The History of Mauser
The name Mauser is one of the oldest names in firearms. Founded in Oberndorf, Germany, in 1874 as Königliche Waffen Schmieden, the company was an effort started by the Mauser brothers, Peter and Wilhelm, several years earlier when they designed and produced rifles for the Prussian military.
From the end of World War II through the late 1990s, many thousands of Mauser rifles hit American shores via the surplus market. While many were preserved in their original military configuration, a great number were sporterized for hunting and target shooting.
The action made for an economical sporting rifle build when compared to sporting rifles built by Remington, Winchester, and Savage. Typically, the barrel was replaced and the stock either modified or changed out to what is known as a sporter stock. These rifles were popular and chief alternatives to newly manufactured domestic made hunting rifles.
The older sporterized rifles were often converted and housed in stocks of questionable origin. While there are many that reflect master craftsmanship with regard to caliber conversions, trigger work and handmade stocks; the majority were put into the cheapest stocks that could be found or had the original military stocks cut and altered.
Photo Source: Paul Mauser Archive
Popular Mauser Designs
Mauser’s most famous and influential design was the Model 1898. Not only was it one of the most widely distributed military bolt-action rifles in history, but it has influenced the designs of many modern bolt-action rifles over 100 years later. They also manufactured, or had manufactured under license, tens of thousands of what are known as small ring Mausers such as the 91, 93, 94, 95 and 96 models. These rifles were produced in countries such as Spain, Argentina, Sweden, Chile, Turkey, Persia (modern day Iran), and a few others.
Considered by many firearm aficionados to be the ultimate bolt-action rifle, the 98K was used by the Germans during World War II. The action is strong enough to handle belted Magnum cartridges such as the 458 Winchester Magnum. This made them an ideal candidate for sporting rifle conversions.
Based on the 98K design, the VZ24 was designed and produced in Czechoslovakia from 1924 to 1942. It has small differences such as the handguard and sights and a straight bolt handle as opposed to the turned down version found on the 98K. Their lower price made them desirable for the art of sporterizing.
Mauser 1891 Argentino
Perhaps one of the most graceful looking Mauser rifles of all time, the 1891 Argentino sports fine roll marks and national crests on the barrel and receiver. Many of these were ground off as the rifles often switched sides by partisans and invading armies in South America and the loss of these markings lead to their devaluation and potential collect-ability and thus, their potential for sporter conversions.
Swedish Mausers are a small ring Mauser that have an interesting history with some of the rifles being manufactured in Germany and the rest manufactured in Sweden. Of note is that the German-made rifles were constructed from high grade tool steel with elements of nickel, copper, and vanadium in the alloy. This material was supplied by Sweden to build the rifles to their own specifications.
M1903 Turkish Mauser
One of the cheapest Mauser rifles to be had from the surplus market is the Turkish Model of 1903. Based on the 98 Action, these rifles were chambered in 7.65x53mm, which is very similar to 308 Winchester.
Upgrading your Mauser Stocks
With a proper trigger and a good hardwood stock from Boyds
, many of the Mauser rifles can be given new life as a hunting or target rifle. The same can be said of older sporter conversions that may have been stuck in a cheap synthetic stock or one of wood that is showing its age. A Boyds custom hardwood stock will improve the look, feel, and accuracy of virtually any rifle, particularly these old Mausers that may clutter the used section of your local gun shop.
Boyds offers large ring Mauser actions for the 98K, VZ24, and Turkish Mausers as well as small ring Mauser stocks
for the other models made before 1898. A special design was implemented for the 1891 Argentino due to its unique characteristics.
There are 15 available configurations for the 98 Action—a dozen or so for the small ring and 8 for the 1891 Argentino rifle
. Available in a variety of finishes
, these custom hardwood stocks will allow you to breathe new life into your old Mauser.