Why I Love 8mm Mausers

Chuckle. I just got banned from a forum on firearms. The resident troll was the moderator. So, I guess I’ll be writing here more often about firearms.

One of the first rifles I ever bought was a Mauser 98k in military dress. It’s a rugged, reliable beast. It has lots of merit:

  • The rifle, at least before the middle of WWII was well made and easy to maintain. The bolt could be completely stripped without tools to remove sand/dirt/whatever. It was a little heavy but shorter than earlier models.
  • Even the steel of which this rifle was made is nice. It scarcely needs lubrication because the parts that need to slide do slide very well.
  • The safety can lock the firing pin and/or bolt which is great for hunting in the real world where branches and grass are always reaching for you and your equipment.
  • The trigger is fairly standard but smooth.
  • The lock time is not bad but a bit worse than many modern sporters. You have to “follow through”… The spring of the firing pin is very strong but unfortunately, the mass of the firing pin is great too.
  • In good light, the sights are crisp enough for shooting targets to hundreds of yards. I like to blacken mine with the flame of a wooden match if shooting in sunshine.
  • The weight of the rifle makes recoil very manageable.
  • The cartridge, 8X57JS was one of the earliest smokeless powder cartridges and it is a classic forming the basic head and body of many modern cartridges for rifles. In particular, 7X57 and .30-’06 were derived from the same case. As usual, the USAians made their cartridge bigger for no particular benefit except to waste powder.
  • The bullet, being a bit larger diameter than popular .30 calibres, hits a bit harder and hunting bullets open more reliably. A tradeoff is somewhat shorter range, but at about 350 yards for deer, it is quite useful, even with iron sights.
  • It’s easy to add a scope but one has to drill and tap the receiver for scope bases. I have one such project in the pipeline.
  • Bullets are few and far between for 8mm but there are some good ones. I like Hornady’s 170 gr RN for deer up to about 200 yards and their 150 SP is excellent to 350 yards without adjusting zero. No deer has ever complained to me about the performance.
  • There’s nothing like the “WHACK!” an 8mm bullet makes on the rib-cage of a white-tailed deer. It’s usually enough to knock them over and they rarely get up again.

Some deride my choice of these two bullets but they work well. For long range shooting one needs a long pointed bullet travelling fast so that it will deliver enough energy at high enough velocity to expand at long range. For short range hunting one needs a heavy RN bullet travelling slowly. Faster bullets tend to disintegrate on impact and mess things up. No single bullet does both jobs well. The Mausers have a cutout in the receiver for a stripper clip so I just load a RN bullet on top of a pointed bullet in the stripper clip and in seconds I load up the rifle for walking around or guarding a narrow space. If I move to an open space I can cycle the bolt and immediately have access to a better bullet for long range shooting. Compare that to the guy buying a huge magnum rifle with sexy bullets. He can shoot deer to 400 yards without adjusting his sights, a rarely-used advantage and he risks spoiling a deer on impact inside 150 yards… I think the Mauser solution is nearly perfect. I love it.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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2 Responses to Why I Love 8mm Mausers

  1. dougman wrote, “The 30-06 has more powder so as to achieve a flatter trajectory. Also, 30-06 is more readily available than 8mm. Now if you are reloading that’s different, but to insinuate 8mm is superior over 30-06 I kinda doubt the deer, elk, moose would notice much difference.

    Let’s see. Loaded to equal pressures, both cartridges can achieve very similar muzzle-velocity, so the trajectories are not much different to usual hunting ranges. The larger cross-sectional area of the 8mm bullet allows it to accelerate faster but it also slows down faster, so the .30-’06 will have some advantage at long range. OTOH, that larger cross-section allows harder impact with equal weight of bullet, so it may be a wash. I’ve been killing deer with the 8mm using 44-46 grains of powder behind 170 and 150 grain bullets. The .30-’06 would take 5 or 6 grains more powder. At $40/lb retail, 5 grains costs $40/7000*5 = 3cents. Then the 8mm bullets usually cost more… so, again a wash. I still prefer the 8mm. I do have a .30-’06 but I don’t think I’ve ever killed a deer with it. One deer almost did me in when I was carrying that rifle, however. Perhaps it gives me bad vibes. With the heavier bullets, the .30-’06 can give higher muzzle-velocity because of that greater powder-charge. That’s rarely used however, except on grizzlies of which there are but few in northern Manitoba.

  2. dougman says:

    The 30-06 has more powder so as to achieve a flatter trajectory. Also, 30-06 is more readily available than 8mm. Now if you are reloading that’s different, but to insinuate 8mm is superior over 30-06 I kinda doubt the deer, elk, moose would notice much difference.

    I’ve hunted Elk with a Spanish Mauser in Idaho and that was 7.62×51, the guide like my rifle so much he bought it from me after the hunt. Only cost me $200 and he paid $500.


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