A little over a year ago I put a couple of Mauser M03’s through their paces at the range and was pleasantly surprised by their handling and shooting capabilities (see Meccano Mauser). Until that time I had been a serial Blaser user and anyone who knows me will know what I’m talking about, but after a day spent with the Mausers I decided that I should put one on the range and see how it coped with a years abuse as well as putting it through its paces in the field, the only dilemma was what calibre to have, I already had a couple of 308’s a 243 and the 6.5 x 55 so the logical choice was a .223 giving me the option of easily available target ammo for the range with a decent hunting round availability to boot for foxes and maybe even Muntjac.
A few days later TNT delivered a sinister looking brown cardboard box with an Open Season sticker on it, the eagle had landed. Once I’d opened it up I quickly got down to dressing it up with a scope, bipod and moderator, a Swarovski Z6i 2.5 -15 x 44 on top and a Jet Z Compact on the end, the only problem was that with the additional weight of the mod and the bipod it led to an already substantial outfit becoming very unbalanced, the only solution – up to Simon Lawrence for a shorten and a new Titanium moderator. 4 days later and TNT arrived again and hey presto a properly balanced outfit, but how would it shoot with the new shorter barrel? Before I sent it away I checked with Robert at Open Season on the twist rate and was pleasantly surprised when I was told it was 1:10 meaning it could deal with bullet weights up to almost 70 grains so I didn’t hesitate in asking for the barrel to be shortened to 18 inches as I had little intention in using anything over 55 grains.
I already had a stock of .223 52 grain target ammunition and some factory Sako medicine for foxes so it was off to the range to see how it would perform. Without going into the nitty gritty, the target ammunition performed how I would expect it to, with 13 out of 15 rounds going into a 2cm hole with a couple just off due to heat haze virtually obscuring the target! The hunting ammunition shot a 2cm group, more than acceptable at 100m. Please remember here that target ammunition is designed to be slippery and accurate at much greater distances than 100m with 600m not being uncommon, it isn’t designed to shoot game with, bullet manufacturers spend millions of dollars on R & D to develop rounds suited to different disciplines and provide plentiful information on what their products are designed to do, they even put pictures on the boxes for those who may find reading a bit challenging so please listen to them, a 3-4 cm group at 100m or a 6 -8 cm group at 200m is quite sufficient to effectively dispatch small to medium sized game providing the correct bullet is used so for anyone reading this who “head shoots foxes and deer at 400 yards” – come and show me, I have somewhere you can demonstrate your skill – a small place called cloud cuckoo land! Countless times I have avid reloaders testing loads for accuracy at the range at 100m which is all well and good but the only real measure of how good their ammunition is, is by using it for its intended purpose – accuracy means sod all without performance, terminal ballistics beat interior and exterior ballistics every time when it comes to shooting game, especially as the average stalker struggles to consistently hit a 10 inch metal disc at 100 m using sticks for support – sorry, rant over, back to the Mauser!
So, I was happy with how the rifle would shoot so it was now just a case of putting plenty of rounds down it to see if there were any shortcomings. Well I’m happy to say that the rifle only appeared to get better, the cycling of the bolt got smoother and slicker, not that it wasn’t slick and smooth before, the quick detach mounts stayed true during countless strip downs maintaining accuracy within a cm or two from zero – in short I needed a rifle for the range that could stand some serious use and since delivery last year has seen well over 3000 rounds – admittedly not a huge amount compared to a proper range rifle in use at Bisley week in week out, but for an everyday sporting rifle that is a lot of rounds. Out in the field the story continued and whilst not a regular fox shooter, the Sako 50 grain ammunition with a Nosler ballistic tip certainly left no doubt in my mind that as a full time foxing rig, the weight and stability which the Mauser delivers would take some beating, certainly the foxes that succumbed to it didn’t disagree!
After 15 months of use it has performed flawlessly in every respect and I honestly can’t recommend them highly enough for their accuracy, engineering quality, robustness and of course the ability for calibre changes within specific groups, mini being 222 and 223, medium being 22-250 up to 9.3 x 62 and magnum from 7mm Rem mag up to the mighty 458 Lott with much in between, the only changes necessary being a different bolt head and magazine, the bolt head being significantly easier to change than the Blaser. Various stock options are available from a synthetic option all the way through to very high end wooden options with models in between such as the prettier Alpine variant and even including a cleverly designed Stutzen version with removable forearm. The Mauser makes a perfect alternative to the Blaser and will appeal to more traditional rifle shooters for whom the straight pull action of the Blaser is just a little too radical and in all fairness the ones I have supplied have been just so with wood upgrades and multi barrel outfits, the most popular being a combination of 30-06 with a 375 Holland and Holland magnum or 300 win mag barrel giving an all round UK deer calibre as well as a useful round for African or European game.
Sadly with the business moving forwards and The Safari Club making its first trip to Africa next year I decided to offer the M03 extreme for sale, it went in days, thankfully to a friend who has fallen in love with it and is wreaking havoc on his local fox population, but every cloud has a silver lining and the M03 Extreme has been replaced by a lovely M03 Alpine with 308 & 300 Win Mag barrels in readiness for next years Africa trip – from Foxes in the Cotwolds to Wildebeest in The Eastern Cape, the Mauser is game for anything.
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