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GUNS Magazine July 2012 Digital Edition - Page 20

STORY: Mike “Duke” Venturino PHOTOS: Yvonne Venturino Before Paul Mauser hit upon a staggered arrangement for cartridges in an internal box magazine, he made rifles with cartridges in a single stack, which necessitated the magazine under the rifle. Mauser MiLitary boLt aCtions ’ve had a revelation: I have become a great fan of Mauser military bolt-action rifles. At a recent gun show, I had a few spare bucks in my pocket upon spotting a Brazilian Model 1908 7x57mm. That is a Mauser Model 1898 made by DWM in Berlin sometime between 1908 and 1914. Bore was nigh on perfect, despite some small blemishes on exterior metal with about a zillion small handling dents in the walnut stock. Importantly, it had not been “messed with.” That is to say it was the same as issued to some soldier nearly 100 years ago. Its price was a measly $300 and I couldn’t resist it. Therefore, it became the ninth Mauser military bolt action in my vault. Along with it are three German K98ks, one each Czech VZ24 and G33/40, Swedish Models 1896 and Instead of just a ratty old military rifle, Duke sees Mausers, such as this Brazilian Model 1908, as examples of fine craftsmanship. I Another fascinating group of arms to study. 41b (sniper version) and a Yugoslavianmade Model 48. All are 8x57mm, except the two Swedish 6.5mm rifles and now the Brazilian 7mm. Besides modest prices, why have I become enamored of these old rifles? One reason is because of their fantastic manufacturing quality, especially those made in Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Argentina and (then-named) Czechoslovakia. When made in peacetime, military Mausers have fit and finish better than factorymade sporting rifles today—in my opinion. Their barrels, even if a bit dark in the grooves, can still deliver bullets with fine precision. And get this: They are one of the most historically significant rifles (and carbines) of the period of 1890 to 1950. It was the performance of the Mauser 7mm in the SpanishAmerican War of 1898 that caused the US Army to develop its Model 1903 “Springfield,” which was simply a knockoff of Paul Mauser’s Model 1898. So much a knockoff, in fact, the US Government had to pay Mr. Mauser a sum for infringing on his patents. And it was primarily with a wide variety of military Mauser bolt actions scrounged from around the world that the Israelis in 1948 fought off several Arab nations to secure their independence. Exact figures don’t exist, but in the book Military Mausers of the World Third Edition, author Robert W.D. Bell estimates that about 102 million were made worldwide. For some years, virtually every country south of the Rio Grande River armed their armies with one or another version of Mauser military bolt-action rifles. Most were chambered either for 7x57mm or 7.65x53mm. In the many South American wars of the early 20th century, it sometimes occurred that both sides were fighting with identical rifles. Towards the end of their reign, 20 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • J U LY 2 0 1 2

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