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Parker-Hale sporters are back!

* The Parker-Hale name should be familiar to any gun buff of long standing. I say "long standing" because after several years' absence from our market, this Birmingham-based English gunmaker, who has sold more centerfire rifles in America than any other British firm, has returned.

This time the P-H line is being imported by Precision Sports, Inc., Boc 708, Dept. GA, Cortland, NY 13045, and will be represented with more models than ever before--five in all, from the 100 Lightweight sporter to the 1100M African. In between are the Models 1000 Standard, 1200 Super and the M-81 Classic, all based on the old tried 'n' true Mauser action in commercial dress. Obviously, with all five models being based on the same action, they can't be that different from one another, but the P-H folks have incorporated enough variations in cosmetics and functional features--some of which are unique--to come up with five distinctive rifles.

At the time we reviewed the line, only three models were available: the M-81 Classic, the 1100 Lightweight and the 1100M African; so that's what we went with. Unfortunately, one model I especially wanted to see, the 1200 Super Clip, had not yet reached these shores. This particular variant features a modification to the conventional Mauser-type triggerguard/magazine assembly that enalbes it to accept a detachable clip.

The M-81 Classic model sent to us for review by Precision's president, Greg Pogson, was chambered in .30-06; the Light-weight was chambered in .243 Winchester, while the 1100M African was chambered in .458 Winchester Magnum.

The Copy in Parker-Hale's catalog describing the 1100M African Magnum starts out: "We have been building these powerful rifles for the control of dangerous and thick-skinned game for many years." I can attest to that, as I've run across several professionals on my African treks who used P-H Mausers in .458. Indeed, on a recent safari to the Masai steppes of central Tanzania I hunted with a chap by the name of Farouk Quareshi, a pro-hunter who in the off-season was the gunsmith for the government's game department. As such, Farouk was custodian to some 200 rifles, about 125 of which, he told me, were Parker-Hale .458s.

The fact that Parker-Hale is familiar with the requirements dictated by the realities of the African bush is evident in the design of the 1100M. The sample .458 sent me was strictly a utilitarian piece. the walnut stock was virtually without figure and had the look of having been painted rather than stained. The barreled action sports a matte-finish blue job, as does the botton metal (floorplate and triggerguard). Even the bolt and extractor are blued, but, alas, the latter only discolored to a very dark orange. for appearance, as well as practicality's sake, the extractor should have been kept in-the-white.

To keep the fire-control mechanism as strong, simple and foolproof as possible, the P-H folks decided to go pure '98 Mauser; hence the two-stage trigger, the bolt shroud, and the three-position wing safety are straight off the military action. In fact, the bolt, trigger and striker assembly of the test gun interchanged with a like parts from my desk paperweight--a stock original 1909 Argentine Mauser action. Being basically a commercial Mauser, however, the thumb and clip slots of a military '98 are not present, the bolt handle is turned down, and the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts. About the only component visibly different from both the military and commercial action is the bolt stop/release--for reasons which we'll go into later.

Still on the outside of the gun, we find there are two reinforcing crossbolts in the stock to strengthen the web at the front and rear of the magazine mortise. On the underside of the fore-end, about mid-way up, is an escutcheon into which is recessed a third bolt. Very close to the fore-end tip is a more or less permanent, screw-in-type swivel loop. While not as good as barrel-mounted swivel, this one was far enough forward so that one needn't worry about the off-hand getting bruised under recoil.

And speaking of recoil, despite a fairly stout 24-inch barrel measuring .700-inch at the muzzle, it was immediately apparent upon picking up this gun that it was butt-heavy, and there were weights inside that end of the stock--obviously to reduce recoil. The gun tipped the scale to the tune of 9 pounds, 14 ounces empty.

Upon removing the barreled action from the stock, one sees that the entire receiver and the first 5 inches of barrel are glass bedded, and there's an extra recoil lug brazed to the underside of the barrel some 2 inches forward of the receiver ring. It, of course, is in the glass bedded area of the stock. Accepting that forward-mounted screw (mentioned earlier) on the fore-end is a threaded boss brazed to the underside of the barrel. This too is glass bedded and thus acts as a third recoil lug. All things considered, I'd say the Parker-Hale folks have the stock splitting problem solved!

Another feature immediately noticeable upon disassembly is that the bottom metal is much heavier than its counterpart on any military or commercial action; it's all steel and has noticeably thicker walls. Indeed, this magnumized magazine weighs 12 ounces, whereas a typical, all-steel military or commercial unit weighs 7-1/2 ounces.

what is not immediately apparent upon examining the bottom metal on this .458 is that the box is of full-length magnum dimensions; as such, it will accomodate cartridges up to 3.64 inches in length, whereas a standard box will digest only 3.3-inch cartridges. Of course, being a .458, this magnumized box wasn't necessary, but obviously they are using the same unit on the .375 H&H version (the only other caliber offered in the 1100M), which does require the added length. This extra 1/4 inch is gained by extending both ends of the box. That unique bolt stop mentioned earlier allows the bolt to withdraw about 1/8 inch further that on a standard Mauser, so the back wall of the magazine is moved back proportionately. Up front, at least on the 3.75 version, another 1/8 inch or so would be milled out from the feed ramp to match the forward plane of the extended front section of the magazine. Thus 1/4 inch is gained. On my .458, this milling out at the front of the receiver wasn't present, so taking up the unneeded lenght in the box below was a thick piece of heavy rubber epoxied to the front wall.

As one has a right to expect from a Dangerous Game Rifle (DGR) such as this, which is virtually hand assembled, this .458 fed and extracted smoothly and flawlessly. Using the iron sights provided--a rigid, shallow V-blade in the rear and a hooded ramped bead up front--I had no trouble shooting 2-1/2 to 3-inch groups from the bench at 50 yards with factory Remington soft points. The gun's nearly 10-1/2-pound weight when fully loaded--that is, three rounds in the magazine and one up the spout--made this one of the more pleasant .458s I've played with.

For an out-of-the-box DGR, the Parker-Hale 1100M is a pretty good bet. I would, however, like to see a straight-combed classic stock rather than the Monte Carlo they are furnishing; and I also prefer a plain, oil-type finish to the paint-like coating they're using. Those are subjective points. the sights, however, are a different matter--they are too high, period. The rear base in which the shallow V-blade is dove-tailed is too thick and the blade itself way too tall. The net result is a line-of-sight 1-1/4 inches above the boreline; that's only 1/4 inch under the typical scoped rifle. Tha in itself is no major problem, providing the comb of the stock is high enough. It ain't! With my cheek properly positioned on the comb, I was looking about 1/2 inch under the sights. Perhaps for a very full-faced fellow (the male counterpart to that "full-figured woman") this sight arrangement would be okay, but for an average puss like mine of that of a thin guy, it's too high.

While I'm changing the sights, I'd also have 2 inches lopped off the 24-inch barrel; for me, that's too long a tube for a bolt-action Dangerous Game Rifle. But that too is a subjective evaluation.

The M-81 Classic is the model that immediately caugh my eye when I first paged through the Parker-Hale catalog. On opening the box, I wasn't disappointed; it is indeed a classy-looking rifle. The European walnut stock is on the light side color-wise but with enough dark striping for contrast. The checkering is hand done and of the wrap-around type on the fore-end. QD (quick detachable) studs are furnished which have integral stops that prevent the swivels from contacting and possibly marring the stock's finish. A rosewood grip cap and a Pachmayr Old English-style buttpad complete the ensemble.

The barreled action is nicely blued, and, unlike the African model, the bolt and extractor are left polished in the customary fashion. The bottom metal is all steel and of the Oberndorf, hinged-floorplate style. The catalog shows the M-81's barrel as being clean, but my gun arrived with Williams sights mounted. Upon fully reading the catalog, I found that irons could be ordered as an option. I'd prefer no sight ... and no tapped holes, either; but the tapped holes come free whether you want 'en or not.

Inside, the quality of the walnut used is evident by the extremely sharp inletting cuts. This particular gun had one of the finest machine-cut inletting jobs I've ever seen. Despite the presence of a reinforcing crossbolt/recoil lug, the receiver ring area and the first inch or so of the barrel were glass bedded.

The commercial-style bolt shroud is typical of those used on the FN, Santa Barbara and Mark X Mausers and therefore requires a trigger assembly with a side safety. It's of Parker-Hale design and manufacture ... and a good one which blocks the movement of both trigger and sear. It locks the actions, too, which I personally don't like, but that's easily remedied by simply grinding off 1/8 inch from the extension leg that juts up into the receiver and prevents the bolt from rotating. for bench testing, I mounted a Tasco World Class 1.75-5X scope in Parker-Hale's own bases and rings. The rings are kinda' massive-looking, but that's because they're of aluminum and presumably the added bulk is needed for strength and thread purchase. Any mount system for a commercial Mauser can also be used.

The third rifle, the Model 1100 Light-weight in .243, differed from the M-81 in that it had a 22-inch barrel of thinner contour, an aluminum triggerguard/magazine assembly, and a hollowed out bolt knob. Also, the Monte Carlo stock had a more slender, abrreviated forearm ending in a pronounced Schnabel tip. The aforementioned weight-saving measures are effective to the tune of 6 pounds, 11-1/2 ounces.

Considering the dual-purpose nature of the .243, I mounted a Bushnell 3-9X scope in Redfield mounts. The total package weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces.

There were no surprises when it came time to put some factory ammo through the two guns. Parker-Hale hammer forges their own barrels and, judging from the groups I got, they apparently do a good job of it. The .243 averaged 1-1/4-inch groups using Federal premium 85-grain BTs, with one five-shot cluster going just under an inch. Indeed, the worst of six groups fired measured 1-1/2 inches! Norma's 110-grain loading didn't do as well, but, averaging 1-3/4 inches, it wasn't all that bad, either. I then tried one handload, an old standby concoction of 43.0 grains of IMR-4350 and an 85-grain Sierra spitzer, and got a 1-1/4-inch average for 20 shots, discounting a couple of fliers.

The '36 Classic didn't quite match the .243, despite its heavier barrel. But here again, both factory loads I tried--PMC's 180-grain and Federal Premium 200-grain--punched very respectable groups ranging from 1-5/8 to 2-3/8 inches. One handload--57.0 grains of IMR-4831 and a 180 grain Hornady spire point--kept three of four 5-shot groups under 1-1/2 inches. Obviously, both guns were capable of fine accuracy, whether using ready-rolled ammo or handloads.

These Parker-Hales are good, solid guns, and they should be given serious consideration by anyone who's decided he wants a Mauser-based rifle. Suggested retail price for the 1100M African is $695; the M-81 Classic is $525, and the 1100 Lightweight $450. Caliber choices in the M-81, 1200 Super and Super Clip are: .22-250, .243, 6mm Remington, 6.5x55, .270, 7x57, 7x64, .308, .30-06, 7mm Remington and .300 Winchester Magnums. The 1100 Lightweight and 1000 Standard can be had in all the aforementioned calibers save the two magnums. The 1200 Super Varmint is offered in .22-250, .243, 6mm Remington, .25-06, and the 1100M only in .375 H&H and .458.

Pictures and complete specs are contained in the parker-Hale catalog available from Precision Sports, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 1985 InterMedia Outdoors, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.
JC Campbell
Joseph C. Campbell (Member): Joseph Campbell 3/7/2011 3:05 PM
I've own'ed and still own many guns, but bar-none there has never been any one built better or more reliable than the Parker-Hale.
When these guns first hit the market here we didn't know what a deal they were and still are if you can find one.
Many times people have passed up and traded off these Parker-Hale rifles for guns made cheaper because of a know name.
Thanks;
JC Campbell

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Author:Sundra, Jon
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Jul 1, 1985
Words:2176
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