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Gun Grading Guide - Surplus Firearms

Military surplus firearms are unique in the industry due to their widely varying conditions. These firearms arrive from all corners of the earth and exist in every shape imaginable. Because of the wide-ranging conditions of surplus firearms, a consistent grading scale is essential for folks to know exactly what they are purchasing.

Gun Grading Guide - Firearms and Surplus 

Numerous grading scales exist for sorting firearms according to their condition. Our grading scale for surplus firearms is based on the percentage of remaining finish. We use the National Rifle Association (NRA) Antique Firearm Conditions Standards for grading surplus firearms.

The NRA's condition ratings are as follows:

  • FACTORY NEW: All original parts; 100% original finish; in perfect condition in every respect, inside and out.
  • EXCELLENT: All original parts; over 80% original finish; sharp lettering, numerals and design on metal and wood; unmarred wood; fine bore.
  • FINE: All original parts; over 30% original finish; sharp lettering, numerals and design on metal and wood; minor marks in wood; good bore.
  • VERY GOOD: All original parts; none to 30% original finish; original metal surfaces smooth with all edges sharp; clear lettering, numerals and design on metal; wood slightly scratched or bruised; bore disregarded for collectors firearms.
  • GOOD: Some minor replacement parts; metal smoothly rusted or lightly pitted in places, cleaned or re-blued; principal letters, numerals and design on metal legible; wood refinished, scratched bruised or minor cracks repaired; in good working order.
  • FAIR: Some major parts replaced; minor replacement parts may be required; metal rusted, may be lightly pitted all over, vigorously cleaned or re-blued; rounded edges of metal and wood; principal lettering, numerals and design on metal partly obliterated; wood scratched, bruised, cracked or repaired where broken; in fair working order or can be easily repaired and placed in working order.
  • POOR: Major and minor parts replaced; major replacement parts required and extensive restoration needed; metal deeply pitted; principal lettering, numerals and design obliterated, wood badly scratched, bruised, cracked or broken; mechanically inoperative; generally undesirable as a collector's firearm.

Surplus firearms should be functional and free of broken parts, regardless of grade, unless otherwise specified. Periodically, we encounter incomplete or broken surplus firearms. When we find surplus firearms in this condition, we often sell or auction them as Gunsmith Specials at reduced prices. We sell these surplus firearms with the disclaimer that they are non-functional and need gunsmith attention to return to a firing state.

Special Grades for Specific Firearms 

Some surplus firearms fall into their own categories due to special circumstances. These surplus firearms show substantial wear both mechanically and cosmetically. Some militaries carry their firearms much more than they fire them. These surplus firearms show substantial-finish wear yet are mechanically excellent. In this case, these surplus firearms might ordinarily receive a Surplus Poor rating but because they have likely never been fired are entitled to a Surplus Like New designation. These classifications typically include the situational context by designating the firearm as Good-by Swiss Standards or Good-by Enfield Standards. Buyers in the market for historic firearms are usually well-versed in these special situations. 

Arsenal Refurbished/ Refinished

Surplus firearms are sometimes externally refinished and or have worn parts replaced with new ones. The refurbishment process is a cost-effective method of extending the service life of firearms. Refurbished surplus firearms are often in superior cosmetic and functional condition. We do our best to label refurbished surplus firearms when we are aware of them. 


While there must be a standard for grading surplus firearms, the process is always subjective and involves numerous details. We always aim for fairness and accuracy in the grading process for surplus firearms because customer satisfaction is our main priority. 

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