Springfield Sporters (Penn Run, PA) brought in most of the Model 98 Mauser supply from Yugoslavia. These were mostly rebuilt in Yugoslavia, and to very high standards. There were several variants, including the enormous quantity of VZ.24/G.24t rifles captured from the Waffen SS; K98ks and refurbished G.98s from the same source; Yugoslavian-built pre- and post-World War II rifles; Czech contract rifles from the late ‘20s and the ‘30s; and oddments of other Central European Mausers captured by the Yugoslavians.
These rifles, in addition to being well-maintained and beautifully rebuilt, contain more of the “if this rifle could talk” history collectors appreciate than most other hardware on the market and genuinely deserve a place in any European Mauser collection, despite — maybe because of — the applied Yugoslavian markings.
They’re also good actions for conversion, although most bear mint-like 8mm barrels, and throwing them out would be foolish. Century International Arms supplied virtually all the Latin American Mausers pictured within this article. If the close-ups reveal anything, it’s that the “export” guns were often made to higher standards than those for German domestic consumption. And why not? Foreign contracts were open to competitive commercial bid and nothing was locked in automatically. Most were made to very high standards, like the best sporting rifles of the period. And since I had an opportunity to compare directly with German rifles of the same years, it was pretty obvious that finish quality was higher on the DWM, Steyr, and even Mauser/Oberndorf guns for Latin America. What was interesting was the shooting quality delivered down-range.
Before developing that data, however, let me note that every Mauser I shot that’s pictured here was in the very best available condition. This cost me extra; it’ll cost you extra, but it’s dollars well spent. It always pays off. Of course, this caution does not apply so much if you’re doing a full-house sporter conversion; Century sells actions in various conditions, already stripped of their barrels and wood; often, complete rifles in fair to good condition cost less than the actions. But if you mean to do any shooting as-is, get the best condition available. If you’re a collector, this is especially true. Pay the extra money, and it’ll always be reflected in the gun’s long-term value. It also always costs much more to restore a clunker than to purchase a better rifle in the first place.
It’s also wise to shoot the best ammo you can. Surprisingly, the quality of surplus ammo is now very high. The FN Belgian 7.65mm Argentine and the San Francisco (Argentina) 7.65 shot as well as any military ammo I’ve ever shot. Yugoslavian PrviPartizan and Yugoslavian surplus 8mm, also from Century, performed beautifully and very accurately, as did the Yugoslavian 7×57.
This article is an excerpt from the Greatest Guns of Gun Digest. Click here to get your copy.