Page last updated at 14:18 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 15:18 UK

Korean war rifles sold back to US

US soldiers in front-line trench during Korean War. With rifle, left, PFC. Richard Pantoliano of Brooklyn, N.Y., and right, foreground, with carbine is PFC. Robert Curtis of Torrance, Calif. Other soldiers, background, are unidentified - 1 May 1951
These front-line soldiers were armed with M1 rifles and carbines

South Korea has come up with a novel way to boost its defence budget - by selling a vast stockpile of old Korean-war rifles to collectors in the US.

The guns were originally sent to Korea as military aid, and some were also used during the war in Vietnam.

For more than five decades, they have been kept mothballed in warehouses.

Most of those on offer are M1 rifles - a weapon once described by US General George S Patton as "the greatest battle-implement ever devised".

The rifles and carbines were originally sent by the Americans to help during the Korean war.

Since then they have occasionally glimpsed daylight, in training exercises for reserve forces, according to the BBC's correspondent in Seoul, John Sudworth.

But for the most part these weapons have been quietly gathering value as collector's items, our correspondent says.

A total of 86,000 M1 rifles will be sold, and another 22,000 carbines - although these have a more patchy reputation.

In the Korean war they had a reputation for jamming in extreme cold weather conditions, and complaints were recorded from US troops that they often failed to stop heavily clothed North Korean or Chinese soldiers at short range.

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