Military Surplus Rifles For Survivalists

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A military surplus rifle in 2023 is a dream of any survivalist: such a gun is approved on battlefields and in hunting. In our article, we have compiled most relevant info concerning surplus rifles and ammo, so that you could use the knowledge in any survival situation requiring being armed. Read on to find out the details.

Do you know that you can easily buy a military rifle for your survival purposes? Countries of the Warsaw pact, such as Russia, implemented military rifles’ sale after the Cold War.

These firearms cannot be used for military purposes nowadays because of the outdated technologies, but they are appropriate for enthusiasts in survival or hunting.

Having a military surplus is a great chance to feel historical significance in your arms and have a reliable and time-tested firearm.

This article will introduce you to details about historical firearms, especially bolt action rifles.

Prices for Surplus Firearms

There are no common trends in military firearms’ sales price — sometimes they are more affordable than modern rifles but sometimes no. The main benefit of the military surplus is its longevity. They are time-tested, and you can be more sure of their quality than the quality of modern firearms.

Military surplus is more directed at the easiness of recoil. The usage of wood for the protection of barrels made these guns so durable. Check AR15 tool kit for decent maintenance of your rifles.

Modern technologies are implemented in the construction of new rifles. However, military rifles, for example, Soviet Mosin-Nagant, are more credible for dirt, rain, snow, and clay.

The Reason for Investment in Surplus Rifles

The sheer power of surplus firearms and modern firearms is similar. Military guns have the sheer power in the range of .30-06, and it is as convincing as the capability of the Remington 700.

There are a few disadvantages of new rifles that are used for military purposes nowadays. However, Springfield 1903 is not worth than modern models.

You can pay attention to the bolt-action FAL rifle if you want to shoot with .300 Win Mag rounds or any other commercial rounds.

So, there are no reasons for using modern rifles instead of military surplus. Why should you not invest in military surplus?

Performance of Surplus Military Rifles

The military guns can hit the goal from 100 to 2000 yards away, but you will not achieve these results without proper skills. It only means that rear sight is capable of aiming from a maximum of 2000 yards.

The accuracy of military surplus guns is low compared to modern ones – it is the one significant pitfall of the old battle rifles. So, if you need a pistol to be perfectly accurate, you should choose the modern Remington 700 or the AR-15.

Nevertheless, some of the sniper models can give the fight to modern firearms.

Today you will explore 4 surplus rifles in more details:

  • Mauser Model 98 – Nazi Germany – 8 mm Mauser
  • Mosin Nagant 9130 – Russian/Soviet Union – 7.62x54R Caliber
  • Arisaka Type 99 – Imperial Japan – 7.7 Jap
  • Lee Enfield No 1 Mark III – England – .303 British

Of course, there are other types of military surplus such as Turkish Mauser, Swiss K31, AR15, and a semi-auto pistol category, but these four are the most affordable and popular ones. That is why we will introduce them to you.

4 of the Best Military Rifles

1 — K98-Mauser Rifle

K98-Mauser Rifle

Let’s take a look at the history and mechanical characteristics of the Mauser Gewehr.

Firstly, it was produced in Germany in 1898, and the most progressive technologies were used at that time. The pistol includes a magazine holding 5 rounds, the 7.92×57 mm firing cartridge, locking lugs, and the magazine’s cut-off arm. For the first time, Americans saw it in Cuba during Teddy Roosevelt’s travel to San Juan Hill.

Spanish army used it in the battle with the US firing with 7mm rounds and received shooting with Krag-Jorgenson rifles poor rounds.

The extremely high accuracy of the Mauser caused the development of the competitor — 1903 Springfield. The new rifle was so similar to the Mauser that the court imposed a fine for the patent violation. However, the fine was canceled after WWI.

Creators of the GEW 98 made the cartridge long to increase the productivity of shooting. The power of the shot depends on the length of a gun. Long rifles have a higher capacity. It allows using every foot of the cartridge effectively. However, it was modified after WWI, and the rifle used during WW II in 1935 was much shorter.

The thing of interest is not only the rifle itself but the match grade 8mm rounds. They were made with a rimless methodology and was replicated by the US and Japan later.

8mm Mauser was first manufactured in 1905, and the bottle-necked, rimless design was implemented in it. It is worth saying that it was not an 8mm rifle but a 7.92x57mm, but the more popular name is 8mm, Mauser. The cartridge accommodates ullets of the 323″ diameter of 198 grains.

This bolt-action rifle develops a speed of 2600 feet per second. So, German military engineers preferred lower speed and bigger weight of the bullets. Nevertheless, the weight of the bullets did not stop them from the development of high-speed. For example, there were cases when these firearms hit the aim with the speed of 2700 feet per second.

As we said, the Maser was popular to use during the wars, but it is widely used today for hunting and competitions. You can buy it in special pistol shops if you want to have reliable items in your gear.

Personally, I use K98k, which was created in Nazi Germany in 1942, and then it was trapped in Yugoslavia and transported to the arsenal. I got to know these facts from the symbols on my bolt-action rifle.

  1. “Yugo” code was used only after the repair in Yugoslavia;
  2. “Mod 98” inscription was written only on the German guns;
  3. The first date of the production was erased — it was 1942.

K98 Mauser Rifle Pricing

The Yugo Mauser is one that is affordable in comparison to German versions and very convenient to use.

The typical sales price for Yugo 24 and 48 is about $300-400, but the sales price for German Mauser is in the range between $400 to $800. However, I bought the last one for the price of Yugo rifles.

As regards its accuracy and usefulness, they are high and soft. You can feel that the performance of this rifle is as smooth as butter. The reason for this is its construction. The trigger hook breaks purely and is easy to control despite its heaviness. The accuracy is high if you have good skills in using the sight.

This military gun has the same bolt design as in the Mosin-Nagant, but its movements are much smoother. The bolt’s rotation in this gun is about 90 degrees, as in the Russian firearms, despite its curvature.

The maximum graduation of sight is 2000 yards. There could be errors in left and right sights reaching 2″ per 100 yards. However, the one odd thing happened with my rifle of this model – I need to direct the rear sight to approximately 300 yards when I need to hit the aim 100 yards.

There is the probability that all described errors happened because of a lack of skills in shooting. I fire not from the clamped rest.

This rifle is less heavy than its Russian competitors and is short – its length is equal to 43.5″, but it is still called carabiner K98K.

The frame is made of wood for all its length, and the barrel is made of steel. At the same time, the weight is about 8.2-9 lbs despite the heavy materials.

The main advantage of this rifle, in my opinion, is its front sight. The mainspring steel hood protects it. It is more convenient to aim with it than with other surplus rifles’ post or blade sights.

Recoil is felt not so strongly as in the Mosin-Nagant because the butt perfectly comforts the shoulder. It is steel but contoured and curved, which makes it so convenient to fire.

Also, you do not need to buy an additional recoil pad because of the round’s comfortable power and size.

Obviously, Russia’s bolt-action rifle is more powerful to crush the enemy, but I recommend this rifle for nice and convenient shooting.

2 — Mosin-Nagant Rifle 9130 model


Mosin-Nagant is one that was produced in a huge series. About 17 million were manufactured for a period of 50 years, but Russia has been unloading this military surplus for the previous 20 years.

Its 7.62x54R cartridge is still implemented in modern Russian firearms, Dragunov. Its benefit is in its length — it is the longest rifle cartridge used nowadays in the army.

Bullets produced by this rifle can reach the speed of 2840 feet per second. This gun includes a bottleneck cartridge with 148 jacketed Fullmetal grain bullets.

The Mosin-Nagant’s magazine accommodates 5 such bullets, and additional ones can be inserted manually or with the help of a stripper clip.

You can still buy the surplus of this rifle but pay attention to its condition. Most of the rifles of this model are exposed to corrosion and should be cleaned after the firing. If you neglect this step, the chemicals will ruin the barrel of your rifle.

Now we will introduce you to the history of this surplus rifle. The Imperial Russian engineers developed the first project of this rifle in the 1890s. This model was a product of the struggle between the Russian Capitan Mosin and Leon Nagant. Both of the designs had their pros and cons, and the Russian army united the designs of rifles to produce the best pistol for military purposes in 1891.

The first versions of this pistol were performed in the usual infantry length, but further options had fluctuations in its design. Shorter firearms were constructed for Cossak’s travel on horseback. Then there were some modifications, and new versions of carbines M39 AND M44 were constructed.

The 9130 model was designed in 1930 when developers reduced its length to 48,5″ for better control.

This was the last alternative to this category of firearms, which you can find on the market nowadays.

The rifle is made in the Russian style – sloppy and bulky. Its weight is about 8.8 lbs, which makes it really durable.

It works on opening action. The action is comfortable when the striker moves and affects the bolt action to push the round.

There are some pitfalls in the work of this bolt-action rifle. The cartridge can expand and make it difficult to throw the round and cock the striker. In such situations, you need to make a palm strike for the bolt action.

However, such problems appeared only using modern commercial ammunition. The usage of military surplus rounds will not produce any issues at its performance.

In my opinion, the bolt of this gun is short for survival, but I probably could compare it because of the variety of military surplus I had.

The trigger pin is also more difficult to break than in other military surplus firearms. The Russian style makes itself feel.

The accuracy can be achieved if you draw attention to its trigger button and train with it regularly.

Remember that you should clean it from the corrosion after every firing.

Here is a piece of advice on the usage of this model of military surplus:

  1. The higher accuracy can be achieved when you fire with the bayonet inside.
  2. Russian designers provide the sight for hitting from high points. Russian peasants actively used them for aiming at the prominent points on the bodies of enemies. That is why the rifle sight is located 4-6″ higher at 100 meters.

I have had an experience of using this rifle, but I always fired without the bayonet. Maybe this is the reason for my fault when I shot from high points. The testing results showed errors of 2″ at 100 yards and 2.5″ at 200 yards. I guess the accuracy highly depends on your abilities, vision, and the quality of ammunition.

The challenge may occur in aiming because of the width of the post in the front sight. Its width is bigger than the target at 100 yards, and it complicates the process significantly.

The maximum graduation on the rear sight is 2000 meters, and it is realized as a notch sight.

The recoil exists in the usage of this rifle. You will have many bruises after 20 shots with this military surplus. Russian constructors installed a butt that is stamped, hard-edged, and does not fit your shoulder. I can call this batt plate a skull crusher rather than a normal butt plate.

To reduce the level of recoil, you can add a Limb Saver recoil pad. It will mitigate the recoil a little, and you will not suffer after the firing.

It is complicated to make a high-quality shot if you know that the rifle will hurt you as a Louisville Slugger. That is why I highly recommend adding a recoil pad to this cruel Russian rifle.

M44 Carbine Rifle

The difference in this model is in its length and the integral bayonet. Its length is several inches shorter, but it does not mean that the weight is smaller. On the contrary, the weight of the M44 model is 9lbs bigger than the weight of the full-sized model. This fact is connected with the included bayonet.

The thing of interest is the process of the bullet starting in this model. After the shot, you will meet a loud blast. The reason for this is the length of the barrel.

When you use the 9130 model for shooting, all powder behind the bullet burns in the barrel. It is made for the extremely high speed of the bullet after it leaves the rifle. The bullet, in this model, consumes all the chemical energy it has before the shot.

In the M44 model, the powder does not have time to transfer all energy to the bullet because of the shortened barrel and the same bullets in it. The unburned powder causes the blast after the barrel’s departure, and it makes a loud fireball.

The bullet’s speed is lower in this rifle, but the sound it produced can scare anyone.

The testing showed high accuracy, but you should remember that its shot is high.

The recoil is felt worse than the recoil of the 9130 model because of the heavy rifle and explosion after the firing. You will suffer from the bruises after the training with this firearm.

Sniper Rifle

The last version of these firearms is a sniper rifle. The only difference in comparison to a full-size model is the presence of a side rail mount and a scope.

You may notice the similar one in the “Enemy at the Gates” with Jude Law. The scope in it is a simple non-adjustable 4 power scope. It allows you to hit the target at 300 yards. Russian snipers actively used it during WWII.

Of course, you will not be able to hit the rope at 155 meters as Jude Law did. However, the accuracy is much higher than in a simple version of this rifle.

I know that only the best versions of the 9130 model with light trigger pull were chosen for the sniper guns.

In my opinion, the sniper model’s performance is much higher than the performance of the 9130s for my aging eyes, and I highly recommend it for the achievement of better accuracy in shooting.


As the Russian stock of these bolt-action rifles is running out, the prices increase every year. For instance, you could buy the 1942 Mosin for $99 in 2011, but the 1933 Mosin was sold for $150 in 2012. I bought both of them, and then I added the carbine M44 to my collection for $245 in 2014.

The 1942 sniper model is less affordable. The average price for it in 2012 was equal to $595. So, you need to overpay $500 for the scope and better accuracy of the shooting.

Nowadays, you can find the 9130 model for less than $200, but hurry up because prices go up every year.

The price is so low compared to other military firearms because of the big production volumes those days. You should not be confused by $200 as the quality is perfect for this price. Supply exceeds demand now, but it will not last forever.

Also, I noticed that the design and fit of rifles manufactured before the war are much better than the later ones’ quality. 1930 model is smothered, but both of the models hit the goal with the same accuracy.

3 — Arisaka Rifle Type 99

Arisaka Rifle Type 99

This battle rifle was produced to change the previous version of Arisaka Type 38 in 6.5 Jap. The Arisaka Type 99 in 7.7 Jap was manufactured in a big series as the Type 38, and it causes plenty of issues during the war. There was a big amount of ammunition for the Type 38, which was very valuable at those times. The army could not just throw them away, and there was an issue in the munition logistics for soldiers.

The solution was in the distribution of different categories of firearms and equipment for them to different battlefields. It helped soldiers not to be confused using the inappropriate types of rounds and significantly increased their performance.

The first model required to use of 6.5mm rounds, but they were not so powerful as the upgraded 7.7 mm rounds.

Type 99 includes a bottlenecked and rimless cartridge similar to the 8mm Mauser. There are 150-grain rounds of 7.7mm size, which can reach the speed of 2600 feet per second.

The design of the surplus rifle is elegant because of the woodwork. It allows for decreasing the weight and diameter of the firearm. Its weight is equal to 8.4 lbs even though it is shorter than the K98K for approximately half an inch.

The rear sight of this bolt-action rifle is the diaphragm with 1500-meter graduation. There are variants of T99 where the rear sight intersects with two wings. These wings are similar to anti-aircraft sights and have speed marks on them. The front sight can be moved to different sides and is constructed as a blade.

The Arisaka Type 99 includes the box magazine, which can accommodate up to five rounds as a major part of military surplus.

As regards the trigger pull, it is easy to break, as in the Enfield. The firing pin operates during the closing. The bolt action is satisfactory — the straight 90-degrees bolt affects the chamber and throws the bullet.

Its weight is one more advantage of these firearms. You can aim without distractions because of its lightness.

The T99 illustrates the best accuracy among all my firearms. The reason is in its sight — it is the most comfortable sight for the human eyes and their focus. The shot’s error was about 1-2″ from the goal at 100 yards with this gun. I appreciate its aperture sight, especially when I shoot standing.


Arisaka firearms have never been imported in large series to the United States. The GI brought them from WWII. There are many more Mosin-Nagants and Mausers on the market nowadays than the Arisaka ones. However, you can still search for them at the flea markets.

The Arisaka guns have a symbol of history on the receiver, which significantly increases the sale price of the Arisaka. This inscription “mum” was engraved on the firearms which were located in the Emperor’s stockpiles. Most of the “mum” was polished during the war, but some had a saved mark. Probably, the tagging still exists on the T99 collected from the battlefield.

The “mum” is the symbol of the Emperor, and soldiers cleaned it up when they supposed that the enemy would capture the gun. It was the action of showing respect to Hiroto.

The Arisaka with the engraving “mum” is sold for around $400-$600 nowadays. I bought this one without the tag for $240 several years ago. My pistol was manufactured in Nagoya in 1941 before Pearl Harbor.

Japanese constructed several firearms with a chrome-lined barrel before the development of the war. After a few years of the war process, they realized that they could save money by eliminating such barrels.

A later model of the Arisaka was simplified. There were no more chrome-lined barrel, machine work, steel butt plate, and air-craft sights. The butt plate was designed with a plank of wood, and the knurled knob on the bolt was changed to the unattractive welded knob. It was the model known as “Last Ditch” and manufactured at the end of WWII.

There are no approved reasons for this last model’s bad attitude, but their appearance was awful. T99 gave their notoriety because of the fatal events when the US GIs had damages and death after the war using these firearms. However, these events happened when soldiers used other low-quality training guns similar to the Type 99.

Replicas were equipped with the same ammunition as the T99 required and looked like the real ones. Some of these replicas explode in the arms of soldiers.

This bad reputation can be challenged because the original Arisaka models showed excellent performance. They were applied in more than 112,000 PSI during the war.


4 — Lee Enfield Number 1 Mark III

Lee Enfield Number 1 Mark Iii

Lee Enfield was manufactured in the British Empire and was the most popular pistol for WWII among British soldiers.

These military surplus rifles are as durable and bulky as the other categories of military surplus. The barrel is protected in wood for all its length — 44.25″. This fact makes it a little bit heavier than the previous military firearms.

Enfield’s bolt actions are smooth and easy, but the bolt rotation is smaller — it can be rotated only to 60 degrees. It simplifies the control and manipulations with the bolt for experienced shooters.

The reduced rotation was an innovation in those times. It was established that the power of shooting with two Enfields is equal to shooting with three bolt-action firearms with 90-degrees rotation.

Interestingly, the world record for shooting with the highest accuracy and speed was recognized with the usage of this rifle. However, it is doubtable that the Enfield is an analog of two other military surpluses.

It is so durable due to the construction of the sight. The front sight is protected with the cap and is controlled by guards from both sides. The cap’s sight is linked to the rifle by the bolts in the front part of the gear and tightly holds the bayonet and wood handguards.

The problem is in the setup of the sight. You will need to remove the cap to regulate the sight. However, if you perfectly set the cap and sight at the begging of your usage, you will never think about it again.

Other concerns may appear because of the width of sight – it is nearly equal to vertical guards’ width. You can mix up the blade and vertical guards if you take the gun incorrectly.

There were situations when I found high inaccuracy of the Enfield and shot into the weeds instead of the goal. I just aimed to use the right sight in replace of the sight itself.

The rear sight has graduated up to 2000 yards. Aperture sights similar to sights in Springfield 1903 and the M1 carbine was added to the Enfield before the war.

In my opinion, the trigger pull of the Enfield is the most convenient one. It breaks cleanly and smoothly what gives pleasure during the shooting.

The Enfield requires the .303 British cartridge with rounds similar to the 7.62 x 54R caliber. The rounds are rimless with 174 grains, boat-tailed, and with hollow points. They can reach a speed of 2500 feet per second.

The rounds can be found in special stores nowadays, but it is more affordable to purchase European versions on-line or reload already available ones. I recommend you to find rounds that math the Enfield and reload them to save your money and time.

Most of the Enfield firearms were produced in Britain, but you can also find Australian or Indian versions in stores. You should not worry about the quality of non-British ones. They are mostly similar in action. I have the Indian Endfield created in 1916, and I assure you it is accurate and easy to use.

Indian factories manufactured Endfields during British rule, and all standards and requirements are the same for Endfields from different countries. India continued to produce them after the liberation in the 1960s.

I cannot prove the quality of their performance with the replaced British .303 cartridge and 7.62 rounds because it is always better to use compatible ammunition.

Lee Enfield models have a recoil, but it is not so hard as in the previous military surplus we described. You will feel some push during the shooting, but they will not make bruises on your shoulder.

The truth is that I rarely use it for surviving but store it as a treasure hunt at home because of its appearance and quality.

Make sure you can find appropriate rounds during your trips. I guess it is not as appropriate for survival as other rifles because of the US’s lack of British rounds.


Now you may have several questions about the way you should choose the military surplus firearm.

I can only say that the Enfield is not appropriate for survival and frequent use because of the lack of ammunition and high prices. Surely, you can search for stores having this ammo in your place and get a constant supply of necessary items.

The Arisaka is very convenient for long hiking and hunting. It is lightweight and elegant to keep with your survival items. However, ammunition is also uncommon.

K98 Mauser perfectly matches the criteria of survival weapons, but they are quite expensive (you can choose Yougoslavian analogs to save your budget).

The most valuable for survival is the Mosin-Nagant 91/30 as the price is affordable on the markets, and its accuracy is high. You can easily buy it and all the necessary ammo in the US.

I hope you figured out the differences between the described military surplus and learn some details of their construction. There are many more military surpluses on the market today, such as swiss k31, which is perfect. Search for more information to make a better decision on its purchase.

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Why Do I Need to Buy Military Rifle?

Military bolt action rifle has no disadvantages in comparison to a modern one. By buying it, you will have World War II’s real memory and invest in your home by purchasing the historical relic. Bolt action gun of war times has high accuracy and can be found in stores for small prices. Buy it to get deeper into the history and get a powerful pistol for survival.

Where Can I Purchase a Bolt Action Rifle?

You can explore gun stores for specials, but not all of them offer military surplus. Search for them on the websites and get more information about the places you can buy this kind of firearm. There is probably an FFL dealer in your town who will explain the action of these guns and the price for them in more detail.

Is it Legal to Buy Surplus Rifles?

It is permitted to buy any military surplus according to the law except the explosives and strategic things. However, you need to check whether you need to obtain a license for your pistol in the place you live in.


A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.




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