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Surplus Firearms Magazine 1987-2012

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Many readers in the US looked forward to finding these special, once a year SURPLUS FIREARMS issue about surplus firearms by assorted authors.  These were primarily informative & historical in perspective.  Most never found or owned examples of specific firearms discussed in the magazines.  These issues of Surplus Firearms  provided a description of the firearm, its bayonet and  other accessories. They provided expert tips on maintenance, ammunition, and shooting vintage firearms.  In the late 1980s in the United States, it was an exciting time for collectors in the US  because of a liberalization in post Kennedy assassination import regulations.  Odd ball military surplus rifles and pistols from foreign lands were flowing into gun stores at great prices. It was a fun time, a new collector's bonanza of bargain military arms of antiquated types and mechanisms.   The introduction of these exotic weapons and a lack of correct ammunition fostered the need for a magazine such as Surplus Firearms Magazine.  Much later, similar magazines like  Military Surplus by Tactical Life and  Surplus Vintage & Classic Firearms  by FMG  made their appearance.  By 2001 Paul S. Scarlata published Collecting Classic Bolt Action Military Rifles, a thesis on the commonly found bolt actions of the world. Later in 2009, a great book by Stuart C. Mowbray and Joe Puleo, entitled  Bolt Action Military Rifles of the World,  provided an in depth survey of the great military bolt action rifles.  Both books are primary sources for those wanting to identify and purchase such military rifles.   However, what started it all was Surplus Firearms Magazine.

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This is my first attempt to post photos and get a document written on this forum, I hope the readers may find the list of issues and their contents of some value and historical interest.  With the help of the great moderators and administrators of this forum I hope I can contribute.  I offer my thanks to all the help. 

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Surplus Firearms Magazine, 1987-2012 


An informative publication in the US during the second great golden age of surplus firearms, the late 1980s, all of the 1990s and into the turn of the century, was SURPLUS FIREARMS magazine. Surplus Firearms magazine was published from 1987 to 2012 by Guns and Ammo and started at $2.95 with the last issue costing $8.99. At first it was published periodically, with the first seven issues numbered with Roman numerals, then in 2005 they switched to just the publication date. In 1998 and 1999 Guns and Ammo came out with two “ Best Of” the past volumes issues. In 1998, the Best of Surplus Firearms, volumes I, II, and III was published and in 1999, the Best of Surplus Firearms volumes IV, V, and VI was published. After a short period of no publications (2001-2004), Guns and Ammo resumed publication of Surplus Firearms in 2005 with an annual issue published each year ending with the final issue in 2012. I decided to document these issues with the cover view as well as the table of contents view for each year. This is my complete set.       72 usmc

There is a lot of nice data in the articles found in these old issues if you are into vintage military surplus firearms.  These were published at a time when few books were available about the many surplus firearms that flooded the US market after the fall of the Iron Curtain and some import laws were eased in the US.  After 2005, there was an especially abundant influx  of  surplus firearms at very reasonable prices. Hence, the magazine was published each year from 2005 -2012. These magazines are a hard to find item outside the US. They  occasionally show up on Ebay. Some of the early issues go for top buck-- around 20-35 bucks. Volume I and II are hard to find, as well as the "BEST OF" big issues from 1998 and 1999.



The first issue. Volume I    1987


Volume II 1988


Volume III 1993


Volume IV 1995


Volume V 1996


Volume VI 1997


Volume VII 2000


Volume 2005


Volume 2006


Volume 2007


Volume 2008


Volume 2009


Volume 2010




Volume 2011


Last issue Volume 2012


The Big Issue Best Of Volume I, II, and III was published in 1998.


Note: not all the articles from the original issues are found in these. The pages are grey tone copies in this first reprint of old issues. See the lower example page. This is one reason that this is a hard issue to find. The manner or reproduction was of such low quality, I believe few issues were sold. The second big issue is much more common. 

The Big Issue Best of Volume IV, V, and IV was published in 1999. In this issue the pages are normal -no grey tone cheep copy. It appears similar to the high quality pages found in all the other issues.



Here is the last issue good by:


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Excellent article USMC, welcome aboard, glad you have mastered the forum, look forward to reading more of your posts :thumbsup: 

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Does (did) this magazine have anything to do with the 2022 magazine published by FMG publications - Guns Magazine, Surplus  Military & Classic Firearms (2022)?



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 No, both are different companies. I have both sets of issues. Let me look at my first issue and see when FMG started. Surplus Firearms Magazine was published  Guns and Ammo Magazine as a special issue. Both Guns & Ammo and the surplus special issue are  published by Intermedia Outdoors Company. Guns Magazine, Surplus  Military & Classic Firearms started late in the game in 2013. It is published as a special surplus issue by Guns Magazine of Publishers Development Corporation and is still in print.  It sort of tries to fill the void left by the termination of Surplus Firearms magazine in 2012. 

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  • 1 year later...

 It is interesting to note back issues  of Surplus Firearms, when found in decent condition,  seem to now command $10-40 per issue on flee bay with shipping and tax added.  Shipping is nuts in the U.S. at $6- 10 per issue and approximately 5-8% tax depending on your state and location.  At the last WI gun  show issue #1 and #2 were priced $50 each. 🙄

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I remember catalogs and magazines like this, oh how I wish we could still those prices today...

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