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 Mauser, 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!
Update on Oklahoma beheading & defense
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