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Discussion Starter #1
Friends, here's the wildcard for you. I have never seen a rifle like it before and cannot reference it in any firearm encyclopedia, internet search, or otherwise. Here's what I know about it:

When the elderly man who lived next door to my parents passed away, his wife had my father and a couple of other close friends of his "clean out the basement and garage." She couldn't maintain the house on her own and moved on to an assisted-living community (nice place!) before she sold the house. In a dark corner of the basement, my father found a tightly rolled-up burlap bundle, and this rifle was in it. The man who had previously owned it was a veteran of WWII and took part in the European theater, that much we know. His wife said he had it since before they met, and that would be just after the cessation of hostilities.

It's clearly some kind of Mauser-inspired design but it doesn't fit into the K98 category completely. I have never seen such a rifle with the double-trigger "hair setting" setup like that before. Let me tell you, when you pull that rear trigger back and "set" the primary trigger, it can easily be set off by the brush of a feather.

Here are some photos I took of it for your observations. Please help me understand exactly what it is my Dad found in that musty old basement... this is one of the finest firearms I've ever seen. The quality and machining work done on it are incredible... the pictures do it no justice. Warning: BIG pictures!








Have you ever seen anything like this before? If so, please, please do tell!

-Pilotsteve
 

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You have to just love those old German rifles. Workmanship is fantastic.

Double-set triggers!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had one of those old rifles that was made using the old M1888 action. The absolutely smoothest bolt action I have ever seen!

I know what you mean about the trigger! Don't even touch it until you are ready to go...........
 

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What are the letters in the last pic? StmG? Are those the only markings?

ETA: Here's a discussion on GB that might help. At least the rifle looks very similar. http://forums.gunbroker.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=538299

And this one, which looks to be the same gun, says you may find more info on the barrel if you remove the stock. http://www.gunvaluesboard.com/pre-ww2-mauser-sporting-rifle.-on-the-top-of-barrel-is-stamp...-15195233.html

The StmG and the number beneath apparently indicate it was tested with steel jacketed ammo and the weight.

You might be able to find out more here: http://www.germanguns.com/index.html
 

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Steve: It's a fairly typical European sporting rifle converted from a WWI military Mauser Gewehr 98. It could have been made before WWII or shortly thereafter. Many returning GIs found rifles like this or had them built up by local gunsmiths and brought them home.

M
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
What are the letters in the last pic? StmG? Are those the only markings?
The only markings anywhere on the rifle are on the left side. The close-up picture I took didn't come out very good so I sketched them here for you:



The only other markings on the rifle are on the sights, which are American. There's patent numbers written on it (sorry, didn't record this date) as well as the manufacturer. The only other instance of writing is on the steel butt plate. Inscribed in a fine script is the word, "Germany." I find this strange because "Germany" is actually an English word. I would have thought it would read "Deutschland".

I find it incredibly odd how nowhere on the rifle is the ammunition it uses indicated. That is a fundamental of all firearms that I know of - literally a cardinal rule any manufacturer should adhere to. I think my only clue is the "14,6 gr" imprinted on the weapon. Is this actually 14.6 grams, or about 225 grains? If so, it should elude to the intended (or maximum) weight of the bullet. This rifle should fire the 7.92 x 57mm (or 8mm Mauser) cartridge, but how to be sure?

Thank you for the very tantalizing clues though, my friends. Although I'll never know the story behind this beautiful, incredibly well-built rifle, it'll be something to know at least what it is...

-Pilotsteve
 

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The bore size is sometimes stamped under the barrel. You can make a cast of the chamber with "cerrosafe", a metal alloy that melts at a low temp - available from Brownell's. Then you will know for certain if it has been rechambered.

The fact that the rifle is stamped "Germany" iindicates it was exported after WW1 - which accounts for the U.S. made sights.

For the rest of it, Mike gave you the straight "poop".
 

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I think my only clue is the "14,6 gr" imprinted on the weapon.
From what I read on the sites I linked, that's the bullet weight it was tested with, along with the StmG indicating steel jacketed bullet. The crown over N indicates smokeless powder. Those proofs put it after 1912. This is all found here German Gun Collectors Association

Apparently, after WW1, German civilians were not allowed to possess the 7.92 x 57, so the guns were rechambered to 8 x 60 (I'm guessing that's really 7.92 x 60, as what I've read says that they only made the chamber a little deeper).

Looking at this is confusing, because it looks like you've got a 1950+ E German proof and a 1952+ W German proof, but it's hard to say for sure. Take a look at this PDF. You can identify the proofs better than I can from the picture and sketch. http://www.phoenixinvestmentarms.com/archives/Proofmarks.pdf

That second one I haven't seen anywhere and the numbers don't line up with anything I've seen yet; everything says it should either be a date, caliber or gauge, but 4494 doesn't match up with any of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
...Take a look at this PDF. You can identify the proofs better than I can from the picture and sketch.
Thank you for the helpful information, jonm61. I have gone through every chart I've found available listing proof marks and have not yet found the one on this rifle. When I sketched the proofmark I was looking closely with an eyeloop, so I could see the very fine details. It's a bird-like shape with a tiny star above his head. Also, the marking over the "N" is a star as well, not a crown. Right next to (slightly overlapping) the bird-like proofmark is a crown.



I have gone up and down this rifle and there is nothing under the barrel or anywhere else. You may be right in that there might be something beneath the barrel or otherwise which would only be found if the stock were removed, but I'll be verdammt if I'm taking that rifle apart!

-Pilotsteve
 

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There's no big mystery. Just yank out the bolt and then see if an 8x57 cartridge will drop in the chamber with just enough case sticking out for the extractor to grab. If it fits, then stick the bullet end of the cartridge into the muzzle and see it it's loose. If it's not, it's almost certainly 8x57. If still in doubt, make a chamber cast with Cerrosafe.

Don't be timid. Rotate the lock screws in the trigger guard assembly to allow the larger guard screws to be unscrewed, then lift up the barrel and take it out of the stock. It's as easy as field-stripping a PPK. Not that this will tell you anything, but you can evaluate the workmanship more easily. Some of these guns are quite well-made, others are mediocre.

"Germany" on the buttplate is almost surely an import mark, so it might have been purchased here rather than "brought back".

M
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you for the very helpful information, Mike. The next time I go to my parents house I'll have the 'Ole man take it out and I'll go over it some more. To be honest though, I doubt we'll ever really know.

I will definitely look into the cartridge and take your advice. I believe there was some ammunition my Dad found along with the rifle, maybe the cartridge it uses was known to the old man who passed on. I'll look into that as well. I think the best bet would be to bring it to a gunsmith and have them go over it and properly determine the round before firing it. I am dying to try this rifle but let me tell you... the first round is going to be with the gun in a brace, a string around the trigger, and me hiding behind something!

What I guess I was ultimately hoping for was, "Oh, yeah! That's a Mauser Model B-500!" or something like that. I find it interesting that this rifle seems to be quite unique in that it's either a customized build from a single gunsmith or a very small firm. jonm61 posted some links and in one of them, there is a rifle nearly identical to this one. It looks to be made from a Gewehr 98 as Mike suggested but there are major modifications. The heat dissipating rib atop the barrel (with excellently detailed scribed lines like the top of a PPK)? That is not a feature of any of those rifles and the assembly on this rifle is of such quality it appears to have been made from a single piece of steel. Also, the double-set trigger is completely unknown to Mauser rifles (as far as I know - probably soon to be proven wrong!:)). I wish you could hold this rifle and work the bolt yourself. It's the smoothest I've ever felt - it's like on bearings.

-Pilotsteve
 

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PilotSteve,

I know that rifle as a pre WWII Mauser Model B sporting rifle. I know this because I have one, although mine was brought back by a relative who was in Germany during the occupation.

The story I was told is that the german farmers after the war could not control the deer populations that flourished and destroyed the fields because of restrictions on gun ownership in 1946. They turned to the U.S. army, and for the short term the problem was addressed by occupational U.S. soldiers hunting them with weapons that were available. The Mauser plant was within the US sector and custom guns were built by available and idle gunsmiths. As the story goes, there is the right way, the wrong way, and the army way. Too much time was being spent hunting and not solving the problem. The army way was to bring in the 30 cal. machine guns and decimate the herds, hence problem solved. The gun you own may have been the result of the temporary solution. The one I own has a silver engraved door that flips out to hold four rounds of 8mm. I shoot the gun on rare occasions. I hit the bull with it at 100 yds, with tight group just high of center in 6 shots.
 

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We hear all the time, and rightly so, about buying the gun and not the story. But that's one heck of a story regardless, CaptRob. Thanks for sharing it. :)

Welcome to the forum; enjoy your time here.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
CaptRob, I cannot thank you enough for the extraordinarily helpful information you've shared. You've found it - whatever that rifle is my father found, it's some variant of the Mauser Sporting Rifle Model B, pattern either 120 or 140 based on the wonderful (and rare!) prints you posted. Thank you so much!

I have a very mixed set of feelings when it comes to this rifle. It is my fathers, but he'll never use it. He's not interested in shooting as a sport so it sits in his gun cabinet. Along with his various other shotguns and rifles. Collecting dust and (probably) rust. To him, shooting is a waste of money unless you're hunting, and he's not physically capable of hunting anymore because his back is gone, so it won't be used for that either. He has told me several times that the rifle will pass to me "When I'm gone." How to feel about that? Talk about mixed emotions... Obviously, I lust over that rifle and want it for my own. But it's my Dads, and it won't be mine until...

-Pilotsteve
 

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Pilotsteve
I finished uploading the remainder of the Mauser booklet to the photo album. I had to create a second album for the last three pages. (There must be an upload limit for albums). Hope you find some great information there!


Searcher451
I'm happy to share what I know. This is a great website with very knowledgeable people. Best regards, Rob
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I finished uploading the remainder of the Mauser booklet to the photo album. I had to create a second album for the last three pages. (There must be an upload limit for albums). Hope you find some great information there!
Searcher, the work CaptRob shared with this community should be either in the FAQ's or a sticky somewhere. What an incredible wealth of historical information and rare archival reference in that album. Amazing, and in posting that album, CaptRob added to the collective sum of knowledge available to the world. Prost, Rob.

Three ink cartridges later...

-Pilotsteve
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
These links will take anyone who's interested to CaptRob's incredible albums, loaded with rare information and impossible to find anywhere else on the web. Here's part 1:

http://www.waltherforums.com/forum/members/16536-albums81.html

And part 2:

http://www.waltherforums.com/forum/members/16536-albums86.html

Last week I visited my parents and brought the digital camera with me to get some more pictures of that rifle. Here's the steel buttplate with the word "Germany" curiously etched on it:



The front sight, which I discovered is actually dovetailed parallel to the bore; it can be switched out with other sizes to optimize accuracy. The design of the front sight seems to be a very helpful feature in identifying this rifle from among the reference photos CaptRob shared in his album:



And another of the bolt side. The workmanship is amazing.



Also, in regards to Mike's suggestion to try the cartridges my father has, I learned a lot more about that story and the plot definitely thickens in regards to that. I asked him to get the cartridges he had for it and produced a box of Winchester 8mm x (I think) 57.10 or something like that. They were not 7.92 x 57, as I think this rifle should accept. Taking Mike's instructions to bear, I removed the bolt (which requires removing the elevating rear peep sight) - the sight obscures the bolt removal mechanism so it must come off to be removed. I then slid one of the cartridges into the chamber and sure enough, it slipped right in and stopped with just enough poking out for the extractor to grasp it on the right side. Then I took it out and tested it by trying to insert the bullet end into the end of the barrel and guess what?

No sir. It would not fit into the barrel! Just as soon as the conical portion of the bullet was fully in the barrel, it would not go in... it would require pounding it into the barrel to fit. My father tried pushing it in firmly with his hand and it still would not go in. Obviously, this cartridge was not the right caliber. Dang it, I should have taken a picture of the box because I can't remember exactly what they were but I do recall them specifically being "8mm" according to the box. I suspect if I tried to do the same test with a 7.92mm bullet, it should fit.

The question is, how tightly should a bullet be in the barrel? Obviously it should be "snug" but shouldn't be pounded down the barrel to fit. Nor should it simply slip down the barrel like a bb gun, either. At any rate, I asked him where he got them; years ago he brought the rifle to someone who was purported to be a decent gunsmith and "knows his stuff" to look at it. He told my father that it was a Mauser 8mm and handed him that box of cartridges. Thank God he never tried firing this rifle with those...

-Pilotsteve
 

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...

Also, in regards to Mike's suggestion to try the cartridges my father has, I learned a lot more about that story and the plot definitely thickens in regards to that. I asked him to get the cartridges he had for it and produced a box of Winchester 8mm x (I think) 57.10 or something like that. They were not 7.92 x 57, as I think this rifle should accept. Taking Mike's instructions to bear, I removed the bolt (which requires removing the elevating rear peep sight) - the sight obscures the bolt removal mechanism so it must come off to be removed. I then slid one of the cartridges into the chamber and sure enough, it slipped right in and stopped with just enough poking out for the extractor to grasp it on the right side. Then I took it out and tested it by trying to insert the bullet end into the end of the barrel and guess what?

No sir. It would not fit into the barrel! Just as soon as the conical portion of the bullet was fully in the barrel, it would not go in... it would require pounding it into the barrel to fit. My father tried pushing it in firmly with his hand and it still would not go in. Obviously, this cartridge was not the right caliber. Dang it, I should have taken a picture of the box because I can't remember exactly what they were but I do recall them specifically being "8mm" according to the box. I suspect if I tried to do the same test with a 7.92mm bullet, it should fit.

The question is, how tightly should a bullet be in the barrel? Obviously it should be "snug" but shouldn't be pounded down the barrel to fit. Nor should it simply slip down the barrel like a bb gun, either. At any rate, I asked him where he got them; years ago he brought the rifle to someone who was purported to be a decent gunsmith and "knows his stuff" to look at it. He told my father that it was a Mauser 8mm and handed him that box of cartridges. Thank God he never tried firing this rifle with those...

-Pilotsteve
Steve: Go back and read my post #10. I said to insert a bullet in the muzzle to see if it was LOOSE, not tight. An 8x57mm Mauser bullet normally will NOT fit all the way into the bore of an 8x57 mm Mauser rifle at the muzzle unless the barrel has been shot out.

My suggestion was only intended to rule out the possibility that the rifle was bored for some 9mm or larger Mauser rifle cartridge that might chamber in an 8mm.

Bear in mind that a German 8x57mm sporting rifle barrel might be either of two bore sizes, .318" or .323". To determine which one is optimal for your rifle, you'll need to slug the bore.

M
 
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