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Mausers And More
Subject: Mausers and More

Posted By: ML - Registered User

Posts: 191

Posted At: (11/14/01 5:32 pm)

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Surplus Mauser and other Rifles

Mr. Roberts again brings up some interesting questions. Allow me to voice some (hopefully) interesting opinions. Let me first expound a little on the background of these particular surplus rifles, and then address the questions directly.

* * * * *

Less than two months ago, I was privileged enough to spent a most pleasant afternoon at one of my holy grails, the Mauserfabrik museum in Oberndorf am Neckar, Germany. The museum itself is housed in the very building the Mauser brothers erected to fulfil their 1894 contract with the Swedes to produce 6.5mm M1896 rifles.

Mauserfabrik has produced and designed a number of rifles since 1871. The most famous is probably the Gew 98 series (Gewehr Model 1898, "Gewehr" being the German word for "rifle"). These are also sometimes called "large-ring" Mausers. In 1935, the design was modernized (new rear sight, shorter barrel, turned-down bolt handle). That model is properly known as the Kar 98k (for Karabiner Model 1898 kurz), and this model was the standard-issue infantry arm of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War.

After the War, Mauserfabrik was (for a time) disbanded, and the Yugoslavians produced a variant of the Kar 98k on Mauser tooling, differing in only minor details (the top handguard and the bolt handle). These, like the G98 and Kar 98k, were chambered in 7.92x57 JS Mauser cartridge, in this country more commonly known as the 8mm Mauser. This is roughly the Continental equivalent of our .30-’06 Springfield.

The Yugoslavian rifles were designated M48 and M48A. (The "A" variant uses a one-piece stamped floorplate and triggerguard. Personally, I prefer the milled-floorplate M48 model.)

Mauser 98-series rifles are the high-water mark in military bolt-action rifle design, in both their detail and craftsmanship. The youngest are also more than 50 years old at this point (the oldest more than 100 years old), and some of them have been through two wars. More than 12 million of them were produced, and the variation in condition is staggering.

I have a Yugo M48, purchased only a couple of years ago, and bought in virtually unfired condition for $250 or so. Compared to my German-issue Kar 98k, the stock is clumsy and clublike, and made out of an unknown wood resembling teak. Metalwork, though, is on par with most of the German wartime production. The price included an accessory package consisting of a bayonet, ammunition pouches, sling, and cleaning equipment.

The Turkish Mauser Rifles of which you speak are (fundamentally) a Gew 98 with differing sights and bolt release. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend them highly, as every specimen I have observed has seen hard service and is of substandard quality.

There are many other Mauser rifles out there as well. In the past, I’ve written of my M96 and M38 Swedish 6.5mm Mausers. So-called "Small Ring" M1893 rifles in 7x57 Mauser are also often encountered, as well as a few of the earlier M88 or even M71 and M71/84 Mausers. For reference, an M71 is roughly the equivalent of our Trapdoor Springfield single-shot of the George Armstrong Custer era.

* * * * *

The Russian Mosin-Nagant rifle, more correctly the M1891, was developed in Imperial Russia by Colonel S. I. Mosin, while the rifle’s magazine was engineered by the Belgian Nagant brothers. Like the Gew 98 in Germany, it was the standard Russian battle rifle for both world wars. And, like the Gew 98 and Kar 98k, the Mosin-Nagant was shortened between the wars, resulting in the M1891/30 and M1944.

All Mosin-Nagants were chambered for the 7.62x54R cartridge, the standard infantry cartridge of the period. Unlike the 8mm Mauser, it is a rimmed cartridge.

I have to say, while the Mosin-Nagants are historically interesting, in all their variations I believe them to be not as desirable as the Mauser 98 family.

* * * * *

Now, taking your questions in order.


"Are they [the Turkish Mauser, the Russian Mosin-Nagant, and the Yugoslavian M48] worth buying as a cheap hunting rifle?"

Well, probably none of them will return the accuracy of a modern commercially made American rifle. They will all be heavier. All have inferior sights. And all are limited in caliber choice to either 8mm Mauser (the two Mauser designs) or 7.62x54R (the Mosin-Nagant). All of them are inexpensive, though. For a functional piece, you could probably get more bang for your buck by purchasing a used American-made bolt-action rifle with a telescopic sight. Still, they are all chambered for a major-caliber cartridge, and it is the bullet which gets the job done, not the rifle launching it. Bottom line: for hunting, an acceptable choice, but only acceptable. You can "plink" with anything, but probably a good .22 will teach you more.


"Is the 8mm cartridge going to be hard to find soon?"

Not likely. All of the major American ammunition manufacturers produce this cartridge at present, and plenty of surplus ammunition is still being imported. With 12-million-plus copies of these rifles in circulation, only the 7.62x39 Soviet Kalashnikov round and our own 5.56x45 NATO (the .223 Remington) has a bigger worldwide potential for consumption.


"What are the differences between the Mausers?

I believe I’ve covered this.


"Can they (the Mausers) be used with modern ammo?"

Yes, generally, providing they are in sound condition. Most commercial 8x57 in this country is only loaded to 37,000 psi, well-below the maximum a good Mauser 98 can handle. Condition is everything, though.


[The Mausers v. the Mosin-Nagants]

In every way, the Mausers are superior designs when compared to the Mosin-Nagants. But that is only the design. Condition is, again, everything with these old firearms. I will say that it is probably much easier to get a good Finnish Mosin-Nagant than a good Turkish Mauser. Of the three rifles you mention, the "unissued-quality" Yugo M48 would be my choice.


"What are the differences between the Finnish [M39] and Russian Rifles? Quality?"

Yes. Of the many rifles I have observed, the Finnish rifles have always been superior. They vary in details of sling attachment, stocking, sights, and barrel length. The Russian rifles are offered in a greater variety of lengths.


"Is it worth playing with these, or [should I] just forget about it and buy a modern Remington 700?"

These old rifles are a good deal of fun, and they have a depth of history few modern rifles can touch. Still, for value and function, the engine of the modern American economy produces a product that is almost impossible to beat. Virtually every American commercial rifle produced in the last two decades comes ready for a telescopic sight right out of the box. With a modern rifle, you will have a much greater choice of cartridge choice. A modern rifle will be lighter. Buying a used rifle, perhaps already fit with a telescopic sight, will add to the value. For new rifle value, please look at a Remington 710 or a Savage "package" if you’re really strapped. Personally, I’d start putting my money away, and buy a rifle I was really happy with rather than one which was only a bargain.

A final thought--if you liked your M1903 Springfield, why not find another? I’ve got four, two original and two sporterized. You get the history and character of an older gun, the power of the .30-’06 Springfield, and a rifle that is competitively accurate and capable with a more modern piece.

Enjoy your shooting,



Of all the things I've lost, I think I miss my mind the most.

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