Really Senior Member
Because this is the only place you can go to be excited about the "saving of a life" when it comes to restoring a horribly butchered rifle. Very few people tend to understand the historical significance that milsurps often have. Save for Sht_le, the other folks at my gunshop could care less about anything milsurpy and I always get the disapproving "slow head shake" when I happily tear into a box and reveal ANOTHER "beat up old military gun."
But more to the point; I love to restore firearms and all the better if it is a wonderful gem hiding behind duct tape and plastic butt-pads (or in this case, electrical tape.) So, I guess I will begin this somewhat lengthy story at the beginning, as these stories are want to wander.
It all started in February of this year at the local gun show. After wandering around to see the usual vendors and rubbing shoulders a little, I had just about seen what there was to see on the tables and was no looking around for what was on people's shoulders when I had to do a double take. There, on the back of a hunched over old man was something that looked very familiar yet somehow foreign, like seeing something in real life for the first time. There, wrapped in black electrical tape the whole length of the handguard, was the muzzle end of a G43, A REAL GEWEHR 43! You have to imagine my heart dropped; I'd never even seen one in real life before, let alone one that was presumably for sale.
Ever the realist, I consigned myself to the reality that it had to over priced or at the very least, out of MY price range. Never the less, I approached and asked if it was for sale; it was.
"May I see it?"
I look it over and see how badly she has been sporterized. The wood is severely sanded down yet still somehow rough as if they had only bothered to use a wood-rasp and never felt like smoothing it. The butt was so modified that they had replaced the metal buttplate, now vastly oversized, with some piece of plastic crap. The electrical tape was shrouding SOMETHING but the style handguard remained a mystery. The bore was nice and the action seemed more or less correct (but I had never played with one so I had no idea either way apart from educated assumptions).
"Well.. How much are you asking?"
"Sonny do you know what this is?"
I should point out that I am 22 and look about 24.
"Yes sir, it's a G43 and it looks like it has been chopped a bit."
"Yea, my uncle brought it back from the Germans and used to hunt with it."
"Well, I don't know, I have seen what they are going for online"
At this point, my heart is sinking with fears that he will have grandiose ideas of how much his bubba'd rifle is worth.
"I need to get no less than $500 for it."
"hmmm" I take another look over her- all the numbers match but for the bolt assembly and the I already know what the manufacturer's marking is from my study of Kar98ks. It's a Gustloff Werks and I know exactly where this gun was made, Buchenwald.
"Well, I will have to think about it, but thank you." And I walk away.
The second I walk away I go find Sht_le who is talking to the Earls (two of our most beloved Milsurp dealers who are always at the show with stuff for us) and explain it to him. He seems as deeply excited as I am but doesn't show it til later and we decide I need to go for it. So, after some horse trading, Sht_le ends up with my Finn 1891, and I get $250 to go with mine and I track down the old man and make the sale. Proudly I shoulder her and hang the bag of goodies provided with the rifle and leave with a huge smile on my face, electrical tape and all.
And what was in that bag you ask? A reproduction magazine, repro scope mounts and rings, and some old 8mm rounds. The ammo looks like reloads and gets pulled apart to make dummies and the rest is put aside for later. Once I get home, I pull off the tape and find a cracked handguard equally as sanded and disfigured.
The gun show had been on a saturday and so I decided to wait until Monday to do a full take down and inspection to decide what need to be replaced apart from the awful stock. Meanwhile I researched as much as I could find online about the G43s and learned a good bit about my particular bird. After Monday arrived, I began to take her apart and it was clear that some things would need to be worked on. So....
About 2 months later, my replacement laminated stock arrived from Poland along with a replacement band spring. I found a set of new springs for the gun to rebuild the whole thing and set about installing them. Every part was inspected for damage or sabotage. Every part was stripped off and every spec of rust was purged. No reblue (I'm not so cruel) or touch up required. The real issue was inletting the stock which was a serious pain but came out well. Now, several months later, the magazine still wants to feed when it feels like it despite hours upon hours of fitting (stupid repro) and I have not found a buttplate that I can bare paying for (I REFUSE to pay $300 for a buttplate! and instead has a Colombian mauser buttplate with the trapdoor). The cleaning rod was added and is an original from my spares bin along with the sight hood and muzzle cover. All and all, I have about $900 or so not counting my labour in the gun and here she is:
I would never have thought that I could have such a thing at my age and it goes to show that you never know what you'll find if you just keep your eyes open and have the good fortune to have good friends to buy your Finn 1891's.
So, I am sorry for the lengthy post and if you only looked at the pictures, that is ok too- But I am glad to have a place to share things like this and be amoung people who can understand the joy of finding your "one rifle" that stands out in your collection. It is not always a super rare rifle or even a pretty one and to be sure, this G43 is not my "baby" but everyone has that special rifle that they can look upon like a friend who has always inspired you to collect and learn more or perhaps it is that rifle that has never let you down and kept dinner on your table. Whatever the reason you love your milsurps, I am glad we can all come together and express that love. Thanks for reading and keep shooting!
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07-22-2011 11:16 PM
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I sold mine about 10 or so years ago for about $500! And it was complete and in nice condition! Congratulations on your find! You did a very nice job, looks great!
Good post! Brings back all sorts of memories. A no parts matching G43 was one of my first rifles. Long gone and yet to be replaced, mostly because it was the only "no parts matching" example I've run across since. The "pretty" ones just don't interest me enough to fork over the biggie bucks.
Mechanically interesting rifles- especially the "fire control group"/ trigger mechanism. The system seems "over gassed" (which may influence your mag's functioning, BTW), and the locking lugs that press against the bolt raceway during the forward stroke of the action seems like a design flaw, but otherwise I like 'em.
It's a beauty m4a3sherman! I've been going to gun shows for more years that I care to remember and never stumbled upon anything so grand,
Very nice save!
Really Senior Member
Parts can be replaced. Steel that was removed is harder to make right. At least yours still has its backsight ears. The repro parts do reduce the overall value compared to original parts, but life doesn't always serve up roses.
Think about the old timer's uncle who came home. Think about the years of enjoyment tramping the backwoods hunting. Think of the forced workers who had no choice but to make rifles. Give praise where praise is due and show proper respects. We don't own these guns, we are just their temporary keepers.
Thank You to Maple_Leaf_Eh For This Useful Post:
Really Senior Member
Agreed- I am more pleased that this particular one has made it's way into the hands of someone who'll take of it and show it the proper respect. At the very least, if I ever sell it, it will again go to a place where someone knows about it and the stories it carries.(I can't see bubba spending what these are worth just to sand her down again and tap her for a tasco or something.)
Now thats a GREAT looking bcd. You got it at a nice price too. I share you need to restore old milsurplus also. There is no cure. I'm 67 years old and still like doing yet. I fact I have a ac/44 that was about like your bcd when I bought it. I still haven't fitted the stock yet. But it's a real good shooter.
Great post. Thanks for sharing! I'm now 34 years old and I came across my first (and only) K43 in a similar manner. I shelled out $900 for my QVE (45) with a duffle cut stock but I have the same sentimental feelings about mine and the story that goes with it. Luckily I found a guy who was able to cut and restore my stock from another red glue laminate stock. Granted the repair is by no means "invisible" but the stock is at least a real K43 stock and even though its a little "Frankensteined" I love it none the less. Good for you buddy. I'm glad to see one of these old war horses find their way into the hands of someone who sees it as something more than money in the bank. Enjoy it. Welcome to the club of guys who love Ferrari guns but have Ford Focus kind of budget : )
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Really Senior Member
Haha, yes I think the restorer's bug is a hard thing to shake for sure! I am only 23 but already I have a passion for making things right again. As much as I speak ill of bubba, collecting milsurps would be a lot less interactive without his mistakes. When I pick up something that's in great shape and all together, its wonderful but not quite as exciting as a project; the hunt for parts, the research, the reconstruction and finally shooting the finished project. It is so much fun and such an accomplishing feeling. To me, it makes me feel like I have a stake in history, helping to paint a more complete picture even if it's just replacing a lost handgaurd or a new sighthood. I can't imagine ever getting tired of it and its the best job in the world... too bad it doesn't pay the bills!
M4a3sherman, i think you have got the righteous restorer's bug alright. I too derive considerable pleasure from restoring the odd chopped up rifle that bubba has done worked his magic on. I started pursuing this aspect of gun collecting about the time I was your age and am now considerably older and more skilled at the restorer's art with each passing year. So, buy your reference books, examine every rifle you pass with a hard eye for the subtle aspects of bluing, stock patina and stock contour and you'll be miles ahead of many guys with a similar bug. Remember, knowledge is power! Over the years I have salvaged some truly rare rifles most especially Lee Enfields or Springfield 03's which had been gotten the bubba treatment. Some jobs take years to complete but that's half the fun--locating all the correct parts and restoring the rifle to its former glory. Believe it or not, I rarely lose money on these restoration jobs. If done properly, it will be hard to discern a rifle you've restored from the real deal. When you get that good at it, you know you have finally arrived!