It's a good day for Range time with an old battle rifle, all the better to remember the sacrifices made by our soldiers over sixty years ago on far away beaches. This weekend saw endless articles on the D-day invasion, and many commemorations of the event. Happening before my time, the stories my father told still ring clear out of memory.
On this day, I'm shooting a Yugoslavian M48b Mauser in pristine condition. I discussed this rifle, and it's brethren some time ago on this blog. No, it never saw a beach, nor even a battle, but it shares in the Mauser heritage, which saw fighting in every war of the 20th century. Different people remember and commemorate in different ways. I choose to spend some range time behind a rifle, and give thought to what those men faced so long ago.
I placed a few targets at 100 yards, and three at 200 yards. Now, some readers might be saying things like: "Right, two hundred yards with an old Mauser and open sights!" Or, maybe something like: "Good luck you old fart, I hope you were able to hit the hill!"
You see, the sights on this Mauser (made in the '50s) are basically the same as they were on those made in the late 1800's. A tiny V notch rear and an inverted V front blade. Small, hard to see, and difficult to align. In addition, the trigger is rough two stage military, with a long raspy take up and a crunchy let off. Could these things be 'fixed'? Yes, easily..... and I have done so to other Mausers that are not so matching and perfect as this one.
No, this particular rifle will be kept as found, and fired as such.
But.... It was built as a battle rifle and it shoots like one, with all the good and bad traits that entails. In this case, it means shooting into a one foot target at 200 yards is not so difficult. Just shoot the rifle as it was built to be used!
Now that doesn't mean 200 yards looks any closer. As the photo shows.... those targets get small when they are way out there! Yet.... nothing ventured, nothing gained. Lets take the shots and see what happens.
Having fired my five at 200, and wanting to see the damage close up, I revved up the mobile footwear and trekked the length of the range. Truth be told.... the bench looks as far away from the targets, as the targets from the bench. Who woulda thunk it?
Hmm.... five rounds, five holes. Not bad for an old battle rifle firing ammunition equally as old, especially with eyesight like mine.
A little more reality... the target shown below was the best of the three... The old eyes really do need a little help now. I'll shoot open sights as long as I can get away with it, but I have no qualms using good optics when precision is key.
The rifle was designed to be fired standing up. Used that way, it's not hard to handle, and launches the 196 grain bullets down range with minimal damage to the shooters shoulder. If I was shooting a 58 round match with this rifle, it would have a temporary pad installed, but for just plinking at some targets the recoil is part of the charm.
That said, bench shooting is a different story. Here the rifle sits differently and the body can not absorb the recoil as easily. Far more is transfered directly rearwards to the shoulder. This can seen in the slow motion video of a round being fired from the bench...
My suggestion.... install a temporary strap on pad if bench shooting more than a few rounds with a short Mauser like this! I can shoot a double match with my long Turk Mauser, over 100 rounds, and not mind a bit. Ten from the bench with this shorter rifle has more effect, and not as pleasant.
Today I was shooting 1950's Yugoslavian surplus military 8x57 ammunition. Very corrosive.... so good cleaning is a must. I began the process right there at the range, with a thorough swab out using Breakfree CLP. Cleaning right away lessens any chance of forgetting, or of damaging the bore from corrosion. I shoot a LOT of old surplus corrosive ammunition, and simply cleaning quickly and well is all it takes.... just a few minutes extra.
Clean early, clean often, and shoot more often too! Life is too short to pass up on the enjoyment of it.
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