Iconic Surplus Defense Rifles
Dr. John Woods 01.30.17
A friend of mine, Larry Coleman, the retired ex-chief of law enforcement at a local community college is a huge collector of old guns. In particular he likes every kind of war surplus WWII rifles, mostly Mausers, Enfield’s, Springfield’s, M1 Garand’s, and M1 Carbines. I think he really favors the classic Garand, the first truly functional Second World War semi-auto battle rifle.
During many conversations at gun shows and the exchange of numerous emails over time, he has regenerated my own interest in these rifles. You see at the rip ole age of 10 years old, I ordered an 1895 Chilean Mauser chambered for the 7mm Mauser.
The order went on a handwritten note to Century Arms with a postal money order for $40. The rifle was shipped via rail to the closest train station 15 miles away. Yeah, it was a shocker to my parents when that parcel arrived. Given my age, my dad bought me a new box of green Remington ammo and the rifle was ceremoniously fired on Christmas Day. That was 1960 before the gun control act would have prohibited such dealings. But I digress.
Though many if not most of these surplus rifles appearing in the marketplace from time to time in varying quantities and conditions are indeed collector’s items, their values vary. It is safe to say these rifles are generally not cheap, yet deals can be found if the shopping is careful.
Such rifles also held in trust by many families hidden away in closets all across America could be plied as prepper and survival weapons. Assuming safe to fire via a thorough inspection, these elder bolt action rifles and semi-auto military rifles can still present a formidable defense. Generally, ammo is still widely available as well. Confirm this before you buy an odd caliber or chambering. Besides all that, these WWII rifles are just plain cool to own and shoot.
The downsides of course are the battle worn condition of many of these rifles, though a lot of them were arsenal refinished after the war. If you get into buying these guns, make certain what you are getting. Other relative negatives as survival defense weapons are the rifle weights and the lengths of the overall rifle making them cumbersome by today’s standards.
Still, surplus rifles can have a place in the prepper scheme. They are fun to study, collect, refinish, shoot, hunt with, and defend your position as they did during the Big War.