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.
Neill on April 15, 2016 at 3:18 pm
Great post, please can you tell me how much the catalogue costs including postage in the UK.
Simon Clode on April 15, 2016 at 5:51 pm
Send me the address and I will post you one happily Neill.
Chris a on April 16, 2016 at 11:38 am
Dear Mr. Simon Clode,
I like to order your new gun catalogue, please can you inform me about the procedure?
I live in Cyprus.
Simon Clode on April 16, 2016 at 12:01 pm
Just send me your address where you see the contact the explora button at top right and I will send you one.
Chris on April 17, 2016 at 2:43 am
Dear Mr. Simon Clode,
Thank you again for your kind answer and support.
Matthew Schmidt on April 16, 2016 at 6:15 pm
Great article, very well written.
Simon, address on the way for a catalogue.
Vojislav Bakic Bosanac on April 18, 2016 at 8:06 am
Dear Mr. Simon Clode,
I like to order your new gun catalogue, please can you inform me about the prices and postage costs...
Writing from Norway..
Thanks a lot...
Larry on April 18, 2016 at 8:36 am
Great article and I have experienced similar pains with rifles. Yes it's true I can have my Dakota rifle touch five rounds at 200 yards but it is quite boring in regards to how it looks! Though I must say with the synthetic stock and so forth I have dropped it down a mountain and it maintained its zero!
I think that precision and accuracy are sometimes used interchangeably, though in your case (of the first rifle) it sounds as though it was neither accurate nor precise!
I think the old Mauser actions, although engineering marvels in their time, are still quite sloppy in today's terms. Today the engineering and machining tolerances are razor thin and allow milled actions to have much more inherent consistency than the old M98 rifles. To maintain an excellent level of precision (I always assume the accuracy of the rifle can be adjusted using a scope or sights) one must be concerned about consistency. Ammo aside, what else can one look at? Does the bolt lock in the same exact way every time and face to the chamber in the same manner? Does the stock stress in the same way or is flex apparent between the metal and the wood? Is the barrel crowned in such a way that the bullet flies from it in the same way? And most importantly, does the shooter allow the rifle to recoil in the same manner every time? Naturally these are just the beginnings of what one can look at to improve the precision of a rifle!
This is why it's much easier to make a precision rifle using plastic and machining than it is to create one using wood and a file.
Wyatt Johnston on August 20, 2016 at 10:45 am
Beautiful work as always. I really like these attractive poster style advertisements. Creating versions for your double guns would look amazing as well. I would love to see an enlarged version of the first Stalking Rifle picture. However when I click on the image , it pulls up the Take Down Stalking Rifle picture instead. They seem to have been mixed up. If there is any way to correct this it would be appreciated. Thank you for keeping this blog updated and interesting. Its a joy to follow.
Simon Clode on August 20, 2016 at 10:56 am
I am not sure what is happening with that! I will try and get it fixed on Monday and if not will email you a larger version.
Wyatt Johnston on August 22, 2016 at 2:39 pm
Thanks you sir. I would appreciate that.