**Feature Photo Via IMA USA (About IMA)**
Lately, I’ve been pushing more content concerning pre 1898 antiques (related to firearms) as well as some newer items. Well, I have received quite a bit of questions via email asking “Where did you get the Martini-Henry?” or “Where can I get something like that?”…I’d like to clear that up and also give my take (review) of a business that many might not know about. I hope to rectify that. Despite how many words you see below, this is actually a fairly brief overview.
What is IMA (International Military Antiques)?
IMA are purveyors of history and items of historical significance. Nay, they are actually a lot more than that. After getting into firearms, reloading, etc, I felt a void…I love new technology but it seems I have a penchant for old/antique arms with historical significance. I was searching all corners of the visible web and could not find any good deals on pre-1898 rifles. My search about specific rifles (IE: Snider Enfield, Martini-Henry, etc) led me to some discussion boards and finally IMA (IMA). From there, I found exactly what I was looking for and so much more that I had no idea even existed. Especially at the prices they offer them at. I am not a rich person and I’m actually not too well off at all BUT IMA is very reasonable and offers credit via Affirm. On top of that, you can purchase actual rifles, muskets, flintlocks, etc, for a great price and it makes it affordable for someone like me…the proverbial “Average Joe”.
Now, paying way less (maybe 3 to 4 or more times less than what you would normally pay for such great, original arms) does have a caveat; they are “untouched” and have a great deal of something similar to cosmoline on them. The preservative is lovingly called “Yak fat” as it is different. Also, I am not an expert but it seems there was a lot of brick dust or something that implanted itself in the stocks of the antiques; a product of their less-than-ideal storage conditions (more on that later). These untouched rifles are sent to you as IMA purchased them from a Royal palace in Nepal. Yes, an actual palace that was used for storage. It’s a pretty amazing story and I recommend you check out their website to get the full experience. Their “About IMA” page (the main photo from this article is from that page on their website) has a wealth of information and helps “bring home” how important their actions have been to preserve the historical significance of decades and centuries past.
Essentially, Christian Cranmer was founded in 1981 and has grown leaps and bounds since then; no doubt due to the “Nepal Cache” and him bringing on his son, Alex, to bring as much history to the masses as possible. Alex is the Vice President of IMA but from my experience, he is unlike most I have had the chance to deal with. It is evident from the concise, clear communications we have had that he is indeed well-educated as well as smart. Additionally, he has had the habit of actually responding to me in a short period of time…no matter the fact that I am nowhere near their top customers. While I aspire to be one day, economics currently prevents that from happening. What I am getting at, is that Alex seems to care so much about this business that he (and the outstanding people that work there) want customers to be happy, above all else. I have no doubt he is insanely busy but in this day and age, it is uncommon for a business this large to actually care about the “little guy”. Being totally frank, even though I am not of the means to buy all I want, IMA still cares about me and not just rich collectors. Maybe it is because they know people like you and I might be those “rich collectors” one day or maybe it is because Alex, his father and their employees (circa 12) are just damn good people. I think it is probably both but mostly because they are just stand-up folks. I’d also like to point out that their Customer Service team (email and phone) is outstanding! So kind, helpful and considerate.
What can you buy there?
From original historical Militaria in all shapes and sizes to recent reproductions of parts or pieces for collections, you can probably find something you’ll cherish and most likely want to hand down to your loved ones one day. They have a ridiculously large assortment (absolutely a good thing) of items dating back to the 1600’s. You can pick up original rifles (pre-1898 only) from between $225 *at the time of this writing* to well over $100,000. You can even buy some legitimately linked US Civil War rifles if you so desire. They obviously command a premium but for actual history, it is a steal. You can get original military machine guns (demilled/inert, of course) and so many other types of items, I simply cannot list them all. Overall, I think they provide a service as well as a purveyor of outstanding goods.
Can I get a discount (or did you)?
Absolutely!! I was able to get 5% off by joining their newsletter and so can you! Just head over there and you should be prompted to join. If you do, you’ll get a code. 5% may not sound like a lot but they really price their items to give you the most value possible so I am not sure they could discount much more than that. Additionally, 5% off of $500 is 25 bucks. Also, any order over $100 ships free in the USA. Something also interesting and of note: International orders are welcome and it seems like most items can be shipped anywhere. I would like to point out that they did not pay me or offer me a big discount to do a review on them. They actually didn’t ask me to do one. I broke my own protocol and actually asked them if I could do a piece on them. While it may appear that I am being overly kind, I am honestly relaying my experiences and if the results had been different, this article would have had a totally different tone.
What are the risks/drawbacks?
There are some risks when you buy an “untouched” rifle or item. You could very well get one that is missing a small piece or something of the sort. The good news is that IMA is exquisite with their descriptions and the photographs they put up are way worse than what I have seen people get. They set the bar low on purpose and do a great job flying high above it. The worst thing that I have had was a Gahendra Martini rifle that was missing the slide on the sight (and the top of the sight) but the description indicated this was very possible/probably I could get a rifle without one. Since I read the details, I made the choice that it was absolutely worth it. Additionally, you will have to put some “elbow grease” to work and also possibly fix a couple cracks or maybe even worm holes if you buy an earlier 1800’s musket but it is not bad. IMA will actually let you get your money back, provided it was not a parts gun, if you send it back before doing restorative work on it. You will have to pay shipping but it is nice to have that option/guarantee. I recommend contacting them first before doing that and ALWAYS give them a chance to try to fix a situation should you feel neglected (before posting on forums and such). They are more than fair and we should repay them in kind.
Something I also feel inclined to point out is that the weapons they sell are intended as “Wall hangers” or ones to be displayed. They recommend getting any you are hellbent on shooting to a gunsmith so it can be looked over and approved for firing. I agree with this 100%. While that is said, I’ve been able to fire my Martini-Henry, Gahendra and it looks like the Snider is coming along and will not have a permanent place on the wall.
IMA is a great company that seems to be run in a family-like atmosphere. They provide too many outstanding items to list here and make extraordinary items available to ordinary people. They also help perpetuate the remembrance of history and cultural significance of previous times. This is my favorite place to get rifles from…They also sell gift cards so feel free to send some my way!!!
Seriously, I think everyone should own a Martini-Henry, Snider or something similar. If you feel differently, that’s fine as that leaves more for me.
I’ve purchased a P-1864 Snider rifle from them. It’s a rifle that had its time (short) between muskets and centerfire rifles. There were muskets that had a conversion done to allow them to be breech loaded and fired via a cartridge and they are chambered in .577 (that is huge). They are also a hoot to shoot, from what I hear.