extreme dependability even in the face of grueling conditions. Sometimes you can find surplus firearms in excellent condition as well.
Moreover, and although they tend to be functional as competition or sporting rifles, military rifles hold their value well as military collectibles, especially if you keep them clean and in good condition.
So, in a nutshell, sometimes it just makes more sense to spend a few hundred on a military surplus firearms than it does to spend a thousand or more on last year’s latest release.
At any rate, if you’re interested in investing in a military surplus rifle like one of these, check out our online collection of firearms and parts or come visit us at 50 Hilton Street in Easton, Pennsylvania for the full experience.