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Old April 10, 2011, 11:05 PM   #1
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What is too far when modifying mil-surp?

So I've been kicking around this question in my head for a while now. How far is too far when modifying mil-surps?

I've never done a bubba sporter job, nor do I have the desire to. I DO have an interest in taking old mil-surp rifles and making them as accurate and smooth as possible. Tapping for a scope mount would be out of the question for virtually any rifle, even a nagant or 24/47 (both being a dime a dozen). However, I have a particular interest in Nagants and Mausers and I would dearly love to make one lucky specimin from each series a VERY slick and accurate rifle. I'm fine with trigger work, although I'm kind of hesitant to rely on an aftermarket trigger. I know it can be swapped out at any time with the original, but I want to make the rifle original. I don't have any personal issues with modifying stock fit, lapping bolt lugs, recrowning, or other such light work. One "not original" part I love and will live with is my mojo aperature sights. Can't do without that.

Otherwise, I'm interested in hearing other's opinions on the matter. What is just right, and what is too far in your opinion?
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Old April 11, 2011, 07:11 AM   #2
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For me, "too far" is any modification that cannot be easily reversed, leaving the rifle "as issued"


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Old April 11, 2011, 07:17 AM   #3
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Depends on the gun to me. I have a very high quality M1 Garand. Wouldn't make any changes to it. On the other hand I have a Mosin Nagant. I would not hesitate to make all kinds of changes to it since these are cheap and by no means rare.
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Old April 11, 2011, 07:39 AM   #4
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I don't do anything I can't undo. No-drill scope mounts, lace on cheek pads, recoil pads, and aftermarket sights, things like that. I do have a Santa Fe Sporter .303 by Golden State Arms I'm restoring to it's original sporterized condition. It's a classic example of a mil-surp sporter from the late 50's and 60's.

I've scrounged the original Santa Fe 5rd mag, added a white line butt plate and cap. Filled all the old scope mount holes in the receiver. I still need to find out what scope shipped with these.

Normally I do the opposite, sporter to original.

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Old April 11, 2011, 10:15 AM   #5
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It depends on what kind of work you are doing, and if it's done well.
There is a big difference between "bubbaed" and "custom".
Here are a few modified M-98 Mausers.
I think they were improved from the condition they were in when I got them.

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Old April 11, 2011, 10:39 AM   #6
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Wyosmith, after seeing that I now have a sudden urge to find an old junked out mauser just for the action.
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Old April 11, 2011, 10:51 AM   #7
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Quite unlike the above, which are classic sporting styles, I see more than a few modern styles. Those tend to be modified for scout style rifles. These require permanent modifications ( sometimes ). Scout style rifles were not seen in the 60's.
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Old April 11, 2011, 02:08 PM   #8
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Wyosmith, after seeing that I now have a sudden urge to find an old junked out mauser just for the action.
That's how to do it if you want to make permanent changes that can't be reversed.
Simple stock changes, and scout mounts that don't require drilling new holes, or bending the bolt handle are all easily undone.
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Old April 11, 2011, 02:27 PM   #9
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I recently purchased two MN 91/30's.
I "sporterized" one of them. If I do my part, it shoots 2"-2-1/2" groups at 200M with .311 handloads.

The other, which I haven't yet shot, had many of the same "accurizing" mods done, while leaving the rifle "as oirginal".

As for any rifle, bedding the action, and installing pillars, improves accuracy.
In the case of the MN, I removed the recoil cross bolt completely as it did not provide zero clearance to the recoil block on the receiver, and simply bedded it in a solid block of epoxy as part of the process.

You'll read many opinions on how to treat the MN barrel. Some guys "cork" it, by placing cork pads at various points along the barrel trying to improve barrel harmonics. I don't adhere to that school of thought, I free-floated the barrel in both rifles. Admittedly, it's more difficult in the original stock, but can be done.

Timney now makes a trigger for the MN- and it features a really nice, modern safety. It requires a lot of inletting, and costs as much as the rifle, but if you want maximum accuracy it's worth the $$.

I'm not a fan of scout mounts and LER scopes since I shoot at longer ranges.
For a non-drill and tap mount for the MN, the best I've seen is Jmeck's mount, here:
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Old April 11, 2011, 02:30 PM   #10
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Once you get away from the pure, original collectible, there is no limit. The fact is that few of today's milsurps are really collectible, since there are so many and most have been worked over, rebuilt, parts swapped, etc., years ago. If you are lucky enough to find a nice K.98k, or a mint Persian Mauer, hang onto it and do nothing to it. But the run-of-mill M-N or Spanish Mauser that has already been hacked on, there is no real collector interest.

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Old April 11, 2011, 05:31 PM   #11
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I'm in the 'as long as it's not rare' camp. But the bottom line is, it's your with it as you will.
I bought a K31 and intended to put modern stocks on it. The one I bought has stocks in good shape, great shape for a K31, so I'm leaving it alone.
Sometime in the next few months I plan of buying another...and that one I will put in modern stocks.
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Old April 11, 2011, 06:18 PM   #12
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My vote is with zfk55/madcratebuilder, and similar views.

We seldom see a single non-modified Enfield #4 at Southaven/Memphis/Jackson shows. An original #5 or Spanish FR8 (!) is much more rare.

A friend has an authentic matching Czech Mauser, in very good condition.
He read up on the (B square?) rear sight mount that requires no metal cutting etc, and now has a nice LER scope on it.
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Old April 11, 2011, 10:56 PM   #13
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I guess if I need another hunting rifle I can get another sporterized K98, there's a million or so very nice deer rifles out there with custom stocks, floating barrels, good optics, and lapped bolts, in any caliber you can name.

Bought one last year, Mannlicher walnut stock, nicely home-checkered, butterknife bolt handle, 30/06 caliber. Only drawback is a buckhorn rear sight that I'll replace with a folding leaf. Cost was $225. Came with a good case and sling, too.

I couldn't do the work myself for that price, and probably not as well, either.
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Old April 11, 2011, 11:39 PM   #14
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Normally I do the opposite, sporter to original
Wyosmith, you should be ashamed of yourself for not returning those old worn out actions to as-issued condition rifles. Now send those old scratched-up things to me immediately, and don't let it happen again.

Have I said how much I like those rifles?
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Old April 13, 2011, 02:29 PM   #15
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For me it depends. If I purchase a milsurp that is still in all original condition the most invasive thing I will do to it is give it a thorough cleaning as I love originals. I recently bought two mausers from a gun show for $225. As they have already been sporterized in the past and are in rough shape, I see no problem turning them into nice hunting rifles, which is what I plan on doing with them.
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Old April 13, 2011, 11:04 PM   #16
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What is just right, and what is too far in your opinion?
To far for me would be to make illegal and or unsafe modifications to a firearm. Just right would be whatever safe and legal modifications the owner of the firearm desires. After all, it does belong to that person and only that person should determine what is jsut right for his or her firearms so long as doing so within safety and legal guidelines.

As for my own mil-surp guns, I kind of like them the way they are but would consider refinishing if needed or refurbishing with replacement parts if needed.

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Old April 14, 2011, 09:47 AM   #17
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Get a Finnish M39 and add the Mojo sights, that what I did.
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Old April 14, 2011, 09:59 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by bumnote
But the bottom line is, it's your with it as you will.
My thoughts too. It's your gun, do with it what you wish.

The collectors should thank you since, if nothing else, you just made their "original" gun just a little more rare.

I don't care for the modifications some make to otherwise nice cars, but I don't fault them for it.
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Old April 14, 2011, 05:04 PM   #19
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I think it varies, really. For instance, I was at the range today testing out the results of my bayonet and grenade sight removal and I saw a guy there with a barely recognizable SKS. He had a folding telescoping stock, no bayonet (bad chop job), a red dot, a flashlight, and a laser hanging off the thing, and had a forend grip. That, to me, was ridiculous, but it wasn't too far until I found out started life as a Russian SKS. Then it was too far, because I like Russian SKSs and wish my Yugo were Russian.

BTW, for those wondering, I try to tread a middle ground: I'm not a purist, because I do things like refinish the stock, add a spring loaded firing pin, reblue the magazine, and most lately begun to lighten the barrel up a bit... but it's still very recognizably an SKS. The tinkering I've done hasn't, in my mind, compromised the fundemental identity of the rifle by turning it into something else entirely.

EDIT: Because the post gives the wrong impression... it's not like I flipped out on the guy... I was friendly with him and we had a very nice chat. I didn't really judge, because I know the allure of shiny new mods all too well. Also... when you see something lile that, how do you know it was in good condition when they got it? What if it was a cheap low-grade gun sold with a cracked stock and missing some pieces? You just never know.
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Old April 16, 2011, 05:35 PM   #20
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Wyosmith that is an excelent job you did on those rifles, beautiful. But I guess I am a traditionalest and think a mauser should look more like it was originally. But those are excelent rifles that you made.

I agree, if you are going to mess up a rifle, you should be able to restore it to it's original condition.

But milspec rifles should still look milspec.


And Yugo's should look like Yugos.
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Old April 17, 2011, 03:33 PM   #21
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Why are you messin with milsurps; you re just lookin for cheapest round shootin to punch paper?
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Old April 17, 2011, 04:06 PM   #22
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A milsurp that has been properly cleaned and serviced doesn't require modifying ... I keep mine like the Military made them, that's the point of owning one for my taste.

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Old April 17, 2011, 05:50 PM   #23
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It depends on the type and rarity of the gun and on the condition of the gun.

I bought an old Ishapore Enfield .308 some years ago. The stock was oil-soaked and rotten to the point that you could dent it with your finger (yes, FINGER, not fingernail). The first two inches of the bore (muzzle end) were essentially worn to smoothbore condition by over-oiling. The metal work on the gun was finished with several thick coats of black paint.

Collectability on the Ishapore .308 Enfields is pretty much zero.

Basically it was garbage. I made it into a shooter with some relatively simple modifications.

I wouldn't have done that if the gun was pristine, even though it had very little collector value. I wouldn't have done it to a gun in rough condition that had any significant collector value.

But in this case there was no reason not to make the modification. The gun was worth more or less nothing without the mods--it wasn't even worth anything as a shooter. Now it's at least functional.
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Old April 17, 2011, 06:14 PM   #24
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But mil spec rifles should still look mil spec.
Not necessarily. I don't mind something that's easily reversible. This one is a great p-dog and varmint shooter and it doesn't have to look 'tactical'. I really prefer walnut and steel to plastic and aluminum.


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Old April 17, 2011, 06:44 PM   #25
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zfk55 wrote:

For me, "too far" is any modification that cannot be easily reversed, leaving the rifle "as issued".
Hear Hear! I'll second (3rd or whatever we're up to) that!!!


If you must tinker - Find one that Bubba has already ruined the collector's value.
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