James River Historical Reproduction Rifles | SHOT 2017

James River Armory is a North Carolina based company that specializes in reproduction rifles for the collector market. Something we are seeing a lot of today is that collectors will have a number of specimens of historical rifles that are very rare, but they still want to be able to enjoy the rifles as much as they collect them. Shooting some of these historical rifles can diminish their value drastically, especially if they have been rarely fired to begin with. Thus, companies like James River specialize in reproducing these rifles so collectors and shooters genuinely interested in the design so we can shoot or even compete with them and not damage a very historically significant rifle.

James River primarily specializes in M14s, but they also branch out into Kalashnikovs and even the ever elusive Italian BM59. For the M14s the company uses mostly original GI parts save for the barrel and receiver, which they make themselves. On some of the M14s the company even takes chopped receiver heels, and welds them to the new receiver. They do a pretty good job of welding and heat treating, and one would be very hard pressed to see the connection point. There isn’t a significant amount of stress on the heel of the receiver, so safety isn’t a concern as it is with actual chopped M14 receivers that are welded back together. The only item that is missing from the rifles is a faux auto selector button, something that would really complete the reproduction.

The M14s go for $1,995, BM59s for $1,299.

The shorter barreled M14 ins’t a modern day contraption, but instead a reproduction of a very limited run of M14s made in the 1960s in an effort to reduce weight. The contract was procured by the U.S. Military but was canceled when the AR15 begin taking over.

The company also does Kalashnikov builds, this one off of a Yugo RPK parts kit. They press their own receiver as well which is pretty neat. 

In addition to the actual BM59 reproductions, the company sells parts for the BM59.





Miles

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


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  • borekfk

    Neat

  • Realist

    I want…

  • Are they using Garand receivers for the BM59 guns or making new receivers? The BM59 in the picture does not have the stripper guide si I am lead to believe they are using Garand receivers.

    • JamesRiverArmory

      Mongo: The Garands did not have stripper clip guides, but we believe many of the Beretta made receivers did. We build using modified Garand receivers that we produce in house.

  • Evan

    I desperately want one of those M14s. I’ve seen them at a gun show before, and they’re beautiful guns. I love my Springfield M1A, but that doesn’t mean I would mind another M14 or six.

    • Deovindice

      I love my Fulton Armory M1A! The article says that they use USGI parts(a good thing) in these rifles as well. I have read that USGI parts are starting to get scarce. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/03f6dc33b6158542ced55f721d6bff34b9e1b437ad60beef3594203be45ee92e.jpg t These are some nice looking weapons, however they would be hard pressed to beat my FA.

      • Evan

        I’ve been salivating over Fulton Armory M14s for years. They’re so expensive though, and I’ve never been able to justify spending $2500 plus on a nicer version of a gun I already have. But I want a Fulton and a James River (actually I want several in various configurations) so I can compare them head to head with my Springfield M1A, which is by far my favorite gun.

        • Deovindice

          There is nothing wrong with the Springfield. They make an outstanding firearm. I got the FA from my uncle. I was looking at a ‘Springfield Loaded M1A’. He just had the rifle in his collection and hadn’t fired it in years. We took it out back and ran two mags through it. He sent me a text to call him when I got off work. When I called he said he would make me a good deal on it! I had planned on driving to Perry and buying the SA!
          I bought it, ordered a Bassett mount, and put a SWFA 10×42 on it. I have read the debates about which is better, the SA or the FA. Lots of folks on both sides. I can’t say whether the SA is any better or not, but I will say that I am absolutely satisfied with my FA.
          I have a few Springfield 1911s and they are fine weapons. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0e26aa7f45a98f8747fb4a5231b61e64ea1e5e98d7d045a709bd2242e0bc9722.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86289c81671a765bce5a1bc0e548ecc1ed2c29562996d5f842ca8e5fc33bbff3.jpg

          • Evan

            Of course there’s nothing wrong with Springfield. I bought my M1A as a gift to myself when I came back from Iraq 11 years ago. Since then I’ve gone through a dozen cell phones (at least), five cars, three apartments, a cat, and a wife. That rifle has always been beyond solid, and can shoot better than I can. I’ve taken a deer with that rifle, and blasted God only knows how many holes in paper and tin cans, and busted up enough fruit to feed Somalia for a week. I love that gun. The only problem I’ve ever has with it was an inability to afford as much ammo as I would’ve liked to shoot. And that I dropped it once and cracked the plastic handguard, but that was easily fixable.

            By the same token, Toyota Camrys are good cars, but wouldn’t you rather have a Mercedes?

          • Deovindice

            Hopefully ammo prices will return to affordable rates. I am optimistic that many of the import bans on surplus ammo will be lifted. I would love to see a return to the days of selling surplus U.S. firearms and ammunition to the Citizenry.

          • Evan

            When I first bought my M1A, I was in the Marine Corps. Shortly after that, they decided that my contract ended too soon to make the next deployment, so they sent me and all the other short timers to the Fleet Assistance Program (FAP), where they send you to do whatever work they can find for you so you’re not taking up space on the battalion roster. I got sent to range maintenance, where we had to go fix up everything that the units coming through for training had destroyed. Now, in the Marine Corps, units get a yearly budget for ammo. If they don’t use it all, they get less the next fiscal year. So, units in the field that don’t shoot everything they have will often just throw it off the trucks. If you’re working at range maintenance, this is a gold mine. I got thousands of rounds of 5.56 and 7.62 NATO for free. Most of it was linked, and had to be delinked, but still, it’s free ammo. I found a full box of linked 5.56 in my parents’ garage like a year ago. There’s probably still more hiding in there somewhere. Anyway, the upshot is that I shot my M1A for free for the better part of a year. Only advantage of fraud, waste, and abuse I’ve ever seen.

          • Deovindice

            Yes, the waste is the same across all branches. I was a 63E(M1A/M1A1 mechanic). While at Ft. Stewart we pulled packs and finaldrives from decommissioned M60s. They put them on barges and sent them out to sea and dumped them into the ocean.
            I also witnessed tools that were practically new thrown into the back of duce &half dump trucks and sold as scrap.
            I used to smuggle 5.56 tracers and linked 7.62 tracers off ranges when I was lucky enough to get range detail. I have a footlocker full of M16 mags (30 rounder and 20 with the old metal follower).

          • Very relieved Gamerdude

            Um…. My cargohandling unit went to Anniston to load 43 cleaned tanks onto a train for transport to Mobile. We then put them on barges and turned them into reefs.

            When did you do this?

          • Deovindice

            1995.

          • Very relieved Gamerdude

            I think those were the tanks we sent to the bottom. That time line sounds about right.

          • Deovindice

            They most probably were. We sent them to railhead, from there they were bound for the ocean to “become artificial reefs”. I had always assumed that they were sent to Savannah, because of proximity, but never heard for certain the final destination. Small world huh, bro?

          • Very relieved Gamerdude

            Hooah! We had a great time. We were give 5 days to load the tanks. The crane broke the first day and got a 2 hour late start the second. We were done by the end of the third day.

            The civilians and Army didn’t know what the hell we did. All 43 tanks on the train. By the time the second tank was on the car, we had chocked and chained the first one to spec. After that, it was muster at the pool at 7:30 every morning to make sure we were all still alive. Reservists don’t have time to dawdle. We have drinking to get to. The Army didn’t know what to do with us. We went to Mobile and ended up working only one day after we rigged the barges with tie downs. We wanted to restrict the number of people on the barges. My trip out there had the three soldiers that were working with us.

            They learned that one ALWAYS keeps on hand on the boat. We were having some rough seas and the crew boat pilot was playing ski ramp with the waves while we were on the bow. WooHOO! One soldier let go so that he could turn around and the boat dropped from under him. I caught him by his belt as he was heading over the railing.

            Of course, YOUR group of tanks MAY have been different. But I like to think it was the same ones.

            I miss it.

          • Deovindice

            Obviously you had a better time dumping them than I had pulling the packs and finals! I am glad to hear that someone got some enjoyment out of it! These were leftovers. We had given most of our old M60s to the Marines years earlier. Even the Jarheads didn’t want these! LOL!

          • Very relieved Gamerdude

            Oh heck yeah. That would have sucked.

            Had great food and beer in Mobile because the Army would not let the Navy put us in Holiday Inn. We ended up at a 4 star hotel because the Col. said…and I quote, ” Ain’t no way in hell I’m staying in a fleabag motel.”

          • Rooftop Voter

            Gtmo Bay, Cuba, 1969. Same thing. I was tasked with spending our yearly tool budget in the Weps Dept or we would not get the same amount next year. Made almost daily trips to the base Serve Mart to buy whatever we could dream up for a justifiable purchase. In the end, I believe our ordnance shop ended up with 3 Oasis water coolers; one was hooked up, the other two we kept as spares. You never know.
            Small arms ammo was not a problem either. An inventory revealed way too much in the storage bunkers vs what the inventory cards indicated. Many off days were spent shooting it up. Ammo from 1943 still shot OK in 1969.

          • Charles Applegate

            Mercedes? Cadillac, baby – this is AMERICA.

          • dltaylor51

            No I’d buy a Caddy if I was to buy a high end auto,remember be American buy American.

          • Evan

            I buy products because I like them, not because of where they’re made. I prefer sour browns and abbey quads from Belgium to cheap light lagers from Milwaukee. I’d buy an Austrian Glock over an American Hi-Point or Kel-Tec any day of the week.

            And I don’t particularly care about Mercedes or Cadillac and will probably never own either, but at least Mercedes-Benz never got a government bailout using my tax dollars like GM did.

          • dltaylor51

            If you ever have to replace the engine or tranny in a Merc you’ll pass out when you get the estimate,better off to just junk it.

  • Gregory Peter Dupont

    That Yugo RPK parts kit build speaks to me.

  • MrBrassporkchop

    I’ve always wanted a reproduction mauser. Don’t think they make those tho.

    • JamesRiverArmory

      Mr. B: Just a point of clarification – we don’t make reproductions, but rather these are restorations of the original military rifles using all original parts legally available.
      Regarding Mausers, same thing – we restore, we don’t reproduce. Also regarding Mausers – keep in contact with us, because later this year (late summer/fall) we hope to be able to do a few thousand more…

  • UCSPanther

    About time some new BM59 reproductions were offered. It’s a rather rare rifle in North America. Personally though, I would rather see a version that looks like a tanker Garand with a magazine…

    • Frederick Burdine

      Check out Schuff’s Parkerizing/Schuff;s Mini-G. He makes the BM-14, a Tanker Garand that uses an M-14 magazine.

      • UCSPanther

        The Mini-G looks like a nice option, albeit expensive.

        Price is always the fall-down point with M1-based actions…

      • Amplified Heat

        Yeah, Schuff is about a thousand times more prominent than these guys when it comes to BM59 builds; surprised he wasn’t mentioned in the article, lol

    • JamesRiverArmory

      Brother, WE GOT IT… and it was the top seller we had at the SHOT Show. It runs like a scalded dog, and doubles as a flame thrower with a 17″ barrel… Pictures to follow on the website this week.

      • Rodford Smith

        Took me a moment to realize what you meant by that “flame thrower” comment. 😉 Definitely a candidate for fast burning rifle powders, with that short barrel.

  • I have one of their AK74 builds. Absolutely lovely. It looks like it just fell off the cover of a mid 1980’s Soldier of fortune magazine, which is the AK74 I wanted.

    • Paul White

      It’s probably too rich for my blood (if you have to ask…) but damn it looks good

  • Joseph Smith

    Super cool!

  • Colonel K

    “There isn’t a significant amount of stress on the heel of the receiver, so safety isn’t a concern”. I’m not quite sure what he means by the heel, but I presume he’s referring to the very rear of the receiver. Many years ago I owned two re-welded BM-59s. One did not work at all and the other blew out the “heel” while a friend was shooting it (improper heat treating). Between the two rifles I managed to cobble together one rifle that worked when it felt like it. I sold it and never regretted the decision, but I’ve always missed having a BM-59. These new ones might be just the ticket.

    • Yes, the serial number block, the heel.

    • JamesRiverArmory

      We could not agree more that improper heat treating will expose the most minute flaws in an improperly welded part in a most dramatic fashion. And many BM59 and M14 ‘hacks’ have been able to pass off poor workmanship in the past.

      In part because of our collective ability to share experiences instantaneously via the web, the ability to assess the few manufacturers and gunsmiths who specialize in building these products becomes much easier. We know who is good and who is fly-by-night.

      I’m guessing that the maker from ‘many years ago’, while perhaps well intentioned, was lacking in the skill and knowledge to do the job correctly.

      Our BM59 receivers are monolithic – not re-welded. Our M14 receivers can be had as monolithic or with a USGI heel welded to a new front-end. TIG’d and heat treated correctly, they will last as long as a monolithic receiver.

  • BlueMarlin Blues

    North Carolina represent! Classic firearms has always been pretty great to deal with. I got a lemon AK-74 from the waffen werks guys (which I’m pretty sure everyone did) and they exchanged it and shipped me a brand new rifle with a furniture kit of my choice that functions flawlessly. A+ company.

  • Jalen Byon

    I didn’t realize aks were rare

    • L. Roger Rich

      No longer Imported ti USA.

  • Very relieved Gamerdude

    I REALLY want to win the lottery now.

    • Deovindice

      I want one of their AKs! I may buy one this summer! I want to do a little more research first, though.

  • Amplified Heat

    Whoever said the M1 Garand is the greatest battle implement ever devised obviously never encountered a BM59

  • Scott P

    Their M14’s are good.

    AK’s not so much.

    • JamesRiverArmory

      OUR AKs? I’m right here, brah..

  • Craig MacMillan

    WOW my dream rifle, an FG-42

  • L. Roger Rich

    Another company doing AKs and M1As . Do they do AR15s and 1911’s too?

  • Deovindice

    No, I had not. It looks a bit more ‘traditional’, however I still love the look and feel of real wood. There are several excellent platforms out there now for accuracy and ergonomics, of that there is no doubt. I am just shallow, I reckon, in that aspect.

    • Jubal Early

      I like the wooden stocks also. I purchased a used M1A SOCOM, and it came with a fiberglass stock. I purchased a walnut stock from Boyd’s, and it looks so much better.

      • Deovindice

        Yep. Fiberglass, composites, and aluminum defiantly have advantages, however the look and feel of walnut has an irresistible appeal! I have thought about buying the Sage just to see how much accuracy improves. Then again when I want to be super accurate I use my SPS.

        • Jubal Early

          Same here. If I want to start precision shooting, I grab a bolt gun. Even the best super tuned National Match, isn’t as accurate as a precision bench, or a long range sniper bolt action rifle. I still like all of the old battle rifles, and I spend a lot of time shooting them.

          • tetse

            I have an early Remington 700 that is quite accurate. I too like the bolt guns for target work.

  • Craig Nordgren

    I got a SA M1 Garand from them back in 2012. It looked new but serial # indicated it was from 1943. It is an excellent shooter as well.

  • Raguel A’septem

    What is that EBR stock at the bottom of the 2nd pic?

  • T. Gillespie Quinn

    What caliber? Nice gun.