Bargains from the Past – What Is Today’s Equivalent?

    M40 Tokarev

    You’ve heard about – or perhaps you’re even old enough to recall – the great deals that could be had on surplus firearms some 50+ years ago. As the stories go, barrels of M1 Carbines and other rifles could be found in the local hardware store with very attractive pricing, especially if you bought in bulk.

    Springfield Rifles

    Nothing beats looking at some source material to sort the fishing stories from fact. The following prices were taken from ads in the November 1963 issue of Guns magazine.

    • German Model 98K Mauser – $29.95
    • Argentine Mauser – $19.95
    • US Army Model 1917 – $29.95
    • Enfield No. 1 Mk III – $14.95
    • Webley & Scott Mk VI Revolver – $14.95
    • Italian 6.5 Carcano – $12.78

    Of course, 1963 was a long time ago and the state of the US financial system was a bit different. Silver was still used in coins and the country still backed silver certificates. During the intervening 50+ years, the country has experienced a good deal of inflation (roughly 685% cumulatively) and gun prices are not immune.


    A 1963 US dollar adjusted for inflation would be $7.85 in 2016 dollars. So to think that Andrew Jackson in your pocket had the same purchasing power in the 60’s is not realistic. For an apples to apples comparison (mostly), here are a couple of deals from that era with prices then and converted to today’s cash:

    Price in USD, 1963

    Price in USD, 2016

    German 98k Mauser



    M40 Tokarev Rifle



    Adjusted for inflation, I’d say that both guns would still be a good bargain.

    Are there similar deals to be had in modern times? Just a few years ago, the easy answer may have been the Mosin-Nagant surplus rifles. But, the M-N rifles I bought for $70 each are now selling for more than $250 – when they can be found. And some of the models, like the M44, have seemingly dried up.

    Alex and Patrick talked about the surplus guns they saw as good values here.

    surplus revolvers

    It could be argued that the best deals are not in the surplus market, but in the new guns. Even with political rumblings about gun control legislation, it is fairly easy to find a quality AR-15 for less than $800. In recent years, everyone from Remington to Savage have introduced good quality, but affordable, bolt action guns with prices in the $300-400 range. In the pistol market, there are quality defensive arms priced well under $400.

    So, what do you see as being today’s best bargains on the market?

    Richard Johnson

    An advocate of gun proliferation zones, Richard is a long time shooter, former cop and internet entrepreneur. Among the many places he calls home is