Mauser M03 Rifle
1000 ROUNDS DOWN : 3
Mauser M03 Rifle Review
Tested by Andrew Venables at the WMS Firearms Training Facility
Last year we had a Mauser MO3 synthetic stock on test with a .308 match barrel fitted. For those who want to have a changeable barrel system, a take down rifle option for the attaché case look and a more traditional system than the Blaser R93 or R8, this is a really good option.
How did the Mauser M03 hold up from an estimated 2000+ rounds of mixed commercial and military ammunition?
The idea was to see if a semi weight rifle, the Mauser MO3 weighed 11.5 lbs with a Kahles K312 scope fitted and 22 “ barrel, would compete while still being hunting and stalking friendly.The Mauser M03 - One rifle for many applications, which has a lot to be said for it.
The only initial down side was the Mauser came fitted with a Predator moderator. While good, it was quite heavy and when the rifle was scoped, moderated, wearing a sling and a bipod it felt quite muzzle heavy. This was not the fault of any one component, rather the combination. Fitting a standard weight barrel, or removing the bipod or moderator evened things up. Up a high seat, no problem, but not a combination I would choose for woodland stalking or on the hill where balance and overall weight start to matter more.
The advantage of this weight and stability was however apparent when the rifle was fired on the range from sitting or prone, feeling grounded and steady in most conditions. Dialling for elevation and windage, the rifle was on the target every bit as fast as its more tactical competition and it would certainly hold its end up in the sporting McQueens competition at Bisley or any short and medium range sporting competition. The rifle competed well against the A team.
The action, trigger and de cocking safety mechanism are all excellent, straight forwards and easy to convert and warm to. The first time you do decock it you may “slightly” trap your thumb as the spring releases. Done slowly it is completely silent and painless in all further operation!
I especially like the way the bolt face can be changed by reverse pressure on the decocking lever and sliding the head sideways, easy, tool free and positive. I prefer it to the method used on the Blaser R8 which needs a small pointy thing! The barrel change is basically the same as Blaser’s but uses a different tool. The snap fit scope mounts are positive and maintained zero 100% over 15 months and hundreds of refits.
Unable to fault the finish, mechanism and action, how does it shoot?
Using Lapua match ammo such as 155 gn and 185 gn Scenar rounds the rifle would shoot between 1.5 MOA and 1 MOA at all practical ranges on a good day when I did my part. This means that 3-5 round groups were achieved at 600 yards measuring 6-9 inches and at 800 yards of 8-12 inches. As with most accurate rifles, normal conditons meant groups of around 1.5 to 2 MOA high and 3-5 MOA for windage which is the “group average” at WMS between 600 and 1000 yards for people who know their stuff with good kit. Any one tells you any different, it ain’t so, till they show you on more than one occasion. If in doubt, bring them to us!
This is why it is irresponsible to shoot at live game at long range, the fact you did it once does not count, its when you can hit in the kill zone most every time that counts. At 300 yards, “normal conditions” ie a bit of wind, pressure, normal dispersion, etc add up to a group average of 6+” high and 12+” wide. On a deer size target that is too big for certainty before you even consider if the animal will stay still.
If you fire a shot at a target 200 yards away from an average rifle in an average deer calibre, the time between your finger taking up the last pressure and the bullet impact on the target is about .4 of a second. How far can you move your arm, fist clenched in that time? How far can you move your body sideways? Now tell me head shots are a good idea and long shots at the body!
Follow up shots may be needed even when the going is easy because we all make mistakes and “shit happens!” The Mauser is a good friend here with a very slick action, positive feed and rapd cycling. I could get 5 aimed shots off in around 10 seconds and on driven boar, 2 shots off in under 3 seconds. For aimed shots, read 5 10” steel plates knocked down rapid fire from standing. Not quite as fast as the R8 but damn close.
The comb height on the Mauser synthetic stock is a compromise between open sight use and scoped sights. As such it is perfect for the open sights and a little low (for me) with a 30 mm scope fitted with a 50mm objective. I fitted a neoprene removeable comb raiser which improved things considerably and had a handy pocket on the side for ammo and mars bars. There are many such devices available. Aim Accessories and Hunter Cheek piece spring to mind as good ones. A piece of foam and carpet tape work just as well! Until I added the soft comb raiser, I felt the recoil on the MO3 and notably with 180 gn bullets. The moderator and comb raiser sorted this out and do bear in mind it is common for me to fire 100-200 rounds a day!
I haven’t mentioned how small a group it might shoot at 100 yards have I? Nope, because it is of little consequence and often bears no resemblance to the rifles ability to shoot well at 300, 600 or 1000 yards. Many larger calibres and heavy bullets take 2-300 yards to fully stabilise gyroscopically and shoot 2 MOA at 100 yards and 1 MOA at 600 yards. People waste 100’s of 1000’s of rounds every year chasing a myth at 100 yards off a bench which means little or nothing to any deer that ever lived at any sensible range.
While I am banging on, Why oh why do people test multiple batches of ammo, find that the match bullet shoots a .75 inch group, the soft point GAME bullet shoots 1.5 inch groups and then hunt deer with ammo meant for punching paper? Animals are 3 dimensional and a proper bullet, designed to expand reliably and maintain weight in flesh and bone is needed once inside.
Match bullets, especially ones with boat tails are designed to be slippery and little else, when they hit flesh and bone the jackets can fail, the lead core breaks up and penetration is hit and miss. The tiny hollow point can also fold up and prevent expansion, changing direction and missing the vitals.
I digress, so back to the Mauser MO3. After 2000 + rounds the rifle digested pretty much everything with equal aplomb. If it had a favourite at long range it was 155 to 168 grain match bullets, but note the rant above please! Standard Federal Classic and most 150 to 180 grain hunting ammo all shot between 1-2 MOA in the critical 100 to 300 yard ranges usually applied to hunting and pest control with no bad performers out of a smorgasbord of about 12 brands shot. Damn, commercial ammo has come on in the last 10 years!
WMS could not break, fault or find a challenge the MO3 system did not meet with style. We had the plain Jane version, no one is ever going to give us the grade 6 wood blinged up version of anything! However, the blinged up ones are the same metal matched to good wood, so beyond scratches and wear and tear they will do the same job while looking good, engraved, gold plated and distinguished. I have supplied around 8 very upmarket MO3 rifles to clients in calibres from .223 to 375 H&H and all have performed well in the field. It’s a multi purpose, multi calibre rifle system with a respectful nod to history. The Blaser’s are the same but give history the finger!
Mauser MO3 Synthetic in 308 match barrel
1000+ rounds down and passed!
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