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Mini Mauser-type Rimfire Rifles

Mini Mauser-type Rimfire Rifles

I am not a militaria historian, but certain rifles and periods of time resonate to me as a rifle shooter. Some love the history, campaign strategies and technical advantages that waring armies evoke; I like Mausers.

I particularly like K98 snipers and, of late, all manner of pre-war 22 Long Rifle (LR) training rifles. Every army had to train its soldiers before battle and a cost-effective and easy to use rifle on short indoor or outdoor ranges, like a rimfire, were ideal. Each Army had their own take on what they wanted, often a modified version of the existing combat arm. Lee Enfields, Mossbergs, BSAs and Savages all had their variants, but one particular rifle really stands out for me, the pre-war; Deutches Sportmodells and DSM-34 and the later KKW from Germany.

You can’t do that

After WW1, Imperial Germany were forbidden to re-arm but got around these rules cleverly by producing rifles that looked very similar to the army’s Mauser 98s in both operation and weight by producing ‘SportModell’ (for sporting use) versions. They weren’t fooling anyone, but it led to some superb pre-war 22 rimfires that these days have become highly collectable. Mauser were not the only manufacturers; like so many of Germanys covert armaments plants, the various requirements were shipped out to many makers. These included; Walther, Mauser, Weihrauch, Erma, Anschutz, Haenel, Simson, Schmidt, BSW, Thuringen, Waffenstadt and BUA in differing gun making regions. All could produce the Sport Modell to a blueprint design but often with their own take on it.

This led to some incredibly well made and accurate rifles and the fact that they have endured today is testament to their quality manufacture, typical German engineering. As the Nazi rule became more prevalent and there was no need to disguise re-armament, the Sport Modell became more militarised into the DSM-34. This model really took on the size, shape, operation and weight of the Mauer K98. There was now no disguising the fact that Germany was preparing for war, with these rifles being used by the SA, NSAP and Hitler Youth organisations of the day.

The DSM-34 then transitioned into the KKW or Klein Kaliber Wehrsportgewehr (small calibre rifle for specific training purposes). This became the ideal clone of the K98 in both looks, operation and feel and is even rarer to find. I have here a Walther Sport Modell, to show the thinly disguised attempt at a K98 rimfire as a sporter and also a Mauser DSM-34 that was basically a mini K98 to all intense and purposes.

Walther sport modell

Firms like Erma, Geco and BSW all produced these fine, single shots 22 rimfires, that differed from the other true sporting rimfires like the Es 340, Es 410b, due to their K98 weight and handling. As one would expect, the Walther version is superbly made and puts modern rimfires to shame. These were built to a high standard with decent walnut, all metal machined construction and care. Even after 83 years this example has a crisp bore, lovely walnut, good bluing and a mechanically perfect action.

It came from By Sword and Musket (Kirk Emmerich) who specialises in all manner of historic arms and always has a great selection of interesting equipment. Pricing is dependent on rarity and condition, this was £600 trade, but expect to pay much more for SA, NSAP stamped or divisional rifles. Length is 44.5” and the weight, 3.5 kg, making it a handful, but balance is surprisingly good and all for the original princely sum of 58 Reichsmarks. The single shot action has changed little over the years, as I had a Walther KKJ and GX1 with almost the same styling! It is very smooth, superbly engineered and marked profusely.

Pukka!

The top of the barrel is engraved Walther with its banner-type logo, with the words Sportmodell V in Gothic scrip. This is echoed on the receiver, where it is engraved Waffenfabrik Walther Zell-Mehlis Thuringen. The serial number dates it to 1936 production. The stock has that traditional long forend with twin finger boards and you can see it starting to look like a K98. Timber quality was excellent, with good quality walnut, highly figured and with an aged oil finish and hand-cut chequering.

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The barrel is 25.5” long and heavy, to emulate a full-sized K98 rifle. The open sights give the shooter the same sight picture as a K98, with a ramped bead foresight and elevating and windage adjustable rear that is marked in sections from 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175 and 200 metres.

DSM-34

Now, we are really shrugging off any attempts to disguise this rifle as anything other than a military trainer. The DSM-34 (Deutches Sportmodell of 1934) differed from the normal Sport Modell by the almost exact copy of the K98 stock. Here is a Mausermade version from Ellis Arms and the serial number dates it to mid-1940. When laid side by side next to a K98 sniper rifle, you can see the obvious similarities, which was exactly the point. Overall length is 43.5” and weighing 3.5 kg. All the operations, such as bolt, bolt release, safety and sights are near as damn it to the originals.

These are all single-shot however, although Erma did produce a single and magazine-fed barrelled action 22 rimfire insert that fitted into a standard K98. Sights, as with the Walther are faithful reproduction of the originals. The woodwork varied, dependent on supply; so, walnut, with oak and beech in the later war years were common, this example is beech, with that classic K98 bolt disassembly disc inset into the stock.

Match maker

The action and barrel showed matching numbers and retain much of their original bluing. On closer inspection, the barrel had been re-lined with Parker Hale’s rifling system (post war), probably why it shoots so well? I guess that makes it part of history too, being a period conversion from the 1950s or 60s?

The barrel is 26” and has a conventional twist rate with all the metal parts wellpolished and blued. The action is also just so well made, smaller profi led than the K98 and this model has a single extractor in the upper position, which is a later production type and ejection is performed by a spur sited on the bolt stop. The fl ag-type safety performs the same as the K98: FIRE is on the left, SAFE with bolt operation in the middle and full SAFE (bolt locked) on the right. As for the trigger, it is far superior in my opinion than the standard K98, these little Mausers have excellent 2-stage mechanisms, with a smooth take up and then a predictable and quite light 3.5 lbs let off.

On the range

First up, is the Walther Sport Modell V. This rifl e had the best trigger, with a subtle fi rst stage pull, then a very crisp and light 2.75 lbs let off. The bolt operation was also slick and smooth, the large ejection port opening made dropping a new round onto the loading platform a doddle. The Walther has 11mm dovetail rails, so a scope can be mounted but in keeping with the spirit of a ‘sports’ training rifl e, I shot it with the excellent open sights.

I used Eley subs at 25 yards and, even with the open sights, achieved 5-shot groups no more than 0.65” with a velocity of 1021 fps, as that longer barrel slows them down. Winchester 42-grain Max loads shot 0.75” groups with a velocity of 1054 fps for 104 ft/lbs energy, whilst the CB Longs bumbled along at just 689 fps and gives 31 ft/lbs energy from its 29-grain bullet and 1” groups. CB caps were too erratic though.

As for the Mauser DSM-34 model, this has no provision to fi t a scope, although a ZF-41 sniper optic can be made to fi t the rear sight with a bit of modifi cation, which would be great fun in the future. However, it still shot very well. At 25 yards, with Norma and Winchester sub-sonics, the best groups were all around 0.5”, which I think is excellent. Velocities were 1044 fps and 1058 fps respectively.

Conclusions

I am now on the lookout for a KKW Model, which was the second pattern DSM type model with an enlarged bolt and action, bayonet lug and near identical K98 stock. These rifl es all have a fascinating history and the variations between makers and sheer quality of the build is impressive. Being a 22 rimfi re, they are infi nitely easy and cheap to shoot and dare I say really good fun. Take care when buying, to check that they have not been modifi ed or mis-matched and prices are going one way. It’s also very addictive sourcing the original catalogues, accessories and shooting awards and badges. Own a piece of real history, the Lee Enfi eld No 8 Mk1 will be next on the agenda, to keep up the British end. Mauser DSM-34 22 LR and Walther Sport Modell, the Reich’s training rifl es.

Contacts:

By Sword and musket; www.byswordandmusket.co.uk
Ellis Arms; www.ellis-arms.co.uk
Norman Clark Gunsmithing work, 01788579651

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