Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Spanish 1916 'Civil Guardia' Mauser rifle

Years ago I had one of these little Spanish Mauser's in 7x57mm. It was used hard, and wore many scars, but it cleaned up nice. It was a slick little rifle, and fun to shoot. Although the bore was 'iffy' it held decent groups and wasn't picky about it's loads. I paid $59.95 for that shooter, and shipping was included since it came with half a dozen other rifles.

I later gave the rifle to a friend who helped me move. To this day, it lives in his bedroom rather than his gun cabinet; He likes it that much.

I missed it about thirty seconds after I handed it over... and I always wanted another one, only in 7.62x51 Nato (not .308!). The Spanish re-barreled a bunch of these little Mauser's in that caliber in the 1950's, handing them out to the police, using some as training rifles.

Years after I gave the 7mm Mauser away, I found a 7.62 Guardia Civil on the rack in a local gun shop. After looking at the condition, I gave it all of five seconds consideration... and bought it at once. For $189 American it was all mine. The owner of the gun shop began to council me on the difference between .308 Winchester, which would fit in the rifle, and 7.62x51 Nato, which the little Mauser was actually chambered in. I let him know that not only was I aware of it, but the pretty little carbine would only see light hand loads from then on.

While there is a lot of controversy over the issue of action strength vs
chamber pressure with the old 1893 Mauser action this rifle uses, there has not been an instance of a 7.62x51 Civil Guardia coming apart that I can find. That said, it's an elderly design with steel and heat treating not up to modern standards. Originally built for the 7x57 Mauser, it was a good action for it's day, but is best confined to low pressure cartridges in keeping with it's builders intentions.

Even with the chambering itself, there is controversy. Some think it to be a 7.62mm Cetme round, others a 7.62x51mm NATO round.
One thing it's certainly not is a .308 Winchester, which has SAMMI pressure specs higher than both the others. 7.62x51 ammunition made to American military specifications is considerably lower pressure than the .308 commercial round, even though many modern rifles will shoot both with no problems.

I would not shoot commercial .308 in the Civil Guardia, and my specimen has seen only low pressure hand loads while I have owned it. If it really was designed for the 7.62 Cetme round, it has a lower pressure rating than even the 7.62 Nato (50,000 cup). The .308 Winchester commercial round can reach 60,000 cup, far in excess of what the 1893 Mauser action is rated at. The original 7x57 Mauser round is listed at 46,000 cup, clearly a much lower pressure cartridge.

While this Mauser has an excellent bore, almost appearing new, it simply refused to shoot jacketed bullets well. Slugging the bore revealed why. Instead of a .308 dimension, this one measures at .311! Normal .308 bullets bounce down the barrel, throwing patterns instead of shooting groups. I solved that by casting my own .311" bullets, the same used in my Lee-Enfields. Loading my own cast bullets solved the pressure issues as well, since these cast bullet loads have far lighter pressure loads than any jacketed high velocity round. With these it will shoot two inch groups at fifty yards, all day long.

The 1916 Civil Guardia uses a Mdl 93 Mauser action, which cocks on closing. Lacking the shroud on the rear of the bolt used on the 1898 action, the striker is clearly evident. The safety works the same as the 1895 and 1898 actions. Left to fire, up to lock the striker but not bolt operation, and right to lock up everything.

It also has a magazine floor plate designed to hold the action open with an empty magazine. The floor plate on many of these rifles was modified to suit civilian tastes, cutting an angle on the rear of the plate so the bolt would close without first depressing the plate in the empty magazine.

It's sights are standard old world Mau
ser, with a V notch rear on a graduated slide, and an inverted V front sight protected by very heavy ears wrapped around it. I prefer to remove the sight protector with it's ears while shooting. More than once I have lined up my sights on one ear or the other without noticing. They also block a significant portion of the target. It only requires pushing one pin out, then the collar with it's ears slides off.

For sling mounting
, the 1916 has a bar mounted in the left rear of the stock, and a swivel on the left side of the rear barrel band. The sling is positioned for carry in the European style, not shooting in the American style. Mounting the sling on the side of the rifle allows it to be carried comfortably across the back while on foot or horseback, a reasonable requirement for the day. Trying to use such a side mounted sling as an aid in shooting (American style) will often result in the bullet impact being pulled far to the left of the aiming point.

The barrel band and front stock cap/bayonet lug are held in by spring steel releases. Depress the band catch and slide off the band... it's that easy. The machine work on these band catches is exceptional, and reveals the quality of the rifle.

One feature of this rifle that can be confusing: To pull the cleaning rod from it's slot in the stock, the front band catch must be depressed. The cleaning rod spins freely in it's carry slot, acting like one unscrewed from it's stock nut and ready to be drawn. No amount of embarrassing tugging will pull the cleaning rod from it's home till the barrel band retainer is depressed.

This Mauser has a military crest unique to Spanish Mauser's. Like many, it's a bit faint but still quite visible. Formed from a sword crossed with a Roman fasce, the fasce being an ancient symbol of authority and justice. It consisted of a bundle of sticks bound around an ax, with the ax blade protruding.

Like most military Mauser rifles of the day, this rifle also uses 'capture' screws to hold the action bolts in place. These prevent the action bolts from unscrewing inadvertently. Often misplaced because of their small size, new ones are available from many sources, including Brownells.

All things considered, this is a fun little rifle. It's pleasant to shoot, recoil is moderate (with hand loads) and the history involved is exceptional. I would not hesitate to take it hunting, and have even considered shooting a match or two with it. If old Mausers are to your taste, and one of these becomes available, I'd suggest picking it up!


GR Triever said...

I have this rifle's "cousin", the Spanish FR-7 carbine, and it also lives in my bedroom closet. Thanks for the article on a gun that's fun to shoot, and a nice piece of history as well.

Conservative Scalawag said...

I am still looking for an Ishapore in 7.62,but would not mind having one of those either,which I never heard of before.

Nice write up and thanks for sharing.

Andy said...

Thanks for the post. I was considering one of those cousins myself, the FR-8. Other expenses reared their head , though.

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

I picked one up for $59 in the `80s and, not knowing anything about the concept of preserving old military rifles, I had apeture sights installed. I did try using .308 Federals, only to find out that the nose of the cartridges were destroyed by the feed ramp, so I stuck with milsurp ammo.

It shoots reasonably well, so I gather that the bore diameter is a bit smaller in mine than yours.

Khornet said...

I got a 1916 conversion to 7.62 in the late 80s for $89. You'll be horrified to learn that I got a sporter stock, rough-inletted and unfinished, then inletted, glass-bedded it, installed a Canjar trigger and new safety, had the bolt handle bent for a scope, oil-finished and checkered the stock, had it drilled and tapped for a scope and installed that. Then I worked up handloads using .308 dies and brass, keeping them on the easy side. She still shoots fine to this day

Anonymous said...

I got mine from SAMCO a few years back. I shot some South African 7.62 through it with disappointing results ~ about five inch groups at 50 yds. Unimpressed, i put it away until I read about sleeving the 308 down to 7.62x39 a few months later @
I sent my check off to
When the sleeve came I installed per directions and noticed two things; less recoil and more accuracy - down to about 2 to 2 1/2 in groups at 50 yds.
Principle downside is the 7.62x39 will not feed from the magazine. I, too, had to remove the front sight ears to make it usable.
It's still a favorite hog gun here in the Heart of Georgia.

Jared said...

One of these was the first rifle I owned that was not given to me. A couple of friends of mine were into reloading at the time so I decided to try my hand at it, and as you say 7.62 NATO is not .308 so I reloaded light loads for plinking. Which is what I wanted to do anyhow. Long story short, I double loaded one of the cases (Alliant 2400). The gun came apart blowing the magazine out, cracking the stock, and jamming the breech mechanism. I am fine except for a small powder burn scar above my left eyebrow about 1/16 of an inch dia. I am convinced the Mauser design saved me as well as the rifle being far stouter than it has been touted to be. Oh yeah, I was lucky...

Anonymous said...

The 7.62 is my very hi powered I bought and I love it but I have some issues I was told by a gun smith to use pointed .308 because the round tipe will and do jam also when I shoot at targets the patern is all over. The gunsmith also filed the screw on the rear sights to bring them down to shoot at 100 yards .I was woundering if you now where i could find a stock formine I just found out that the one I currenty have is the wrong one and that,s why it split.I would like to know if I can buy some .311 shell,s to try or do I have to make them . I don,t know every thing about rifle,s please help.

Rick said...

I just bought the 1st one you gave away. I only thing I needed for it was the front sight protector. It is in "Very Good" condition. NOTE: mine has no import stamps.

Thanks for your post!
Rick in Missouri

Anonymous said...

guys your gonna get sick but i just bought one at a gun show for $50 !! the seller had a $60 price tag but got him down to $50 . i think one thing that was on my side was that he said to get it looked at because the cartriges jam in it . so i brought it home and started to clean it but will take it to a good gunsmith for inspection . i didn't know what i bought but it reminded me of a old sweede i had years ago . once i found out what it was thanks to the putor i was very happy as i thought it was a chilean mauser at first . eat your hearts out fella's

jim shepherd said...

I just became acquainted with my Spanish mauser at the range today. The stamp ,under the barrel is the only i.d. ( arsenal and caliber) on the rifle, mine doesn't have the fasci/sword stamp. I ran 15 rounds of federal 150 grn 7.62x51 ammo through her and she turned out some nice groups. at 50 yds,four rounds were within an inch with one flyer. At 100 yds had 3 within an inch and two flyers. I'd have tried a few more groups but I had an enfield 2a ishapore "jungle carbine" I was shooting as well and trying to get something better than the 5 to 6 inch groups she was turning out. In any event, after 60 rounds fired my right shoulder was screaming for mercy. I'll be keeping the spaniard for a farm/tractor rifle (7.62x51 only, no .308!)and selling the jungle carbine.

Steve in Yakima said...

I purchased my M1916 about 25 years ago, and have LOVED this gun! I have fired both 7.62x51 and .308 Win and have never had an issue at all. I have also impressed friends by hitting targets out to 400 to 500 yards shooting offhand. Anyone i have allowed to shoot this gun falls in love with it too. She's a keeper!

T-T-Tommy said...

Scalawag, if you're hunting out an Ishapore, check this out. I inherited one myself and cleaned it up.

Anonymous said...

I picked mine up in 92 for forty bucks. A guy that I worked with needed to pay a ticket and was forty short. He had painted the stock black. after wearing a lot fo the black paint off, I am now in the process of sanding the stock down and refinishing it.

AMH said...

I bought one from Big 5 back in about '83. The ad clearly said Spanish Mauser .308. I bought it for $70 and the salesman happily shoved a couple boxes of Federal 180 gr elk loads into the bag. Not knowing I shouldn't I just as happily shot a couple hundred rounds of factory .308 loads at the range on my ranch without issue.
Around that time, I read an article by Col. Cooper about his Scout rifle concept and I started whittling away at the little carbine. All matching numbers, chrome barrel and no signs of wear from shooting forbidden ammo. Yes I have headspace gauges. I have recently decided to restock it and get a proper blue job done. I put Mod 70 iron sights on years ago but as good as they are my eyes just aren't so am considering drilling for a scope. This is probably the gun that goes in a tube, covered by dirt until the right moment to dig it and the reloading dies out of the ground for zombie wars...

ACduCE said...

Have been walking over Spanish Civil War sites around Madrid and am finding lots of 7mm. bullets marked with P S and various dates such as 1924 and 1937. What can you tell me about this ammo and the guns that fired these loads?asture

Hartley said...

ACduCE, I presume you are finding cases, not bullets..:-) The PS headstamp stands for "Pirotecnia Militar de Sevilla" which is (was?) a military arsenal in Seville, Spain. The dates, of course, are when those rounds were made.
As for guns, the earlier incarnation of the rifle CarTeach0 is talking about here (in 7mm Mauser) is likely what fired them.

Anonymous said...

My wife gave me one of these for a Christmas present in 2000, and it is a very nice little rifle, with pristine bore. What had gotten me interested in it was a Guns and Ammo article about these carbines that said that the importer (SAMCO, I think) had had one or more of the guns tested by H.P. White to verify they were properly converted. Per that article, the guns had been re heat treated as part of the conversion process that Spain performed on them. Also per the article, they tested one with overloads to destruction and it finally let go pretty close to 100,000 lbs pressure. I've only fired mine a bit with 7.62 ammo - shoots about two feet high at 100 yards. Due to that brite and shiny bore I want to try it out with cast bullets. Dave B

Anonymous said...

It will of course only bear obliquely in the 1916 rifle but the
7.62x51 vs .308 Win issue has become a bit more clear of late.

NATO has switched to using the same protocol and equipment as CIP

The Standard for 7.62x51 Nato is MPa/PSI 415.0 / (60,190) -Service

MPa /PSO 519.0 / (75,275)- PROOF

and the CIP for .308 win

BAR 4150 = MPa 415 - Max Avg
BAR 5190 = MPa 519 - Proof pressure

So the pressures of both cartridges at service/Avg Max and PROOF is are the same

Anonymous said...

several years ago SAMCO had an article on the rifle,,if my memory serves me the had WHITE LABS test and the SM passed all tests with flying colors..Maybe contact SAMCO and confirm,,,ymmv..