Monday, November 1, 2010

Your hosts

Here's a photo of JayPee and Gary. JayPee is holding his prize Whitworth Mauser in 6.5, that he did the custom stock on. Gary is holding his Browning 1895 in 30-06.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"The Difficulties Of Identifying Sporterized Mauser Rifles" by JP

Recently a gentleman on one of the gun forums asked how he could identify the origins of a sporterized Mauser rifle he had obtained. It was a short barreled 7x57mm rifle without any markings except for a Mark number on the bolt body. Unfortunately I had to tell him that identifying these home-grown sporters can be just about impossible in many cases. Here's what I told him, and I hope the information will be helpful to anyone else trying to identify one of these rifles.

"In my experience your rifle could be just about anything. I was around and participated in the prolific hobby of converting military Mausers to sporters, having done it at least a dozen times myself to at least six models of military-issue Mausers from 1967 to 1995."

"There were so many hobbyist modifications to them that it is hard to say just which model you might have......some owners actually buffed away markings deliberately. The short Mannlicher style carbines were usually 1909 Argentine Mausers, but they were chambered for the 7.65 Argentine/Belgian cartridge, not the 7X57. However, 7x57 carbine barrels were available through surplus parts houses in this country as late as the 90's." (I was clumsily trying to explain that his rifle could have been rebarrelled to its present caliber. JP)

"There were a large number of European Mausers after WWII that were quietly provided to Israel and other middle eastern countries that had all markings removed in order to conceal their national origin, but these were usually 8mm's, not 7X57's (often rebarrelled to 7.62 Nato). Many of them were Yugoslavian, but I have heard of others as well. The MK II makes me suspicious that yours may have been one of these rifles, or one of their bolts at least, although I only know of this being done to M98's, not the earler models. If there are any proof marks left on the metal anywhere, they may be your only means of identification, and then only of the part the proof mark appears on, for reasons explained below."

"The other variable at work here that throws a huge monkey wrench into identifying sporterized Mausers is that they may not have the original bolts or barrels in them - a huge number of imports into this country were Model 93's, 95's, Mexican, and Brazilian 1908's, all in 7X57 and without matching bolts, and some of the cheapo mass sellers threw together their own permutations out of surplus parts, which was also done by gunsmiths. Parts guns abounded because of the standardization of Mauser parts made in any number of countries, and Johnny Cash Cadillacs were not uncommon at all. (Refers to a song in which Cash stole parts from the Cadillac factory he worked in for years, and when he finished his Caddy, it had parts from twenty different Cadillac years and models in it.)"

"For several decades in this country, brand new 7x57, 8x57, and 7.62 Nato Mauser barrels were available in the white for as little as $25 and a goodly percentage of them were carbine barrels. I personally rebarrelled an M1909 7.65 Argentine rifle with a brand new 24 inch 8X57 military barrel in 1995, which would completely throw off anyone trying to identify the origin of the rifle. i.e., Argentine Mausers were not made in 8x57mm. As I implied earlier, tons of new parts were still available in the 90's, and the seller or the previous owner could have switched any part in the rifle that suited their fancy. Refer to Mr. Cash's Caddy again."

"All of this makes having your rifle's headspace checked before firing or spending any money on the gun a very good idea. Replaced bolts were sometimes known to have headspace issues. I'm sorry for this hodge-podge of information, but this is how a zillion sporterized Mausers came into being and trying to identify their origins once sporterized is anyone's guess. Best of luck in your quest."


The original Mauser parts storm that hit this country occurred in the fities and sixties when the world's armies began to reequip with more modern weapons systems. So they sold off all of their Mauser rifles and parts, which were then available to hobbyists for decades. To further complicate matters, in later years the former Warsaw Pact nations released captured and indigenous Mauser bolts, bolt parts, receivers, magazine assemblies and other parts in shipload quantities, with and without identifying marks. And guys like me had no qualms about trying to build decent sporters out of them. These facts form the basis for the answer I gave the gentleman above.

Naturally, some sporterized Mausers were made from rifles retaining all their original parts, but I would guess that ten times that amount were not. During the heyday of this hobby, from the fifties through the eighties, huge quantities of Mauser rifles were imported into this country with mismatched bolts. Sellers were quick to say that the headspace of these rifles had been checked and found to be within factory specifications, but this was not always true. Thus my admonition to the gentleman to have his rifle's headspace checked. Mismatched bolts were so common that distributors usually charged a premium for a Mauser with the original bolt in it, and this is still commonly used as a reason for charging a premium price for a military surplus rifle.

Part of the appeal of the homemade Mauser sporters was the recreational aspect of doing the work yourself. But not all gun owners are mechanically inclined, and more than a few got in over their heads. In some cases these well-meaning fellows either damaged their rifles or compromised their safety. Home-grown trigger jobs and do-it-yourself installation of aftermarket triggers and safeties were quite common, (and quite commonly botched,) and some of this work rendered these rifles unsafe. So a wise buyer of one of these sporters should certainly have it professionally inspected for correct functioning of the trigger and safety.

Determining if a sporterized rifle's bolt is the original bolt can be nearly impossible. Most Mausers had the serial number on the bolt stamped into the bolt handle, which was often cut off and replaced with a handle suitable for use with a scope. This makes identification of a bolt possible only through analysis of any proof marks left on it, and sadly, even this analysis may only give one the nation of the part's origin and nothing else.

I doubt that he knew it at the time, but Johnny Cash gave us the most honest analysis of this subject possible when he recorded his Cadillac song. The song says it all on the subject of how so many of those sporterized Mausers came into being. Best wishes to all.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"A Sweetheart Little .22 Pistol" by JayPee

This is the Smith and Wesson Model 34 my wife bought me for a wedding present in 1972. I took it out for a spin recently and just wanted to show it off a little bit. It's all original, although it came with small grips and I had to pay extra for the target grips. In the past 38 years it has proven itself to be the most uncannily accurate small pistol I've ever seen and has sent its share of western jackrabbits off to jackrabbit Valhalla, or wherever jackrabbits go. Some friends and I got into a 75 yard shootout for lunch stakes one time and this little pistol kept ten shots in the "bottle"of an NRA B-27 target and beat out several Glocks, Berettas, and Sigs. Best free lunch I ever had!! Here she is. Wish I had a dozen of them.

(The 1972 wife is still in mighty nice shape too, in case yer wonderin'. )


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"The Legendary Elmer Keith on the Mark V" by Gary7

The following article by Elmer Keith is from his column in the July 1959 issue of GUNS magazine. It is Keith's review of the then new Weatherby Mark V rifle.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"A Kid's .22: 54 years later" by JayPee

Here's the story of the .22 rifle I've now had for 54 years. I hope you enjoy it.

This is the Remington Model 511 Scoremaster my dad bought for me in the Spring of 1956 at the Montgomery Ward store in Ventura, California. It has a bit of history with it -- shortly after buying it for me, my dad loaned it to an uncle who managed a citrus ranch. The uncle was a bit of a shade tree gunsmith who proceeded to file the trigger sear, which gave the rifle a totally unsafe trigger pull and ruined the safety. In fact we had an accidental discharge into the back floorboard of an uncle's 54 Chevy one night when I released the safety while spotlighting jackrabbits.

To add insult to injury my dad stashed it under his house for the three years I was in the Army, which ruined the bluing and the stock finish outright. When I returned in 1964 I was so sick about it I just put it in a closet and tried to forget about it. Six years later, in 1970. I was trying to decide whether to keep it or junk it and took it up to the local range with a pocketful of every type of ammo I had accumulated in my kidhood. I test fired it, bad trigger and all, from a picnic bench off of a folded up blanket and It put 15 rounds into a nickel-size group at 25 yards with a fogged-up three dollar .22 scope on it, and boy I was royally hooked.

A gunsmith buddy sent off and got me a new trigger and safety for the outrageous sum of $2.85, then put a beautiful blue-black blue job on it for $10. I added a pachmayr recoil pad for extra length, did a Tru-Oil finish job on the stock, then added a folding Marble rear sight and a new front blade on a Williams Shorty Ramp, then finished it off with some sling swivel studs.

During it's 40 years in California it busted a zillion ground squirrels and will probably still be sending rabbits to Rabbit Valhalla long after I'm gone. Right now I'm using it in our Club's .22 silhouette matches, which uses small animal silhouettes at ranges from 25 yards to 100 yards. The little rifle doesn't give up a thing to the high dollar rifles it shoots against, either.

These guns were made from 1939 to 1963, before they started putting serial numbers on .22 rifles. Some are seen with a garish ten shot curved magazine sticking out of them, but I always preferred the old-fashioned five shot magazines they came with. And what the heck, as accurate as these guns are, you just don't need ten shots. And to answer a question you didn't ask - it cost $35 brand spanking new.

That beautiful Tru-Oil finish job is now 40 years old, which says a lot for the product, no?


Monday, March 8, 2010

"Thoughts on the .308 and 30-06" by JayPee

I trained in the army with the M-1 in otsix (.30-'06) and the M-14 in 7.62mm NATO (.308 Winchester). As a result I have been a died in the wool otsix man all my life because of the ridiculously sharp recoil of the .308, and the greater versatility of the otsix when it comes to bullet weights and powders.. The otsix can be handloaded with the entire range of powders from the very fastest to the very slowest, and very good loads can be had with all –i.e. the otsix will give you first rate accuracy with powders of just about any burning rate and with bullets of any weight heavier than the 110 grain, which is a real dog because of its poor sectional density. The .308 prefers powders in the medium to fast burning rates and isn't regarded as the best hunting round when it comes to bullets of 180 grains or more.

The 7.62/.308 is only "competitive" with the otsix, it does not equal it and can never do so because of the otsix's greater powder capacity. Given roughly a 150 grain bullet, the otsix will clock 2,850fps with 47,000 to 50,000 psi chamber pressure, while the .308 to achieve the same velocity generates much higher chamber pressures. If you load the .308 to otsix pressures, then its performance sags well below the otsix.

Now, having said all that, if you can get the velocities you want in the bullet weights you want with the .308, and it will take the game you want, then it will do as well as the otsix. But if you need high performance on large, dangerous game in 180 grain or heavier bullets, then you'd better stick with the otsix because the .308 can't deliver with the heavier bullets.

Availability of military ammunition in a catastrophic situation would probably be better with the .308 than that of the otsix since the otsix was declared obsolete and "formally" replaced in government service by the .308 in 1957. But since the otsix remains the most popular sporting rifle cartridge on earth, ammunition for it would be far from scarce.

The .308 is one of the world's most accurate .30 caliber cartridges, if you can stand the recoil, and putting it into a short action gun only exacerbates the felt recoil to me. I like bolt action sporter-weight guns, so I avoid it for that reason. It is a good cartridge, but it is not the equal of the otsix across the broad spectrum of hunting applications.

(Boy am I gonna ketch hell from the .308 guys over this one!!)


Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Sighting in my new (old) M77" by Gary7

I took my new (to me) Ruger M77 to the range yesterday to sight in the scope. The scope that came with this gun is an old Tasco that appears to be a fairly good quality scope. Unlike the new Tascos, which are made in China, this one was made in Japan.

It took awhile to get the thing dialed in and on the target at 50 yards--largely because the wind was blowing so hard down the concrete pipe you have to shoot down that it was making my eyes water. Here was my final 3-shot group at 50 yards. I'll move out to 100 yards next time and see how it does.

I really like the M77 action. It's slick and precise when you eject and chamber a new round.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Rolling Your Own" by JayPee

I spent a number of years living in the Sacramento Valley of California where walnut trees abound in about every variety known to man. This, in turn, means there were a number of small stock making companies there that specialized in turning out large quantities of semi-inletted gun stocks. And this led to a very popular hobby among rifle enthusiasts there known as "rolling your own," or building rifles to your own specifications.This is one such example of our rifle nuttery. The stock is a piece of Northern California English walnut, finished with about a dozen coats of spray-on Tru Oil, fine sanded between coats and finished out with 0000 steel wool to break the wet-looking gloss. After this the sheen was restored in a bit more subdued way with Birchwood Casey Stock Sheen and Conditioner. We did a lot of glass bedding on these rifles, usually from stem to stern, with the barrel free floated forward of the chamber. Our favorite products were Micro-Bed, and Accraglas Gel. Naturally, the glass bedding was always completed before the stock finish was applied.

The metal is a Mark X Whitworth Mauser action fitted with a Shilen medium weight barrel cut to 23 inches and chambered for the 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser cartridge. The rifle is too heavy to be carried as a hunting rifle, so I have it set up as a ground critter gitter with a 6x24 AO scope. My favorite load fires a 120 grain Nosler Balistic Tip bullet at 3100 fps with minute of angle accuracy. This means the little 6.5x55 cartridge is knocking right on Mr. .270's front door in a modern, strong action. I have also gotten varmint rifle accuracy with 85 grain and 100 grain Sierra bullets, but surprisingly without any appreciable increase in velocity over the 120 grain bullet. Go figger. One should definitely not try any of these loads in a military Swedish Mauser rifle as they are much too hot for those guns and will damage them right away.

I built seven of these between 1985 and 1995 and usually had 50 hours or more in each one, with the most difficult one consuming over 100 hours. Black or Claro walnut was much less dense than English walnut and consumed a lot more time to fill with finish and complete. Some Claro stocks required fifteen to twenty coats.

I shared the hobby with an unusually fine bunch of friends before arthritis forced me to stop "rolling my own". But what a wonderful ride it was.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"My Ruger M77" by Gary7

As I move further into middle age and get back into shooting, I'm finding that I'm rapidly acquiring all the firearms I lusted after as a teenager and college student but could not afford. Always wanted a Weatherby--bam, a Mark V is on the way. (And I've already posted about that.) Another rifle I was quite fond of was the Ruger M77. My cousin had a heavy barrel varmint M77 chambered in 220 Swift. I was into handloading back then and I used to load his brass for him because in the mid and late 70s it was almost impossible to find commercially loaded 220 Swift. His M77 was an early version, the one with the tang safety. It was a joy to shoot, and if you've never experienced the sound of 220 Swift muzzle blast, it's quite intoxicating.

As with the Weatherby, I said to myself back then that one day I'd get a M77. So last week I picked up a well used, but very well cared for Ruger M77 Mark II in 30-06. This was an auction buy and the gun arrived today. I was a bit disappointed when I unwrapped the bolt and immediately noticed a recessed bolt face just like the original M77 had. Hmmm. So I did a little more research and as it turns out the fist Mark IIs were not controlled feed. The only change made to the bolt over the first model M77s was the switch to a blade type ejector (Mauser type). Ruger made the switch to controlled feed as a running production change. And since my M77 is one of the very first Mark IIs, it's not controlled feed. Oh, well.

The M77 was Bill Ruger's attempt to create a classic America rifle that embodied the function and features that hunters and riflemen had loved about the pre-64 Winchester Model 70. Most of the improvements that were introduced with the Mark II iteration (including the eventual move to controlled feed) were designed to further that goal. And whether or not you think comparing the M77 to the quintessential rifleman's rifle is heresy, there is no denying that the M77 has earned its place in the pantheon of great rifles. I'm glad I finally have one.

Monday, March 1, 2010

"My first Weatherby" by Gary7

I handled and fired a Weatherby for the first time in the mid 70s when I was 16. My best friend's uncle died and left all his guns to his brother. One was a Mark V 300 Wby Magnum. Even as a teenager I recognized the Weatherby as something special, and I made a promise to myself that one day I would own one.

So, 35 years later, I decided to make good on that promise. I started off by looking at the Vanguards down at Academy last week and I was impressed by the fit and finish and the quality feel. It did remind me of how I remember the feel of that Mark V from 35 years ago. But one thing that most impressed me about that Weatherby from my youth was sadly missing: a beautiful walnut stock. The green plastic stock on those Academy Vanguards may be functional, but pretty it ain't. So I came home and got on the Weatherby web sit to see if the Vanguard could be had with a wood stock. I knew a Mark V was out of my price range, so I didn't bother looking at them. It looked like the Vanguard Sporter model was what I wanted.

I started looking at the Vanguard Sporters on the gun auction sites and other online retailers. But then I ran across an auction for a "like new" Mark V in 30-06 that had an opening bid that was in my price range. It's one of the last Japanese made Mark Vs and according to the seller has only had one box of shells fired through it. This rifle was clearly the prize or award for some kind for an event or organization because of the laser engraving on the buttstock. Based on the photos, the rifle does indeed look like new.

Now comes the hard part: waiting for it to get here so I can get a scope on it and take it to the range.

Here are some photos from the seller: