One of the most common statements I hear in the few pleasant years I’ve worked in the CMP North Store is “All they have is a bunch of junk”. To me, that’s the most ridiculous statement ever. Both the North and South Stores are packed with treasures.
Both CMP Stores display rows of rifles, like the picture above. Customers are able to browse through the selections on display and hand pick their purchase.
The perspective depends on what you are looking for, a tack driver, a beautiful stock, or a correct grade rifle. It is not unusual to find a ME of -1 or a crisp, sharp WWII cartouche on a rifle nestled among the field and service grade selections on any given day. Countless times, the late George Ball, would sit on his stool, shake his head and wisely remind me, “You can’t get ‘em all”. Many times, I’ve watched excellent pieces walk out the door under someone’s arm and wish I had found it first. And contrary to established belief, we don’t get to scour the gun racks and save the beauties for ourselves. During the National Matches, we are hard pressed to unload the crates from Anniston and restock the gun racks so that customers have an ample selection to browse through.
Our greatest joys are seeing a customer’s smiling face when he finds that rifle he never thought he’d find, among the field grade and service grade rifles in the store. One such happy occasion occurred on August 3, 2010 and the lucky guy was Mr. Bruce Folger, a customer and shooter from just down the road, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
He’s a Specialist E4 in the Ohio Military Reserve, 6th Brigade, a component of the Ohio National Guard. He was at Camp Perry to participate in his 2nd Garand Match and stopped by to purchase some 30-06 ammo. While he was here, he decided to look through the rifles and see if anything caught his eye.
In the store only about 10 minutes and he’d settled on two service grade Springfield Garands, noticing the nice condition of the wood. He took the time, at the counter, to have us check the muzzles and throats of both guns, finding a ME of 1 and 1 ½ and throats that gauged at 2 on each. Satisfied, with the rifles, Bruce decided to do the paperwork. He had his choices and was ready to buy.
Bruce Folger leaves the CMP North Store with his two Garands. Like many customers, Folger is happy with his purchase. Luckily, for Folger, his two rifles were a rare find – they had consecutive serial numbers!
It was then discovered that he had found consecutive serial number rifles in the rack, sitting side by side. He had no idea of the significance of his find until the guy standing next to him at the counter offered him $1000 over his purchase price to buy them from him. He had serial numbers 5,xxx,282 and 5,xxx,283 in his hands. The entire store gasped. The rifles checked out as being produced in 3/55, and had 3/55 and 4/55 barrels. And they were packed with HRA parts, bolts, trigger groups, Springfield and HRA operating rods, excellent hard to find parts throughout. Of course, Bruce turned down the $1000 offer, finally realizing the remarkable treasure he’d found.
The amazing thing is that no one, customer or employee had run across these two rifles.
Apparently they came in different crates, on different manifests and different days and were not noted during the unpacking, verification and shelving process. Stan & I probably unpacked them, writing down the numbers, as quickly as possible to avoid Mike Conrad’s “You guys finished yet” since that was our job that week.
Anniston, Alabama. Open
Wednesday – Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
CST. Located at 3016 Red Morris Parkway, Anniston,
Camp Perry, Port Clinton,
Ohio. Open Wednesday – Saturday from 8:30 a.m.
– 4:00 p.m. EST. Located at Camp Perry, 1000 N.
Lawrence Road, Bldg 2500, Port Clinton, Ohio.
Customer Appreciation Day &
Open House at the North Store is on October 2,
2010!! Join us for free food and free giveaways!
Notorious members of the GCA, like Jim Adell and Gus, from Armalite, who are known to meticulously scour the racks for specific serial numbers and oddities, missed the find. I have been lucky enough to have Jim point out an especially historic rifle, he’d noted in his searches. (Thanks for the tip on the 0-66, Jim.) He’s Mr. Eagle Eye and a historian of renown, in his own right. So are Leon Rutherford, a CMP Anniston Armorer, and Bob, Frank, Jim, Steve and Joe, the store full-time employees. No one caught the coincidence of sequential serial numbers sitting side by side. If Mike Conrad, the store manager had found those rifles, they would have never hit the shelves but been pulled and put up for auction on the CMP auction site, as they should have been.
Consider the enormous odds that after 55 years, these two guns would again sit, side by side, on the same shelf, waiting for a new life and a new shooter. Reunited again after traveling all over the globe, in so many possible countries, bases, units and hands. Did I carry one in Marine Corps ITR at Camp Geiger? Did they serve together in military parades or in an Army unit, on a mountain, in Greece? Maybe they ate sand at 29 Palms or breathed salt air on a Caribbean cruise with the fleet? Were they returned from Denmark, Argentina or Germany? We will never know. What we do know is the CMP Store, Building 2500 is alive and still breathing. For the price of a single gun show M1, Bruce had picked up two pieces that could easily go for $4000 to $8000 in auctions. As long CMP has the guns to sell, the hidden treasures will be there, waiting for the right buyer, if he takes the time to look. To those who lament the poor selection in the racks, I say “Look closely”. To Mr. Folger, I say, “Buy a lottery ticket”. Get bold, buy two, you never know.