Most firearms enthusiasts familiar with the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) associate the organization with its rifles. Over the years, collectors and military firearms historians by the thousands have utilized the CMP as a primary source for military surplus and collectable items.
Those searching for more valuable, select items, are learning they be found online – where they are sold to the highest bidder.
Since 2009, The CMP Online Auction Site features exclusive, high-end items sold solely through program’s website. From this past October to mid-November alone, the site realized nearly $400,000 in sales revenue – serving as one of the main sources of income for the organization.
Because the items are auctioned “as-is,” rifles or parts sometimes contain grease or their original packaging foil – making them unlike any of the items sold in the CMP stores. Garands, carbines, bayonets, scopes and even small rifle parts are put to auction and sold to the most persistent bidder.
The CMP is a federally chartered 501(c)(3) corporation that places its highest priority on serving youth through gun safety and marksmanship activities that encourage personal growth and build life skills.
“You’ll get rare stuff – stuff you can’t get anywhere else,” said Josh White, one of the CMP employees within the Auction Room. “The pictures we take are what tell the story. You have to look at the pictures to see what you’re getting.”
Sometimes, out-of-the-ordinary items come to the auction room–like Army Marksmanship Unit 300 meter rifles, Marine Corps Sniper Rifles, paratrooper Carbines and proto-type rifles. Some are accompanied by fascinating histories, such as an item currently being readied for auction: an XM3 that includes a log book of all of the recorded “confirmed kills” the marksman made with the rifle. Besides the rarity of the logbook, the rifle is also one of only 54 ever made–making it even more attractive for gun collectors.
Another rifle similar to the XM3 came with a letter from the Marine who used the rifle in combat. In the letter, the Marine described how a suicide bomber blew up a vest filled with ball bearings. The Marine said that the rifle, which helped shield him from the ball bearings, saved his life.
About 30 different auction items are listed online weekly. Rifle conditions vary from service grade (decent, imperfect quality) to collector grade (the most pristine quality).