The 1893 and 1895 Mausers: when military rifles had old world craftsmanship.
The truth is the Model 93 and 95 actions are very suitable for the cartridges for which they were chambered, notably the 7x57, 7.65x53 and 6.5x55. More importantly to collectors, many models exhibit some of the finest craftsmanship and finish ever lavished on a military firearm.
We owe the 1893 Spanish Mauser in 7x57 a debt one might not think of. At the battle of San Juan Hill, 15,000 US troops armed with .30-40 Krags and .45-70 Trapdoors attacked a garrison manned by 700 Spaniards armed with Model 1893 Mausers. With the rapidity of fire offered by the clip-fed Mausers combined with the excellent ranging qualities of the 7x57 cartridge, those 700 Spaniards inflicted 1,400 casualties on the attacking US forces.
It was the wake-up call for the US military, who were forced to conclude the future lay in clip-loaded Mausers and rimless, smokeless-powder cartridges. The battle of San Juan Hill may have done more to promote the development of the 1903 Springfield than any other single event in history, and to think we ended up paying Mauser a royalty for privilege of making the "Springfield Mausers."
In some ways, history was to repeat itself in the Anglo-Boer War of 18991902 when Boer Commandos, armed with Model 1893/1895 Mausers, proved to be an exceedingly tough match for the Brits. One of the constant themes of the conflict was the accurate, long-range fire the Boers rained down on their adversaries. As the Boers would put it, "Vertroue in God en die Mauser" --"Faith in God and the Mauser."
The Brits were so impressed by the Boers' 7x57 Mausers, they went on to design their Mauser-based Pattern 1914 action and a high-velocity 7mm round (.276) to go with it. Had it not been for the advent of WWI and the crisis the conflict created in British small arms supply lines, that intriguing combination would have been the official replacement for the Lee Enfield and the .303 cartridge.
The last great batch of Model 1895 Mausers in 7x57 to come our way was from Chile. The Model 95 was also adopted by Mexico, Uruguay, Persia, China, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. In fact, some of the Chilean Model 95s carry the code "O.V.S.", standing fin the "'Orange Free State." Reportedly, because of the success of the British blockades, these rifles never reached South African shores, were returned to the factory where the Chilean crest was applied to the receiver ring, and sold to Chile as part of the contract. Keep you eyes out for them!
The small ring Chilean Model 95 rifle or carbine is a slight improvement over the Spanish Model 1893. The lower portion of the bolt head of the Chilean is round rather than being rectangular. The rear of the follower is milled at an angle so that one can close the bolt on an empty magazine. The Chilean model features a small shoulder behind the root of the bolt handle that serves as a safety lug and stabilizes the bolt in its fully retracted position. The Chilean also features a solid left receiver wall without the familiar Mauser thumb cut.
The Chilean was made by DWM, the company that owned Mauser. Owned Mauser? Yes, Ludwig Lowe & Company of Berlin bought all the Mauser stock in 1887. Paul Mauser remained as the technical genius of the Mauser Works in Oberndorf and firearms produced at Oberndorf continued to carry the Mauser name. Ludwig Lowe & Co., on the other hand, also fulfilled many of the military contracts including those for rifles, Luger pistols and Maxim machine guns under their own name. Through a series of acquisitions including metallic cartridge and powder companies, Lowe finally changed the Berlin factory name to "Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken" (DWM).
Like many of the 1891, 1893, 1895, 1896 model Mausers, the Chilean reflects the high level of German workmanship expended on making a firearm reflecting as favorably on the producing country as it did Mauser. Make no mistake about it, Germany's prestige and political influence in foreign policy matters followed the Mauser contracts throughout the world. In Chile, for example, a German military mission was established in Chile, which served as instructors at the Chilean War College and general advisors until WWI.
The Chilean Model 95 simply glows. The metal surfaces are perfectly polished. The rust- and fire-blued finishes of the rifle rival those of any custom work. All essential parts, including the stock, are numbered to the gun and even the screw heads carry acceptance marks. It's the type of milsurp you just enjoy looking at for the workmanship evidenced in each and every one of its individual parts.
While we're all a bit influenced by the mystique of the Model 98, Paul Mauser's earlier models have a fascination and a level of quality all of their own. Don't pass them by.
FURTHER READING MAUSER BOLT RIFLES BY LUDWIG OLSON, HARDCOVER, 372 PAGES, [c] 2002, $45.47 BROWNELLS, (800) 741-0015, WWW.BROWNELLS.COM
M1895 CHILEAN MAUSER Maker: DWM Oberndorf, Germany Action type: Bolt action Caliber: 7x57mm Capacity: 5 Overall length: 48.6" Barrel length: 29" Sights Front: Inverted V Rear: V-notch, adjustable from 400 to 2,000 meters Weight: 8.8 pounds Finish: Blue Stock: Walnut, oil finished Value: $500 (Very good condition, according to the Standard Catalog of Military Firearms, 3rd Edition by Ned Schwing, [c] 2005, Gun Digest Books, 700 East State Street, Iola, WI 54990, 715/445-2214, www.krause.com.)