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Old 12-17-2017, 06:13 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 36
My Experiences with Chileno 1895 Mauser Rifles

By Doug Bowser
In 1963, I was 21 years old. I lived in Manlius, New York and was a member of the Manlius Rod and Gun Club. I had purchased a US 1840 Heavy Dragoon Saber a few years earlier. I really did not have any interest in the saber, so I took it to the Syracuse Gun Show at the State Fairgrounds. The show was impressive. Dealers had many surplus handguns at really good prices but the Sullivan Law made it difficult to buy them. I was impressed with the S&W US Model 1917 .45ACP revolvers. Some of them were new in the original oil cloth. They were whopping $39.95. USGI 1911 pistols in excellent condition sold for $30.
The saber I had was in mint condition with the leather handle wrapped with copper braided wire. It was made by Ames and it stirred up quite a lot of attention. One dealer corralled me and expressed a real interest in the pre Civil War item. He said he had several VG condition military rifles with ammunition he would trade me. Since long arms were not restricted in New York as much as handguns, I said I would work out a trade. He had two really nice Chilean 1895 7x57mm rifles. They were made by DWM but they had interesting markings over the Chilean Crest on the receiver ring. The markings were “TVR” and “OVS”. I found out later that they were made for the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Vree Stat (Orange Free State). They were used in the Boer War. It seems the Germans had a non-proliferation treaty with the British. They were honor bound not to sell arms to any Government at War with Great Britain. So DWM sold the rifles to Chile and Chile sold the rifles to the Boers. It seems like the arms dealing two step was as active in 1899, as it is today.
The negotiations on the trade became serious and I agreed to take the two rifles but I needed ammo. He offered me 10,000 rounds of Winchester brand 7x57 Mauser ammo. It was 175 gr round nosed ammo in 1000 round wooden crates. The crates had a zinc liner and there was a wire imbedded under the zinc sheathing. All you had to do is pull a “T” handle on the wire and the zinc liner split open. The ammo was packaged in slip top cardboard boxes. There was a red gummed label the full width of the boxes and it said “Winchester Repeating Arms” 7x57mm Mauser 175 gr full patched bullet. It also said do not accept this product if the seal is broken. The deal he offered me was worth about $300 in 1963.
The ammunition was made around the turn of the 20th Century and all of it fired with no hang fires. The priming was probably Mercuric and that style primer has a nearly indefinite shelf life. I cleaned the rifles with soap and hot water and experienced no problems with rust. The rifles had 29” barrels and were quite heavy. That meant the felt recoil was mild. I decided to sell the TVR rifle and traded it for a Winchester M1 Carbine. M1 Carbines were plentiful, because the DCM was selling them for $20.
I used to go to a sand pit and shoot the 7mm rifle. I could shoot about 250 yards into a soft sand overhang. There was a small pond on the property and it had a 40 foot bluff next to it. It was possible to shoot straight down into the water. No flat angle shots were taken and there was no chance of a ricochet. There were some really big bull frogs in the pond and we used to hunt them with rifles. As long as the shot was vertical to the water, I would shoot under the frogs. The water would splash up 20 feet or more with the frog in the middle of the geyser. We would get into a flat bottomed boat the owner had there and pick up our quarry. The frogs would not have a mark on them but they were stone dead. If you could see the displacement of the water, you would understand that the frog died from concussion.
Most of the time, I shot the 1895 Mauser at paper targets. I would shoot at the Manlius Rod & Gun Club. They had a 100 yard range for high powered rifles and a covered firing line. I practiced shooting offhand, sitting and prone, with a sling and jacket. I still belonged to the Elbridge Rod and Gun Club but it was 40 miles from my new home and I usually did not go to Elbridge during the week. In the Summer months, I fired the 7x57 at least twice each week. I bought some stripper clips and practiced rapid fire with the 1895 rifle. The lowest sight setting on the 1895 was 400 meters. We had to make a taller front sight to be able to aim at the bottom of the black and hit the center of the target at 100 yards. If the lighting or temperature changed, Kentucky Windage was in order. “Take white, take black, full favor right and half favor left” would be the orders from the guy coaching me at the range. I believe a VG+ specimen of a Mauser 1895 in 7x57 is as accurate as a Swedish Mauser in 6.5x55. The practice with the 7x57 really helped my HP rifle scores. At the Elbridge Club, I used a Remington Model 1903-A3 at our club matches and practices. We had a good supply of .30 M2 Ball SL 1943. We could also buy SL 43 .30 M2 ammo from the Army for $.03 per round. The .30 M2 ammo was also corrosive but we had no problem with cleaning.
I shot the 1895 rifle until it was no longer accurate. That task took me almost 5 years. I sold the rifle and what was left of the ammunition for a lot more than I paid for the old saber. I would have rebarreled the 7x57 but no new condition barrels were available. On the other hand, the 1903-A3 was rebarreled and new barrels were available from the DCM for the ridiculous price of $1.00.
The days of reasonably priced military rifles and ammunition are over. In the 1960’s, every style and model rifle was available. For example, U.S. Johnson .30-06 rifles were $79 from Winfield Arms in California.
To be a shooter of military rifles in the 1960’s was quite an experience. The assassination of President Kennedy caused the passing of the Federal Gun Control Law of 1968. The price of firearms increased a great deal in less than 10 years. Having to deal with a Federal Firearms Dealer made the easy purchase of military firearms a thing of the past.
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