January 22, 2012:
After over two years of negotiations South Korea has finally received permission to export antique (over 50 years old) American military rifles back to the United States. South Korea has been given permission to sell 87,310 M1 Garand rifles to American collectors. The U.S. still refuses to allow South Korea to export 770,160 M1 Carbines to collectors in the United States. That's because the M1s can only hold eight .30 caliber (7.62mm) bullets while the carbines use a magazine (holding up to 30 rounds). The M1 Carbine can also be easily modified to fire automatically. While not outlawed in the United States M1 Carbine imports are usually banned.
All this export effort began three years ago. As South Korea upgraded its armed forces over the last two decades it has had to dispose of a lot of old equipment. But then it discovered that it had put into storage many World War II era rifles it had received from the United States during the 1950s. Some of these M-1 Garand rifles (the first semiautomatic rifle to enter wide service in any army) and M-1 Carbines (which fire a pistol class 7.62mm round) had only been used occasionally by reservists and even these troops have since been armed with more modern weapons.
In the normal course of events these old rifles would be melted down. Fortunately, someone in the South Korean Defense Ministry realized that M-1s sell for over a thousand dollars each on the collectors market. So those 87,000 M-1 were worth up to $100 million (or half that, if they are all dropped on the market at once). The M1 Carbines, which used to be sold cheap, have recently been going for nearly as much as the Garands. For once the South Koreans will be able to sell a used weapon at a huge profit (since they received them for free and have only had to pay for storage and maintenance since then).
Efforts continue to find export markets for the M1 Carbines. South Korea was the largest foreign user of the M1 Carbine, receiving 15.3 percent of the 6.5 million produced.