5 Best Military Surplus Rifles For Hunters

Keep reading to learn about the best military surplus rifles for hunters.

Military surplus rifles have been popular among hunters, especially in the United States, for many years. Generally speaking, military surplus rifles are often rugged, reasonably priced, and relatively easy to obtain. They are also usually chambered in high powered cartridges suitable for hunting most species of big game. While they may not be capable of matching the performance of some of the more modern hunting rifles, a good military surplus rifle is still a great choice for a hunter on a budget. Read on to learn about the best military surplus rifles for hunters.

M1 Garand

best military surplus rifles for hunters m1 garand
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No list of the best military surplus rifles is complete without including the M1 Garand. The semi-automatic M1 Garand was a revolutionary rifle that served American Soldiers well in World War II and Korea. It has also performed capably in the hands of thousands of hunters in the United States since then. Since it is chambered to shoot the mighty .30-06 cartridge, a hunter carrying a Garand is well equipped to pursue many species of North American big game.

The M1 Garand has a few disadvantages though. First off, it’s heavy and it’s tough to mount a scope on a Garand (though it is possible). Another thing to keep in mind when hunting with a Garand is that many modern .30-06 high pressure hunting loads are not safe to shoot in it. Either get an adjustable gas plug or only shoot ammunition that is within the pressure range that the Garand can safely handle. As long as you keep the limitations of the rifle in mind, the M1 Garand is an excellent choice for hunters.

Lee Enfield

best military surplus rifles for hunters enfield
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The Lee-Enfield rifle is one of the best military surplus rifles for those living in areas with lots of British influence, like Canada, Australia, or parts of Africa. There are thousands of sporterized Enfields floating around in many of the former British possessions and they have been used for water buffalo hunting in Australia, moose hunting in Canada, plains game hunting in South Africa, and everything in between.

They have a well deserved reputation for accuracy and reliability. Indeed, the Enfield is such a rugged and reliable rifle that they were used by the Canadian Rangers in the Arctic for decades until the government recently decided to replace them. Most Enfields are chambered in .303 British, which is a very capable cartridge that has been used by hunters to take nearly every species of big game on Earth.

Mosin-Nagant

best military surplus rifles for hunters
Wikimedia

If you are really on a strict budget but want a decent hunting rifle, then the Mosin-Nagant is probably the best military surplus rifle for you. The Mosin-Nagant is not an elegant rifle and is instead the very definition of rugged and simple. They aren’t as cheap as they used to be, but it is still possible to find one for less than $300.

The Nagant is chambered to fire the potent 7.62x54mmR round, which is powerful enough for hunting most species of big game. Most specimens are more than accurate enough to ethically hunt big game at reasonable ranges. It is also possible to sporterize them by installing a new stock, mounting a scope, or even doing some work on the trigger. Even if you don’t want to make any modifications, a Mosin-Nagant will still make a very good hunting rifle.

To learn more about the 7.62x54R cartridge and how it compares to the 7.62x39mm and the .308 Winchester, check out the article below:

7.62×39 vs 308 vs 7.62x54R: Everything You Need To Know

Mauser K98

best military surplus rifles for hunters mauser
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It’s tough to go wrong with any Mauser, especially the Mauser K98, which is one of the best military surplus rifles available. The Mauser revolutionized the way we look at rifles when it was first introduced and is still the standard by which bolt-action rifles are measured. Millions of Mauser K98 rifles were produced by Germany and many of them are now in the hands of collectors and hunters all over the world.

While the 7.92x57mm Mauser round is more than capable of ethically taking down many species of big game, hunters have also modified a large number of Mauser rifles to use other cartridges like the .35 Whelen over the years as well.

They aren’t as cheap or as easy to find as they used to be, but surplus Mauser rifles are still great choices for hunters.

1903 Springfield

best military surplus rifles for hunters 1903 springfield
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Another contender for the title of the best military surplus rifle for hunting is the 1903 Springfield. It was designed to incorporate many of the features that made the Model 1898 Mauser such a great rifle. The designers were perhaps a little too successful in this regard because Springfield ended up paying royalties to Mauser for patent infringement!

As a result, the 1903 Springfield has many of the same strengths as the Mauser. It is also chambered in .30-06 Springfield, which is a definite plus. If you’re going to be hunting big game in North America, the .30-06 Springfield is almost never the wrong answer. It’s wonderful for use on game like whitetail deer and black bear and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using it for moose and caribou hunting either. The Springfield is also extremely accurate. Unfortunately, they aren’t as cheap as they used to be. However, they are still a great rifle and are a worthy choice if you’re looking for a good military surplus rifle for hunting.

What do you think of my choices for the best military surplus rifles for hunters? Were there any I missed?

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7 thoughts on “5 Best Military Surplus Rifles For Hunters”

    • For most hunters, it probably won’t make much different which variant of which rifle you buy. Both are plenty accurate and more than powerful enough for hunting deer, bear, hogs, etc. at 50-150 yards. The Nagant will probably be cheaper, but the Enfield will probably be a little more accurate.

      Reply
  1. Personally I’m a fan of the Lee Enfield for a couple reasons. They are one of the few millsurp rifles that need neither the safety or bolt handle modified to work with a low mounted scope and unlike Mauser sporters they are not prone to developing major cracks in the stock around the action. The iron sights on these rifles are pretty good and an un-scoped No1 in sporter form generally weighs in around 7.5 lbs, which is a pretty good weight for a hunting rifle. Here in Canada it is not hard to find a serviceable sporter for under $200 Canadian… so IMO they are a clear winner. I would also put in a good word for the Mauser 96, they are generally much cheaper than the 98’s, and every 96 I’ve ever shot was a tack driver. As an added bonus the 6.5×55 is possibly the best deer hunting round ever invented IMO.

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  2. Hey john I’m looking for a Lee Enfield prefeley a later model like a No 4 mk 1 or 2. I heard that they were some rifles brought back from grease that were supposed to be new in original wrapping .. Also i heard that there are still some floating around from long branch, but i don’t know who to contact. can you help. Thanks

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    • The most classy and stylish is Mosin, Russians make perfect firearms and Mosin is another great example, of course you won’t go wrong with either rifle, Enfields, or superior K31, but absolute winner here is Mosin.

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