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Old February 3, 2013, 03:00 AM   #1
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mil surp vs economy models

Do economy models nowadays (think savage 10, remington 700, mossberg ATR) compare in quality, accuracy, etc to older classics like a well kept springfield 1903, mauser sporter, winchester 70, etc?
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Old February 3, 2013, 11:01 AM   #2
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As a generality, modern rifles are built with far better machinery than those of the "way back when" and commonly will shoot tighter groups. Milsurps may well be stronger from the standpoint of rough handling--which few people do.

Sort of a tossup. Old milsurps can be made to shoot quite accurately, particularly if sporterized via stock and sights.
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Old February 3, 2013, 11:57 AM   #3
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IMO, the new econo-rifles have one, admittedly big, advantage over older mil-surps.

They are less expensive, for a complete sporting rifle, than for converting any mil-surp.

IMHO, the quality of econo rifles is nowhere near the quality that a good milsurp sporting conversion can be built to.

OTOH, milsurps offer the opportunity for a satisfying hobby/work, beyond just shooting - as the conversion work provides one the opportunity to either acquire or hone gunsmithing, and metal/wood working skills, to say nothing about acquiring an intimate knowledge of every single working part of the gun.

Depending upon the barrel used on the mil-surp, and the skill of the converter, any accuracy differences between an econo-rifle and a converted mil-surp would be negligible, and mostly dependent on the type of milsurp action converted - all mil-surp actions being not created equal.

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Old February 3, 2013, 12:22 PM   #4
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how about older guns that have already been sporterized? I almost wanted to bid on an old mauser swapped with a new 308 barrel and had a scope on it. that would require minimal improvements
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Old February 3, 2013, 01:09 PM   #5
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Old sporterized rifles are a big question mark. Who did the work, how good were the components they used, how skilled were they?

Even the lowest priced modern rifles have pretty good quality control, manufacturing technology and processes have come a long way in the past ~70 years.
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Old February 3, 2013, 01:18 PM   #6
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A K98 in .308 needs careful work ie mag spacer and feed lips? My isreali 7.62 fails to feed often.
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Old February 3, 2013, 01:56 PM   #7
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I think your chances of being disappointed in a new production value priced rifle will be less than your chances of being disappointed by a mil-surp that has been questionably sporterized. A mil-surp that is documented as done by a professional and shoots lights out is going to cost much more than a new savage or ruger that shoots well right out of the box.
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Old February 3, 2013, 02:33 PM   #8
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sweet, that answers my question. I'll wait to get into mil-surp when I become more experienced and wise about gun components.


side note: is there REALLY a difference between all the entry level rifles (correction, I meant remington 570 not the 700 earlier). sure there are brand loyalists, but the cheapo remies, mossies, savages, rugers, will all basically be just as "eh" quality right?
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Old February 3, 2013, 03:00 PM   #9
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I buy milsurp for their ruggedness, as I'm one of the few who count on them to take abuse if needed.

Most can be made to shoot 1.5moa to sub-moa without much altering. (Read: easy to do.)


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Old February 3, 2013, 07:05 PM   #10
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Yes, IMO there IS a difference between some of the enrty-level/econo rifles.

Some, like the Marlin X7 (and maybe another), have an adj trigger; the Mossy's have stock options, and IIRC some are available with a mounted (cheapo) scope as a "package".

Also, there are some stylistic differences, between various maker's actions and/or stock - For instance, some just don't like the way a Savage/Stevens 200 action/bolt shroud looks, yet others love it.
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Old February 6, 2013, 08:15 AM   #11
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If you want "out of the box" accuracy, ease of mounting a scope, more modern esthetics, (sometimes) lower costs, better reliability, etc., .......then go with a modern commercial sporter.

If you want a "project" rifle.....and you want CHARACTER, then go with a milsurp.

I prefer character, myself. Nothing whatever wrong with modern sporters (they are actually better in most ways, I have to admit.....darn it !).....but they don't speak to me the way an old Mauser does. My old Mauser is like an old friend - I know it's every eccentricity, what it likes, etc. I trust it completely. I never got that with a modern rifle. That's why the only rifle I have now is a 62 year old Mauser.
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Old February 6, 2013, 12:53 PM   #12
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everyone here has pretty much summed it up but I'll reiterate anyways.
a long time ago in a galaxy far far away...
enter the Star Was theme
The hunting world is in turmoil from a huge influx of military surplus rifles flooding the market following the events of World War II. many shooters were faced with the choice of spending top dollar for a quality hunting rifle or going to their neigborhood SEARS STORE and buying a Springfield, Enfield, Mauser or other rifle for $10 or less.

This low price lead to what many rifle collectors now refer to as THE MILSURP SCOURGE , a dark period of time where many economically minded hunters turned to the dark side and have resorted to modifying their MILSURP rifles to make them lighter and more accurate, destroying valuable pieces of history in the process.

only a handful of stoic rebels who refuse to turn to the dark side remain. waiting for the chance to strike against the BUBBA REGIME...

that is why there is so many sporterized rifles out there and that is why so many chose them over modern sporting rifles, they were just a much cheaper alternative. today however even the lowest shelf walmart special can compete with the best of the milsurp crop and the prices, are similar enough between them and pre sporterized milsurp models that there is just really no advantage at all to buying one other than if you are a collector that wants to spend mucho denero to fix it back up or you just like the mechanics of the older rifles, either way it's aesthetic, not practical. I collect milsurps, 2 have been 'bubbafied' by my hands, I don't lose any sleep over them however.
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Old February 6, 2013, 01:08 PM   #13
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"a long time ago", a law was passed banning the importation of milsurp firearms. That law is called the Gun Control Act of 1968. It was written by lawyers for Winchester. (It has since been modified, but the intent was clear at the time.)

The fact is that even a quality milsurp rifle, like a '98 Mauser, modified to be the equivalent of a good sporting rifle, will in the end cost as much or more than the sporting rifle, unless the owner is qualilfied to do most of the work himself.

Will a converted military rifle be superior to a modern sporting rifle? No. Will it be as good? Maybe, if the rifle started as a quality Mauser or Springfield 1903. But the person who spends $800-2000 dollars making a sporting rifle out of a Mosin-Nagant will still have a Mosin-Nagant, worth maybe $150.

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Old February 7, 2013, 10:09 AM   #14
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My P-17 is a tank, 26" barrel throws Mil-Ball 172s over 2850, and weighs in around 10#. A great $200.00 investment.
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Old February 7, 2013, 12:07 PM   #15
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If you buy either a complete standard mil surplus rifle (1903 or 1917) its going to shoot just fine.

Yes you can get cheaper ones, but the enjoyment factor in shooting an old mil surplus gun is priceless.

Or you can buy a well done mil surplus (you don't have to do it yourself). There are lots of them out there and beautifully done.

In other words you don't have to buy a project.

The only issue is price as a good mil surplus OEM gun runs 600 to 800.

Whats not said is your new Savage Axis will loose value and you will not sell it for more. A good OEM Mil surplus gun will gain in value in time and be worthy of handing off to the kids or selling for a good return at some point in the future.

Your Ruger All American will solicit no interest at the gun range, take a Model of 1917 Eddystone down to the range and you will meet and converse with the most interesting people and add massively to the enjoyment.
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Old February 8, 2013, 10:17 PM   #16
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Five Milsurps

Three 8mm's and two 7mm's, one of each caliber has been sportered, the rest are in military guise, each one has it's own personality, and like children I love them all equally.

Any economy sporter manufactured today will pretty much out shoot any old milsurp, with very few exceptions, but the point of the milsurps is the history and fun of shooting them, most will be accurate enough for big game out to 200 yards or so, maybe longer with an exceptional one.

Last edited by tahoe2; February 8, 2013 at 10:24 PM.
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Old February 9, 2013, 10:21 AM   #17
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I am biased toward the milsurps because of them being a tangible piece of history, they are heavy duty and well made (at least the ones I have). I have shot only one modern econo gun and it was a POS. Rough as a cob, gritty trigger worse than any Mosin Nagant I have ever owned. The plastic stock felt cheap like a Bic pen. This is a single example so not statistically valid of course. Modern metal heat treatment is likely better.
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Old February 10, 2013, 07:16 PM   #18
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If you can find an older milsurp that was sportered by someone that knew what they were doing, and the price is right it will most likely do the job for minute of deer.

As far as if I were looking into a rifle for target shooting, and hunting on a limited budget I would look into the economy priced rifles.

I like milsurp rifles, and the utility they provide. However for most things I go with the modern rifles for hunting.

Here is a milsurp I worked in this past week. The only two things I did with it were to refinish the stock.(Finish was removed by the previous owner removing the cosmoline.) As well as drifting the front sight to be able so shoot it without the bayonette.

Here is a pic of the target I was sighting in with at 50 yards. 3 shots with steel cased Monarch 190 grain FMJ. (Target, and board got wet the day before so the holes look funny. Two were touching the third not far away.) Shot from a sand bag.

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Old February 10, 2013, 10:32 PM   #19
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Not bad for any gun and really good for an MN!
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Old February 11, 2013, 12:36 AM   #20
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There are economy models and there are economy models. Most people consider the Weather Vanguard an economy rifle. There are three in our family, two S2's and the previous model. In my mind they are not economy rifles but very nice quality rifles. The Remington 700 ADL is also considered economy by many people. I have one I bought new in 2003 for $300.00, paid $25.00 to have the trigger adjusted to 3 lbs and it shoots sub-moa with Remington Core-Lokt ammo. Some big box stores still sell them.

I grew up hunting with two milsurp rifles, a Springfield Model 1903 and a British Lee Enfield - unsporterized. While those two rifles have serious sentimental value I will take a good economy model over them any day for hunting.
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Old February 11, 2013, 12:51 AM   #21
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Picked up a very nice Mauser K98, sportered to 30/06, with scope and sling, for $300 last month. Whoever sportered this thing did a superb job, used good American Walnut, blueing is rich and deep, bolt surfaces polished for fast action, the barrel is bedded, front sight is outstanding, the rear sight is the old tangent sight, and the scope probably cost about $200 back in 1950, can't go wrong with something like that for quality.

If you did that today, you'd spend $1,000 for sure.
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Old February 11, 2013, 10:53 AM   #22
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Off the top of my head there are three modern rifles I purchased that were mid range priced, and yet still needed bedding to shoot best.

A 308 Ruger M77 Tactical, a Rem 700 in 6.5 Swede, a Rem 700 in 30-06.

I needed to bed pre 64's for best accuracy so it is not limited just to modern.

Anyway once properly bedded the Ruger and Rem in 6.5 Swede shot extremely well showing that barrel quality was excellent. The Rem 700 was a bargin basement version and I wonder if it was one of those Rem 700's where the barrel was glued to the receiver at the factory. Bedding did not help much, it at all.

My SAKO Finnebear in 30-06 is a wonderfully accurate rifle and I have done nothing but shoot the thing.

Back in the 80's I was able to buy like new Enfields for $60.00, Finnish Nagants for $80, M1917's for $200.00, Mausers, $100 to $250, M96's for $150.00. M1903’s and M1903A3’s were never cheap but I was able to build up and find complete versions. It was a great time all due to that great President Ronald Reagan.

I toyed with all of them, most of the military surplus rifles once I got my hands on them, I tweaked and bedded them, put at least 20 hours of work into them. I installed new mainsprings, honed the two stage triggers so final release had zero creep, put new front sight blades so the rifle would zero, then sold them for a song……

Anyway, bedding and tweaking really improves the accuracy of military surplus rifles. Turned a number of 8 MOA M98’s into 4 MOA. The Finns shot well, bedding made the groups circular, but you are still talking about 3 to 4 MOA rifles. Enfields were 4 MOA things with Greek Ball. (A Lithgow was 8 MOA before bedding, 4 after) The best Springfields were above 2 MOA with match ammunition. I must have put 40 hours of work into each M1903’s getting the sights perfect, bedding perfect. M1917 Enfields were three to 4 MOA on a good day.

If you put a lot of work in an average Military surplus rifle you will get something that shoots around three to four MOA. Swedes, Swiss rifles, M1903’s will shoot inside that, but military rifles were not designed to be target rifles. The design requirements for military rifles are typically 3 to 4 MOA based on studies of hit probability so the barrels are not target quality. There are other requirements, such as grenade launching, that commercial rifles don’t have to do. Military rifles are a highly developed, highly reliable packages that will function in miserable weather world wide. But you do trade off weight and target accuracy for all the other requirements.

But, people over value accuracy. Shooters today shoot off benches, with rests and sandbags, and think they can shoot that well unsupported out in the field. They can’t. Not unless they are bringing their benches, rests, and sandbags with them. Take away that stuff and these sub MOA guys will miss a six foot target at 200 yards. Out in the field a reliable, rugged, 3-4 MOA rifle will do everything you really need to do.
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Old February 11, 2013, 12:27 PM   #23
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Agree with a lot you said there SF, especially the part about off hand shooting. But then again that's why very very few hunters shoot off hand at game beyond point blank. Improvised rests like fences, trees, truck hoods, etc or "carry along" rests like bipods, shooting sticks and backpacks are what most hunters use once range get out there very far. Does that wring as much accuracy outta their guns as a good solid bench and rest at the range? Nope. But it makes 200-300 yards shots at game with commercial sporters doable where as you'd be hitting dirt 1/2 the time or more with your 3-4 moa surplus guns.

Is accuracy everything? Well it certainly never hurt.
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Old February 11, 2013, 12:40 PM   #24
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I have a Smith Corona 1903A3 with a 2 groove 1943 Remington barrel that will shoot 1 to 1.5" at 100 yards with my handloads. This is with iron sights. Yes, I know, this is ~1.5 MOA but I've got the target to prove it.

Now the interesting thing is it appears to be an ex-drill rifle in that it has some weld marks around the magazine cut-off.

I was amazed at how accurate it is and noted that the rifle was a little heavier and more dampened feeling than my others. So I took the stock off and noticed it was glass bedded. I don't care as I paid a decent price and got a great shooting rifle out of the deal.
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Old February 11, 2013, 01:18 PM   #25
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the comment about the original 68 gun control laws was spot on. pushed in place by a senator from conn which used to be gun valley.
...most military rifles are rugged as mentioned earlier by Art. some can be accurate. some suck. when they sold for 22 prices it was worth the risk.
....nowadays I cant focus on the sights, target, surroundings due to my older eyes. cheap economy rifles that are set up for scope use already is the better choice. unfortunately, the risk of them not shooting well is still there. also prices have gone up along with the surplus rifles. bobn
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