Persian vz98/29 Mauser
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- Last updated: 26/01/2017
Let’s face it some military bolt-actions are not the prettiest guns in the world and items like the French MAS 36 and Lee Enfield No 4 are never going to win any beauty contests! Whereas others have an intrinsic elegance all their own with the bull-nosed SMLE being a good example, another - and my personal favourite – is the Mauser Gewehr G98. These days classic guns of this nature are getting harder and harder to find and commanding ever higher prices.
The G98 is such a rifle and it’s rare to see one with its distinctive humped/tangent rear sight these days. I recall a few years ago Mauser re-created this model and it was a beauty, but at some very serious money too, as I believe they continued on the serial numbers from where they had left off.
You could argue that the G98 is no different to the more compact Karabiner K98 that replaced it, apart from its turned down bolt handle, simplified sights and shorter (23.6”) barrel and slightly lighter weight of 8.5 lbs. This is true, but I have always found the K98, though a good rifle, a bit hard in the shoulder, as the 8 x 57mm round it fires is a powerful one. Though the G98 uses the same cartridge its 9lb weight and longer 29” barrel makes it far better behaved and also potentially more accurate too; certainly at longer ranges. The advantages of the shorter/lighter K98 as a combat weapon are obvious, but of no concern to we classic shooters, so the better ‘shootability’ of the G98 makes it for me the ultimate Mauser.
The Mauser 98 was a hugely popular rifle in its day and was either made under licence or by other German manufacturers for many nations. To give an indication of this it’s reckoned that only the Kalashnikov AK47 and its variants have been produced in larger numbers…
Many years ago at the start of my classic shooting career I got myself a Brazilian G98 (Fusil Mo. 1894) made by Ludwig Lowe & Co of Berlin chambered in 7 x 57mm Mauser and it was a beauty. Stupidly I let it go at some stage for reasons I can no longer remember and have regretted it ever since. Try as I might I have never managed to get an example of the original G98 due to either availability or financial reasons. So when Henry Krank and Co. contacted me and asked me if I would like to look at a Persian example of the G98 I was happy to say yes.
The Persians decided to go for the generic G98 and what was called a Short Rifle or musketoon. These were produced by CZ of Czechoslovakia using their vz98/29 design in the mid 1930s and were known as the M1310 and M1317. The Short rifle is exactly that and only offers an 18” barrel and weighs 8 lbs which is not a lot for that big 8mm Mauser cartridge. They look really beautiful, but I have shot one of these and to say it’s a bit savage would be an understatement!
The M1310 supplied was sadly in need of some TLC. The bore and action were fine, which meant it was a shooter so a viable purchase. But the stock was rather battered and bruised and the metal work a horrible dull black finish, like someone had sprayed it with exhaust paint. Though I was not struck on the condition, I do know people who like their guns showing this distressed look. I reckoned the old Persian Mauser would make a good ‘fix up’ project for the winter months and I’m quite tempted to see what I can get it for…
The build is classic G98, with the big, straight-out bolt handle and flag safety catch at the rear of the shroud. The front receiver bridge shows the crest of a scimitar-wielding lion on a sunburst surrounded by a wreath of laurels and oak leaves topped with the Persian Pahlavi Crown. All the markings are in Arabic script, though at some stage someone has stamped the serial number on the left of the action, doubtless so the rifle could be entered into a register. The rear sight is not that hard to work out as it’s optimistically graduated out to 2000 metres in 100 metre increments, so just count the divisions…
Major changes to the G98 are the simplified rear sight, which is a plain, tangent type as seen on my old Brazilian Mauser and the K98. The front sight consists of a large tapered blade set in a dovetail for windage adjustment and shows an integral, skeleton-type protector. The two sling swivels – one behind the pistol grip and the other on the middle band are augmented by a piling sling at the front and another loop on the trigger guard.
The stock is walnut with a short hand guard that leaves the front half of the barrel exposed. The forend shows gripping slots along the sides and on the right side of the butt is an identification disc and underneath the bayonet lug there’s a short section of cleaning rod.
Feed is by 5-round chargers that fit into a guide at the front of the rear receiver bridge. Much like the Lee Enfield the charger is located and the rounds pushed down by the thumb into the magazine. Henry Kranks kindly supplied me with a few and also some Prvi Partizan 8mm Mauser ammo. It’s useful that the magazine platform does not lock the bolt open after the last round has been fired and ejected. As an idiot’s guide it’s probably useful to show some thick squaddy that the gun is empty, but not required for the sort of shooting we do.
Despite its rather shabby appearance the M1310 proved to be a good shooter, though I did find the rear sight's V-notch just a bit too fine and - were this my rifle - I would open it up a little. Setting up my usual 2 x 4” white, aiming rectangle on a large backer that I use for all military bolt-actions of this type I got down to some shooting.
The first thing you notice is the rifle is better behaved than a K98, not by a lot but enough to make shooting more than a few rounds bearable. The straight-out bolt handle is a little awkward and you do need a bit of a knack to operate it smoothly. Typically the action cocks on opening, which probably does not help either, as you are having to put more effort into the initial handle movement.
The trigger was good with the usual 2-stage pull and a reasonable 4-5 lb release. At 100 yards the M1310 was easily capable of keeping all the rounds within the 2 x 4” rectangle and with a consistent aim point I was getting some respectable groups. As the distance is increased the extra barrel length really starts to pay dividends in the right hands. This makes any rifle of this nature a better bet for more long range needs than the generic shorter guns, like the K98 etc.
Overall a lovely old rifle that only needs a bit of attention to turn it into a true classic tool. OK it’s not an original G98, but not far off it either and I for one would be most happy with it!
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