Personally, I favor main battle rifles from the WW2 and Korean War timeframes, Mausers, Garands, SMLE's and the like. I'm more particular about condition and correctness, than which particular one.
For the more modern rifle fan, for AR-style, a bushmaster is hard to beat for the money. Some of the former Com-Block rifles coming in today are pretty nice, but after 11.5 years of packin' an M-4, I like our rifles for the newer stuff.
Bottom line, go, look, and see what you like and what it'll run ya. Keep in mind the availability of ammo, since some of the more obscure stuff will break the bank.
On the Garand, you won't go wrong with the Springfield, but you CAN get an "old" one for less. Checkout www.auctionarms.com , www.gunsamerica.com , and www.gunbroker.com . A little bit of studying and knowledge will go a long way toward a rifle you can be proud of and one that has a bit of history.
Also, check out the Russian Tokarev rifle. This was a semi-auto chambered for the 7.62X54R, often referred to as the "Russian Garand". The Dragunov sniper rifle is another good one, often found used, VG, with the original scope, for around $800.
Next up is the FN-built Egyptian Hakim, a nice MBR semi chambered for the 8MM Mauser cartridge. A little harder to find, but ammo is plentiful and cheap, and you most likely won't run into someone with one on the range.
Then you have the myriad SKS variants, and AK models. Stick with the Russian or Yugo models for the best workmanship. You'll find a lot of Norinco(China) in this category and some shoot and perform as well as the better models, but it's more of a crap shoot.
A great "curiosity" rifle is the Swiss-made Schmidt-Rubin straight-pull bolt rifle. Ammo is currently available and fairly reasonable, and it's a real oddity as a MBR.
The FN-FAL is always a good choice, but try to stick with the "inch pattern" models for the best return on your dollar.
Now that I've completely confused you, where do you live? If you're in Maine, think about a visit to Maine Military Supply, in Brewer. You can handle a wide variety of the SKS, AK, and AR style rifles and they usually have some of the others in stock. The owner and the manager are both knowledgable and won't ignore you when you tell them you're looking for a military rifle, instead of a new hunting rifle.
I have seen the straight pull sweedish mausers before i na magazine, very cool. I appreciate you share your knowledge. However, after looking at the supply of Mil surp 30-06, I have changed my opinion of the 5.56mm. I am actually looking at a Stag Arms model 15-L. A lefty AR, the look very cool, and are supposedly made by the company that makes lower recievers for Rock River Arms. The rifles are not all that expensive either and with tuition cost these days, it doesn't leave much in the bank account.
I did not know that anyone had ever made an MBR in 8mm. That is cool, I guess you learn something new everyday.
And regarding the AK's and SKS's, I have always been suspicious of them, I think you are right, our guns are better quality.
As a matter of fact, I do live in Maine. I will have to pay a visit to maine military supply, it is just across the river in brewer.
I wasn't aware of anyone making a lefty AR before. I know a lot of guys that are left handed shoot standard AR's without any problem with brass ejection. Definitely get an A-3, removable carrying handle. I got my first Bushmaster with a fixed handle and now I wish I had spent a few extra shekels for the A-3. I made sure my next one was a flattop. Stop in at the store and look around. I work part-time there and the selection is pretty good.
See if they have a version w/o the front sight, but with an accessory rail in it's place. This allows you to use a set of the fold down sights from Quality Parts, which in turn allows you to use a holographic sight, if you so choose. Usually, a fixed front sight won't interfere with a sight picture using a scope, but it's nice to have options down the road.
They do have a model w/o a front sight, but I am not going to have enough money to put into the rifle, and then the sights.
Does a fixed front sight interfere with the view if you mount an Aimpoint or other red dot sight?
I have seen a number of rifles with fixed front sights and reflex sights mounted, not trying to say you are wrong, just wondering if I could make it work. This RRA DEA model has an EoTech and fixed front sight:
They look good with the reflex sight and irons, but think about this. If it is sighted in, then you have a line from the rear sight, to the front, to the target. If your Eotech is sighted in also, and your cheek is in the same spot on the stock, the reticle will be centered on this line. I have a Bushmaster M-4A3, with the Eotech mounted. It has the flip-up sights, and if I flip them up and turn on the Eotech, they will conflict, IMHO. But you've gotta see what works for you. My father-in-law has the M4 right now, making the rounds of the local PD's he deals with. Part of the deal, since he's an FFL holder, and I saved a load of $$ on it, with his discounts on the rifle and all of the accessories.
I guess I will have to give it some thought. I have got another question if you don't mind, there is alot of talk bout jaming problems with the AR, it seems like just talk, but I thought I would ask. Assuming I keep my rifle maintained, should expect any jamming problems?
If the rifle is kept clean, properly lubed and you use decent ammo, there shouldn't be a problem. In my opinion, the lacquered steel cased ammo coming in from Russia right now is junk. They use steel, to keep the cost down, and then lacquer it to keep it from seizing in the chamber. If you shoot good USMil surplus or new American manufactured rounds and keep a good cleaning regimen, you should have no malfunctions. When you get one, let me know and I'll see what's currently available.