Letter Re: The Supply of Battle Rifle Parts Kits in the US is Drying Up

In a recent post, you wrote: I recommend HK91 clones because they are presently less expensive than M1As, and their spares are much less expensive. An M14 parts kit (everything but the receiver) is around $750, if you can find one. But you can buy a G3 part kit for under $250.”

Please tell me where I can buy $250 G3 parts kits. They have all dried up. $400 to $500 if you can find one. I’m needing a couple. Thanks, – Craig W

JWR Replies: The last gun show that I attended (late last year) had a table where a gent was offering eight G3 parts kits for $250 each. I guess the available supplies have dried up rather quickly, since then. So these days, your best bet is the private owner secondary market, rather than dealers. But I still see fixed price ads for them at GunsAmerica (often under $300) and the last time that I checked, that was also the typical auction price at GunBroker.com or AuctionArms.com. Another good place to check is Buddy Hinton’s parts board. There are a lot of shooters that bought parts kits when they were cheap and plentiful, and then never did anything with them A simple “Want To Buy” (WTB) post at Buddy’s board might turn up a few kits that would otherwise be gathering dust. Don’t try looking on eBay. A few months back, they banned the sale of most gun parts and magazines (aside for some furniture, sights, and some minor parts, which they begrudgingly allow.) They’ve really shown their true colors.

Battle rifle parts kits are definitely drying up, but G3 parts kits are still not as scarce as FAL and L1A1 kits, which now fetch $400 or more for nice ones. As an illustration, I just recently paid $200 for a nice L1A1 barrel/gas tube/handguard assembly (a kit “front end”) at the FALFiles Marketplace forum, and was happy to get it at that price. By comparison, in the early 1990s I was buying complete, minty British L1A1 kits for as little as $105 each!

The biggest problem seems to be the U.S. barrel import ban (Section 925(d)3), which has effectively banned the importation of full parts kits (with everything except a receiver). I’m sure that importers will get clever about bringing in incomplete kits (sans barrels), to meet the new regulation. (Much the same way that folks have worked their way around Section 922(r). that requires seven US-made parts for “builds” in the US.) They’ll import the parts piecemeal if they have to. But such work-arounds, since they involve newly-made barrels, add considerable cost to what would otherwise be inexpensive military surplus items. Inevitably, the barrel import ban will cause the price of all battle rifle kits–even AK kits and the less desirable SMG kits–to go up. I suspect that new new price “floor” will be around $300. The bottom line: Buy your parts kits soon, while the prices of kits complete with barrels are still reasonable. If nothing else, buying such useful tangibles is a hedge against inflation, even without the impact of the stronger importation restrictions.