Since I was little, I’ve always enjoyed a good rifle. I suppose it’s for the same reason boys throw stones. A good rifle throws a tiny stone with great range and accuracy. Some men spend great time, money, energy and care doing that. Recently I had the opportunity to fire a rifle older than I am. It’s a Mauser 98k virtually in mint condition after all these years because it was not used in WWII and was in storage for many decades. It’s not the best, most accurate or most powerful of rifles but it is an excellent deer rifle, delivering great stopping power to 350 yards without adjusting sights.
A man carries the rifle, loads it, aims at the target and squeezes the trigger. The rifle then leaps to life accelerating the bullet and recoiling. No man can truly tame that. The rifle does its own thing. A great rifle like this does it very well.
Commercial ammunition in North America is whimpy for this cartridge because there are 8X57J barrels around which are smaller in diameter… Handloaded ammunition is necessary to get the best performance from this rifle. This rifle loves IMR4064 powder and shoots most accurately with 170 to 220 grain bullets. My favourite bullet for hunting in bush is Hornady 170 RN. In open country the 150SP gives much better range. 220 grain bullets give best accuracy for target-shooting but they are scarce.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
It was made in a time when German craftsmanship was still prevalent and factories were not being bombed back to the Stone Age. It was shipped to Spain in the hope that Spain would be an ally of Germany but the Spaniards were tired of war so they kept it in storage. I was privileged to touch such a fine work of art. I fired a couple of rounds of hunting ammunition of calibre 8X57JS and 170 grain round nosed bullets. I have seen deer just drop where they stood in the bush with that combination. I think it is superior to the much more popular .308 Winchester and the more usual 150 grain pointed bullets. You can’t beat the original sometimes.
One of my shots hit the target right where I aimed. The other was a bit further away… Either would have killed a deer promptly. I will work on my consistency over the summer. My increased hiking distances are a start towards a successful hunt this fall.