Friday, January 23, 2009

Another day at the range

Since I had a new ammo recipe to test out and the weather was halfway decent, I took to the range this morning with my trusty Israeli Mauser. Now this one has an interesting history to it.Originally manufactured as an 8mm rifle in 1935 at the Mauserwerke factory in Germany, this rifle undoubtedly saw service with Hitler's forces during World War Two. Eventually it almost certainly wound up in one of the large munitions dumps created at the war's end to store and eventually dispose of the large numbers of weapons left over. From that store, it was apparently transferred to the new Jewish state, Israel, and the Israelis eventually re-built it, refinishing it, replacing it's stock, removing the Nazi markings, and re-barreling and re-chambering it for the newer 7.62mm NATO standard cartridge.

As shown here, the receiver shows the original German manufacturing code "S/42 G" below the Israeli "7.62" stamp which indicates that it now fires the new cartridge. The rifle them soldiered on for an indeterminate period of time before it somehow wound up in the hands of a Virginia collector, and, following his death and the liquidation of his impressive collection, it became mine. This one, unlike most Israeli Mausers found today, is in pristine shape. Most of the ones that you find these days are beat to hell and past as they were sold again by Israel to a couple of South American countries and badly neglected in that humid environment before eventually coming up here for sale. But this rifle bears no importer's stamps, suggesting that it came here before the Gun Control Act of 1968 barred such imports. Guns brought in since that onerous act was modified must, by law, bear a stamp indicating which form imported it. Guns without such marks--like this one--are much less common and consequently bring a premium today.

Considering it's age and years of service, this one looks great and shoots as good as it looks. I mainly use it for testing 7.62mm ammunition when I work up new ammo loads because it's both sturdy and accurate enough to allow me to properly evaluate the new rounds.

In this case, it put every round onto a standard paper plate at 200M from a seated offhand position, allowing me to give the new rounds a stamp of approval. That done, I spent the next hour just enjoying the rifle. There's just something about an old wood-stocked .30 rifle that makes them so much most satisfying to shoot than, say, a plastic .223. Maybe it's that deep report, or the hearty thump of the buttplate against my shoulder, but I really enjoy the older rifles. And as far as this one goes, it's history only adds to the enjoyment. Once again, I wish that rifles could talk, because I'm sure that this one would have some interesting stories. As I sight it on the 200M targets, I can't help but wondering how many times there was an opposing soldier framed in it's sights like the plates are today. I'll never know, of course, but that doesn't stop me from wondering as I contemplate the mix of German and Israeli proofmarks on the receiver.
And of course the irony of a rifle that was built for use by the forces of a madman as part of his plan to take over Europe and wipe out the Jews finally ending up in the hands of those Jews and being used by them to safeguard the new Jewish state never ceases to amuse me.

Edited to add: You want more irony? I go to put this rifle back in the gun room and as I do, I look out the window and see six deer in the yard just outside. The herd is back! I'm holding a rifle not twenty feet and a pane of glass away, but all I can do is set this rifle aside and take their picture.


  1. Anonymous3:27 AM

    the history of that rifle is much more likely to be bland than as exciting as you might think, considering the condition it is in.
    probably was in a reserve.

  2. Possibly...or not. No one knows, unless perhaps you saw it before it was reconditioned or can even us tell how many times it was rebuilt and when? I do know that the Israeli armorers did not typically do a complete refinish and rebuild on the Mausers in their inventory unless the guns needed it. Just look at the number of Israeli Mausers out there that are still unrefinished from their days in German service.

    And speaking of German service, I'm not aware of the Germans (it's first owners) having much of a Reserve Corps. In short, between the two countries, the odds of this rifle having been somewhere and done something are probably greater than the odds of it just sitting in some locker for half a century.

    This particular rifle may well have done nothing between 1935 and 1968. But then it may well have done a lot. We'll never know, will we?

  3. That machine is in amazing shape. The Israil 7.62mm imports over the years have tended to look like they soaked in the Atlantic Ocean and then got dragged behind a snowmobile for a while.

    Nice rifle.

  4. Thanks, LN.

    It shoots great, too. Holds minute-of-pie-plate at 200M off-hand and that's really all I can ask of any of the old bolt-actions in the gun room.

  5. Nice looking rifle. Mine is in pretty good shape too. I have the Israeli K98, a post war Czech K98, and one of those Russian capture guns that flooded the market a few years ago. The Mauser is one of my favorites and I've collected all the 8mm versions I could find. Never got into the 7mm guns.

    1. I'm like you--I love the 8mm Mausers and think that they're probably the pinnacle of bolt rifle development. But I have come to appreciate the 7mm too since I picked one up--flat-shooting, low recoil, accurate and effective across a wide range of bullet weights. Try one sometime. You'll like it.