Pre War .22 Rimfire Rifles
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- Last updated: 22/10/2018
There is no doubt that the Mauser 1898 bolt action design has influenced the firearms industry more than any other rifle in existence. Why? It’s a seriously well designed, functioning, strong and reliable action and is why it still endures today with many a custom or classic rifle being built on that action type.
I have long been a fan of the ‘98, usually in Sniper form or classic sporting usage, but one genre of Mauser has passed me by, the 22 rimfire range. I sought to redress this fact when I made a visit to Gerry White Firearms in Pitsford Northamptonshire, who stocks a good selection of this marque.
These .22 rimfire Mausers are scaled-down versions of their bigger brother and offer the usual Mauser superb build quality. There was also a huge range and models from the 1920s to WWII are the most desirable with single or magazine fed varieties. There were also a lot of Wehrmacht training rifles, designated KKW versions, but my interest lay in the single shot target/sporters.
First up, is the ES340B Target, which is single shot bolt action rifle made prior to WW2. The MS340B Target is the magazine version. These are target models because they have a target grade and weight barrel of 26.5-inches long, which gives an overall length of 45.5-inches and weight of 8lbs. Although chambered for the small .22lr round, you can see from these specifications that the ES350B is no lightweight. A slim line barrelled version would be the MM410B.
This version, however, has a lovely dark walnut stock and rather K98-esque, with a long forend and finger groove like the Weihrauch HW35 air rifle. The pistol grip is Prince of Wales profile with some nice hand-chequered panels. You also have a good clear Mauser monogram stamped into the right side of the stock and early versions had a metal recoil pad, whilst this has a vulcanite plastic type.
The action is sublime and deep blued, as is the barrel. It is a mini Mauser in all respects, with a side mounted, full-length extractor and side wall mounted ejector. The bolt has a fast lock time and turn down bolt handle and being a single shot, the action profile is very strong. You also have the traditional wing type safety with three positions, fire to left, upright is safe and to the right is safe and bolt lock.
The action is grooved for 11mm scope mounts, but they need to be high 20mm plus height, so that the bolt handle clears, as it operates in quite an upright position.
I fitted a period, 1937, Zeiss Zeilvier scope but with 70’s airgun mounts, so no windage adjustment but due to luck, only out by 1-inch, so okay for testing. Actually, finding period scopes and mounts is becoming increasing more difficult.
For those wanting a bit of class, then the ES350B Championship model is a single-shot masterpiece. This has the same heavy profiled barrel with interchangeable element and hooded foresight and fully adjustable rear sight like the ES340B but this rear sight can be moved up and down the barrel on extralong 11mm dovetails, to suit the eye sight and sight picture best for the shooter.
You have the same excellent action design and a repeater version is also available as the MS350B model. The stock is superb, high-grade walnut with a rubbed oil finish that exudes quality and the same Mauser logo imprinted to the side. This model had the vulcanite butt-pad and some really good hand-cut chequering. The pistol grip is well covered and the long forend has coverage to the sides and underneath, affording a really good grip from the well-executed chequering.
This model came with a period pre-WWII, mid 1930’s scope from W&H Siebert from Wetzlar Germany. It was the Jaguar Sport model, with a 2x power magnification and simple post only stadia – typically German. It came with soldered on 11mm quick detachable mounts that have windage adjustment in the rear mount, as scopes from this era seldom have windage adjustment.
Accuracy, as expected, with correct ammunition, was exactly as good as the finish, with the rifling exhibiting a very high degree of precision. These are non-threaded rifles and if threaded the value plummets! Best accuracy came from the Eley Match ammunition in the ES340B model with one big hole at 25-yards off the bench and 0.65-inches at 50-yards; not bad for a rifle made in 1937! The Championship model actually loved the RWS HV ammunition, not my normal fare but 0.55- inch 50-yard groups and under MOA at 100-yards will suit me. Winchester subs (40gr) also shot tiny 0.45 25-yard groups; so, that`s my rabbit load sorted!
Also, being quite a long barrel at 26.5-inches, the muzzle report from the subsonics and target ammo was actually not as load as you would expect out in the field.
As soon as you pick up these Mausers, you can appreciate the heritage and quality compared to their modern-day counterpart. These would make superb classic rimfires for competition, but I intend taking them after some rabbits; so, stay tuned.
It’s taken me a while to get around to these mini Mausers but what a nice find. Classic in every way and the build quality is really just not seen today, which is why these rifles command good money and are highly collectable. Check for the obvious signs of wear to the bore in the throat area and for pitting. Also, make sure that the crown is perfect and it comes with the correct rear sight and stock design, there are many marriages. It is also important to check the bolt matches the action and barrel number, all clearly marked. Gerry’s rifles were all first rate and a real treat to shoot, try one you won’t regret it. Contact Gerry White Firearms: 07801 794 801.
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