Classy European Bolt Guns: Mauser M12 and Blaser R8 Pro
German built, but in a true-blue American chambering: 30-06 Springfield. We find out if these luxury hunters performed as well as we hoped they would, and our shooters weren’t disappointed.
Germany has always been a leader in firearms development both for military and sporting use. The country also has a rich history of hunting. We wanted to take a look at two rifles with Teutonic hunting heritage, so we asked our dealers to wrangle up a Mauser M12 and Blaser R8. If there ever was an iconic bolt-action rifle on both sides of the Atlantic, it is the Mauser. Since 1871, Mauser has produced countless military and sporting bolt-action rifles. Mauser M98 rifles have been copied by many other rifle makers. Hallmark Mauser design features, like the action, three-position safety, and internal box magazine are built into rifles made by companies like Rigby, Winchester, CZ, Kimber, and others. The M12, however, is not a control-feed bolt action but is actually a push-feed bolt like a Remington, Sako, Weatherby, and others.
The Blaser (pronounced BLAH-zer) is a unique take on the bolt-action rifle because it uses a straight-pull bolt and offers interchange barrels in a range of calibers for gophers to elephants. Blazer had made a name for itself as an innovator of luxury hunting rifles, and though it could be debated that this German rifle is over engineered, we found some innovative features on a hunting rifle we didn’t know we needed or wanted.
Either rifle would make an excellent deer rifle, we found, as well as top choices to take black bears, wild pigs, speed goats, and other hooved North American game. They both performed well in operation and in accuracy and after spending quality time with them, we can see why they command such a high price.
Both rifles were chambered in 30-06 Springfield, which is the benchmark caliber for American hunting cartridges. Our testers have a lot of experience with the cartridge, and we suspect that every bolt-action hunting rifle currently sold in the U.S. is available in 30-06. The round is versatile, easily found in stores, offers a range of bullet types and weights, and is at the upper level of tolerable recoil, especially when shooting the round out of lightweight hunting rifles. Both of these rifles hovered at seven pounds unscoped. For ammo in this test, we used Black Hills Gold loaded with a 180-grain Nosler AccuBond bullet and two hunting rounds from Hornady: Full Boar with a 165-grain GMX bullet and American Whitetail with a 150-grain InterLock bullet.
We mounted the rifles with the same optic, a SIG Tango6 2-12x40mm ($1600; CheaperThanDirt.com). This is a first focal plane–reticle scope, so the reticle increases and decreases in size as the magnification is increased or decreased. Testers liked this FFP scope because the milling reticle can be used at any magnification to estimate range. The Tango6 is equipped with an illuminated MOA Milling reticle. We could adjust reticle illumination as needed, and if we forgot to turn it off, the scope automatically turns off the illumination after six minutes of rest and powers back on as soon as it senses motion. We would have liked a parallax adjustment knob to really fine-tune the reticle, since we noticed the reticle moved ever so slightly as we moved our head and eye. Not a lot of movement, but enough to note. The scope also features Zerolock turrets, which means you can’t lose zero if you rotate the turrets too much in either direction. Turret dials need to be pulled out to make adjustments then pushed back. Adjustments could be felt and seen easily, so getting our dope was simple after bore sighting. All adjustments were clearly marked, which we liked. The magnification ring used two fiber-optic dots that glowed to give the user a heads up on the magnification the scope was set at. Turrets and the magnification ring were toothy, with lots of texture, so rotating the dials was effortless. We could adjust the reticle easily while looking at it on target. For mid-range and typical hunting distances, we think the SIG scope would be a fine choice on these rifles. Where the bullet hits the paper is the real test of how well these rifles will do in the game field and deer stands. Here are the details on these luxury game getters.