Monday, October 5, 2009

South Korea to Pick Wholesaler for M1 Rifle Sale


The planned exports of aging U.S. combat rifles will begin this year when two successful wholesalers are selected by the governments of South Korea and the United States, an official at the Ministry of National Defense said.

Last week, the ministry announced a plan to sell more than 100,000 M1 Garand and carbine rifles used during the Korean and Vietnam wars to American gun collectors as part of an effort to boost its defense budget.

The Seoul government has already selected six preferred bidders to export the rifles, while the U.S. government has picked four domestic bidders after it recently approved a proposal made by South Korea in 2006 to sell the weapons back to the United States, the official said.

By the year's end, the Korean government will select a final bidder, which will then choose its U.S. partner company to sell the outdated rifles to the U.S. gun enthusiasts on- and offline, he said, declining to identify the candidate firms until the final announcement.

Since the ministry revealed the sale of the rifles, most of which have been mothballed for about five decades in military warehouses, U.S. gun collectors have shown a keen interest in buying the classic rifles.

"I applaud this idea; destroying such historic firearms would be a shame. Whether you agree with recent U.S. policy or not, the M1 Garand played an important role in the last century. They are fine firearms," a U.S. gun enthusiast wrote in an e-mail to The Korea Times.

A total of 86,000 M1 rifles and another 22,000 carbines will be sold, according to the ministry, which estimates their expected sale price at $220 and more than $140, respectively.

South Korea earned more than $20 million from the first shipment.

M1s were made first in 1926 and used in World War II and the Vietnam War. The carbines were first produced in 1941 and used during the 1950-1953 Korean War.

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