I recently bought a “no FFL” antique German (Oberndorf) Mauser Model 1893 (Turkish contract) from The Pre-1899 Specialist that had been rebarreled to .308 Winchester and turned into a nice sporter that looks just like a modern hunting rifle. I read on another web site that they don’t recommend re-barreling Model 1893 or Model 1895 Mausers for modern high pressure cartridges like.308. What do you think?
JWR Replies: The re-arsenalized Turkish contract Mausers were far and away the strongest of the 1893-to-1896 series small ring Mauser bolt actions. Because of their re-heat treating (quite deep), they are stronger than even the famed Swedish Model 1896. And it is noteworthy that back in the early 1990s thousands of Swedish Model 1896s were rebuilt by Kimber with “as is” receivers as sporters in calibers that included .308 Winchester and .243 Winchester. I have seen no reports of problems with any of those. The warnings on M1893s and M1895s that P.O. Ackley, Kuhnhausen, and others have made (and that you often see repeated on the Internet) were primarily regarding Spanish arsenal-made Mausers (from the Oviedo and La Coruna arsenals), which had very poor (shallow) heat treating.
If you are REALLY concerned and ultra conservative, then have the headspacing checked before you shoot the rifle the first time, and again after you fire the first 100 rounds of factory soft nose ammo. If there is no sign of increased headspace then you have a rifle that will be good for a lifetime of shooting full house loads.
OBTW, for any of you reading this who are wondering about the legalities of re-barreling a Federally exempt pre-1899 rifle into a modern caliber, see my Pre-1899 FAQ for details. The FAQ includes scans of a BATF letter that specifically confirms that re-barreling, rechambering, or sporterizing a pre-1899 does not in any way dilute its “antique” exemption.