8 Best Military Surplus Rifles & Shotguns (You Can Still Buy) By: Travis Pike

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Owning the newest rifles gets expensive fast.

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But what if I told you that there was an entire group of firearms that are fun to shoot, interesting to look at, and, best of all, generally much more affordable than the latest AR-15?

K31 set of 3 on hay

Sound too good to be true?

It turns out that you can add to your gun collection fairly cheaply by looking somewhere most people never bother…military surplus rifles.

These guns are battle-tested and make a great addition to any shooter’s collection.  

Products of a bygone era, but they still hit the target just as well as any modern gun…and they do it at rock-bottom retail prices.

Type 56 SKS Stripper Clips and Chest Rig
Type 56 SKS

If you are new to the idea of owning military surplus rifles or just interested in the topic in general, this article will cover a few of the best surplus rifles to own, and what it is that makes them worth owning.

So keep reading to learn more!

Summary of Our Top Picks

  1. SKS Rifles

    These rifles can still be had for under $400 if you shop around. They also benefit from shooting a still-common and relatively affordable caliber.

    $499 at Guns.com
    Jump to Details
  2. Editor’s Pick

    M1 Garand

    If you are willing to spend a few hours jumping through the hoops to become CMP eligible, the M1 Garand will reward you with an amazing shooting experience and that oh-so-satisfying ping.

    $1699 at Gunprime
    Jump to Details
  3. Most Affordable Bolt-Action Milsurp

    Italian M91 Carcano Cavalry Rifles

    These rifles are about as cheap as milsurp rifles get these days. They make great conversation pieces, but be warned, ammo is harder to come by than most other calibers out there.

    $199 at Palmetto State Armory
    Jump to Details
  4. Best Milsurp Bolt-Action Rifle

    Swiss K31

    These rifles are well-built and that is reflected in the accuracy you can still get from them today. If you are looking for a milsurp rifle that is a great shooter, this is it.

    $899 at Guns.com
    Jump to Details

Table of Contents


Why Shop Military Surplus?

For new and old gun owners alike, the world of military surplus firearms is sometimes overlooked — often considered to be for collectors only. 

Hakim shooting

However, milsurp rifles and firearms tick a lot of boxes relevant to anyone looking for a new rifle.

Fun to shoot? Check. Handsome to look at and display? Check. Budget-friendly? Check; well, sometimes.

Full of interesting history? Double-check.

Accurate? Well, you can see where I’m going with this.

The bottom line is that military surplus rifles are worth researching for aspiring or experienced gun collectors and make for excellent rifles for shooters of all levels of experience.


It isn’t unusual for an owner of a single gun to quickly find their collection growing as their budget allows.

Owning guns is sort of like saying that you are just going to take one bite of your favorite food and then winding up eating the entire thing. One taste is just not enough.

Houston Problem
Me after checking my bank account.

However, the prices of guns can make it a challenge for a budget-minded gun owner to grow their collection at a fast enough rate to satisfy the itchy trigger fingers that are hungry for new triggers to pull.

Sure, a brand-spanking new AR-15 with a full array of rails, accessories, grips, and optics is a sight to behold and a joy to take to the range.  

Modded AR-15s
This all adds up.

However, that same AR-15 can quickly soak up even an ample gun budget.  

Not to mention all the ammunition a semi-automatic rifle chews through at the range.

Milsurp rifles offer a slightly more budget-minded approach.

Bridesmaids Poor

Where to Find Milsurp Guns

Searching for military surplus rifles and accessories can turn into a sort of treasure hunt.

I enjoy finding out of the way gun stores and military surplus stores and stopping by to check out what they have. I have come across some great deals using this method.  

Gun Store (NSSF)
(Photo: NSSF)

Gun shows are pretty much a one-stop shop for most common military rifles as well. And some online dealers also offer milsurp too.

In short, shop around and keep your eyes peeled.

With that said, let’s talk about some of the must-have milsurp models.

Best Military Surplus Rifles

1. SKS Rifles

The venerable SKS served in the military forces of dozens of countries across the Eastern Bloc and Asia.

As such, you have tons of SKS rifles slipping into the United States from various countries.

Type 56 SKS Using Bayonet
Type 56 SKS with a bayonet

Perfect for shooters to grab up and go!

There are so many SKS rifles in the states that Bubba has gotten his hands on them, and a ‘tactical’ SKS market has popped up.

The SKS provides a semi-auto rifle that’s actually quite handy.

It’s more than just a surplus rifle and can be used as a working gun, a hunting rifle, and even a defensive weapon.

Chinese SKS by the crate
Chinese SKS by the crate

The fixed 10-round magazines make them AWB ban-proof, which is rather nice.

SKS rifles utilize a short-stroke gas piston system that has been proven quite reliable.

Like the AK, it eats when it’s filthy dirty, when it’s hot or cold, and when it’s not even hungry.

It fires the 7.63x39mm round — an abundant caliber in the United States and rather cheap.

Popular 7.62x39 Ammo
Popular 7.62×39 Ammo

Cheap and available ammo makes the SKS one of the best choices if you are less of a collector and more of a shooter.

It’s no sniper rifle, but it puts lead where you need it. The open iron sights aren’t great, but please don’t butcher it with an optic mount.

Type 56 SKS Length of Pull
Type 56 SKS

SKS rifles come from Russia originally, but those tend to be tougher to find.

Yugoslavian and Chinese SKS rifles seem to be a fair bit more common than the Russian models, and Yugos are often the most affordable option.

Finish off the rifle with an old-school Chinese chest rig and a pile of stripper clips to get the complete experience.


at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

View Details

at Guns.com

  • Guns.com (See Price)
  • SKS (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

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You can read more on the SKS at our [Review] SKS: Norinco & Yugoslavian Variants or see our review of the Chinese Type 56 SKS. You can also see the video below.

2. M1 Garand

The world’s finest battle implement, the M1 Garand, is also one of the best semi-auto rifles on the milsurp market.

It’s also one of the more expensive models and can be somewhat tough to find.

M1 Garand with Bayonet
M1 Garand with Bayonet

The Civilian Marksmanship Program sells U.S. surplus M1 Garand models, but that requires a membership.

Sadly, lots of folks are members who buy these M1s and resell them at astronomical prices. So, it’s worth the admission into the CMP and a better option than buying from a flipper.

The semi-auto action and rapidly reloading design made the American soldier a force to be reckoned with in a field of bolt-action rifles as we entered World War II.

It fires the .30 Service cartridge, aka the .30-06. This ammo is common and available but not exactly cheap.

.30-06 Springfield
.30-06 Springfield

These gas-operated rifles are wonderful and truly a mechanical sight to behold. Not to mention, surprisingly accurate for the time. They would still make a very effective hunting rifle.

If you are a member of the CMP, then you owe it to yourself to take an M1 out to a high-power competition and have some fun.

M1 Garand, Hickok45
M1 Garand (Gif: Hickok45)

The M1 utilized an en-bloc clip and internal magazine. Those en-bloc clips are still widely available today and easy to find.

A cartridge belt replica and a belt full of clips will make you well-equipped to kill Nazis. Don’t forget the bayonet either!


at Gunprime

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

    Visit Merchant

What do you think of the M1 Garand? Let us know by giving it a rating below.

Readers’ Ratings


Your Rating?

3. Chinese Type 53

Mosin Nagants have always been the go-to surplus rifle for those new to the world of milsurp.

Surplus Mosin Nagant Display
Pretty easy to find…

In the last few years, the price of the Mosin has risen drastically. They’re still affordable, but the days of $89 Mosins are gone.

However, if you want the Mosin rifle, and aren’t too picky about its general condition, then the Chinese Type 53 might be for you.

Chinsese Type 53 (Photo: Joe Mabel)

China likes to copy Soviet-era rifles, and the Type 53 was their take on the Mosin M44 carbine.

Type 53 carbines use the same 7.62x54R rounds, action, and overall design of the Mosin Nagant.


Its barrel is trimmed to a short fireball creating 20.25-inches, and the bayonet is the old-school side folding spike style.

The Type 53 seems to be a much more affordable option than an actual M44.

While some may decry that the Type 53 is of lesser quality than the M44, they are wrong. These are well-made rifles; they just weren’t well-stored.

Some beat-up models go for very little and tend to be solid shooters.

Check the bore for pitting and rust. But other than that, you can likely get a T53 in shooter’s grade for a couple hundred bucks depending on where you shop.


at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

    Visit Merchant

4. Yugo M48 Mauser

The Yugoslavian M48, or the Zastava M48 as it’s also known, provides a cheap, generally high-quality Mauser action to a cheap rifle.

(Photo: Szuyuan Huang)

Like any Mauser action, you can expect a very robust design, a reliable action, and a relatively refined action for a mass-produced battle rifle.

It’s no pre-64 Winchester, but it’s impressive.

Predictably the Yugo Mauser is just a copy of the Kar98k. That’s completely fine with me because the Kar98k was a damn fine rifle.

Even though it’s a clone of the Kar98k, most parts are compatible between the two guns.

Yugo M48 (Photo: Natenkiki2004)

The rifle came to be after World War II and provided a rather poor, war-torn country with a rifle with easily available ammunition.

Getting your hands on a German 8mm Mauser wasn’t a big deal for these Eastern Bloc countries.

Yugoslavia forces carried the gun until 1964 when it was replaced by the Yugo copy of the SKS.

The M48 fires the powerful German 8mm Mauser cartridge.

8mm Mauser ammo
8mm Mauser

This hard-hitting round carries a fair bit of energy, and don’t approach it without readying yourself for its recoil.

It’s not going to beat you up, but it’s no poodle shooter.

Speaking of…the ammo is reproduced but not very cheaply. It’s expensive but could be a very effective hunting rifle.

5. Ohio National Guard Wingmaster 870s

I’m a lucky guy. I have a wonderful wife, three awesome kids, and I was able to get my hands on one of the Ohio National Guard 870s when they were going for $229 online.

These are rare U.S. surplus shotguns released from the National Guard to the Ohio Department of Corrections and then to us.

ONG 870
ONG 870 (Photo: SOFPREP)

These 870s are Wingmasters from the 1970s and are limited to 1,200 pieces.

They are unique in the fact they carry the famed and very rare bayonet lug that also acts as a sling keeper and barrel to magazine extension attachment.

The Wingmasters only chamber 2.75-inch shells, but they are beautiful.

Types of 12ga Shotgun Shells (L to R: Bird, Buck, Slug)
Types of 12ga Shotgun Shells (L to R: Bird, Buck, Slug)

Their wood stocks, wood pumps, and beautiful blued finish make it a shotgun that stands out.

However, an even limited number of models featured the Remington 870 steel folding stock.

It’s also interesting because shotguns rarely come up in the vein of military surplus guns.

As we all know, 12-gauge is remarkably common, and you can find any load you want in the 2.75-inch variety.

Our favorite 12ga, 2 3/4" buckshot shells
Our favorite 12ga, 2 3/4″ buckshot shells

These shotguns sold out almost instantly, and as such, you can only find them on the aftermarket.

Sadly, the price skyrocketed and is going for well over $1,000 on the secondary market.

6. Italian M91 Carcano Cavalry Rifles

Carcanos have come and gone from the surplus market over the years, and various models pop up whenever some guy in Naples opens the wrong crate.

The most recent hotness is the M91 Cavalry variant…91 as in 1891, and cavalry as in the dudes actually on horses.

Carcano M1891
Carcano M1891 (Photo: The Swedish Army Museum)

These are not new rifles by any means – they’ve been kicking around for decades.

Serving in both World Wars, these bolt-action rifles were used in limited numbers all the way up to 1981.

As per the usual cavalry designation, they measure shorter than the standard configuration.

Well, to be honest, the Italians never used the cavalry designation. But the rifles were intended for horse-bound troops, as well as paratroopers and special troops who might need a shorter rifle.

The shorter 17.9-inch barrels make the rifles quite handy.

Surplus Carcano Rifles
Surplus Carcano Rifles (Photo: PSA)

The lack of a full-length handguard also reduces the weight and simplifies construction.

A 6-round magazine could be charged with an en-bloc clip and reloaded rapidly.

Now, the biggest problem with this rifle was the round-nose projectile.

It’s a 6.5x52mm round — an interesting choice in an age where the standard was .30 caliber and larger.


Original military rounds didn’t help the rifle’s performance in those great wars.

However, modern hunting loads exist and have refined the projectile into a more spitzer-type projectile.

This improves ballistics and makes it quite capable for modern hunting. The round can take most North American game with the proper projectile.

These rifles are a cheap means to get into the milsurp market, but the ammo can be somewhat tough to find.

Most Affordable Bolt-Action Milsurp

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

View Details

at Palmetto State Armory

  • Palmetto State Armory (See Price)
  • Guns.com (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

    Visit Merchant

7. Hakim & Rasheed Rifles

A favorite of the PPT team…the Egyptian-made Hakim & Rasheed rifles.

Egyptian Hakim and Rasheed (2)
Egyptian Hakim and Rasheed

The Hakim is largely based on the Swedish Automatgevär m/42 (Ag m/42), while the Rasheed is more or less a copy of the Hakim…just smaller and chambered in 7.62x39mm. (The Hakim sports an 8mm Mauser chambering.)

Using a direct impingement gas system, a tilting bolt design, and a semi-auto rate of fire, the Hakim and Rasheed feel very modern despite their age.

Egyptian Hakim (4)
John is over 6-foot…the Hakim is a big rifle.

These are fun rifles to shoot, but the manual of arms is weird. Though the magazine is detachable, it was never intended for mag reloads.

Instead, the Hakim and the Rasheed reload via a stripper clip.

Rasheed (5)

And only one magazine per rifle was issued.

That said, the Hakim and Rasheed are beautifully made. And they are prime examples of a Swedish design…even if they were actually made by Egyptian hands and in Egyptian deserts.

Rasheed (3)

We took a deep dive into both of these rifles, so make sure to read the review or check out the full video review below.

8. K31

So regardless of whether you’re really into milsurp or not…you’re going to dig this one.

Known for the straight-pull bolt, the beer keg charging handle, and a gorgeous Swiss shield, the Karabiner 31 is a sweet model for shooters and collectors.

K31 newer year, lighter wood
K31 newer year, lighter wood

Built on a reputation for excellent machining and craftsmanship, the K31 doesn’t disappoint. It offers legendary accuracy firing the 7.5x55mm Swiss round.

K31 and Swiss ammo
K31 and Swiss ammo

Many military rifles murder your shoulder, but the felt recoil on the K31 isn’t too bad. I’ll call it medium and certainly manageable.

Be wary that it feels a bit heavy, and ammo is expensive. But with a unique cartridge like that, it’s to be expected.

K31 set

But aside from that, the K31 is a fun gun to shoot…and even better to show off.

Best Milsurp Bolt-Action Rifle

at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

View Details

at Guns.com

  • Guns.com (See Price)
  • Gunprime (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

    Visit Merchant

Be sure to read up on our review of the K31 or watch the video below!

Final Thoughts

This article doesn’t even begin to cover the huge variety of surplus firearms available to collectors and firearm enthusiasts.

Egyptian Hakim and Rasheed (4)

Bottom line: military surplus rifles are a great way to enhance the hobbies of shooting, gun collecting, military history, hobby-level gunsmithing, and hunting.

Just don’t be surprised if you set out to add one rifle to your collection and wind up with a new interest that quickly has you stalking gun show floors for more pieces to add to your collection.

What models do you own? Let us know in the comment below. Also, be sure to check out our round-up of the Best Military Surplus Handguns.