Are Military Surplus Rifles ACTUALLY Good?

Trying to buy a gun is one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make. It’s no surprise how guns show up at surplus stores, but in this article we’ll guide you the pros and cons of the overall shopping experience, and whether or not surplus rifles are good.

Military surplus rifles are generally in good condition, and they are typically tested by previous users, proving them to be reliable. They are a great inexpensive option, function just as well as a new rifle, can be great memorabilia for any military collection, and are available online.

Even you can’t find what you’re looking for, there’s still some pretty neat stuff you can find in military surplus stores. Replicas of old flags and pins used for honor are especially hidden gems that reflect our countrymen’s service. There are even military exclusive surplus stores that sell old guns, spare parts, ammunition, uniforms, and equipment if you’re planning on signing up. Military surplus stores even sell exclusive manufactured items to meet military needs.

Why Purchase A Surplus Military Rifle?

Old military guns influenced the future of gun design.

Because these guns were made a long time ago, they’ve had a major influence on modern rifle design. Not only will collectors recognize the changes of the functions, but they are easier to learn from, and have simpler functions than military rifles today. 

The guns are already home from war and can prove their efficiency again. 

Military surplus guns provide a great insight to what it was like to be in real combat because they come from combat. It’s also good to research how to best use the gun, and how it can best perform from online forums. The shopkeeper, specifically one that works in a military surplus store, can give you suggestions as well. 

Would you like guns to not be so expensive? That is very well possible! 

Because these rifles are from a different era, and in surplus a store, you’re probably going to get a surplus military rifle for a very low price. And it’s quite impressive what you get for such an inexpensive cost. Because the military rifles are from another era, you’ll have a high chance to get a surplus rifle for very cheap.

Are surplus guns just as good as modern choices? Absolutely! 

It’s very likely that the guns will perform just as well as any other gun in our era. They won’t have all the features that a modern gun has; it just depends on how expensive the ammo will be for the military surplus gun. The enjoyment of owning a military surplus rifle will be about the same as a the enjoyment of owning a modern gun, just more compliant with a smaller budget, and the difference in how much ammo you will use.

Top 3 Military Surplus Rifles And The Pros And Cons

  1. The Mosin Nagant is best described as efficient and reliable. This is a rifle that is relatively cheap to find in wholesale and come as low as $60. They are also common in excellent condition. This gun is also greatly favored by the British army as it also has long-range capabilities, shoots up to 30 bullets per minute, and normally has a sling and scope included.


  • Low cost
  • Lots of good priced spare parts from companies like ATI. 
  • Easy to work on when inputting new parts.
  • Smooth functionality


The following is a list from on the cons of the rifle.

  • “The safety is notoriously awkward unless you do something like weld a metal loop onto that knob to make it easier to grab and turn. 
  • There are no aftermarket barrels available for this action for some reason. 
  • Theoretically, the .30 caliber barrel should make it relatively simple to re-chamber the rifle for some other rimmed cartridge but I have never been able to confirm that anyone has actually done this.
  • The bolt handle is always straight, which means that it does not clear a scope and has to be cut off and a new handle re-welded. 
  • You could just bend the existing handle, which is cheaper. 
  • The Mosin Nagant bolt handle is so short that turning it down doesn’t leave you with quite enough to grab and the comfortable operation of the action does suffer.” Source

2. K-98 or 1898 Mausers are a more sporty military rifle and is known to have plenty of spare parts to resurrect your rifle if need be. This gun has a powerful bolt-based action that is good for mid-range targeting. Modern versions of the gun are available with iron sights and can carry a 5-round magazine with 15 bullets per minute. If you’re on a budget this is the best option.


  • Largest in selection of market parts of any surplus rifle.
  • High quality parts avaliable
  • Barrels of many kinds available
  • If you take it to a gunsmith most will know how to work on it
  • Ready to be re-chambered to most any non-magnum cartridge


  • If you want a scout rifle you must see a gunsmith to work on the bolt for a clear scope
  • The main part you would have to replace is the safety 
  • You might be looking at $150 for parts and gun-smithing to the point of scoping
  • Harder to find
  • Is not built for long-range shooting

3. The Enfield is a more popular sport-like surplus rifle. It is best used for wild game as it is known that .303 British took many moose in Canada than any other cartridge making it not dismissed by hunters. It is expected that you could find a No. 4 Mark 1 Lee-Enfield for around $100 at a gunshow and a mount can be around $36. While the Mosin Nagants cost less, the ability to mount the scope without any gun work makes it a better choice overall.


  • No. 4 Mk. 1 Enfield possess a bolt handle that is turned down for a clear scope for mounting
  • The safety switch is on the left side of the receiver so the scope doesn’t interfere
  • You can buy the scope mount for the Enfield that already has holes in the rear sight base. 
  • You can also use regular rifle scope for the same eye relief


  • Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of aftermarket parts in the US if you want to customize the gun
  • It doesn’t have familiar action to most American hunters (mainly because of the sporting bolt actions like the Winchester 70 and Remington 700 that were both based on the Mauser) 
  • You are likely to be more limited to high quality stocks unlike the Mosin Nagant. 
  • While the action is great it’s not as good as the Mauser. 
  • Five rounds of magazines are around $30

Where To Go is best known for its great selection of surplus guns, spare parts, and other accessories. You can even bid for them. Here is a better review of the site located here at Gunbroker review. Though this is one of the examples of online shops as this is still the better option when searching for guns and parts.

From research, it appears that the following three websites are also great choices when it comes to browsing for your next surplus rifle:

Common Q And A For Surplus Rifles

Can I buy a gun?

You can if you pass a background check. Though a pistol and semi-automatic rifles will take up to 10 business days and then 30 for your local LE to process your background check. This is so everything is finalized with your state before the gun is given.

How old do I have to be before I can buy a gun?

You must be 18 years of age to purchase a non SAR (Semi Auto Rifle) and 21 years of age to purchase a pistol, SAR and virtually any other firearm.

How old do I have to be to buy ammo?

You must be 18 to buy rifle ammo and 21 to buy pistol ammo.

Can I special order a product or firearm? 

Usually, yes depending on where you’re buying your surplus guns from through surplusammoandarms can most likely help with that with the promise of 100% payment.

Can I buy stuff from and have it shipped/transferred to the store? 

Yes, as they have separate companies where you can purchase a firearm though you will need to fill out a transfer form on the site then send it to the store where you want to have it picked up.

Can I buy a machine gun from a Surplus Store? 

No, these require a special license that is also expensive to purchase.

Overall Review To Buy Surplus Rifles

Before we end the article, let’s go again why buying surplus rifles are a smart choice to add to your gun collection but also the cons you should remember:

Why it’s a great decision:

  • Very inexpensive option
  • Can function like a modern-day rifle
  • More available online
  • Proven reliable
  • Military made
  • Functions made simple
  • Great items for collectors

But you should be aware of:

  • The lack of modern features
  • Limited mounting items
  • Popular guns can be out of stock
  • May need new parts or gun-smithing repairs

Whatever you choose to add to your collection, it’ll be a great and un-regrettable choice. Happy hunting and happy buying, military memorabilia collectors!

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