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Guns

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Remington Rolling Block (Argentine Contract Pattern)

I've not been able to learn much about this piece. It is built to the same pattern and .43 Spanish caliber as an 1879 Argentine contract gun, but lacks any of the Argentine markings. Somewhere along the way I read an article which speculated many guns like this were assembled from left over parts and sold on the American market. Wherever it lived, this particular rifle hadn't fired many rounds. I shoot it once every other year or so. Aside from the world's heaviest trigger pull and a slow lock time, its great fun to shoot. You have to wait for the smoke to clear to see where the bullet went.

Argentine Rolling Block

Remington Rolling Block

1888 Commission Rifle

The Gew '88 had a relatively short career as a main battle rifle for the German army, but that doesn't mean they saw little service. In fact, most of them lived a hard life. This all matching example is not quite so pretty as it looks in a small picture, but it managed to sneak through without being rebuilt. The '88 was not a great design. Being the product of a commission, it combined poor design features from several existing rifles, including an en-bloc clip loading system and a jacketed barrel. Although it would be fun to shoot, the bore is a bit rough, and who knows what evils lurk under the barrel jacket. As such it serves today in the role of living room art object.

Gew 88 Commission Rifle
Gew 88 Commission Rifle action

Mauser Model 71/84 (Spandau 1888)

The classic 11mm Mauser was built at a time when German martial craftsmanship was as much a reflection of Prussian pride as the fulfillment of any military need. Virtually every part (with the exception of the bolt stop washer) is numbered to the gun. Beautiful wood, deeply struck cartouches and a level of fit and finish any wealthy sportsman would be pleased to have in his gun case. Its a shame they were intended to slog through the mud in the hands of a foot soldier.

71/84 Mauser Spandau 1888
71/84 Mauser Spandau

71/84 11mm Mauser

Model 1889 Danish Krag

My knowledge of Danish Krags is pretty slim. The caliber is 8 x 58r, and the barrel is surrounded by a metal jacket. Another interesting feature of this version of the Krag is the loading gate, which has a cute little locking knob on top and swings outward. This may well be the only thing one could do to a Krag action which makes it even clumsier to load than the US and Norwegian versions. The grasping grooves are different between the left and right hand sides of the stock.

1889 Danish Krag
Danish Krag Rifle

1889 Danish Krag Jorgensen

Mauser Model 1891 Argentine Contract (B Serial)

This was one of those "don't need it, but want it" purchases. The market at large places a premium on DWM manufactured guns. As with most everything in my life, I prefer to be a contrarian and prize the older Loewe marked examples. There is nothing to call between them in terms of quality, it's strictly a matter of perception. Small differences on early vs. late 1891s include the tip of the cleaning rod, which at some point was changed from brass to plain steel, and a longer hand guard. Notice the difference in de-milling from one gun to another. It's a shame they did it at all. Thankfully, this practice was abolished when the 1909s were sold off.

Mauser 1891 Argentine Contract
Argentine Mauser

Mauser Model 1891 Argentine Contract (L Serial)

The Argentine government sure bought some nice rifles. As they didn't go to war very often, quite a few have survived in pristine condition. The '91 used Mauser's original 7.65 x 53 smokeless cartridge. Today, I make brass from 30-06 and use the same bullets as for .303 British. While not as safe as the later 98 Mauser actions, the 91 action is none the less acceptably robust and respectably accurate. I never shoot military loads anyway. It seems foolish to me to stress 100 year old steel. Although the de-mil process on this rifle included grinding the crest off of the receiver, the one on the stock was left in place.

Argentine Contract Mauser 1891

Argentine Mauser

1891 Argentine Contract Mauser

Mauser Model 1891 Argentine Contract (R Serial)

Originally, this was my almost too nice to shoot-r. Then on my way out of a gun show one day I spotted the L serial '91 above. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be even better than this one. So now this one sees the range a little more often. Notice the extended hand guard on this later DWM gun. By the time the various 1895 models rolled around, military procurement had come to realize a full hand guard was essential for handling a hot gun.

1891 Argentine Mauser DWM

Argentine Contract Mauser 1891

1891 Argentine contract Mauser

Mauser Model 1891 Engineer's Carbine

The difference between mountain carbines, engineer's carbines and artillery carbines eludes me. I think the mountain carbine has an extra band with a bayonet lug. I've always thought of the plain ones like this as engineer's carbines. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Unlike the 1894 Swedish carbine, which kicks like a mule, the '91 Argentine carbine is a joy to shoot. It looks a little nicer in the photo than in reality, but the bore is near mint. When I bought it, the guy had this Loewe built gun and a DWM. The DWMs came later and there are fewer of them, but his was in poorer condition, so I chose old age and condition over the manufacturer's name.

Model 1891 Engineers Carbine
Mauser Model 1891 Engineer's Carbine

US Model 92/96 Krag Jorgensen

I hope I got that right. This is a model 1892 rifle which has been arsenal updated by filling the cleaning rod channel in the stock. The action is dated 1894, and the stock carries an 1895 cartouche. Although chosen as the first US smokeless powder repeating rifle in 1892, it would be two years before Springfield Arsenal actually began production. How the Norwegian design came to be chosen over rifles such as the 1891 Mauser is beyond me. In its favor as a classic shooting toy, it must be said the action is smooth and crisp - much more pleasant than any Mauser military rifle. Unlike the Danish and Norwegian Krags, the US model does not use the bolt handle as a secondary locking lug. With only one locking lug, loads are kept to very modest power levels. After all, how much power does it take to perforate an old stolen road sign at 150 yards?

92/96 Krag Jorgensen

92/96 Krag Jorgensen

92/96 Krag Jorgensen

Model 1894 Norwegian Krag

As a Norwegian design, it was inevitable the Krag would be adopted, and enjoy its longest service life in Norway. This example was manufactured under Nazi occupation in 1944! While the craftsmanship is nowhere near what may have been expected at the turn of the century, it is remarkably good considering the circumstances in which it was produced. Many of the parts, including the stock are numbered. This seems an extravagant luxury at such a late date. As proof of it's wartime occupation heritage, the gun exhibits Nazi acceptance stamps. The Norwegian Krag shares certain features with the US and Danish versions, though it is chambered for Norway's own 6.5 x 55 cartridge. Like the US rifle, the cartridge door is hinged at the bottom. Like the Danish rifle, the bolt handle serves as a secondary locking lug. One can appreciate this feature on a bolt with only one locking lug.

1894 Norway Krag 6.5x55

1894 Norwegian Krag 6.5x55

1894 Norwegian Krag

Swedish m/94 Carbine (Carl Gustafs stads gevärsfaktori)

Military thinking of the day understood engineers and artillery men couldn't carry full size rifles, but they had yet to understand all soldiers should have a light and handy rifle. The 1894 carbines were built from scratch as carbines, not cut down from rifles. This example is all matching and has an excellent bore. Unfortunately, it has been heavily (and rather poorly) sanded. The barrel extension is a common American addition. Apparently at one time it was thought the barrels were too short to be legal, so owners and importers added a short extension to the muzzle cap. Although the 1891 Argentine carbines are pleasant to shoot, for some reason this little gun kicks like a mule. The normal unit marking disc has been replaced by a bore disc. I do not know if this is correct or if it was simply put there to fill the otherwise empty hole in the stock.

Swedish m/94 Carbine

Swedish Model 1894 Carbine action

Mauser 1895 Chilean Contract (C serial)

As with the Argentineans, Chile certainly did not skimp on rifles. By 1895, Mauser was using a double stack magazine, but this is still a small ring action. Workmanship is first rate, with all the major components numbered to the gun. From the condition of the fire blue on the magazine follower, this example is very close to, if not an unfired gun. As time goes by, I'm becoming less inclined to shoot my really nice condition rifles, thus the nearly identical shooter listed below. With the exception of a few minor handling marks, and some slight rubbing on the bolt release, there's not not much to improve on this gun.

Mauser Chilean 1895
1895 Cjilean Mauser Contract

1895 Chilean Contract Mauser

1895 Chilean Mauser CartoucheMauser 1895 Chilean Contract (D serial)

As a shooter, the 1909 Argentine combines the safety of the '98 action with one of my favorite cartridges, the 7.65x53, but 7mm is my most favorite old Mauser plinker round. Coincidentally, the Chilean Mausers happen to be in 7x57. This gun certainly wouldn't have come so cheap if it didn't have a mismatched bolt. Now I have a very pretty shooter, and no worries about wearing the fire blueing off the follower. Best of all worlds. I love going to the range and watching while the hunters try to find some sort of awkward rest on top of a rock. While they struggle to get "arranged," I'll go ahead and knock a couple holes in whatever they're trying to shoot at off hand with the Mauser. You can always tell their noses get tweaked by the fact they have to shoot at, and hit, the same targets I'm hitting with my old rotting wood and rusting metal antique.

Model 1895 Chilean Contract Mauser
1895 Chilean Contract Mauser
1895 Chilean Mauser

1896 Swedish Mauser

Most countries would have been thrilled to manufacture a gun as fine as the Swedes rebuilt theirs. Other than a couple missmatched (non critical) parts, this 1913 Carl Gustavs rebuild could easily be passed off as new. The bore is perfect, the bluing is perfect and the stock is new. It cost $79 by mail order and I don't recall asking for a "hand picked" gun. The funny spot on the safety is a lead seal wired to the safety. Oh, and its accurate too. There is a great story, when Mauser built the first model '96 rifles under contract, the Swedish government required them to use Swedish steel specifications. Imagine telling the Germans their steel wasn't good enough.

1896 Swedish Mauser
Model 96 Swedish Mauser

Mauser Model 1909 Argentine Contract (E serial)

Among the late 19th and early 20th century Mausers, its hard to say which was the absolute pinnacle of quality. I've never seen a mint Gew 98 to compare, but the 1909 Argentine must be awful close to the top. After attending the Pomona gun show several times, and seeing some really beautiful rifles for sale, I figured it was about time to buy one for myself. And it was just in time too, a year later the local government assholes outlawed gun shows in Pomona. Heaven forbid they should draw money and commerce to the property. This example has the matching brass and steel muzzle cover. If I own a rifle which defines new or mint condition, this is it.

1909 Argentine Contract Mauser

Mauser Model 1909 Argentine Contract (K serial)

Back in the '90s, 1909 Argentines were anything but valuable, that being said, I still have no desire to shoot a now 100 year old gun which has survived this long without being used. As any collector will tell you, this is more than sufficient justification to buy a shooter. By the late 2000s, values had climbed to where a shooter cost as a much as a wall hanger some years prior. Although values continue to inch upward, the 1909 is still probably one of the best deals, for one of the best made collectable Mausers.

Mauser 1909 Argentine Contract
1909 Argentine Mauser

Model 1911 Schmidt Rubin

This is the second major variation in the line of Swiss straight pull rifles. Although none of the Schmidt Rubin actions would be considered strong, this version was an improvement of the original Model of 1889. This rather long rifle is a joy to shoot. When clean and well cared for, the action is fast and crisp. However, the record of straight pulls in combat is decidedly mixed. Its probably just as well for the Swiss they never had to fight with these guns.

1911 Schmidt Rubin

SMLE No I Mk III* (BSA)

I think this may have been my first ever mail order rifle out of Shotgun News. I spent the extra $10 bucks for hand pick, and for my $100 or so got a fresh cadet rifle. The forend wood is all new, dated 1947, and the barrel was pleasingly perfect as well. With an action dated 1917, it's a fair bet this old soldier saw service during the Great War.

Short Magazine Lee Enfield

SMLE No1 MkIII*

SMLE No I Mk III* (Lithgow)

Yup, the star really belongs there on the name. It denotes the fact the magazine cutoff has been removed. The cutoff was there so a soldier, faced with anhilation by German troops, could treat his rifle as a single shot and keep the capacity of the magazine in "reserve." Yeah sure. If I had to carry a bolt gun in combat, this would be the one. My Mausers, with iron sights, typically put five shots in a 3" 100 yard circle. With the right loads, the Enfield puts 4 in a 2.75" circle. Number five is always a flyer, but then you have twice as much ammo in a faster handling gun.

SMLE No I Mk III* Lee Enfield

SMLE No I Mk III*

Swiss Karabiner Model 1931 (K31)

Although commonly referred to as a Schmidt Rubin, the K31 was actually a later redesign. Straight pull action designs never distinguished themselves in combat, but it must be said, when the rifle is kept clean, the straight pull action is fast and fun to operate. The beech wood stock is not as neither as pretty, nor as durable as the previous walnut. Many of these later civilian owned rifles carried the name and address of the owner under the butt plate. Unfortunately, this example did not include an owner's name. The 7.5x55 Swiss cartridge is simple enough to reload. Brass is readily available, and in spite of the 7.5 Swiss name, it uses .308 bullets.

Karabiner Model 1931 K31

Karabiner Model 1931

Geco Deuches Sportmodel

I am a little unclear as to whether this was a military trainer, or civilian model. Although Geco single shot .22 rifles were definitely used as trainers, this example seems fancier than necessary for the military. Most of the rifles I have seen pictured were of simpler detail. As a scaled down model of the 96 Mauser it was just too cute to pass up. One could shoot this rifle rapid fire all day long without getting the action warm. Unfortunately, the extractor is messed up and appears to have been filed to the point of being unusable. Spent rounds have to be manually extracted.

Geco Deuches Sportmodel

Geco Deuches Sportmodel

FN Venezuela Contract Mauser

Among the many licensed copies of the Mauser 98 action, the FN was probably one of the best finished. This Venezuelan contract rifle is quite good, but still just a tick below the level of finish one could expect on a German made gun. Its chambered in 7 x 57. Although not particularly valuable, condition of the gun is good enough to discourage shooting it.

FN Venezuela Contract Mauser

FN Venezuela Contract Mauser

SMLE No. 4 MKII

The sun never sets on the British Empire, and apparently new ideas never take hold either. While the world's militaries had long since begun the transition to semiautomatic and fully automatic rifles, the British doggedly held on to their belief in good old bolt action technology. This rifle, finally the last of the line, was manufactured at Fazakerly arsenal in 1954. The fact it was sold new in the wrap on the US market as a collector's piece says much about its usefulness. While some would argue its a shame to unwrap the rifle and shoot it, I'm sure enough people have preserved their's unopened. Its an Enfield after all...better for shooting than collecting.

SMLE No4 MkII

SMLE No4 action

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I will admit to being partial to wood and metal guns. The craftsmanship invested in a 71/84, or a 1909 Argentine Mauser is way out of line for their intended purpose. I also collect stereo (3 dimensional) photographica of the same vintage. Its fun to look for turn of the century arms in these old photos.

With a couple exceptions, I shoot everything I own. What good is a wall hanger? The non-shooters are either demonstrably unfired examples, or in the case of the S&W Model 1940 Light Rifle, known to be unsafe.

This site was begun in the age of dial-up. Now that we've entered the 21st century, I assume anyone poking around here is on braodband. Therefore, I have begun the long slow process of upgrading to larger images. "The web" must be Latin for "okay to steal." There's no financial gain for me in doing any of this, but it pisses me off when people steal photos and republish them elsewhere on the web. You want to use a photo, ask permission and give credit. It's not that hard.