Mauser 98 project

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by Pistolenschutze, Apr 29, 2006.

  1. Sometimes a shot in the dark--a gamble--can acually come up a winner! I recently took such a gamble when I ordered a World War II German Mauser 98 from Classic Arms for $139.00. As all you Crufflers know, the real WWII German-made Mauser 98 rifles are becoming very scarce and the prices for them reflect that. Good ones seem to be running around $300.00 and up. This rifle was built in 1944, in Germany, and apparently used in Yugoslavia. It was captured by the Yugoslavs and allegedly rearsenaled after the war. The Nazi swastika has been ground off of the receiver, though the rest of the crest is still intact. When I saw this rifle advertised along with that low price I thought, "yeah, sure, it's probably just a piece of battlefield junk useful only as a wall-hanging." I took a chance and ordered one anyway mostly because I wanted to have a REAL WWII German 98 for my collection, even if it turned out to be a non-shooter. I don't know if I just got lucky, or if Classic actually did stumble on to a real find, but the rifle I ended up with is far from a POS. When I first took it out of the box, I was, however, rather disappointed. The stock was an absolute MESS, oil, dirt, and presumably cosmoline ground into the stock to the point one could barely see the grain in the wood. The bluing on the rifle was equally poor; I would estimate not more than 50% still on the rifle. Then I took a much closer look.

    When I examined the rifle in more detail, I noticed that the stock, while it had the typical nicks and dings associated with a battle rifle used for its intended purpose, was still very solid. There were no cracks of any kind, and the wood was definitely a nice piece of walnut. The action was butter smooth, and when I put a bore scope to the barrel I was in for a pleasant shock: the lands and grooves, while showing some wear, were otherwise in virtually perfect condition. I checked the headspace and found it to be well within acceptable range. I had myself a "find!"

    OK, what to do next? I briefly (very briefly!) considered breaking up the rifle, adding a new stock, scope mount, etc., and building myself a nice 8mm sporter. Somehow, doing that seemed almost akin to rape! :eek: (Polishshooter will undertand my feeling here). This is, after all, a truly historical rifle. So, I decided to bite the bullet and see if I could simply restore the weapon to (more or less) its original configuration.

    The first problem was, of course, the stock. I degreased it (no easy task!) and stripped it down to as close to bare wood as possible. There was still some grease and oil so deeply embedded that even deep sanding would never get it all out, but for the most part, I got the wood clean and smooth. What beautiful grain it has! I then filled the deeper nicks with stainable wood putty, than stained it with a Minwax walnut stain, which served pretty well to hide the remaining minor imperfections. After that, I put on 10 coats of True Oil, and that really made the stock look nice, almost like new. The dark stain blends with the remaining minor imperfections to form a sort of rustic, battle-rifle-like pattern.

    The next task is, of course, to reblue the metal parts. I've ordered up some cream-type Dicropan T-4 from Brownells for that purpose, a product I've used many times in the past and which really works well, provided the metal surface is taken down to the bare metal and nicely polished. The only real problem I've encountered has been with the bolt. When the rifle is cocked, the bolt safety will not move to the neutral or safety position using finger power only. I'm uncertain why this is true. I can get it to move by tapping it lightly with a mallet, but that is unacceptable. A rifle without a properly working safety is an accident waiting for a place to happen, as I think all of you will agree. I disassemble the bolt and cleaned it thoroughly, but that did not solve the problem, though on disassembly I could find no obviously damaged parts. I stumbled across an original surplus 98 bolt from an online dealer and ordered it for $30.00. Hopefully that will solve the problem, either by substituting the new bolt entirely, or replacing parts in the old one. I will post pictures when the rifle is complete, and a range report when I've had a chance to try it out.
  2. wolfgang2000

    wolfgang2000 New Member

    Dec 10, 2005
    Mountain Grove MO.
    Sounds like a good find. Let us know how it ends up.

  3. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    I have never changed bolts on a rimless rifle, one of the reasons I like rimmed rounds, but make sure you check headspace again, although it sounds like you KNOW that already!

    Yeah, I've gotten some real cosmo queens out of the box that I have been initailly disappointed about, but after cleaning them up they turned into the proverbial swan...

    But then again, my OTHER theory is the more you handle one of these old warriors, some of the history transfers to your bloodstream by osmosis and EACH time you pick it up you are just a little closer to all the hands that built it, held it, cleaned it, dropped it, shot it, fixed it, trained with it, and maybe even killed with it...that before long the WORST looking surplus rifle starts looking beautiful to you...

    3 of my 4 91/30s in my collection are in what I call "dropped in the rubble only a few times" condition...little finish, LOT'S of dings, smooth as heck...and I've sold or traded many in BETTER condition, but these I can't part with...they saw ROUGH service, maybe one of them DID get used in the defense of Moscow, or WAS dragged through the rubble of Stalingrad...MAYBE...
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2006
  4. Polish, I think a major portion of the allure of the Cruffler hobby lies with the cleaning process itself, as crazy as that may sound. It somehow just seems "right" to restore these old weapons to their former glory, or at least as close to that as we can manage. You should see that stock after I finished it. It looks like it is sheeted in glass, but still retains the character of the original rifle. I think I will mount a scope on it (in deference to my aging eyes, which, alas, are not what they were when I was 21) but one of the removable type. That way, I can restore the rifle to complete military in about 10 minutes should I so wish.
  5. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Then again we might just be getting a euphoric high from the fumes of the solvents mixing with 50 year old Eastern European cosmoline...

    I've done the stain thing myself on REALLY ratty stocks, but for most I just take down to bare wood and then put on a couple of coats of TruOil, I like to see the original color.

    But I've gotten "blonde" stocks on M44s before that the dings always look darker and stick out like a sore thumb, so on those sometimes I've rubbed on a couple of apps of dark walnut stain, and it's amazing how the dings just disappear into the background.

    Did you try the iron and the wet cloth trick to see if you can steam out any of the dings? It works, kind of, and is always worth a shot. Sometimes it brings them right out, sometimes it brings them up enough the sanding will take them out, and other times it just makes them a LITTLE smaller...

    Just DON'T do like I did once and not use the rag, and apply the iron directly to the stock, or the next time your wife uses the iron on one of her NICE white silk tops you'll hear "WHAT THE HE!! IS THIS BLACK STUFF I JUST IRONED INTO MY NEW BLOUSE????? It looks like GREASE!!!" :eek: :D
  6. Hmmm, maybe we should call it the "Cruffler High." On second thought, maybe not. The BTAF&E people would probably try to tax it or just ban it, simply on general principles. :eek: Oh well, to paraphrase a line from the film "Apocalypse Now," "I love the smell of cosmoline in the morning." ;)

    Generally, I agree with you on the stain bit, Polish, but this stock was REALLY bad, yet so damn good at the same time (the quality of the wood itself, I mean). Over 60 years of miscellaneous gunk embedded into that fine German walnut. Such a waste! The stain really helped even it out; i.e., hide a multitude of sins, and the stock no longer looks and feels like the carborator off the old '54 Chevy I had as a kid. :D

    Yes, I did use the old wet cloth and iron trick on some of the dings (when my wife wasn't looking--she used to be a professional seamstress). Like you said, it works sometimes, but not all the time, and wives just have no sense of humor about such things, especially when the equipment being "borrowed" is a professional-quality iron. :cool:
  7. Light Coat

    Light Coat New Member

    I don't touch stocks with imbedded cosmoline until at least mid-June. I'm lazy about it. I take some tin-foil and lay it on the picnic table with the stock on top and let the sun cook the grease out.

    I regarded it as funny when I got a ratty 1888 Mauser last week and found that all of the interior gear was like new.
  8. Sounds like a good find dude
  9. SKSViking

    SKSViking New Member

    Jun 14, 2006
    Thumb of the Mitten
    Hi Pistolenschutze,

    My first post here.
    I was looking at getting the rifle you are talking of...if they still have them, same price.

    Or the 24/47 or the M48A....

    Decisions, decisions....
    I have an M59/66A1 now, and becoming an obsession I fear.... waiting on my gas tube to come today I hope.

    Just as I get into this, then the ammo goes away, and more expensive, sorry about that......

    Would like to get a M-N trio also, but they look more plentiful, and easier to find? and cheaper.

    The M98 looks more like an endangered species?
    So get that one first?

    It would be a shooter for sure, so a nice bore is necessary, not a wall hanger. Don't need expensive art........

    I like the Classic site, even with the big type, its easier to read!

    Not sure about what to get, still an old noobie.
    (Army marksman from waaay back)

    I would want them for the accuracy, and possible hunting weapon for the kids, and myself someday.

    The bent bolt is the nice feature.

    But can you do a scope on the (Mauser/MN) straight bolts?
    Or need the bent ones?

    What would a bent bolt part, run $$wise, for the different German/Russian types?

    Or just buy the bent bolts to begin with?
    Can you torch the straight ones at a gunsmith?
    I have Williams Gunsight nearby, and another one near work running in his home.

    I think I need to get the C&R license.........but finding a decent safe storage area would be another problem, and buying the food for them all.....

    Thanks! for any help, didn't want to hijack your thread, but this is the nearest thread i could find on this one.
  10. Welcome to the forums, SKS! :D

    As for the '98s, I have been very pleased with the ones I bought, not only the '98Ks, but also the 24/47 and the post-war 48. The 98Ks that Classic is offering are pretty decent rifles, but don't expect them to be pristine. If you are willing to invest a great deal of time, and a bit more money in parts, you can easily end up with a VERY nice 8mm Mauser rifle. Redoing the stocks on these is quite a task, but it is possible. First you must get rid of the cosmoline, and then work like crazy to get all the dings out of the stock before refinishing it. The actions, however, are quite decent. You will need to reblue in most cases after taking the metal down to bare steel in some places at least to get rid of any rust spots. I recommend Brownell's Dicropan T-4 for the reblue. It works quite well and holds up well. Again, redong the metal is quite possible but involves considerable work with a Dremel, files, and finally hones and crocus paper.

    One of the '98s I bought had a stock so badly damaged that it really wasn't salvagable. For this one, I bought a new, semi-inletted walnut wood stock from Brownell's and had the pleasure of sanding it down to fit the action precisely and doing the final finishing. It turned out very nicely indeed.

    It is true that the true WWII German 98's are getting scarcer and scarcer these days. Ones that retain Nazi markings are really getting hard to find and horribly expensive. The ones I bought from Classic were made in Germany during WWII, captured by the Yugoslavs then rearsenaled after the war. The quality is there, but the collector value really isn't.

    Of all the Mausers I purchased, I have to say that, overall, the 24/47 was probably in the best shape of all. The stock was pretty well trashed, but the barreled action was in EXCELLENT condition. These rifles, however, do have the straight bolt, unlike the true German 98s which have a turned bolt. This means that if you want to mount a scope you must either mount one in the rear sight position (several mounts are available for this, e.g. S&K which is the best but most expensive), or you must drill and tap the receiver for a scope. ATI does make a no-drill scope mount that will mount over the receiver and does not require drilling, but this one only works if you have a true bent bolt Mauser, i.e., one that bends at an acute angle. If you drill and tap for a receiver scope, you must also either have the bolt bent unless it is a true '98 bolt bent at an acute angle. Some of the bolts you will enounter, especially on the 48 Mausers have an arc bent bolt that stands out about 1.25 inches when it is closed. This won't work with the ATI mount or a drill and tap Weaver mount either because the bolt will hit the scope when it is opened rendering the rifle useless.

    In terms of expense, the Mausers are always going to more costly. If you are looking for something really inexpensive to play with, the Mosin-Nagants are the way to go. They are good rifles, just much more crudely made than the Mausers. They throw a more than adequate round (7.62x54R) and the ammo is readily available and very cheap. After market suppliers offer all sorts of options for the Mosins too, such as synthetic stocks and scope mounts. The Mosins also, however, are straight bolt rifles, so you must have the bolt bent if you want to mount a scope on the receiver. If you are content with a rear-sight mounted scope (a so-called "scout mount), then you can scope these rifles rather cheaply. They are great fun to shoot and very accurate (usually). ;)
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