We designed this page for our friends who are interested in Bolt Action Military Rifle competitions, and would like to know more about the rifles used and which rifles are available on the surplus market today. As the golden age of inexpensive surplus bolt action military rifles passes, many of the rifles popular in competition are no longer readily available on the surplus market. (For example, we have no surplus source for M'17 Enfields, and we find only occasional sources for the 1903/1903A3 US Springfield.) We are, however, maintaining the entries on these rifles for our friends from other countries who use them as research material. Prices on these rifles differ greatly, as does their condition. As the late Turner Kirkland was fond of saying, "If you want good oats, you have to pay the price. If you'll take oats that have already been through the horse, those come cheaper."
The U.S. Model of 1917 Enfield was the substitute rifle of the United States in World War I when not enough 1903 Springfields were available. It is essentially the same as the Pattern 14 rifle (the P14 Enfield) manufactured for England and chambered for .303 British, but with minor changes to accommodate the rimless American .30-'06 service ammunition. NRA published information indicates a total of about 2,200,000 Model 1917 rifles produced by Remington, Eddystone, and Winchester.
Individual M17 Enfields are still frequently offered at gun shows and on the internet, but this rifle has not been generally available on the retail surplus market for some years. The CMP has a small quanity of these rifles for sale in their stores from time to time, but they are not in functional condition. The M17's now available from CMP are "drill rifle turn-in's" which are not going to make competitive shooters. Interested readers should check the CMP website daily for information. M17 Enfields rifles in good condition can produce very respectable scores.
The M17 fires the US .30-'06 Springfield (aka .30-'06 Govt.) cartridge. Ammunition loaded for the 1903/1903A3 Springfield or for the later M1 Garand may be fired safely in any 1917 in good condition. Components for reloading are available from all major manufacturers.
A 1903 Springfield by Rock Island Arsenal (top) and a 1903A3 Springfield by Smith-Corona
The Springfield 1903 rifles and the later Springfield 1903A3's were the main battle rifles of the United States through World War I and into the early days of World War II. The most visible difference is the rear sight. The 1903 will have an open rear sight located to the rear of the barrel, much like most Mausers. The 1903A3 will have a aperture ("peep") rear sight located at the rear of the receiver, not unlike the M1 Garand.
For some time 1903 and 1903A3 rifles have not been available on the open market. In early March of 2002 the Civilian Marksmanship Program announced that they had received the last large quanity of 1903 and 1903A3 rifles in the world. Those rifles were quickly sold to members of CMP-affiliated organizations. The CMP web site states that they will have no more Springfields for sale. 1903's and 1903-A3's are available at most gun shows, but prices vary widely. From time to time a company like Sarco will build a few up from parts, but these are small lots and are quickly sold out. For latest offerings, see "Current Advertised Prices" at the bottom of this page.
The 1903 (top) has its open sights in front of the receiver. The 1903A3 has its peep sight on the rear of the receiver.
Because the 1903A3 has the rear sight located on the rear of the receiver, it has a sight radius of 28", as compared to the 22" sight radius of the 1903. For this reason, many MBAR shooters prefer the '03A3 for competition work.
The CMP warns against shooting any of the "low number" Springfield or Rock Island 1903 rifles. This warning includes any 1903 rifles by Springfield below 800,000 and any 1903 rifles by Rock Island below 285,507. CMP also warns against the use of low numbered (square-bent) bolts. [The '03 shown in these photographs has a straight-bent bolt. The '03A3 has later bent-back bolt.]
Both the 1903 and the later 1903A3 fire the US .30-'06 Springfield (aka .30-'06 Govt.) cartridge. Any ammunition loaded for the later M1 Garand may be fired safely in any 1903 or 1903A3 in good condition. (Note warning from CMP discussed above.) Components for reloading are available from all major manufacturers.
FIELD NOTES: Members of our club who purchased low number 1903 rifles from the CMP report the strikers (firing pins) had been cut. All 1903 rifles received from the CMP had a hole drilled through the floorplate retaining catch and a brass or steel pin inserted. This prevented the floorplate from being released and prevented the rifle from being unloaded through the magazine. (New strikers are available from commercial sources; the pins can be drifted out with a pin punch.)
Good M'95 Mausers are not generally available on the surplus market.
The M'95 Mauser is often considered a variation of the M'93 Spanish Mauser. In its day the M'93 Spanish Mauser was probably the finest military rifle available. Spanish M'93 rifles captured in the Spanish-American War were studied by the United States Ordnance Department and led to the development of the 1903 Springfield.
The M'95 Mauser was adopted by Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, the Orange Free State, China, and Iran. Those most frequently encountered in the United States in shooting condition seem to have Chilian markings. These were factory chambered for the 7x57 mm Mauser cartridge. Military surplus ammunition, commercial sporting ammunition, and reloading components are all generally available.
Some 1895 carbines have been offered recently which have been converted to 7.62 NATO and are advertised as being .308 Winchester. We do not believe these conversions should be trusted. Some companies offering these guns caution that they should not be fired. While the 7.62 NATO and the .308 Win. have the same exterior dimensions, .308 Win. ammunition loaded for modern sporting rifles may be too much for these old guns. In the same way, 7.62 NATO ammunition intended for use in machine guns should NEVER be fired in these rifles.
Robert T. Shimek writing in G&A's Complete Guide to Surplus Firearms believes "The M-1916 Short Rifles rebarreled to .308 were not actually intended for 7.62 NATO/.308 Winchester ammunition, according to my sources. What they were intended for was the unique Spanish, demensionally identical to NATO spec. .308 CETME round, which operates at somewhat lower pressures than the NATO effort. These guns should not be fired with 7.62 NATO/.308 Winchester ammo!"
Remember that the M'95, like the M'96, is not much different from the M1893. They are fine rifles when used with the ammunition designed for them, but they are NOT M'98 Mausers and are best left in their original chambering.
FIELD NOTES: The common service load was a 173 gr. bullet at 2296 f/s. We used the Hornady 175 gr. .284 Spire Point at 2053 f/s. The accuracy was good (10 shots groups under 3" at 100 yards), but the recoil became uncomfortable by the end of a 50+ round match. We will try again with a lighter bullet, and post our results here.
An M'96 Mauser Rifle (top) and an M'38 Rifle (bottom)
The most accurate rifles listed (with many individual exceptions) seem to be either M'96 rifles or the shorter M'96/'38 and M'38 carbines. The M96 Mauser is so called because it was adopted by Sweden in 1896. Except for the guide rib on the bolt and the "finger cut" in the receiver, it is much the same as the earlier M'93. During the years it was manufactured, this model was produced at the Mauser Company of Germany, and by the Husquvarna Arms Company and the Carl Gustafs Stads Rifle Factory, both of Sweden. The NRA reprint "Military Rifles" mentions that "unfortunately most specimens on the market have neglected bores."
FIELD NOTES: In many cases cleaning with an electronic bore cleaner, followed by fire lapping will return these barrels to servicable condition.
There is both an M'38 Swedish Mauser and an M'96/'38 carbine, which is an M'96 rifle cut down to M'38 carbine specifications. The M'38 Swedish Mauser will use the same ammunition as the M'96 but, due to the shorter barrel, velocity will be about 100 f/s less than a given load producing 2,400 f/s in the M'96 rifle. [Sierra 140BT/37.8 gr. IMR 4895 produced 2491 ft/sec in an M'38. The same load produced 2595 ft/sec in an M'96.] The M'38 has a shorter sight radius (20.5") than the longer M'96 (26"), but some of them were equipted with a "dial" or "micrometer" rear sight which allows fine adjustments for elevation. Because the "micrometer" replacement for the rear sight slide was available on the national retail market and because it has been allowed on M'96 rifles at the State Shoot Off, the M'38 (given equal condition) seems to have no advantage over the M'96. [NOTE: There is a target version of the M'96 which has a true micrometer peep sight. These were not general issue and are generally not allowed in BAMR matches.] M'96 Mausers in good or better condition have become harder to find in recent years. The 6.5x55 Mauser is an excellent cartridge, but because the M'96 is a variation of the M'93 Spanish Mauser, pressure must be kept below what might be safe in modern sporting rifles. Components for reloading are available from all major manufacturers.
FIELD NOTES: The Swedish service load was a 156 gr. bullet. We used the Sierra 155 gr. MatchKing when available, but found the recoil uncomfortable for a 50+ round match. Many match loads use 140 gr. bullets like the Hornady A-Max or Sierra, but we have gotten very good results with the 142 gr. Sierra MatchKing. Service load velocities are way too high for bench work at 100 yards; we find moving under 2,200 produces best results. In a decent rifle, this can produce ten-shot groups under two inches.
Although the K'98k is best known as the main German battle rifle of World War II, other versions of the 1898 Mauser were sold to countries all over the world.
As a general rule, the best variations of the M98 Mauser on the surplus market will be those made in Germany between the wars and sold to countries that did not participate in World War II. German WW II Mausers captured and re-hab'ed by the Russians vary widely in condition. Those captured by the western allies and turned over to the self-defense forces of Israel are usually in good or better condition. Variations of the M98 produced after WW II are often offered in "excellent to new" condition, but this is dependent upon the quality of the rifle when new.
As a general rule, the 8mm Mauser cartridge is not a "best choice" for accuracy. Remember when buying older Mausers, there are TWO 8x57M cartridges, the 8x57J and the 8x57JS. They DO NOT interchange!!.
Top to bottom: Mosin-Nagants 1891, 91/30, 1939 (Sako), 1938, and 1944.
Just as western Europe was dominated by the M98 Mauser and its variants, much of eastern Europe and Asia has been dominated by the Mosin-Nagant and its decendents. Once considered a "junk" rifle, many shooters have changed their minds about the Mosin-Nagant in recent years, due in large part to the release of top quality war stocks from both Russia and Finland.
The earliest model, the 1891 or M91, was produced in Russia and in the United States. These are no longer available on the surplus market and, having been through two world wars and a revolution, even when found they are usually not in "competitive" condition. The best examples are the few surviving Remingtons that were not delivered to Russia because of the revolution there, and that were later sold in "as new" condition to American shooters.
There is a Russian Mosin-Nagant rifle slightly shorter than the M91, and this is usually refered to as the Model 91/30. These are available in many grades. There is a similar Finish Mosin-Nagant rifle called the M39. These were made from captured 1891 and 91/30 Russian rifles which were reworked by Finland, and these are generally considered more desirable.
A shorter version of the Nosin-Nagant was produced by the Russians for WW II, and is usually refered to as the M38. They were often offered in "excellent" to "unissued" condition and with a choice of manufacturer, but they are not common on the retail market at this time.
The last model of the Mosin-Nagant was the M44, which was produced in Russia and in several other Soviet block countries. Again, various grades are available and you tend to get what you pay for. A Mosin-Nagant-type carbine manufactured in China has appeared on the market, but we do not have enough information to write an evaluation.
Mosin-Nagant rifles were chambered for the 7.62x54R cartridge. The cartridge seems to be capable of excellent accuracy, and suitable ammunition is now availablee. Additional surplus military ammunition is coming out of the old Soviet block, but it is not suitable for match work and is only slightly less corrosive than battery acid. Prvi Partizan, Sellier & Bellot, Lapua, and Winchester all offer commercial ammunition, with Prvi Partizan offering "Match" ammunition as well.
This M39 began life as a true 1891 as shown by the hexagon receiver.
After capture by the Finns it was restocked and rebarreled by Saco.
Note the Saco trademark on the barrel, a capital "S" inside a cog wheel.
The M39's are quite possibly the Mosin-Nagant best suited for MBAR competition. These are usually encountered for sale only by individuals, and the going price is considerably higher than any of the other Mosin-Nagant variants.
Simo Hayha was a Finnish sniper during the Winter War with Russia. Some accounts credit him with as many as 500 kills, which would make him the deadliest sniper in the history of warfare. Like most Finnish snipers, he preferred the M39, a Russian M1891 Mosin-Nagant modified and remanufactured by Finnish arsenals.
Tapio Saarelainen in his biography, "The White Sniper: Simo Häyhä," reports that during his military training Hayha “hit a target at 150 meters 16 times in one minute.” Remember that the M39 holds only five rounds in the internal magazine, so even if Hayha started with fine rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, he had to reload at least twice!
Once considered unsatisfactory for competition work,Lee Enfield rifles are being seen more often on the firing lines. As used here "Lee Enfield" should be understood to include not only the "Rifle No. 1 Short Magazine, Lee Enfield Mark III," but later Commonwealth rifles such as the "No. 4 Rifle Mark I." These were the main battle rifles of the British empire in World Wars I and II. Most fire the .303 British cartridge, although some made in India after WW II are chambered for 7.62 NATO. Components for reloading are available from all major manufacturers. The .303 British is a good cartridge and has proven itself in sporting firearms. The Rifle No. 1, SMLE Mark III--and to a lesser degree the later Rifle No. 4, Mark I--are known for what has been called a "wandering zero," which makes them less than dependable in BRMR competition. We have received reports from several friends in the UK and Canada who report exceptional accuracy from the British Lee Enfields in .303 caliber, but here in Oklahoma the general experience has been that the "Commonwealth rifles" available of the surplus market today are hard put to match the Springfields and Mausers, many of which have bores in much better condition.
The British No. 1 Mk III Lee-Enfield rifles were produced in England, Australia, and India. The No. 1 Mk III has a 25.2" barrel and measures 44.8" OAL. Care should be used in selecting one of these rifles, as the bores are often found to be worn or neglected, an understandable condition in a rifle which may have seen service in both World Wars.
The British No. 3 Mk I rifle is better known as the (Pattern) 1914 Enfield. It is very much like the American 1917 Enfield, except that the rails and bolt of the 1914 rifle are set up for the rimmed British .303 cartridge. These rifles were manufactured in the United States.
The British No. 4 Mk. I rifle has a 25.2" barrel, but has a 44.4" OAL. It was developed between the World Wars, and individual rifles may be found in somewhat better condition than is usually the case with the earlier No. 1 Mk III rifles. In addition to England, Australia, and India, No. 4 Mk I rifles were manufactured during WWII in Canada and in the United States.
The No. 5 Mk I rifle, with its shorter barrel, is the least suitable of the Lee-Enfields for BRMR competition. The barrel is only 20.5" (flash hider included), producing a considerable increase in muzzle flash and in felt recoil. Cut-down Lee-Enfield rifles, sometimes called "Tanker" carbines, were available from a number of sources, but were never issued to troops and do not qualify for BAMR matches.
The K-31, properly called the M1931 Carbine, is the last and best general issue rifle in the Swiss Schmidt Rubin line of military arms. Its long receiver and straight pull bolt make it unusual among common military rifles. (There is a 1911 Carbine, but it is easily distinguished by its red plastic bolt handle knobs.) The K-31 is still widely available, but prices have begun to rise as supplies are limited. Most shootists are favorably impressed with the high quality of workmanship evident on these Swiss rifles. The K-31 fires the 7.5 (7.51 mm) Swiss cartridge. (DO NOT fire the earlier 7.54 ammunition, even if you can find it.) The K-31 is an excellent firearm, well suited to bolt action military matches. The 1911 rifles and carbines, as well as all earlier versions of the Schmidt Rubin, are better left to the collectors.
One member of our team (JP) who shoots a K-31 in matches here wants to pass on two warnings which he has received. The first [Google "SRMB Archives"] concerns the interrupter lug which is located on the operating rod opposite the bolt handle. When this lug "breaks" (sheers off?) at the point of union with the operating rod, the bolt is free to travel rearward when the rifle is fired. The second warning is in German [Google "SBV-ASA"] with a poor English translation, and is more difficult for this editor to read. It seems that cracks may develop at the base of the "bolting device warts" (forward locking lugs). When such cracks are observed, the rifle should not be fired. Should a break occur at the point of the crack, the gas from the cartridge may be vented directly in the shooter's face.
An Arisaka Model 38 capture rifle (missing cleaning rod)
The Japanese Model 38 Arisaka rifle was adopted in 1906. It is basically a Mauser-type action, but the rotary knob safety makes it appear very different from the familiar Mauser profile. It is chambered for the 6.5 mm Arisaka cartridge, more commonly called the "6.5 Jap." Many of these rifles were brought back by soldiers after WWII, and a large number came into the United States just a few years ago. Many sources state that those with intact Imperial (chrysanthemum or "mum") crests were capture pieces, while those with the mum ground off were surrendered at the end of the war. Ammunition is expensive and hard to find, so this is a "roll your own" project for shooting. Dies and bullets are available, although new "boxer" brass runs as much as a dollar a case.
A battle-damaged Type 99 Arisaka capture rifle, complete with steel dust cover and chrysanthemum crest
The Japanese Model 99 Arisaka rifle was adopted in 1939 and was to replace the M 38. The M 99 action is much the same as the M 38 but altered to take the rimless 7.7 mm Arisaka cartridge, more commonly called the "7.7 Jap." The M 99 is shorter than the M 38 by some four inches. As with the M 38, many will be encountered with the "ground mum." While these "surrender rifles" are not highly sought by collectors, the removed crest makes no difference in accuracy. As with the 6.5 Jap, 7.7 Jap ammo is both expensive and scarce, so reloading will be necessary if the rifle is to fire more than a few test rounds. Fortunately, dies and components are available. WARNING! After WWII many of these rifles were "converted" to fire the .30-'06 Springfield. These rifles are NOT safe to fire as the base of the 7.7 is much larger than the American cartridge.
After the war, some of the eastern Soviet-block nations took large numbers of captured German WWII Mausers and simply ground off the Nazi acceptance stamps, adding their oun national crests. Other Soviet-block nations produced their own version of the German K'98k on "liberated" (looted) German machinery.
One such version is the common Yugo M-48 or M48A. The variation frequently found on the surplus market at this time is the "Yugo M 24/47" shown above.
This portion is NOT intended to be an advertisement for any company, nor is it an offer to sell firearms of any type. It is intended as a price guide of what military bolt action rifles have recently been advertised on the national market as being available in quanity. Single-item offerings by dealers or individuals are not listed, as these are not useful in estimating "current fair market value."
"Lee Enfield #4 rifle, .303 British, good to very good condition," $495.00 +S&H. [Offered May, 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by SARCO.]
"Lee Enfield #1 MK III rifle, .303 British, "nice" condition," $595.00 +S&H. [Offered May, 2020, Issue 10 , Firearms News, by SARCO.]
"Russian M-44 Carbine, 7.62x54R, very good condition" $238.50+S&H. [Offered May, 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Hunters Lodge Corporation.]
Japanese Type 38 6.5 Rifles, "good condition," $298 +S&H. [Offered Offered May, 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Hunters Lodge Corporation.]
Mauser FR-7 Rifles, 7.62x51, $397.50+S&H. [Offered Offered May, 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Hunters Lodge Corporation.]
M1943 Spanish Main Battle Rifles, 8mm, "Good Condition," $200+S&H. [Offered Offered May, 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Hunters Lodge Corporation.]
Spanish "Oviedo" Short Rifle, 7mm, "very good condition," $242.50 [cleaning rod, add $12.95] + S&H. [Offered Offered May, 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Hunters Lodge Corporation.]
Italian 1942 Experimental Carcano Carbines, [no condition description], $200+S&H. [Offered Offered May, 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Hunters Lodge Corporation.]
British No.1 MkIII SMLE .303 cal. rifle, [.303 Brit], "very good, battle ready condition," $378+S&H. [Offered Offered May, 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Hunters Lodge Corporation.]
British No.4 Mk1 Enfield, [Condition not given. Caliber not given but probably .303 Brit.] $419.88+S&H. [Offered Offered May, 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Hunters Lodge Corporation.]
British Pattern 14, .303 [Brit.], "beautiful" condition, $324.88+S&H. [Offered Offered May, 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Hunters Lodge Corporation.]
Austrian Steyr Manlicher, 8x57R, "good to very good," 232.88+S&H. [Offered Offered May, 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Hunters Lodge Corporation.]
"Russian M-91/30 Mosin Nagant Rifle, [7.62x54R], "excellent condition" from $349.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
Ethiopian FN mod, 1924, "fair to good condition, " $999.99 to $1499.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
Ethiopian FN mod, 1930, "fair to good condition, " $999.99 to $1499.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
Model 1933 Mauser Rifle, $999.99 to $1499.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
1934 Standard Mauser, $699.99 to $1499.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
Model 1889/36 Belgian Congo Mauser, $999.99 to $1499.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
Ethiopian contract Czech K.98, "original turn in surplus condition," "good to very good condition, " $699.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
German Gewehr 98, "fair to good condition," $899.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
WWII German K.98, "good condition," $799.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
Yugoslavian M48/M48A, "fair to good condition," $349.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
German Capture M98/48 [Yugoslavian reworked K98's], "good condition, " $449.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
KAR.88/GEW.91, "good condition," $799.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
German Gewehr 88, "fair to good condition," $599.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
Carcano Model 1891 Rifle, "fair to good condition," $449.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
Carcano Model 1891 Carbine, "fair to good condition," $299.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
Carcano Model 38 Carbine, "fair to good condition," $249.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
Carcano Model 1891/24 Carbine, "fair to good condition," $299.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
La Coruna Spanish Mauser 8mm, "good condition," $449.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
No.4 MK1 Lee Enfield .303, "good condition," $449.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
No.1 MK3 Lee Enfield .303, "fair to good condition," $299.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
91/30 Mosin Nagant, "excellent condition," $349.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
M24/52-C 8mm [Yugoslavian Mauser], "good to very good condition," $399.99+S&H. [Offered May 2020, Issue 10, Firearms News, by Royal Tiger Imports.]
"The worst day on the range is still better than the best day at the office." Joe Charles