Surplus is a real pain in the butt these days. Who remembers the days of Shotgun News and gun shows being stocked with cheap SKS rifles and even cheaper Mosins? Remember when no one cared a whole lot about surplus stuff? The ammo and the guns were super cheap, and it was a buyer’s market. Does a surplus guns market still exist in 2022?
The Surplus Guns Market in 2022
The good news is that the cheap surplus market still exists. Admittedly the day of super cheap 7.62×25 and 9mm Makarov is gone. These days, most surplus guns have some high ammo costs, but there are plenty of cheap—well—cheapish guns on the market. I’ve done a deep dive and found several rifles and handguns on the surplus market that cost less than 500 bucks.
I scoured some well-known surplus websites, auction websites, Guns America, and beyond to find out where the surplus beginner can start. The following guns are available for 500 dollars or less. Although, keep in mind this surplus market is volatile, and things can change quickly, so the prices might be around 500 or so.
1. Polish Radom P-64
Russian and even Bulgarian Makarov pistols have climbed in price significantly. However, the humble Polish Radom P-64 can be an applicable stand-in. The P-64 isn’t a one-for-one Makarov but is fairly similar to the Makarov. Both use the 9mm Makarov caliber, both use a straight blowback design with a DA/SA trigger, and obviously, both are semi-auto pistols.
The P-64 is a little smaller than the Makarov and holds only six rounds. Like most Eastern European pistols, you can expect a terrible trigger but an ultra-reliable design. The P-64 can be found for under 300 bucks making it a great solid first surplus pistol, although the ammo price sucks.
2. Carcano M91 Calvary
The M91 Cavalry carbine descends from the gun famed for killing Kenedy, and it has long been a cheap option for surplus rifles. Hell, even Oswald’s was cheap at the time. They’ve remained cheap. These Italian bolt action rifles aren’t the best rifles. However, they are robust and reliable enough.
These shorty carbines are butt ugly but come equipped with bayonets. They feed from En Bloc clips and shoot the famed 6.5 Italian round. It’s expensive ammo but can be a fairly cheap rifle on the surplus market. They are essentially the Mosin Nagant of this generation, at least at this price point.
3. Chinese T53 Rifles
Speaking of Mosin Nagants, the Chinese T53 does provide an affordable option in the Mosin Nagant family. The T53 rifles are seemingly the only Mosin Nagants going for less than 500 dollars on the surplus market these days.
These are the carbine variants of the Mosin that are similar to the M44. They feature folding spike bayonets, shoot the 7.62x54R rounds, and provide that ugly Mosin design at an affordable price point. Condition varies wildly, and so does the price. Even the better models tend to cost well below 500 dollars.
4. SKS Rifles
Yep, the humble SKS has exploded recently. Holy crap, I never thought people would ask over a grand for an SKS, but here we are. Yet, there are still good deals to be had on these semi-auto 7.62x39mm rifles.
You can find SKS rifles in rougher conditions that aren’t exactly parts-matching for less than 500. While they aren’t exquisite, they are functional shooters. Watch Gunbroker. They tend to pop up rather affordably. I love shooting an SKS, and I’m sad I wasn’t around to buy them by the crate.
5. Astra Pistols 400 and 600
Astra 400 and 600 pistols remain popular. The 400 in particular, likely because the 9mm Largo ammo is expensive and hard to find. The 600 takes 9mm Luger and tends to be sold for right around 400 bucks.
These are interesting blowback pistols designed by the Spanish. The 600 was even designed for the Nazis during WW2. They tend to be the cheapest of the WW2 sidearms on the market. They are fun to shoot and damn accurate, although they recoil with a good bit of oomph.
6. Lee Enfield No. 4
The Lee Enfield No. 4 rifles aren’t nearly as fine-looking or as classic as the SMLE MK lll. Still, they are dependable, reliable rifles. They just tended to be simpler and easier to produce, and that was pretty important with the upcoming second World War.
These are quite accurate, though, and tend to be reliable shooters. Don’t expect matching numbers on the surplus market for under $500, but you can have a competent rifle. The Lee Enfield action won’t leave you disappointed.
7. CZ 50/70
I love Czech weapons, and Czech surplus is typically fairly cheap. The CZ or vz. 50 and vz. 70 models were developed for the Czechoslovakian Ministry of the Interior. They borrowed a lot from the Walther PP series, and these are straight blowback designs that use the 32 ACP round.
They are soft shooters with a fair bit of heft. The vz. 70 is a slightly improved version of the vz. 50, but not significantly so. They are likely the cheapest pistols still on the surplus market.
8. Turkish M38 Mausers
Turkish Mauser still presents the famed Mauser action in an affordable platform. These stout bolt action battle rifles served around the world, and the Ottoman Empire certainly loved them. The M38 Mausers fire the 8mm Mauser most commonly.
It’s a heavy hitter that packs a punch is a ton of fun to shoot. Prices vary, but they seem to remain well under $500 from most dealers and should at least come with the bayonet. Prepare thy shoulders for the thump of the 8mm Mauser round. It’s a heavy hitter that doesn’t hold back.
9. Chinese Surplus RPG
I’m not joking. I mean, I’m kind of joking, but not really. You can purchase a Chinese Surplus RPG-2 for less than 500 bucks. It doesn’t come with a rocket, but for a 580 bucks total, it can be had.
Oh, they are deactivated, but they don’t require an FFL. You can have it shipped to your home, and you’ll confirm to your neighbors that you have odd interests and that they should stop letting that dog poop in your yard.
2022 and the Surplus Market
The real key to buying affordable surplus guns is to be willing to shop. Lots of the recent spate of high prices might seem typical, but if you shop auction websites and keep your eyes open at gun shows, you can get into the game quite cheaply. I’m only a man, a man with a tight budget and love for surplus goodies. However, I wanna turn it over to the audience. What’s your tips for getting into the surplus guns market?