Here are 8 military surplus guns every shooter should own.
Military surplus guns are cheap, fun to shoot, and are great additions to any gun collection.
These guns were adopted by the armies of various different countries because they were rugged, easy to use, and well built. Since most of the military surplus guns on this list are over 50 years old (some individual guns may even be more than 100 years old), they are also great opportunities to possess a piece of history.
Because millions of these guns were produced, most of these guns (and their ammunition) are still widely available in the United States for a reasonable price. It is true that they are not as affordable as they used to be; but all things considered, there are some good deals on this list. Finally, not only are these military surplus guns great for gun collectors and shooters to own, but most of them are also excellent choices for hunters as well.
If you are a serious shooter who wants to own a few pieces of history, continue reading to see the eight military surplus guns that you every shooter should own.
The Mosin-Nagant is perhaps the most reasonably priced military surplus gun on this list, with rifles going for $100-250, depending on the individual model and the condition it is in. It is even possible to buy a full crate of 20x Mosin-Nagant rifles if you were so inclined, Mosin-Nagant rifles were used by Russian soldiers and communist forces in dozens of third world countries during the Cold War.
The Mosin-Nagant is chambered in the potent 7.62x54mmR round and is known for its fierce recoil and low price. Surplus 7.62x54R ammunition is widely available and is extremely inexpensive. However, beware: almost all surplus 7.62x54mmR ammo is corrosive, so clean your rifle appropriately after using it. Soft or hollow point ammunition is available in the United States, making this rifle a good choice for a hunter on a budget who wants an inexpensive hunting rifle.
Usually retailing for $400+ in the United States, the Lee-Enfield rifle is slightly more expensive than the Mosin-Nagant. However, it is a great military surplus rifle and is still a good buy. Being a reasonably accurate rifle and chambered in the excellent .303 British cartridge, the Lee-Enfield rifle is another good choice for a hunter on a budget. These rifles are very common in countries with a lot of British influence, like Canada, South Africa, and Australia. Many deer, bear, moose, and kudu have fallen to bullets fired from Lee-Enfield rifles over the years.
The SKS is the first semi-automatic rifle on this list of military surplus guns and, along with the Mosin-Nagant and the Kalashnikov, is another Russian contribution to conflicts all over the world. In addition to being produced in the Soviet Union, the SKS has also been produced (with varying quality) in China, Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania, East Germany, North Vietnam, and North Korea.
Like the AK-47, the SKS shoots the 7.62x39mm cartridge. However, though it is still very reliable, the SKS is not quite as rugged as the AK-47, though it is slightly more accurate. Depending on the condition of the rifle and the country it was made in, an SKS will go for $200-600. While it would not be my first choice for a hunting rifle, many hunters all over the world have successfully used the SKS for hunting a wide variety of big game during the last 50 years.
Millions of M1 Carbines were produced in the United States during World War II and many of those rifles have made their way into the hands of gun collectors and shooters all over the country since then. Though it shoots the anemic .30 Carbine cartridge, the M1 Carbine is very popular because it is lightweight, easy to shoot and carry, and has a mild recoil. These traits make the M1 Carbine a very popular military surplus gun for small framed shooters like women and children.
The .30 Carbine cartridge is right on the borderline for what I would consider acceptable for hunting deer. However, when using soft or hollow point bullets, it does the job pretty well at close range and many hunters have successfully taken deer, hogs, and coyotes with it over the years.
When it was first introduced, the Mauser 1898 revolutionized the firearms world. Since then, it has been the standard that all bolt action rifles have been measured against and many modern sporting bolt action rifles incorporate a Mauser-style controlled feed system. The Mauser 1898, and its subsequent variants (such as the Karabiner 98k), were used by the Germans in World War I and II. Since then, military surplus and “sporterized” Mauser rifles have spread all over the world and turn up in gun collections in virtually every continent.
Most of the military surplus Mauser rifles on the market today are chambered in 7.92x57mm, which is a great cartridge for hunting medium-sized game, such a deer, bear and hogs. Mauser is still in business and produces a modern sporting rifle that incorporated many of the features that made the Mauser 1898 such an iconic rifle. It was one of these rifles, chambered in .416 Rigby, which knocked professional shooter and hunter Ron Spomer over on video.
The 1903 Springfield was the American answer to the Model 1898 Mauser, incorporating many of the features that made the Mauser such a revolutionary rifle. In fact, the rifle was so similar to the Mauser that Springfield ended up having to pay royalties to Mauser for patent infringement!
However, like the Mauser, the 1903 Springfield was a very successful rifle and was widely used by American Soldiers in World Wars I & II. Chambered in the ubiquitous .30-06 Springfield cartridge, the Springfield is a very accurate rifle and, with a competent shooter, is capable of hitting targets at long range. For this reason, it was used by American snipers in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
These same characteristics make the 1903 Springfield a great choice for hunters and shooters. I’ll wager that hunters using surplus 1903 Springfields have taken virtually every species of North American big game. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with the 1903 Springfield is that it is probably the most expensive military surplus gun on this list, fetching prices of $800+ in most cases.
Produced in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s for their military forces, the CZ-52 fires the extremely potent 7.62x25mm Tokarev round. The CZ-52 was replaced by the CZ-82 in the 1980s. As a result of this, thousands of surplus CZ-52 pistols eventually flooded the American market. At one point they were so common that you could purchase a CZ-52 pistol, 2x magazines, and a military issue holster for less than $100. Military surplus 7.62x25mm ammunition is also relatively common and inexpensive as well. Prices have gone up since then, but they are still a pretty good buy for a shooter on a budget.
The big downside to the CZ-52 is that it is a difficult gun to shoot accurately. It has a terrible trigger, poor sights, a sharp recoil, and a fierce muzzle blast. However, it’s still a unique and fun gun to shoot, especially considering that it is one of the least expensive military surplus guns available these days.
George Patton called the M1 Garand “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” He was right: the semi-automatic M1 Garand with its eight-round “en bloc” clip was a quantum leap ahead of the standard bolt action rifles used by the other belligerents in World War II and the Korean War, giving American Soldiers a significant advantage on the battlefield.
In addition to providing the user with a tremendous amount of firepower, the M1 Garand is also a very accurate rifle. The rifle has excellent sights and an outstanding trigger, allowing a good shooter to accurately shoot at ranges of several hundred yards. Though it is heavy and has a stout recoil, the M1 Garand is still one of the most popular military surplus guns used by shooters and hunters in the United States. M1 Garand rifles are also pretty reasonably priced: the Civilian Marksmanship Program sells used (but still “shootable”) M1 Garand rifles for as little as $630.
What do you think about our choices for the best military surplus guns every shooter needs to own? Did we miss any?