How to Buy Military Surplus (2023 UPDATED) Full Resource

How To Buy Military Surplus
Alfred Mendoza

Looking for military surplus firearms to buy may be a daunting task if you don’t know the essential steps to ensure a smooth transaction. Through this step-by-step process of selecting the best surplus firearms available in the market, we offer you in-depth solutions for most situations from quality to age and condition.

7 Steps in Buying Military Surplus Firearms

1. Look for Legit Military Surplus Warehouses

Finding an authorized military surplus market must be the first step in selecting well-conditioned firearms. Various warehouses offer variations of military surplus firearms, including Mausers, Lee-Enfields, Mosin-Nagants, Arisakas, and Carcano. 

Upon entering legitimate surplus gun warehouses, multiple racks of grease encrusted firearms will welcome you—displayed in dimly lit storage. Proper choice of the marketplace ensures the firearms’ condition and your safety from possible deficits.

2. Bring A Competitive Gunsmith (If You Must)

You can never go wrong with an expert. Regardless of the manufacturing skill and quality of materials, the safety of any firearm approaching three-quarters of a century in age must be inspected properly.  

Surplus firearms must be maintained accordingly upon restoration and storing.

Hence, a gunsmith can help you conduct a thorough examination. A competitive gunsmith can also do test firing with stocks and inspect if it is acceptably accurate for its version.

Bring A Competitive Gunsmith (If You Must)

3. Choose the Firearm You Want to Purchase

After careful inspection, choose the military surplus firearm that you want to buy. Always bear in mind the value of firearms you are purchasing. 

Many surplus items underwent refurbishing, restoration, and repair, usually attempting to cover damages with wood fillers. Be careful with selecting items you want to purchase and ask the dealer for specifications.

4. Check the Quality of Firearm

Check the Quality of Firearm

Consider Its Age

It’s also essential to check the age of the firearm. While some firearms remained in service for years, most of these remained stored under conditions ranging from excellent to poor. 

Check The Smoothness Of The Bolt 

Consider the smoothness of the bolt right after. Some repaired firearms use countersunk screws and bolts to repair the damage. Storing can inflict adverse effects, particularly on wood and steel. 

Let Professional Gunsmiths Check The Head Spacing

Shooting surplus military weapons may be a fun and gratifying activity. However, like any other firearms-related activity, it necessitates an adequate dosage of care, patience, and common sense.

Professional gunsmiths must inspect head spacing and ensure that they are within specs. It’s equally as harmful to have too little or too much headspace. It can prevent the gun from coming into the battery, failing to fire. 

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Check To See If The Serial Numbers On The Rifle Match

Check if the rifle’s serial numbers match. The majority of military surplus firearms on the market today have been rebuilt multiple times, and part numbers are frequently changed. If you plan to shoot your rifle, make sure the receiver and bolt numbers are the same.

Serial numbers are a mix of letters and numbers or just numbers that were imprinted on firearms throughout the manufacturing process. They enable law enforcement to track down a firearm’s origins and registered owner [1].

Check For Hairline Cracks On Receivers & Bolts 

Gun barrels can fail in a variety of ways, which must be monitored throughout their lifetime. Fatigue cracking is one of the most dangerous failure modes to avoid since it can lead to a catastrophic barrel rupture. That’s why it is better to check the damages to the firearm you’re buying thoroughly. 

Cracks Or Bulges On Barrel

The answer to the question of whether you should keep shooting with such a barrel is a strong “no.” The slide often prevents further shooting if the bulge is at the muzzle end of the barrel. 

The firearm function is not disrupted if the barrel is exposed, as with revolvers, or if the damage occurs immediately before the chamber. 

However, there is always the possibility that the barrel will develop cracks. In this instance, bullet pieces could escape, or the barrel could explode.

5. Avoid The Following

Avoid The Following:

Damaged Muzzles

Damaged muzzles may reduce accuracy and should be prevented if you are looking for a shooter unless they are modest enough to be removed without affecting the collectible value of the rifle. Shootability may or may not be affected by bore conditions.

Rifles Whose Stocks Have Been Excessively Scraped Or Sanded

Avoid rifles with excessively sanded or scraped stocks to refurbish the model from dents, dings, grease, and finish. Excessive sanding and scraping are usually indicated through humped-up wood, stock fitting, fixtures, and other protrusions. 

These problems do not only damage the distinctive markings but can also cause structural weakness to the firearm itself. 

Re-Chambered Or Re-Barreled From Original Cartridge

Lastly, ensure that the stock’s original cartridge is free from re-barreling and re-chambering as these can cause bullet seating–causing pressure damage to the firearm. And it would be best if you did not experience difficulties in using your firearm.

6. Determine the Correct Cartridge for Your Rifle

Secure the correct ammunition in your rifle. Many available cartridges in the market can be installed in rifles not intended for them. Ensure the correct cartridge for your firearm and have a qualified gunsmith check the cartridge for proper ammunition. 

Avoid using military surplus firearms that have been re-chambered or re-barreled from their original cartridge, as these are usually unsafe due to conversion. Use only original surplus or any new, available, commercial ammunition for shooting.

Also Read: How to Join the US Military

7. Reexamine After Purchase

After purchasing the military surplus firearm, make sure to strip it in detail and clean it thoroughly once more. It is important to reexamine everything stated in the previous steps to ensure the stock’s quality and condition. 

Bring it back to the warehouse if there are any spotted damages and deficits. Again, always consult with your trusted gunsmith for firearms’ checking, and always remember to maintain the quality of purchased surplus guns.

Also Read: Can You Buy a Gun Online?


Yes, military surpluses are still safe if you did a thorough inspection of the firearms. Some surpluses are rebuilt sometimes. Their parts are different from the original. Cracks and damages should be eyed when purchasing military surplus guns.

Yes, military surpluses are still worth it. In fact, purchasing surplus is beneficial not only to you but also to the environment because it allows for the reuse of equipment that would otherwise be abandoned. Just seek help from experts to assure you that these firearms are still in good condition and safe to use.

So, How Do You Buy Military Surplus?

Selecting the finest military surplus guns can be complicated. But with sufficient guidance and knowledge, choosing the right ones might be simple for you. Starting from the legitimate supply choice, seeking for gunsmith’s guidance, and choosing the preferred stock. 

You must also know how to examine the firearm’s condition, remarking qualities to avoid, determining the correct cartridge for your rifle, and reexamining everything. Purchasing the right surplus firearm can never be easier.



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