Thursday, January 25, 2007

Guns: Best buys in surplus military rifles

Technically, the title of this post is a misnomer: most any old military rifle is a good buy nowadays, what with the increasing cost and decreasing quality of the rifles being manufactured commercially. Many of these rifles were made for the most extreme conditions imaginable, and so were over-engineered to be incredibly tough. Others are simply products of a time when labor was cheap and companies didn't cut corners substituting in inferior parts.

For more of this kind of stuff, I heartily recommend Tam's old-school gun blog.

***The Mosin-Nagant bolt action rifle (M44 variant pictured)***

Shooting the 7.62x54R round (comparable to the .30-06), the Mosin-Nagant was the bastard child of Russian and Belgian development. In point of fact, the Belgian design was probably better, but Russian pride being what it is, Sergei Mosin's design was used as well.

This is the gun that Russian soldiers carried during the Battle of Stalingrad. It is still reportedly being used in the fighting in Afghanistan, meaning the Mosin has now served through three centuries (1891 through 2006).

I had an M38 (short carbine variant without a bayonet). It was as accurate as I was, shooting 2" groups from the prone position at 50 yards with the stock iron sights. It never jammed, even when fed decades-old surplus ammo, and it made an impressive fireball. I regret selling it to this day - it'd make a superb "truck gun" or even a SHTF bolt-action rifle. (if you don't know what SHTF means, stay tuned for future posts)

***The SKS semiautomatic rifle***

After the M1 Garand schooled the rest of the world, other countries fell all over themselves in adopting semiautomatic (and then automatic) rifles. The SKS was the precursor to the AK series, though despite what you might hear, they are more different than alike.

The SKS shoots the readily available 7.62x39 (seriously, go to Iraq and I'm sure you can find 7.62x39 lying in the street there), which is a huge plus. It won't win any points for ergonomics (the thing handles like a broomstick), and the stripper-clip reload seems very WWII, but aside from that, a nice SKS is more than capable of taking care of 90% of what you'd need a carbine for.

If it works, that is. An SKS can be a wonderful thing. My personal SKS was unfailingly reliable, comfy to shoot, but not very accurate. It can also be a curse - if the relatively thin gas system or the extractor starts giving you problems, it can be quite a hassle to fix. Then again, the next one down is only $150 away...


At 9:10 PM, Blogger Firehand said...

Have an M38. You ain't kidding about the fireball. Or the reliability. But it is one of the more uncomfortable rifles to shoot I've ever had.


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