September 24, 2009

Need a gun to cling to? Buy one from the Government!

There is so-o-o-o-o-o-o much going on recently -- The Head Pantload and his crew are running this country into the ground at such a rapid rate -- that it virtually impossible for anyone writing a blog and holding down a regular day job to keep up. It's kind of like that Martin Sheen quote in Apocalypse Now:
"Oh man, the bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam you needed wings to stay above it."
Truth be told, I admire those that do manage a steady, conscientious stream of commentary but I am too beset with my own special version of ADHD to chronicle effectively. So, time for a break and some news of one "sort of" area where the gummint does something right.

Obama's now-famous comment to the quiche-eating, Chablis-swilling set in San Francisco about bitter Pennsylvanians (and, by extension, fly-over Americans) and their frustrations:
"So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
So, you don't have a gun and would like to get one? Figure it would be nice to have one around "just in case". It seems a lot of folks thought that way when Obama was elected and the Democrats took control of every branch of government in sight. Lines at guns stores backed up around the block and the wait time to get into gun shows were over an hour; guns disappeared from the counters and ammunition flew off the shelves. Of course, this story was delightful for the Knee Pad Media to write about as it seemed to confirm Obama's sentiment.

Well, currently the "Obama Bullet Bubble" -- this run on guns and ammunition -- has dissipated somewhat. Boxes of .223 and .30-06 are to be had, although the price is a little dearer since this clown became POTUS and you still have to jump through the hoops you did before: background check, 5- to 10-day waiting period, etc. Out here in California we pay $25 pwer long gun, wait ten days, have our purchases "DROS'ed" (Dealer Record of Sale), and are limited to purchasing one gun per month. Guess they want to stop us left-coast clingers from raising our own standing army.

But what if I told you there was a way around all of this bravo sierra (sort of), that you could own a piece of history with the help of the Federal Government? Well, it's a fact. It seems that, in saner days bordering on ancient history, it was recognized that our military -- principally the U.S. Army and Marine Corps -- needed their conscriptees and enlistees to be familiar with firearms and at least be a passing fair shot. Familiarity with firearms in the olden days was an asset to them; they could proceed on to the next level without having to tell a new private that the stock goes to the shoulder and the muzzle is pointed down range.

Then someone in the government had a blindingly brilliant idea: make available (i.e., sell for a reasonable fee) surplus military rifles to civilians to cultivate these skills:
1905- On March 3, 1905 another act of Congress authorized "That the Secretary of War is hereby authorized to sell, at the prices at which they are listed for the Army, upon request of the governors of the Several States and Territories, such magazine rifles belonging to the United States as are not necessary for the equipment of the Army and the organized militia, for the use of rifle clubs formed under regulations prepared by the national board for the promotion of rifle practice and approved by the Secretary of War. That the Secretary of War is hereby authorized in his discretion to sell to the several States and Territories, as prescribed in section seventeen of the Act approved January twenty-first, nineteen hundred and three, for the use of said clubs, ammunition, ordnance stores, and equipments of the Government standard at the prices at which they are listed for the Army." Remember that the National Matches were limited to the Regular Services and the State National Guard organizations. This act was mostly to allow the National Guard organizations, which were not as organized as they are today, to get access to the rifles used in the National Matches. They were more like state militia, than the National Guard of today. The National Matches were held at Sea Girt.
Originally starting out life as the DCM (Department of Civilian Marksmanship), it morphed into its present organization, The CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) and is a quasi-governmental organization squirreled away under the Department of the Army. The CMP maintains two stores: one in Anniston, Alabama and another in Port Clinton, Ohio. It also conducts rifle matches, rifle safety programs, and an intense youth firearm education program. From it's charter page:
HISTORY OF THE CMP. CMP history goes back to late 19th century efforts by U.S. military and political leaders to strengthen our country’s national defense capabilities by improving the rifle marksmanship skills of members of the Armed Forces. The CMP traces its direct lineage to 1903 when Congress and President Theodore Roosevelt established the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice (NBPRP) and the National Matches. From then until 1996, first the Department of War and later the Department of the Army managed the program that became known as the “civilian marksmanship program.” During this period, program objectives shifted from military marksmanship to training civilians who might serve in the military to developing youth through marksmanship training. In 1996, Congress acted again to establish the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearm Safety that now governs the CMP.
Don't take my (or their) word for it, look into it yourself.

While the availability and prices have changed over the years, one can expect to find a decent surplus rifle for a reasonable price. Currently, an M-1 Garand is available for anywhere from $375 to $995 depending on grade and manufacturer. The CMP also sells the long-time favorite M-1 Carbine from about $420 to $700, again depending upon grade and manufacturer. It also has the older, bolt-action Springfield 1903 available as well. Additionally, they sell ammunition (surplus .30-06 and some .30 caliber for the M1 Carbine) although quantities are getting scarce -- especially since November of last year, if you know what I mean.

The catch is you have to become a member of the CMP and that includes being a citizen of the United States (sorry, Abdulla), be old enough to buy a firearm, be eligible to buy a firearm (i.e., not a convicted felon), be a member of an organization that supports the CMP, and have demonstrated range marksmanship or firearm activity. The organization requirement may be satisfied by joining the Garand Collectors of America for $25. It's a good organization and you get a quarterly magazine with some great history, pictures, and pointers on collecting the M-1 Garand. The marksmanship activity requirement can be satisfied by going to a local firing range, popping off 50 rounds or so and have the range master attest to the fact that you knew which end of the muzzle to aim at the piece of paper.

And here is the great thing -- especially if you live in California -- once you place your order, when it comes up (there is a 120- to 180-day delay in some cases) and they send it to you, they send it to you. There is none of that crappy sending it to a local FFL'ed gun dealer where you have to pay money to have him DROS it and sign it over to you. The federal background check is done by the CMP and you get your Garand Fedexed to you..

..and, believe me, there's nothing cooler than having the delivery guy ask you to sign for the long, rectangular box realizing you have flipped off the gummint with the help of one of their own organizations.

Take that, Obama!

By the way, this has become an obsession with some folks (collecting these rifles, not flipping off the government). Their collections can number into the hundreds, with folks trying to get one of each type from each era, etc.

 I'll leave it there for now. But a thought: this rifle is a certifiable piece of our history. It was one of the best battle rifles for its time. It was designed by a genius (and a Canadian, by the way), and of which Patton said:
The greatest battle implement ever devised by man.
Owning one (or more) in this day and age is arguably like a person around the Civil War period owning a Revolutionary War rifle. I will pass mine down to my son who, I hope, shall pass it along to his son. Imagine in 100 years having one of your descendants say, "Wow, this was one of the rifles that helped win WWII."


  1. JC, what about the AK-47, or Saiga?

  2. "..not on offer."


    I own a Saiga 12, heavily modified. What shotgun, what carbine, can legally beat the S 12 (in the US)?

  3. I am not familiar with the Saiga 12; I researched it and concede that it looks to be a fearsome piece of machinery. However, the point of this post was to point out that the Garand could be obtained through a department of the U.S. Government (no matter how remotely detached). My son and I are in the process of building California legal AR-15s -- an art made necessary by Sacramento's intrusion on gun ownership and the second amendment. The gentlemen referred to in my post, the collectors of the M-1, revere this battle rifle for its historical significance; they acquire them out of love and respect for a time when citizen soldiers, armed with these, took on two empires bent on world domination.

    Folks like you and I -- our differing political beliefs notwithstanding -- were conscripted into a military, given painfully short periods of training and were released to WWII's ETO or Pacific theaters to face down a vicious enemy. The eight rounds of semi-automatic firepower in their hands would prove to be more than an equalizer to the bolt-action Mausers and pathetic weapons that the Japanese provided their soldiers.

    To be sure, much more terrible weapons have arrived on stage since those days. The AK-47 (developed after WWII) proved to be a formidable model upon which your Saiga is based. But the Mig-17s and F-86 Sabres who fought it out in Korea were poor sisters to the F-22 and the Mig-29. Time moves on.

    By the way, an interesting anecdote about Ted Kennedy and the Garand:

    But in 1986, Congress passed a bill -- quickly signed by then-President Ronald Reagan -- which allowed the importation and sale to collectors of military firearms manufactured before 1945. Even Senator Ted Kennedy testified in support of this bill as these heavy, old and cumbersome (by modern standards) battle rifles were not considered likely to be used to commit crimes.

    That having been said, I am gratified to see you are a believer in the rights granted by the second amendment. There is hope for you yet.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Check out my custom Saiga 12 (as in 12 gauge and 11 shots). I am on a waiting list for professional built Tromix Saiga 12 (2 year waiting list). If you can't see my Reaper image, here is that link to pic.

    I don't like to show this all the time, and mostly use thoughtful honest Abe for profile pic, as the Saiga tends to scare the cons.

  5. NBO, why do the moderation approval thing? When you cons rail about the virtues of freedom, then limit speech, you seem a little contrary to us progressives.

  6. Reaper,

    I got his with some pretty vicious and inane comments so I elected to turn moderation on. I don't mind a spirited debate but draw the line and overt, pointless profanity. An occasional S-Bomb is o.k. and punctuated epithets will get by periodically. But, it's my sandbox and I reserve the right, etc.

    I absolutely do NOT mind debating points with you and those not holding my political points of view, but a lot more gets done when the tone is civil.

    By the way, I was NOT being sarcastic when I said I was glad you believed in our second amendment rights. I am not a huge gun nut; I was an avid small-bore target shooter who fell in love with the M-1 Garand after seeing Band of Brothers.

    My son (the new Marine) is more avid in this area than I and his enthusiasm has gotten me into building the AR-15 and looking into loading .223 on my own.

    Again, your Saiga looks fearsome.

    Hope to chat again soon.


  7. My wife thinks I am a gun nut. But I tell her things could go bad for many reasons and she accepts my judgement. Have to love someone like that. She probably would even let me get a few vests if I wanted to. One day maybe.

    I have a mini-14,, but would really like to move from the .223 to the .308 or Nato equivalent. I like the .308, as the recoil is fairly mild, and it has some real punch.

    I was on the flightline at Elmendorf AFB, AK, when the first Russian Mig-29 was fueled on American soil. (I think it was a Mig-29, I could be wrong).

  8. That must have been a sight. I think there was a Mig-29 that fled to Japan when a Soviet (Voyska PVO) pilot deserted. I read his book and it was pretty fascinating. I'll dig up the title and ISBN for you and pass it along.

    One of my M-1s is a recondx Greek repatriation done by Dean's Gun restorations in Tennessee. I had a new stock and a new barrel put on and was thinking about doing .308 but realized I might go to the range with the .308 rifle and a can of Lake City M-2 Ball .30-06..

    ..and not realize the diff until I had a round chambered and fired.

    And, no, I can't stand Vodka. The fuel of choice here is Jack and various brands of beer. Waddya think, I'm some kinda Commie Pinko?

  9. "Waddya think, I'm some kinda Commie Pinko?"

    LOL, I love vodka, and Tolstoy.

    "I think there was a Mig-29 that fled to Japan when a Soviet (Voyska PVO) pilot deserted."

    I remember that story.

    But the end of the cold war, around 15 years ago plus, a planned Russian Mig-29 landing and refueling occurred in Ak (Alaska). No big deal I guess, but I was there to see it. On the flight line; about 25 of us.

  10. Reaper, I honestly would love to hear the whole story and to have you share it with others. If you would be good enough to go to my homepage on this blog, I have provided you an intro for any comments you would like to make.

    By the way, I salute your taste. Tolstoy was far too sophisticated for me, but I candidly admit being partial to some brands of Polish vodka.

  11. "Reaper, I honestly would love to hear the whole story and to have you share it with others. "


    I swear to God, it was a non event. There is no story. Rusty rivets, etc, that's what I remember.

    I love Tolstoy.

  12. "I have provided you an intro for any comments you would like to make"

    Just not sure what you are talking about?