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  1. #1
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    Default Golden State Arms Corp. Pasadena Calif. Database!

    I'm not sure if this is the place to post this so moderators feel free to move if you have a more appropriate category in mind.

    I recently picked up a Santa Fe Model 1946 Mauser from Golden State Arms. After searching through the internet for the last month I cannot find much info on any of this company other than they sporterized military arms mostly Enfields, Mausers, and a few 1903's back in the 50's and 60's then cased to exist.

    My object here is to try and obtain a little bit of a database and get as much info as possible on the rifles that this company put out. For example...

    -Model Name and Date (if available)
    -Action type (Santa Barbra (no notch) or military k98)
    -Caliber
    -Number of Barrel Grooves
    -Serial # if you want (not a big deal for now)

    I know they were chambered into .30-06, .308 Win, .257 Roberts, .22-250 and a few others I'll add later.

    The Blue Book of firearms lists the following data about Golden State Arms:

    "Previous importer located in Pasadena, CA. Golden State Arms imported and subcontracted various firearms constructed by European and Japanese manufacturers - achieving private label status on some guns. Most firearms previously imported by Golden State Arms (including private labels) are not that collectible. In many cases, the shooting value will determine the price of a specimen. In some models or configurations which are currently desirable, however, premiums may exist."

    Golden State Arms Corp. went out of buisness sometime in 1966 or 1967.

    Here is Mine:
    - Santa Fe Model 1946 (newer addition of stock and trigger)
    - Mauser k98
    - Cal. unknow (getting checked as we speak)
    - 2 Groove Barrel!
    - SN: 161XX

    There is also a book called "World's guns and other weapons" by Golden State Arms Corporation, Pasadena.
    Published in 1958, Peterson Pub. Co. (Los Angeles) if anyone has this book I would like to know if there is any usefull information in there about their guns!

    I will be posting more information as I get it.

    Any additions or info would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Think their storefront was around until early 1990's. I bought a whole pile of 1888 clips for 10 cents each around that time.

  3. #3
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    Default Golden State Arms

    My dad took me and my brother to Golden State Arms first in 1955 or so and it was like going to a museum where everything was for sale. They had broomhandles set in the cement at the door. There were racks of every type military weapon you could imagine. Johnsons were $99.95, along with M1's, 3 grades of Lugers, Mauser M96's, etc. Not to mention German knives, uniforms, Japanese armor, lances, unbelievable! I have one of their catalogs (Guns of the World/Worlds' Guns), and can check for you re your request. One of the partners was Martin Retting, who later opened a smaller store in Los Angeles. I used to buy original Hi Power stocks there for $5.00 in the 60's. PM me if interested.
    Last edited by Ajack; 06-19-2009 at 08:05 PM.
    In my hour of darkness, Oh Lord give me vision, Oh Lord give me speed

  4. #4
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    Default Golden State Arms

    I went through my catalog and I'm afraid there is nothing there that would help you re your new acquisition. The catalog (World's Guns) is full of incredible offerings, G 41's (M) for $59.95, G 43's for $39.95, mint K98's at 49.95, Japanese snipers (with scope) 2 listed, one for 45.00, the other for $50.00, Webley Fosberys, Grade 1 $65.00, Grade 2 $35.00, and on and on. It was like no other gun store I have ever seen or heard of. They marketed a line of their own stuff, which I believe is what you have. They used to run ads in the local papers every week listing "specials". The catalog is almost 300 pages, gents, and it is all there, including many experimentals I have never seen or heard about elsewhere. Those were the days, although $30.00 was a lot of money back then.
    In my hour of darkness, Oh Lord give me vision, Oh Lord give me speed

  5. #5
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    I had a GSA Mauser 98 in .30-06, commercial receiver. Follow the link below to when i sold it, it has all the info you are looking for (and pictures), for your data base. The SN can be seen in one of the photos...

    http://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?t=43260

    DW

    p.s. i don't remember how many grooves the barrel had, i think 4 though
    Last edited by nevadany; 06-23-2009 at 04:52 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re GSA

    I also visited Golden State Arms (GSA) in Pasadena Ca, under circumstances eerily like Ajacks. There my father purchased an as issued SMLE Mk 4 rifle for me. The grand sum was $19.95 plus tax. Too many decades later, I still have the rifle which is parkerized (as it was purchased) but still looks about like new.
    Some months ago I came across an article about GSA in one of my old gun publications. Unfortunately, I neither recall well the details of the article or just where I found it. I believe that the firm dates from the nineteen forties. I do know that "Santa Fe" was a component unit of GSA that specialized in quantity remodeling of military rifles (and perhaps built/marketed others). In this process, they were apparently set up for providing some rather extensive production line work including action modifications, rebarreling and stocking when required. I also have a sporterized P17 Enfield that bears the Santa Fe name.
    I don't know when GSA passed into the sunset. But I believe there was another firm that subsequently used the same name. It was also California based and dealt in firearms. It is perhaps the firm referenced as being in business into the nineteen nineties. I doubt very much that the original GSA was around anywhere near that late. To review some of the original firm's offerings, one has only to locate one of the well known gun magazines of the nineteen fifties or sixties.
    I also have the firm's referenced 1958 publication in hardbound edition. One would expect an introductory statement there about GSA, but I can confirm that (strangely) there is no real mention of the firm itself. I would not characterize the publication as a catalog in the conventional sense. The guns displayed in it have a brief description, reflect prices and sometimes include grading. But it seems more of a price guide. (This conclusion despite one page on how to order guns from GSA). The photos accompanying the text may have been accumulated from weapons actually offered by the firm.
    I concur that it's interesting to view the pricing half a century ago. Yet it's also worth remembering that in most of the intervening years, Americans' percentage of disposable income has disproportionately increased. Thus, the present economic downturn aside, we are generally far better able to afford our 'toys' than purchasers in earlier eras!

  7. #7
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    About a year ago I saw an 03 or 03A3 (don't remember which), that was marked "Santa Fe" on the receiver.

    It was pretty sad looking. Full military dress, but nothing fit together like it should. Don't know if it left the factory that way, or someone after the fact did it.

    DW

  8. #8
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    GSA. A real neat place to visit. I was there a few times as a kid. Talk about a kid in a candy store!!

    Anyway I checked back in my files and found this Golden State Arms advertisement. It was on the back cover of a American Rifleman from the pre 1968 days. They mention info about Mauser actions so it may be of some use to you.

    Last edited by JIMMY C; 06-26-2009 at 02:53 AM.
    I never met a gun I didn't like!
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  9. #9
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    Default Centurion Model 123

    I have a rife that was my father's and am looking for some info.
    this is the info marked on the barrel Centurion Model 123 cal. 30-06, Golden State Arms Group Pasadena Cal., ser # 2-37001.
    This gun has been a mystery to me for about 5 years now.
    Any info would be appreciated.
    Thanks,Vicky

  10. #10
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    Default Golden State Arms

    Quote Originally Posted by iskra View Post
    I don't know when GSA passed into the sunset.
    When I signed my first paperwork for collecting I was at my first gun show, Mississippi Valley Gun & Cartridge collectors show in Aledo Ill. and saw PILES of Golden State Arms Red covered paper catalogs for $2.00 ea.

    The firm was long Tango/Uniform before this show in 1964.

    ONE of the causes of their death, from the Cummings' biography, where he deliberately made some LARGE purchases and scheduled certain sales that literally put them out'a business because GSA didnt have the financial resources to match or bet Cummings' deal.

    yodar.

  11. #11

    Default Golden State Arms

    I have a barreled action from the above that I purchased from Sarco back in the 60's (pre-GCA 68).It's an exact copy of the commercial FN action, solid left sidewall, no clip guide or charger hump. Serial # N2040 cal. 280 Rem., 24" bbl with NP (British) proof and Golden State Arms Pasadena, Calif. stamped on the bottom side of the bbl. Has the typical altered military bolt handle and came with the alloy FN type trigger guard and hinged floorplate. Trigger was a altered to single stage military trigger. Military bolt sleeve with cheap cast low right side wing safety that was broken off. No "Spain" stampings on action or TG. Extremely accurate and replaced parts to make a nice sporter.

    There is written info in a Gun Digest Book "Bolt Action Rifles by Frank DeHaas about GSA/Centurion Arms and there is an article in the Rifle magazine back in the 70's I think by the head gunsmith @GSA in reference to the hardness of these new receivers that were made in Spain. Some of the receivers had a purpleish hue to them and they may have been overhardened. Thats about all I can remember about them, it almost 50yrs ago. Still have the 280 and its in a completely finished and checkered Bishop stock I also got from Sarco for $29 or $39 back then. If I find anymore info, I'll pass it on.
    Bob

  12. #12
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    I've just recently purchased a Golden State rifle P17. It's a well done sporter. Golden State Arms Corporation 1946 rollmarked on the L side of the barrel. It's chambered for '06. Barrel, after cleaning, is bright with rifling in good condition. Nice piece of wood for the stock. The "ears" for the rear sight have been milled off and the sight removed. Very nice trigger. At one point it had a Williams or Lyman sight mounted on it as the holes on the R side of the bridge for one are there. Someone mounted a set of tipoff mounts on the ring & bridge. It was poorly done. Not only were they not square, but it looks like the bit wandered on the bridge, leaving a serpentine gouge across it. More than likely someone did it at home without the benefit of a jig. I've had a Picatinny rail installed and mounted a scope on it. It shoots well. Better than I expected. I think I'll refinish the stock and hunt with it next year.

    Thanks to those who posted here and giving a bit of the history of GSAC. Too bad they went under. The product I have in my hands makes me wish they were still around.

  13. #13
    Wapruf2's Avatar
    Wapruf2 is offline Diamond Member with Oak Leaves and Swords
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    I think Golden State also offered G/K43s in U.S. cal..30 in sporter stocks..

  14. #14
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    I was there in late 80's (I think) and it was still going strong. I bought a whole ammo case of 1888 mauser comm. clips for $5. I aways thought there was some connection to FEDORD in el monte but unsure. I do know if GSA concersions have become collectible its amazing.

  15. #15
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    I knew a German arms collector whom used to work @ GSA back in the 1960s. His name was Warren Odegarde, whom unfortunately passed on around 2005. He had an outstanding collection; much of it obtained while he worked there. He shared a few of his experiences with me such as existing on a diet of peanut butter sandwiches or a can of beans in order to save up enough pay to buy his next rifle. Another tale was after receiving a large shipment of Mausers from Europe, he made the attempt to match up serials of bolts with rifles, since they were received separated from each other. When he finally got questioned as to what he was doing, his boss said not to waste time and just shove bolts into the guns and get them in the racks! He also stated sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s a large number of rifles were stored in a waterfront warehouse in Belgium awaiting shipment to the US. Bolts were separated from the rifles because the tariffs on import were cheaper if "parts" were imported as opposed to a complete rifle, but I think he also said there were legal requirements to do it this way as well. Subsequently a large fire broke out, burning down the warehouse containing the bolts, and most of it collapsed into the ocean.
    GSA imported what remained, and sought to acquire bolts from around the country, in order to complete the weapons. This is partially why some Kar98ks are found with Imperial Kar98, Vz24, and other Mauser rifle bolts. Lastly, I asked him where all that stuff went, because it was never plentiful in Southern California. He said the majority of their arms were shipped to the east, northeast, & midwest. He recalled one local shop buying a large number of G33/40 carbines, and then visiting the shop a few months later, only to see all the stocks & fittings filling up their trash bin in the alley behind the store. When he asked why this was, the response was the G33/40 action was very desirable as the basis for a custom, lightweight sporter, and no one cared a whit for the rifles as issued, so they dumped the useless military fittings. Blasphemy today, but common practice back then. Regarding FedOrd, I knew Jack Karns, and know he knew Warren Odegarde. I believe GSA was out of business before FedOrd existed. I have my own memories of their occasional backlot sales... like the time I went thru dozens of USGI .50cal ammo cans filled with G/K43 magazines @ $10.00 a pop. Then there was the time a friend bought about 5,000 German WWII rubber rifle muzzle covers from FedOrd for a penny each (true story). Them was the days....
    Last edited by pwcosol; 11-23-2011 at 05:58 PM.

  16. #16
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    as a junior in high school through sophomore year at PCC and full time between high school and PCC, I was lucky enough to work for the Pasadena Gun Shop/Golden State Arms. Was there when Martin Retting moved his stock from Culver City. Latter when Martin moved back out I would drive to Culver City and worked there for a while. Those where the days. Jim

  17. #17
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    boy do I remember, center spread in the NRA mag every month. I sat on the floor of the warehouse a put together 22 derringers. You'll almost never find matching numbers, we got tired of trying to sort out the parts by number. Jim

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    I may have sold it to you, worked there from 55 to about 61.

  19. #19
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    In 55 we where still in the store on Colorado Blvd. the operation moved to Green and Orange Grove in 56 or 57.

  20. #20
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    I bought my first Spanish Civil War 91/30 out of GSA by mail-order in 54, the depot agent called me. And said come & get this Commie gun out of my office.

  21. #21
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    this is where the JFK gun came from.

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    Those were the days. AGB-1

  23. #23
    fredh is offline Platinum Bullet Member with clusters
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelticjim View Post
    this is where the JFK gun came from.
    I seem to remember newspaper reports at the time saying the rifle had been ordered from a Chicago store. I can remember their ads in S.N., etc., but cannot pull up the name. Was it Klein's? Somebody here will remember it though. So, did it come from GSA or Chicago?

  24. #24
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    Kleins

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't they the same folks who modified early Enfield's to look like No. 5 Jungle carbines. Their copies were really well done. I have one tucked away in one of my safes.
    Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon. But if they mean to have a war, let it begin here! John Parker at Lexington.

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    could have been wholesaled to any number of dealers, but I believe GSA was the prime importer.

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