EXPERIENCES WITH A MAUSER MODEL 1871/84
It was 1961 when I ordered a Mauser 1871/84 rifle in 11x60R. It came from Golden State Arms in California. They had two grades of rifles. They were NRA Good+ for $9.95 and NRA Excellent for $24.95. I decided to buy the $9.95 version and use the money saved to buy original German military ammunition for the rifle.
The rifle arrived at the New York Central Railroad Station in Syracuse. The only way you could ship firearms and ammunition in those days was by Railway Express.
I rushed to the Railroad Station and picked up my packages. I had a rifle and 500 rounds of 11mm ammo. The rifle was well packaged and very dirty. There was a lot of dried grease on it. I used Kerosene and a Burlap cloth to clean the grease off. The exterior was about NRA Very Good. It had about 90% of the blue and straw colors intact. The receiver and bolt were in the white. The wood was also in Very Good condition. When I cleaned the bore, I got a pleasant surprise. The bore was near mint. I was very pleased with this rifle. The rifle was manufactured at Spandau in 1887.
The ammunition was extremely interesting. It was manufactured in 1888. The ammo was packed in 10 round paper packets with a pull string on it. The 370 gr flat nosed bullet was paper patched. The paper patch was wrapped around the bullet, and the tail of the paper patch was twisted and tucked into a hollow base in the bullet. The 58 gr charge of black powder was loaded into the case and seated with a card wad. Then the bullet was seated to touch the card wad. I fired all of the 500 rounds and had no misfires or hang fires. I purchased additional ammunition from Ye Olde Hunter in Alexandria, Virginia. I never reloaded ammunition for this rifle. In those days, there were no boxer primed cases available, except for loaded ammunition loaded by the Dominion Ammunition Company in Montreal, Canada. They only made a batch of this ammo every two or three years and it was VERY difficult to find. Surplus ammunition was plentiful and reliable, so not being able to reload was not a negative factor.
The first trip to the Elbridge Rod and Gun Club Range was a real pleasure. I set up a target at 50 yards. The rifle would cloverleaf rounds at that distance. When I moved the target out to 100 yards, the groups opened up to 2” for 5 shots. The rifle was massive and very heavy. The magazine was tubular and loaded when the bolt was opened. You simply pressed the cartridges into the magazine when the cartridge lifter was in the down position. The magazine accepted 10 cartridges and they made the rifle VERY heavy when loaded. There was a magazine cutoff on the right side of the rifle. This allowed single rounds to be fired, keeping the magazine in reserve.
I hunted deer with this rifle but I never killed a deer with it. I believe this cartridge is equal in ballistics to our .45-70. The 370 grain bullet has a muzzle velocity of 1430 feet per second. I once was on a deer hunt at Number Four, New York. Number Four is a small village in the Adirondack Mountains in New York. It is near the Stillwater Reservoir. The Stillwater Hotel had no vacancy, so a friend of mine let us sleep on his bar room floor. Sid Bell was a great guy, he inherited the bar from an uncle. Sid was a master engraver. He did work at his home for S&W and Colt.
We got up the next morning and my friend Harold had left his deer rifle in the car all night. When he brought it inside the telescope fogged and he did not have any iron sights on it. I was going to hunt with an as issued 1903-A3 but I had brought the 71/84 Mauser as a backup rifle. I let him borrow the Mauser. When we arrived at the place we had permission to hunt, I gave him the rifle and 3-10 round packets of ammo. I told him to load 4 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, because 10 rounds would make the rifle weigh 11 pounds. He was skeptical of the performance he could get out of the old warhorse but that was all we had for him. We separated into the woods and started to still hunt. It was very cold (-11 F) and this made the deer have to move during the day. We were in a hardwood forest and the visibility was almost 300 yards. Harold spotted a good sized buck and shot him at 100 yards with the 370 gr. Bullet, in the right shoulder. He said the buck folded like a cheap suit. He was elated that he got his deer. I was happy he was able to have a successful hunt with my old $9.95 smoke pole.
I have had a lot of enjoyment and pleasure shooting and collecting military firearms over the years. These rifles are rugged, dependable and accurate.