Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf
I have always liked the old military bolt action rifles, and about 20 years ago, if I found one in good shape I bought it. These old war horses can sometimes be a gamble, you never really know what you are getting.
Through the years I have traded off or sold many old military rifles that just didn’t shoot as good as I thought they should.
Two of my favorites that seemed to shoot pretty well, ended up being tucked away as safe queens for the last twenty years or so until this spring.
I was getting spring fever and needed a little trigger time and all of my scoped rifles were sighted in and hitting right where I want them. So what is a guy to do?
I dug out my 98K Mauser, it is all original with no import markings and still wearing all of her politically incorrect Waffenampts and even still has the original sling. It is an excellent example of Germany’s WWII battle rifle. I’m sure one of our GI’s must have brought it home as a war souvenir. By the looks of it, I think it was fired very little and only dropped once.
I also pulled out my British Enfield #4 MK1, that is in very good shape, I remembered that it shot good twenty years ago and it is a quality example of one of Britain’s battle rifles. Unfortunately it has import markings, but it is still a good looking Enfield.
So on a warm day in April with only about a 10 MPH wind, I loaded up the old rifles and headed to the shooting range.
After a few sighters with the old Mauser, I quickly realized that my eyes just aren’t what they use to be and I had to move my targets closer to 75 yards, so I could see what I was shooting at.
I had recently loaded 30 rounds of ammo for each rifle for my test, and when my shooting session was complete, I had shot all 60 rounds and had an aching shoulder, from those wonderful steel and brass butt plates.
All groups were fired at 75 yards from a bench using sandbags for my rest.
My load for the 8mm, was a 200 grain Sierra MatchKing® #2415, 41 grains of IMR 4064 and a CCI #200 primer. The best group fired from either rifle belonged to the 98K. My best two groups from the old Mauser were 1.634” and 2.542”.
I honestly think that if these two old veterans had a decent scope on them, they would both be capable of M.O.A. accuracy, at least at 100 yards anyway. But I assure you neither one will ever be altered from their as issued condition. I like them just how they are. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Does this accuracy test really tell me much, not really. Two inch groups at 75 yards isn’t really something to write home about. But I did find it interesting that when I averaged the two groups from the Mauser they averaged 2.088” and the two groups from the Enfield averaged 2.103”, that amounts to only 15 thousandths of an inch difference between the two when it comes to this accuracy test.
So which rifle was the better battle rifle? I’m certain that if you asked an old German soldier and an old British soldier you would get two very different answers.
Disclaimer: Load data represented here may not be safe in your rifle.