The next thing you might notice is the sights. Let’s just say if you have bad eyes, Mauser type rifles may not be for you. The rear sight is a V notch, and the front sight is a ^. This can make precision shooting a bit tough, but remember, that’s not what this rifle was designed for. In addition to the sight picture, the Mauser 1895 is battlesight zeroed at 300 meters. As in, that’s the lowest elevation setting you can sight the rifle in for. This is another reflection of the common wisdom of the time and the way that battles were fought. On the other hand, if you want to shoot at distances greater than 300 meters, no problem: the rear sight flips up 90 degrees and has a slider which goes all the way to a rather optimistic 2,000 meters.
|Two thousand meters. Yeah, good luck with that.|
The 300 meter zero means that when shooting at 100 yards, you’re going to be hitting 10-12” high. I’ve read that soldiers of the day were trained to aim for the enemy’s belt buckle when shooting at less than 300 meters. This makes sense, given the location of the vitals and the uniforms of the day which would have provided that easy reference point. Since most paper targets don’t wear belts, though, you’ll have to eyeball the hold-under distance when shooting on the range. I also find it just a little humorous that 19th century soldiers were essentially trained to make crotch shots. But I digress.
I handload for every firearm I own, and the 1895 Mauser is no exception. Since these rifles are old friends, I treat mine gently, and feed it only minimum loads using data published in reputable manuals. I have no doubt that it could handle full power loads, but I see no reason to shoot them and put additional wear on an antique rilfe. An added bonus to loading to minimum loads is reduced recoil. The 7mm Mauser is a gentle cartridge anyway, but light loads fired from that 29” barrel are downright pleasant to shoot. According to the books, my current load has a 140 grain FMJBT moving at around 2,200 fps, which is plenty fine for putting holes in paper. And speaking of putting holes in paper, the 1895 does that quite well. Once you figure out the hold-under at 100 yards, you might be surprised what it can do. I’ve shot ~2.5” groups with mine on the bench, and I have a feeling it could do a bit better with the right shooter/powder/bullet combination. Not bad for a 117 year old rifle.
|You can see how it printed high, in the 8 ring at 100 yards.|
One really cool thing about the 1895 Mauser is that almost all of them were made before 1899. This means, according to our friends at the BATF, that it’s not a technically a firearm (don’t tell the soldiers who were at San Juan Hill, they might not appreciate that). But yes, it’s true. Guns made before this arbitrary date are considered to be “antiques”, not regulated firearms, and therefore you don’t have to fill out any paperwork to own one. In fact, you can mail order one like you would anything else, and it will be shipped straight to your door. Another possible upside to this is that it is the last gun an overzealous government would ever try to confiscate, on account of they don't really consider it a firearm. Just a thought.
When I pick up my 1895 Mauser, I think of all the hands it’s passed through in its 117 years, from the German craftsmen who manufactured it at the Ludwig Loewe factory in Berlin, to the Chilean soldiers who were issued it, and all the things it has seen and done in its travels. “If it could talk” is something you hear people say about old things, and I think it applies here. This rifle has been halfway around the world in a hundred years and has wound up in my hands. It’s a piece of living history that functions just as well today as it did the day it was uncrated in Chile. Call me a romantic, but there’s something about that you just can’t get with one of those ubiquitous, plastic, black guns you see at every shop you walk into. Thanks for that, Paul Mauser.
|Truly one of the greatest firearms designers ever|