Over on my Instagram page (@oldmauserman), I am sometimes asked why I have developed such an affinity for the Mauser line of rifles. One might think that there is a simple answer to the question. There isn’t. It hasn’t always been that way. I once preferred the M1903 rifles, and I always thought that the Lee-Enfield family of rifles looked like what military rifles should look like. So, how did the Mauser (and specifically the German-built K98k) push aside all of those other outstanding rifles and end up being my favorite?
Frankly, this story goes back many years. I was in the fifth grade when I started watching old World War II movies. By the end of that school year, I had read whatever World War II books were in our modest school library. I learned a lot about Eisenhower, Churchill, Iwo Jima, the Flying Tigers, and a little about the Sherman tank and the U.S.S. Arizona. From what I can remember, there was not a lot of literature on World War II Germany in our little library. My father, however, had a Reader’s Digest book on World War II that was packed with photographs. I was hooked on any and all aspects of World War II, and I started looking for other information sources.
The high school I attended had a larger library, and it was from the books I found there that I started to learn more about equipment. By the time I was a senior, I could differentiate several models of Messerschmitt 109s, knew the difference between the P-51B and P-51D, could point out differences on the various models of the B-17, and could identify most standard rifles and machine guns fielded by the major powers. Of course, being an all-American youth, I wanted an M1 Rifle, an M1903 Rifle, and any other U.S. equipment that was available.
During college, I was a history major, and had access to a monstrous collection of books, microfilm, newspapers, and magazines. Among the books were several on the history and function of small arms. It was from these books that I learned that the M1903 is widely acknowledged to be the most “beautiful” military bolt action rifle ever produced. It was also from those books that I started to appreciate the aesthetic qualities of the Mauser K98k. When I learned that the M1903 largely copied the Mauser action, I found myself starting to lean towards the “original.” Over time, and as I was able to see more photos of the Mausers in historic photos, the Mausers pushed the M1903 aside.
It was in the very early 1990s that I bought my first Mauser. Certainly, once that rifle was in my hands, the bond was strong. While the Mauser was not my first military surplus rifle (I bought a Kropatschek M1886 because it looked cool and was very inexpensive), it was certainly my favorite. Unfortunately, I liquidated almost all of my very modest military surplus collection in 1992 so that I could pursue a career–including that first Mauser.
A few years ago, when it came time to rebuild (and expand) my earlier collection, the Mauser was the first rifle I went after. I came across this 1942 bcd (Gustloff Werke) rifle being sold by a local gentleman on GunBroker. I bid on it and won. Since then, I’ve collected bolt action rifles from every other major power of World War II (though I sold the M1903 to buy the M1 Rifle), and added a couple more Mausers. I’ve also completed a collection of pistols from the World War I and World War II eras. Of all of the pieces currently in my collection, the Mausers are my favorite. Thus, when it came time to choose a name for my Instagram page, I had to find a way to work it in. Just about the time I started that page, I hit the half-century mark. At that point, it made sense that “old” could be a part of the name. As for “man,” well…you’ll just have to take my word for that one!
What is your favorite rifle? Do you have one? How did it come to be your favorite? I’d love to hear the stories!