Letter Re: Pre-1899 Oberndorf 8×57 Mauser Bolt Action Rifles

I am getting a Model 1893 Turkish Mauser. I know that these actions are not as strong as the Model 98. However, they are German Mausers made in Oberndorf. What finer pedigree can a rifle have? I have read some posts on forums that these are marginally safe with commercially available ammo. I was warned that the Turkish ammo was dangerous, it is known to be the hottest of the milsurp ammo.
I was also warned against the Yugo [ammo]. One or two guys even said you only should shoot hand loaded mild loads. I am just wondering what your personal experience has been regarding this rifle. Any info you could give me would be appreciated. Thanks, – Scott
P.S: Thanks a lot for your FAQ info [on Pre-1899s] over at Empire Arms.

JWR Replies: Standard velocity 8×57 military surplus ammo is well within the pressure limits of the re-heat treated Turkish contract Model 1893 actions. Even commercial soft nose ammo (which produces slightly higher pressure) is still within limits. So there is no need to handload for these rifles. However, have any surplus rifle checked for proper headspace and below-the-woodline pitting by a competent gunsmith before shooting it.

The problems with the Turkish surplus ammo are that A.) Most of it is corrosively primed, and B.) What you often find when you open the cases is from mixed lots, which means erratic point of impact and worse yet, a few of the lots were made to extra high pressure specs, for machineguns.

Most of the German surplus (including the black tip API) is corrosively primed. And again, a few of the lots were made to extra high pressure specs, for machineguns.

The FN-made ball is mild and non-corrosive primed, but sadly it is getting very scarce.

You might have a gunsmith re-barrel your M1893 to .308 Winchester. That ammo is currently much more common and will continue to be more readily available in the future, since the supplies of 8×57 Mauser ammo are only going to get more scarce as time goes on. BTW, if any big batches on non-corrosive military surplus 8×57 ball or AP do hit the market, buy yourself a lifetime supply. Someday you will be glad that you did. One other interesting option for small game hunting and plinking are the Rhineland .45 ACP conversion kits. These use standard M1911 pistol magazines (Coincidentally, I have one of these kits listed in my mail order catalog.)

I highly recommend getting one or two Turkish contract Model 1893s for your collection. Do so while they are still available at reasonable prices. Every family should have at least one rifle that is Federally “antique” yet chambered for a modern high velocity smokeless cartridge. The time may come when you are forced by legislation to bury nearly everything else! Model 1983 Turkish contract Mausers are available from Sportsman’s Guide for $299. The Pre-1899 Specialist (one of our advertisers) currently has a small but very nice hand-picked batch that are selling for just $199 each.

BTW, the foregoing advice does not apply to Model 1893 or Model 1895 Spanish-made Mausers, which are notorious for both deep below-the-woodline pitting and soft actions. Most Spanish Mausers are not suitable for shooting with modern ammo or for re-barreling to cartridges like .308 Winchester.