If you love firearms as much as I do, chances are you might be drawn to surplus military rifles. While US surplus rifles like the Garand and M1903 cost close to $1000, there are some other rifles that can be found for under $500 if you hunt around a bit.
Here is a list of 5 affordable surplus rifles you can find easily enough on the second-hand market.
The Mosin-Nagant: For the Motherland, Comrades! This has to be about the most indestructible bolt action rifle ever devised by man. The Mosin Nagant has been around longer than any human that now walks the earth. The rifle was designed as the result of the Russo-Ottoman War which was fought in 1877-1878. The Turks were armed with Winchester repeaters, while the Russians were armed mostly with Berdan single shot rifles. After suffering horrible losses at the hands of faster-firing arms, the Russians set out to adopt their first repeater as the standard long arm.
With the Invention of the French Lebel rifle, every army on the globe was scrambling to adopt a bolt action rifle, and the Russians were no different. After a competition between 3 designs, a rifle designed by Russian Army Captain Sergei Ivanovich Mosin was chosen and was designated the M1891.
The rifle entered mass production and Millions were produced for the next 55 years. It served as the standard long arm of the Imperial Russian, and then Soviet militaries. It saw service in the Russo-Japanese War, World War 1, the Russian civil war, the Winter War, and World War II. In fact in World War II, the Russians produced well over 17 million improved Mosin M91/30 rifles.
The Soviets were notorious hoarders. Much more than anyone you will see on TV today. They saved everything in anticipation of having to defend the USSR from a NATO ground invasion. With the collapse of the USSR, and end of the cold war, millions of Mosins have flooded the US markets.
These rifles are accurate, well built and have been stored coated is cosmoline for 60 or 70 years. Ammunition is still cheap. God forbid, the world ends tomorrow and you have to survive, the rifle will hold up. If you run out of ammunition, a massive 18-inch spike socket bayonet that looks like something Napoleon issued comes standard, ‘cause you never know when you need to bayonet a deer or bad guy.
Mauser 98, and various clones and siblings: The Mauser has been around since Peter Paul Mauser designed his iconic action with the controlled round feed in the 1880s. The Mauser Gewehr 98 was the standard rifle for the Imperial German Army in World War 1 with 6 million produced. It was replaced in service in the 1930s by the KAR-98/K98 and other shortened Mausers. This shorter rifle was to equip Hitler’s troops as they marched across Europe and Russia. It was almost as prolific as the Mosin, with close to 15 million produced. But if you count all the other Mauser action rifles produced up to, during and immediately after the Second World War, it may actually exceed the production of Mosin M91/30s in WWII.
The M24/47 Yugoslavian Mauser Rifle was a shortened version of the Gewehr 98 and was close to the K98. Over 1 million were produced before and during WWII and many more afterward.
Today, Mausers are prolific. G98s are rare, but the K98, M24/47, and various other Mausers are imported into the USA in the thousands and can be purchased for around $270. They make fine hunting rifles, as the 8mm Mauser round can knock down any North America game with the proper load.
Swiss K11 Schmidt Rubin: The Swiss K11 Schmidt Rubin was the weapon of neutrality in both WWI and WWII. It is also extremely accurate. An apocryphal story says that when the German Kaiser shortly before World War I, visited Switzerland he spoke with a Swiss Army soldier. He complimented the Swiss on their very accurate rifles and equally good shooting skills and said “You are 500,000 and you shoot well, but if we attack with 1,000,000 men what will you do?” The soldier shrugged and then replied: “We will shoot twice and go home.”
Swiss K31: The Rifle that replaced the K11, although they both served alongside of each other during the Swiss armed neutrality during WWII. If the Germans had come crashing over the borders, half a million K31s and an equal amount of older K11s would have shown the German Army why you should never mess with a country that has never stood for anything but it’s own self interest. Most likely the Swiss would have lost, but like their watches, they make a fine rifle.
The SKS: Admittedly, the supply of SKS rifles in this nation is not what it used to be. However you can still find them. And there are more than enough SKS rifles here in the food chain. If you need a cheap, semi automatic rifle, look no further than the SKS. Feeding from a 10 round internal magazine, the SKS uses the same 7.62x39mm round that AKM and AK-47s use. Seeing service at the tail end of World War II to today, the SKS has proven to be a robust and easy to maintain design. A favorite in states with restrictive laws, the SKS has found a home with millions of US firearms owners.
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