People looking for inexpensive weaponry would be well served by checking out some of the surplus stuff that has been out on the market for the past couple years. Most is of good quality, and a working firearm can be purchased for well under $20 0. This is excellent when you consider that similar, new civilian pieces cost considerably more. If you are on a limited budget surplus is the way to go.
One of the best & most versatile firearms being sold on the surplus market is the M1 Garand. This is an 8 shot semi- automatic rifle which uses the .30-06 caliber round. It was our standard infantry weapon during WWII and the Korean Conflict, and has the reputation for being accurate at long ranges and reliable. It's ammunition is commonly available in many different configurations making it extremely versatile in a wide variety of situations. The .30-06 being a popular hunting round, I feel that scrounging ammo for this weapon would be no problem. Parts and technical info are widely available. I own one.
From the same time period as the M1 Garand is the M1 Carbine. This is a smaller piece and was designed during WWII as a replacement for the pistol to be issued to combat- support personnel who would find the M1 Garand too big and cumbersome. This is another semi-automatic that fires the .30 cal. carbine cartridge. Shot capacity is either 15 or 30 rounds depending on the size of magazine used. This would be a nice rifle for someone small in stature, as it is very easy to handle. However, I have heard conflicting reports of the adequacy of the .30 cal. carbine cartridge. It also, being a carbine and firing a smaller round, doesn't have the reach of its bigger cousin.
The British Lee Enfield Bolt Action rifle first entered service in WWI, and even today a variation sees service as a sniper rifle. It's fed by a 10 shot removable magazine and fires the British .303 cal. round which is comparable to the .30-0 6 . Accuracy is excellent, and the Enfield is one of the quickest bolt actions made. The .303 British cartridge has been increasing somewhat in popularity over here as a hunting round and should become more available.
One other weapon which warrants some attention is the SKS. This 7.62mmx39 cal. (7.62mm Soviet) 10 round semi-auto is inexpensive, rugged and the standard Soviet weapon before the AK-47. The accuracy is a bit lacking but it is nevertheless quite adequate for most purposes. There are also a lot of accessories available for it. The 7.62x39 round is comparable to the Winchester .30-30 and has adequate stopping power for animals up to deer size.
I would tend to think the SKS would make a nice brush rifle for use in heavily wooded and enclosed areas where you need a little more punch. There are also some other surplus bolt actions from Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and other countries. While very inexpensive I would not recommend them as ammunition availability and on occasion parts are a problem. Some however have been converted over to more common calibers and would warrant consideration. Probably about the best of these are the variations of the German Mauser bolt action rifle. The Mauser was what our M1903 Springfield was patterned after and is a good weapon in it's various incarnations.
When shopping for a surplus weapon a little bit of caution is in order as while it is uncommon if you find a reputable dealer, there is some junk out there. If you are not confident in judging used weapon quality, get a knowledgeable friend t o help you. And as always, get some spare parts and related support equipment to keep it going, and get some training if you're just starting out so you'll know what you're doing.
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