CMP to Prohibit Resale of 1911s Purchased From Program

    The Civilian Marksmanship Program has been selling surplus arms to the American public for years. In that time, they’ve sold M1903 and M1917 bolt-action rifles, as well as M1 Garand and M1 Carbine long guns.

    Except for the Garands, they’ve all been sold out for years. This has created a great demand for any of the other models when the CMP gets a rare, small batch at their facilities. The last time that happened was a couple years ago with a shipment of M1 Carbines. Demand was so high that sales were limited to in-store purchases only, and people were lined up hours before opening to have a chance at getting one.

    For as long as the CMP has been selling guns, people have been re-selling them, often for quite a bit more than they paid (and, some would argue, quite a bit more than they’re worth.) This has allowed the CMP to raise the prices on the grades of the guns they sell, and they have even pulled the more collectible guns out of the general sales piles and placed them up for auction where the sky’s the limit when it comes to price/value.

    Logo courtesy CMP website

    In short, the collector mindset and resale of CMP guns has been very good for CMP’s bottom line. For example, between Fiscal Years 2008 and 2017, the CMP made $196.8 million on the sale of Garands alone. As the saying goes: a rising tide lifts all boats.

    Until very recently, the CMP’s directive/mission did not include surplus handguns. Last year, a total of 8,000 M1911 and M1911A1 pistols were made available through the program. Demand was so high that interested parties had to submit a potential purchase order in the hopes that they would get one of the randomly-assigned 8,000 numbers and be contacted for purchase.

    One of the 1911s from the CMP (Courtesy CMP Forums)

    During the 30-day window for purchase orders, a staggering 19,000 applications were received for pistols, which ranged in price between $850 and $1,050.

    An $850 Rack Grade pistol “will exhibit rust, pitting, and wear on exterior surfaces and friction surfaces. Grips may be incomplete and exhibit cracks. Pistol requires minor work to return to issuable condition but is functional. Pistols may contain commercial parts.

    A $950 Field Grade pistol “may exhibit minor rust, pitting, and wear on exterior surfaces and friction surfaces. Grips are complete with no cracks. Pistol is in issuable condition. Pistols may contain commercial parts.

    A $1,050 Service Grade pistol “may exhibit minor pitting and wear on exterior surfaces and friction surfaces. Grips are complete with no cracks. Pistol is in issuable condition. Pistols may contain commercial parts.

    Since their sales programs began, the CMP has never had an issue with the resale of “their” guns. That is until the 1911s started making their way onto GunBroker. All of a sudden, this 501(c)3 organization has begun imposing rules on what lawful gun owners may and may not do with guns purchased from them. Rules that did not exist at the time of purchase, I might add.

    Apparently, allowing the personal property of the new owners to be resold “was not the intention of the program.” A warning on their website notes that “if you are found to be reselling these pistols you will be banned from purchasing from the CMP for an indefinite period.

    Warning on CMP website

    Note that the restriction applies only to the pistols. They (still) don’t care if you resell an M1903, M1907, M1 Garand, or M1 Carbine that came from them.

    At the time of my writing this piece, there are two 1911s from the CMP on GunBroker. One has a current bid of $1,250 (up from the $1,100 when I took the screenshot), and the other has a “Buy It Now” option of $2,675.

    CMP 1911 on GunBroker

    Both guns are listing as being Service Grade, which was the highest offered, at a price of $1,050. That means the gun being auctioned has barely made the new owner any profit at all. If we assume the seller paid a transfer fee that averages $25 (they would not send them to your house or to a C&R, like the long guns) and auction site fees of approximately $50, that brings their current profit to a whopping $125.

    CMP 1911 on GunBroker


    Other CMP guns are frequently encountered at gun shows. I’ve seen Garands and carbines with asking prices of double, triple, or more than what they sold for initially. I wouldn’t pay that much for one, but someone might. And so be it! Supply and demand is the name of the game, right?


    Racks of Garands for sale through the CMP (Courtesy CMP website)

    Instead of focusing their efforts on filling orders, the folks at the CMP are spending their time tracking down 1911s from their program that are now the legal property of someone else and trying to prevent them from reselling the said property.

    So, what do you think? Is it OK that the CMP attempting to prohibit the resale of “their” pistols? Or have they lost their mind and overstepped their bounds?

    Logan Metesh

    T. Logan Metesh is an historian and writer who runs High Caliber History LLC. He has worked for the NRA Museums, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Park Service. He has also served as an historic firearms facilitator for television shows such as Mysteries at the Museum, Gun Stories with Joe Mantegna, NRA Gun Gurus, and American Rifleman TV.

    Contact him at [email protected]