Monday, November 24, 2014

Not long ago I mentioned a Turk Mauser I'd bought,

and here's the story.

Had two great-uncles, one who served in the Navy in the Pacific(diver) in WWII, the other in the Army, 2nd Infantry from somewhere in France until the end.  Neither talked about it, but Ray did have something he brought back from Europe: a German sniper rifle*. 

I found out about this one day when we were visiting the grandparents, Grandpa and Ray took it out to shoot(hadn't been out of the cabinet in years, apparently) and adjust if needed.  Their target was a board with some 16p nails driven in set about a hundred paces away...

Never got to shoot it myself, but that locked into my mind that someday I wanted a Mauser to mess with.  Over time I bought a couple of books on home gunsmithing, and thought about it more.

Back in the late 80's/early 90's there was a HUGE amount of milsurp firearms and ammo coming on the market, and I had a chance to buy a Turkish Mauser, at the cost of about $60.  I ordered, it came in, and I began the process of cleaning the old gunk off and deciding what to do. 

It wasn't coated in grease, but there was a lot of old crud soaked into the wood; once wiped clean the bore turned out to be beautifully bright with sharp rifling.

After cleaning, took it to the range to try with some 60's German ball.  Which grouped, at best, about 6-8" at 100 yards.  Which was underwhelming, even for steel-case surplus.

Crap.  Think about it.  A-HA!  Steel cleaning rod, the crown might be damaged!  Since I was planning on this being a target/hunting rifle shortening that looong barrel wasn't a problem, but this was my first try at such**.  So I only cut about 1/2" off, just a touch in front of the front sight, used the disc sander to square it, and the drill & screw method to clean up the crown.  Back to the range.

Success!  Groups shrunk by a good half, which was hugely encouraging.  So now, knowing the barrel was good, came the modifications.  Which worked out over time to be
Shorten the barrel to 25".
Clean the barrel and action as well as could, and blue.
Fit a ramp and blade front sight.
Do some work on the trigger.
Clean and modify the stock.

The stock turned out to be some quite pretty wood with the gunk cleaned off/out, so I cut the forend to appropriate length and put a piece of walnut on the end as a cap,  squared the butt and fitted a recoil pad, and oiled the wood.

Decided to take the step of bedding the barrel and action, with a variation from the general instructions: I found some suitable tape to put over the barrel starting a few inches in front of the receiver ring before coating everything with paste wax as resist(keeps the bedding compound from gluing everything together) and putting in the compound, which I ran all the way out the forend to seal it.  Once it was cured, pulling the tape meant the barrel was free-floated, which I'd read was the way to go.

I was sweating blood during this process, as the idea of finding out I'd missed some spots with the wax and finding myself with a one-piece stock/action was terrible.  But it worked.

The trigger work was very carefully polishing the engaging surfaces of sear and cocking piece.  Didn't take much, which is good, because I'd read of people screwing the angles up and needing new parts.  Which at the time I had no real idea where to get or how much if I messed them up.  This one, happily, had just a bit of drag to start with, so a light touch with a fine stone did it.  We won't talk right now about my inability to leave things alone.

The bluing was done with Oxpho Blue from Brownells.  I ran a line through the barrel and hung it between two posts, cleaned it half to death to get the surface ready, and swabbed away.  Not a shop-level color, but I was happy.

So put it all together and tried it, And It Was Good.  Thing shot beautifully, especially when I was able to pick up some commercial(Federal and Remington) ammo.

The really scary thing was I tried to bend the bolt handle down.  I rigged up some steel blocks in the vise to hold and support the bolt, used my acetylene torch to heat, and hammered it down.  Yes, I should've found a oxy-acetylene torch, or taken it to a gunsmith to have a new handle welded on. 

Now you can talk about me being unable to leave things alone.

Later, I decided to remove the rear sight, and put a Lyman receiver sight on(I'd discovered Brownell's, among other places).  Which was done, and which I liked.  I did not take the rear sight base off, which came in handy when I decided to scope it.  Being a bit concerned with drilling on the receiver I decided to try a B-Square mount with a pistol scope.  Which worked pretty well, with a Simmon 2X scope.  Yes, if I decide to re-do this I'd remove the sight base, and drill & tap the receiver for bases.  Although I'm more likely to get a variable-power scope, as I rather like the forward-mount setup.

Let me not forget the sling swivels, which led to a slight problem.

I installed them before doing the bedding.  Once that was done I reassembled everything and put the front swivel in(nut was in the stock so it wasn't going ANYWHERE, and I'd put a piece of masking tape over it to keep the hole from being plugged), and went to the range a few days later.  And found it was stringing shots horribly: they were all in a very tight horizontal, but every shot hit a little higher.  After a certain amount of quiet swearing and feverish thought(quiet because the kids were along), I figured I had somehow missed some high spot in the stock, so after got home took it apart.

Some of you are probably nodding your heads.  I found a small lump right above the swivel.  Apparently the bedding was just pliable enough still that when I screwed the swivel in, I'd pushed up that little pimple.  Which was just high enough to put a little pressure on the barrel.  Which grew greater with each shot as the barrel heated and expanded, thus causing each shot to go a bit higher above point of aim.  A little careful sanding took care of that, and the stringing went away.

One other thing I did: there's a transverse hole in the front of the trigger guard, and having read about hooking the sling there for shooting, I found that if I ground that area a bit thinner, I could hook a detachable swivel there, then polish and re-blue.

About a year later, I put a Timney trigger on.  Why?  Because.  That Mauser trigger(I've had a fondness for two-stage triggers ever since) was, after the polishing, a smooth, clean piece of work, but I decided to do it anyway.  So it was installed, and that was the last; the rifle's been as-is ever since.

*Never heard the story, but knowing how he could shoot, he probably popped the sniper and kept the rifle
**Yes, I know lots of people cringe at changing an old milsurp.  Deal with it.


Gerry N said...

About ten years ago or thereabouts I got a Curio and Relic license. I immediately went to Office Despot and had 50 copies made along with a form letter asking ............... fill in name of wholesaler to send me whatever ads, catalogs, internet specials they had, after signing and dating the copies in blue ink. The firs respondent was Century Arms who offerred a welcome package consisting of an unissued Turk Mauser and a Russian M95 Nagant revolver for around $55 shipping included. I sent my $55 by snail mail and less than a week later I had my first delivery via the BBT aka UPS. I still have the revolver, but I sold the rifle a couple of years ago for $350. It was a strange mix of gorgeous wood, crudely finished, excellent metal well blued, but barely machined. The chamber and bore were ezquisite and the thing shot very well with handloads made up on reformed US .30.06 brass which I had about 75 lbs of. I even bought a Lee 8mm mold and a Lee lube/size kit. It was a real good shooter with that bullet in wheelweight alloy powered with 20mm cannon powder. Kinda dirty, but accurate and no leading.

Yeah, I miss it. I named it "Mehmet" after one of the guys I worked with, a Turk, don'cha know?

AM said...

I keep thinking I need to buy a Lee 8mm Kar or 8mm Max bullet mould for my Mausers...

Good story, and I bet you had fun doing it.