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jccam
12-12-2008, 11:10 AM
I need advice on FN commercial Mausers.

A local shop has one for sale in 30-06. Stock is dinged up a bit from honest wear but the bore is very nice. My intended use is deer and pig hunting with non-lead bullets (due to some silly recent California legislation about protecting buzzards from lead poisoning). I don’t plan to do any gunsmihing to it, expect maybe to add some express sights, replace the scope, and perhaps someday replace the stock. This would be my first Mauser action. Price is $500.

I know the reputation of FN’s Mausers, and have read “Bolt Action Rifles” by Frank de Haas. So far, that is the only source of info I’ve found. From that book, I estimate this Mauser was made between 1948-1952, because it has the wing safety (on the bolt) and the stepped barrel contour. It has Belgian proof marks, says “Fab. Nat. D’Armes de Guerre – Herstal, Belgique” on the action and says “Chrome Vanadium Steel” on the barrel. There is no backsight, but it is fitted with a Bausch & Lomb scope mount and an old scope whose maker I did not note. The serial number is 164xx. I cannot see a date anywhere.

1) Is there a source for getting the year of manufacture based on the serial number?

2) Is there a good source of technical, historical or production info besides de Haas? I have Olsen’s Mauser book, but the commercial FN info is not much. For such a legendary rifle, I’d have thought there would be some great web site somewhere showing all sorts of info, but I’m not finding it. Where can I find a parts diagram for this particular model?

3) What is the best source of spare parts? Will most military M98 parts work here?

4) What is a good source for folding leaf express sights for this rifle?

5) Any pros and cons to this rifle? I like it and I respect the mystique associated with this action, the FN factory, and its era. I assume that the quality of steel and workmanship is equal to or better than most other rifles before and since. Anyone disagree? Caliber-wise, there’s nothing boring about the 30-06 in my mind, so I will keep it in that chambering.

6) This is a minor point but I’m curious. Is it true that a Mauser 98 action cannot load a single cartridge unless it is first pushed into the magazine? I know it’s unlikely, but if the mag spring were to break or the floorplate gets dropped in a river, your rifle is useless, right? I know that on a Lee Enfield, for example, you can pop one in the chamber and close the bolt on it. No magazine necessary.

7) Frank de Haas wrote that he agrees with FN’s choice to eliminate the thumb cutout on the left side of the receiver. He felt ths strengthened the action. Charger is not needed on a sporter anyway. However, in the Sept. 2002 issue of “Rifle” magazine, John Barsness disagreed, saying that the thumb slot (and also the bolt sleeve flange) serve as gas-diverting features in the event of a blown case. He faults the FN for eliminating these features, and tells of one time he blew the head off a .270 WCF and took a face-full of gas while using an FN Mauser. What do you guys think? Which of these guys is more correct?

8) If I buy it, I will probably put a 2-7x Leupold on it for practicality. I love old guns but I’m not nostalgic about scopes. If the current mounts don’t allow a good fit, can you recommend a good set of mounts that will work well on this rifle and won’t require any further drilling?

9) If YOU owned this particular rifle, how would you change it? I probably won’t mess with it except for a scope, but suggestions are welcome.

I appreciate any advice. Thanks!