Letter Re: Battle Rifle Recommendations for a Californian

Mr. Rawles,
I am a resident of the People’s Republic of Kalifornia (PRK). I’m looking to buy a main battle rifle (MBR). My rifle collection currently consists of a few .22 rimfires and a [Federally exempt antique Model] 1893 Mauser, which I purchased on your recommendation from The Pre-1899 Specialist. It seems as though most of the [firearms design] features one would look for are restricted (if not outright banned) here [in California]. My question for you is, what would you suggest for a California resident’s MBR?. Thanks, – C3 in CA.

JWR Replies: California does have some almost unbearable “assault weapons” restrictions. OBTW, I’m fond of saying that the only “assault” going on is against our Constitutional rights.

Unless you plan to move out of the state soon, I’d recommend that you buy one or two FN49 rifles. This was a very robust post-WWII semi-auto rifle design. Most FN49s have fixed 10 round magazines that are filled from the top, via stripper clips. The ideal choice would be the detachable magazine Argentine Navy variant chambered in 7.62mm NATO. These are presently around $1,200 each. But if you are on a budget, FN49s were also made in several other calibers including .30-06, 7.65mm Argentine Mauser, 7x57mm Mauser, and 8x57mm Mauser. The latter were made for an Egyptian contract are the least expensive variants. These can sometimes be found for around $750. An 8mm Mauser, would of course also give you cartridge commonality with your Turkish contract pre-1899 antique Mauser. Regardless of what you buy, be sure to inspect the bore and chamber condition carefully before purchasing a military surplus rifle. Many of the Mauser cartridges and most of the older lots of .30-06 were made with corrosive priming, which causes bore pitting.

OBTW, up until a couple of years ago, I would have first recommended getting an M1 Garand rifle. Unfortunately, they have recently become quite collectible and prices have jumped up to the $1,000 to $1,500 price range. Spare parts have also become quite expensive. My advice to Californians: If you can find an M1 Garand with a nice bore for under $900, jump on it!