Less Than A Grand

When I’m bored and don’t feel like reading (it happens, shuddup) and can’t face watching TV of any description (like none of you ever feel that way), I go to websites that are All About Guns.

In this case, it was Collectors Firearms, and under Foreign Military Rifles, I started to view the products available.  I got depressed at the prices, of course, which led to the thought:  a 1970 Dodge Charger used to cost $3,711 brand new (about $25,800 in 2021 dollars).  That same 1970 Charger now can cost you up to $85,000 depending on its condition.  (A new 2022 Charger costs $40,000.)

My head was starting to spin from doing all that math, so I just decided to set an arbitrary dollar limit of less than a grand (<$1,000) on these old rifles.  (And yeah, I know that back in 1970 you could get a surplus Mauser or SMLE for $25 — about $175 in 2021 dollars, never mind.)

And here’s what I found to be worthy, in no specific order (and all pics can be clicked to embiggen):

Chilean 1895 Mauser 7X57mm — $750

This old gal has been ridden hard, often, and put away wet every time.  Nevertheless, if the barrel hasn’t been shot out, I’d get it because a.) Mauser and b.) 7x57mm.

Swiss 1911 7.5X55 Swiss — $899.95

This is the carbine version of the K11, not the longer infantry rifle, and as such, it’s an outright steal for $900.  And as the Swiss have started to manufacture their brilliant GP11 cartridges again…

Carl Gustafs Stads 1896 6.5×55 Swedish — $895

I think everyone in the Western world knows of my affection for this wonderful rifle and its cartridge and actually, given that all the serial numbers match, this too is a steal at $900.  (I paid $450 for mine back in 2003, but whatever.)

BRNO 1908/34 7×57 — $995.00

There are a couple of reasons why this rifle is priced so high on the sub-grand spectrum:  it was made by Brno, not Mauser and it comes with a wicked-looking spike bayonet.
‘Nuff said.

And finally:

Enfield No.4 MK 2 .303 British — $995

Of all the rifles posted here today, this one would probably get my #1 vote, but only because I have a ton of .303 ammo already stashed in Ye Olde Ammoe Locquere.  That said, I’m a little lost as to why this lovely rifle is priced as high it is.  Simply put, it’s of post-WWII manufacture (thus taking away the “wartime” appeal and collectability value), which leads me to think that it’s probably in superb condition compared to the older versions.  Also, ROF Fazakerley in Liverpool only made the Mk 2 for a few years before the tooling and machinery were sold off to Pakistan in, I think, 1952 — making this a relatively rare beast.

So there you go.  If you had a spare grand that had to be spent before Accounting / your wife took it away, which one would you choose?


  1. Even the CMP doesn’t have anything below $1100 as most of their M1’s are sold out.

  2. In the far way-back times, my buddy and I had our adjoining tables for 20 years running at the local gun show in our small northern California town. Saw many guns over the years. At some point I picked up a very clean Brazilian 7 X 57 Mauser ’98. The bore was (and still is) dark and quite rough. I was going to use the action for a project, but later changed my mind, having second thoughts about breaking up that fine old rifle.

    Was tempted by more than one fine old Swede but could never quite reach for my wallet. Callow youth.
    I opted instead for a clean U.S. M1917 (Eddystone) with a perfect bore. Our reserve Bn CSM had given me an original manual for same. What good is a manual without the rifle?

    From your list I would choose the Swede. For those that don’t know, about those brass stock plates–


  3. No bad choices here, Kim. I’d probably go for the Enfield just because it’s newest.

  4. I’m sorry Mr. Du Toit, but I’m going to have to go with “none of the above”. Why? Ammo proliferation. ‘Way back in the long-ago (1976) I decided to try to limit the number of different calibers of firearms I’d own, just for the sake of keeping logistics simple. My first firearm was a 12 gauge, but even there I had to have a variety of ammo; #6 and #8 shot for birds, #4 shot for waterfowl, slugs for deer. I’ve tried, the ammunition gods know I’ve tried, but I’ve STILL ended up with far too many that I now have to keep in stock. Adding yet another one is out of the question.

    To date, it’s:
    Shotgun: 12 gauge (for me) and 20 gauge (for my wife)
    Rimfire: .22 LR high velocity (I even donated a 1926 vintage Marlin 39 to the museum rather than try to keep .22 “standard” velocity in stock since HV will crack the bolt face on those old ones)
    Pistol: .22 LR, .38 Spl, .357 Mag, .45 ACP
    Rifle: .22 LR, .38/.357 (Marlin lever guns), .45 ACP (carbine conversion kit), 7.62×39, .30-06

    I don’t think that there’s anything here in Wyoming that I can’t handle with something from the choices above (except maybe Grizz, which I have NO intention of hunting). My wife’s deer rifle is an insanely accurate CZ 527 bolt gun in 7.62×39, so it’s common with the other semi’s we’ve got.

    Just keeping those eight different calibers in sufficient stock is hard enough without adding yet another one.

    I see in the ads in Shotgun (oops, now it’s “Firearm”) News that the stash of Ethiopian arms that somebody stumbled over also apparently includes some M1 Garands, both original and restored. I’m too lazy to jump up and get the last issue, but I seem to remember that the original ones are going for just under a grand. If anything I’d get one of those, but I’ve already got two of ’em that don’t shoot for spit (no better than angle of pie plate at 100 yards) and need to be re-barreled, so I’d rather spend that money at James River Armory and have them re-build one that I’ve already got.


  5. If you could get one as good looking as in the photos and not beat to hell, they sure.
    On a side note. I have one if the Ishapore rifles in .308 and while externally beat to hell it is actually a good shooter.

  6. “Ammo proliferation”, or “caliber proliferation”, is a dark and wondrous place. Many times in my life have I tried to avoid the above, and failed more often than not.

    Just when you THINK you have “enough” calibers for your shooting needs, along comes that cherry Arisaka 7.7mm, or that exquisite Steyr-Mannlicher 6.5x86mm, or that lovely little Ithaca 28ga SxS…

    And all your good intentions vanish in a puff of gunsmoke.

  7. My choice would be the SMLE, without hesitation. I’ve kicked myself in the backside many a time over the years for passing up one at the Tulsa gun show about 20 years ago for the meager price of $125.

  8. 2 weeks ago I walked away from an Enfield for about $450 because it was sporterized and because I didn’t want to have to start buying .303. If it was the original gun it would have come home with me, and would have let the ammo buy take care of itself.

    Time will tell whether I regret said decision or not.

  9. “the Swiss have started to manufacture their brilliant GP11 cartridges again.”
    That is splendid news!
    As for your examples, I think I’d go with the Swede, although the M95 Mannlicher would be a great rifle to have, too, as my Grandfather carried one in the Great War when Italy decided there wasn’t enough shooting and killing and decided to straighten the map north of Italy.
    The other one I would love would be a shootable, non sporterized M1903, but I doubt there’s one under a thousand I would want. I remember when I was twelve or thirteen my dad and I went with a friend of his and his son out to a range north of Los Angeles to shoot .22, and my dad mentioned he had qualified with one when he was training to be a Seabee in WW2.

  10. Assuming it’s for using and not drooling over, I’d take the Lee Enfield, thank you very much.

  11. I tend to agree with Blackwing 1 on caliber proliferation. That being the case, my choice would be the Enfield, as I already have two others, a BSA No4Mk1 and a sporterized Long Branch No4Mk1*, so a Mk2 would round out the No4 set very nicely.

    Speaking of that Enfield in particular, is the serial # in the range for the Irish Contract? Those seem to command higher prices than other No4Mk2s.

    Kim, If you’re looking for new reading material, might I humbly suggest my recently published book, ‘Texas at the Coronation’? Here is the Amazon link:


    It’s set just before WW2 in an alternate history where Texas never joined the US. I think it’s something you might enjoy.

  12. I remember all those guns I couldn’t buy for those ridiculous prices, but the minimum wage back then was $1.25, so those cheap Mausers and Enfields were still nearly a week’s wages for this kid. To answer the question, the BRNO and the Enfield because how can I make that choice? It’s like asking which one of my daughters I’d keep.

  13. I can second the vote for a 6.5×55 Swede Mauser. I bought mine for *ALOT LESS* many eons ago. It shoots like a dream, the action is slick. I’m not sure I’d trust it beyond 200 yds or so, but it’s a fun rifle to shoot.
    So, if I had $1K laying around and was looking for a new-to-me Milsurp, I’d probably go with the Enfield, just because of the history.

  14. The Lee Enfields are very nice rifles. Unfortunately like rifles in more popular calibers, finding ammunition is a problem. Finding ammunition at an affordable price is even more difficult.

    I’d go for the Swiss rifle. Everyone I know and everything I have read reports that they are very accurate and enjoyable to shoot. Again ammunition is a problem.


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