April 2006

Messy Old Mausers: Good Deals For the Knowledgeable Buyer?

Curios & Relics, and full of grease, these old Mausers purchased from Southern Ohio Gun might make you a few bucks over the years, and could be fun shooters in the bargain.

The Mauser 98, in most of its many variants, is one of the finest rifle actions ever developed, and one of the most long-lived. Today, we see that Remington has just announced its own version of the old German design in a “new” rifle. But you can still occasionally find inexpensive variants of the old M98 war-horse in original versions, as issued to troops in countries all over the world, offered for sale by some of the major importers, and that’s how we got our three test rifles. Southern Ohio Gun (SOG) had a sale, and we acquired three slightly different M98s for evaluation. Before we saw these rifles, we thought any of them would provide at least a decent action for a custom rifle, always with the understanding that custom rifles will almost certainly cost way more than just going out and buying a Ruger or Remington. But some folks are happy to spend lots of money for a personalized, one-off rifle, and the M98 is one of the best actions to use for such a project. One of our just-bought actions — the German one — was badly deformed on the forward part of its front ring, removing it from any reasonable consideration for use on a custom rifle. The other two could be made into custom rifles, but that’s not necessary, because any decent older 98 ought to be a good long-term investment, and should provide lots of shooting fun along the way. Do these 98s have any value, other than for collectors?

We bought three M98 variants from SOG, all 8mm rifles. They were a German K98 (SLG-K98 SB, $140), a Yugoslav Mauser M24/47 (SLG-M24/47, $110), and a Model 1903/38 (SLG-T03, $90). All fell into the class of Curios & Relics. Each rifle was tagged with a notice that stated the guns had not been inspected by a gunsmith, so there was no obvious guarantee we had three viable rifles. In fact, they all were thickly coated with cosmoline when they arrived, so we actually had no idea what was there. Were they worth their price, or just a total waste of money? Let’s take a look.

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