By Dan Shea
One of the more interesting things that we have been discussing is how the well of surplus militaria appears to be drying up. Those of us out in the world market are always looking for the next pile of MP44, MP40 or other guns to turn into parts for collectors to use, and the sources just don’t seem to have them like they used to. Ammunition is also hard to find, at least reasonably priced in good condition. The factors involved in importing to the United States add a lot of cost, and dictate how much can be paid for the remaining piles of surplus out there. Other countries have different rules, and places like the UK make it fairly easy and inexpensive to own “De-acs”, their version of a welded up dummy gun. Since the UK regulations don’t require destruction of the receiver, there is one major step cut out in preparing a dummy gun, compared to the US rules. One problem that arises is when US citizens travel abroad and think they can bring back a welded up “De-ac”. After all, it is totally non-functional, isn’t it? Not to the US - the receiver is still considered a machine gun.
The Post War surplus binge is slowing, and the morning after is setting in. We sit and complain that there is hardly anything left to find, and what will we as collectors be able to get, then someone like IMA pulls a major coup and brings in the Nepalese collection. Bravo on that one! There was probably twenty years of work in bringing that deal together. Something like 150 early cannons, maybe a dozen Nepalese Bira guns - I had only seen one previously - under a staircase at Fort Nelson in the South of England. Jonathan Ciener and the SAR Expeditionary Force were looking over my shoulder as we rooted through the entrails of the museum, and it took almost five minutes to figure out what that wheeled mounted gun was, and when we did, well, that was pretty exciting. Now there are some in the US!
I think it is exciting to bring the stories behind where the surplus finds are made to our readers. Part of the collecting bug is finding something unusual, and learning the history, the path it took from being made to sitting in your display. In this month’s issue, there is mention of the Chinese connection on many machine guns, and several US surplus distributors have scored large piles of these surplus items and brought them in. Recently, Omega (Don Bell) had some really neat Chinese DShK parts - excellent sights in their boxes among others. G3 twenty-round magazines are touching well under five bucks apiece. Some really nice stuff is coming out of the Balkans. A lot of our advertisers are bringing in some primo collectable stuff, and the prices seem reasonable.
Maybe the well isn’t so dry after all. Maybe there are a lot of hidden caches of interesting historical arms and accessories left. I have to have faith in that. As I travel, I keep looking, and while the big warehouses of the sixties, seventies and eighties seem to be empty, there appear to be plenty of places left out there with interesting finds.
It ain’t like it used to be, but it’ll do.
Small Arms Review Convention anyone? Plans are in the works for a full tilt boogie SAR convention in Las Vegas during June of 2005. We plan two days of seminars, three days of a 2,000-table gun show, manufacturer’s demos, panel discussions, booth displays area, and a banquet. We are trying to nail this down before the Fall Knob Creek, but the venue hasn’t been decided yet, and before we can do this, we have to have a convention hall. Keep checking the website- www.smallarmsreview.com for more info on this. If you have been to the Small Arms Review Gun Show in Phoenix in December that we do with Crossroads of the West Gun Shows, then you know what a good time that can be had at one of our shows. Hope to see y’all in Vegas!
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