To say I was disappointed would be the understatement of the century. Minute of buffalo is one thing but ‘minute of barn door’ was rather taking the mickey. Everything was tightened up, checked, checked again, different ammunition was tried but no, this rifle was never going to satisfy my accuracy requirements. Eventually, it had to go.
A few years later, I was again the proud owner of another Mauser ‘98 based rifle, from a different UK gun maker. This was much better and in all other ways a wonderful rifle but there was still a slight tinge of disappointment that my factory rifles costing thousands less would run rings around it in terms of accuracy. My sporting nirvana still seemed a long way off…
Having now had numerous rifles built for me (unfortunately, not all with Mauser actions), I have reached a conclusion as to how I might one day be able to own my perfect rifle i.e. a reliable, bombproof ‘do everything’ hunting rifle that is both very accurate and built around some form of Mauser ’98 action. Before I go on, I should stress that I am not a gunsmith, nor even an engineering expert, just an enthusiast with a desire for the best things in life. Unfortunately, as my wife often remarks, such material ambitions often fail to dovetail with the available contents of my bank account but such mundane issues have no place here. I have no doubt that very accurate rifles can be built on original Mauser ’98 actions but I suspect the process is not straightforward. As I understand, it is much easier for a skilled gunsmith to ‘accurize’ a Remington action or similar, compared to an original Mauser action. However, this only leads to a rifle built, albeit very accurately, around a push feed action, the very antithesis of the qualities I demand in my rifles (see my Explora blog article entitled “In praise of the Mauser ’98” from August 2014 for my views on bolt action mechanisms for hunting rifles). Of course, top end makers such as Westley Richards can work wonders with original Mauser actions but I presume there is a lot of work involved to get them shooting right. The action needs a full blueprint and also benefits from being properly bedded into the stock, all tasks that are perfectly feasible but in my experience not always carried out to an appropriate standard by other gun makers. To my mind, the real answer would be to combine the time-honoured function and design of the legendary Mauser ’98 action with modern metallurgy and CAD design, CNC machining etc. Then we might finally achieve that sublime mix of perfect function under all conditions with the accuracy we have come to expect from modern factory rifles, such as those odd push me, pull you German jobs!
I know that such actions exist. Indeed, I know of at least one UK firm now making wonderful brand new Mauser ’98 actions using just such modern engineering techniques. I also know that similar engineering is being employed to make modern Mauser actions in Europe. As I said earlier, I am just an enthusiast and gun trade customer, so obviously not party to the components used at present in the construction of modern bolt rifles by the ‘best’ trade. However, I would be surprised if the likes of Westley Richards were not sourcing such modern engineering marvels for at least some of their fine bolt rifle commissions these days?
All I know is that as my piggy bank slowly fills up in preparation for my not too distant dream purchase, I have every confidence that when that great day at Pritchett Street arrives, ‘my rifle’ will show all the traditional skills of the gun makers art but with the unerring accuracy those of us sadly raised on plastic Fantastic rifles now demand.
Guest Post by David Hack.
Illustrations from our new gun catalogue available from our shows and shop.