In one form or another, Mauser has been making rifles for almost 150 years. Mauser rifles have become synonymous with old world quality and craftsmanship, as well as strength and function. The new Mauser M18 is a departure from the famous rifles Mauser built their reputation on. The company has sought to create an inexpensive “good enough” rifle that the everyman can afford. They’ve achieved their goal. But in doing so, they’ve sacrificed much of what it meant to be a Mauser in the first place.
The M18 sports a 22″ cold hammer forged barrel. It’s a fairly light weight profile and keeps the weight of the rifle down for quick jaunts or long hunts. Unloaded and without an optic, the entire rifle weighs just 6.3lbs.
The bolt on the M18 is not the uber-machine that is the K98’s. It is a simpler three-lug design with a smaller extractor and dual ejectors. If you saw my recent review of the Sauer 100 Cherokee, it looks awfully similar.
Unlike that particular rifle, the M18’s bolt jolts open and drives back with a quickness. Unfortunately, you’ll need to drive the M18’s bolt forward pretty hard, as otherwise it stops just short of returning fully to battery. No matter what round I used, from Hornady’s 125gr Reduced recoil cartridge, to the (exceptional) Federal 185gr Juggernaut, there was always just a bit of a gap before the bolt closed, as above.
That gap also exist when the action is fully closed and in battery. There’s just not so much of it. If you work the bolt with your fingers, you won’t likely get the rifle to lock in place. A firm push with your palm or a fast and firm drive forward with the web of your firing hand thumb will do the trick.
At any price point, this trigger is a good one. There’s no grit, no starts and stops, and barely any take-up. It breaks crisp and clean with just a gentle pull. It’s not easily adjustable, but it needs no adjustment. The trigger of the M18 is absolutely ideal on a hunting rifle.
The synthetic buttstock’s recoil pad pulls off easily by depressing the two tabs at the base of the stock. The inside is filled with a removable foam insert, but space is intentionally left as a storage area. You can fit ear plugs, a bore snake, a small amount of lubricant, or a couple of carefully placed rounds in there.
The M18 comes scope-ready, but without sights. Don’t worry about odd European base sizes. Any of the Remington long action bases should fit.
The three-position knurled safety is well executed. As it should be, the position nearest the shooter locks the trigger and the bolt. The second position, just barely ahead of the first, locks just the trigger, and the third position, set with a longer gap away from the second, allows the bolt to move and releases the safety on the trigger entirely. This version snaps into each position with surety, but remains easy to get on and off with your firing hand thumb.
The stock is, even at this price point, a disappointment. It appears to be a similar weak synthetic stock to the early Remington SPS bolt action rifles. There’s no bedding material, and the recoil “lug” is simply a relatively thin metal bar inserted into the polymer fore-end.
Like the cheaper American offerings, the barrel is free floated in the stock, but the material is so weak that pressure on the stock at any angle bends the material and allows it to make contact with the barrel. I can hold the stock just in front of the recoil lug with the palm of my support hand and push on the barrel thumb, causing it to flex enough to make contact with the barrel.
This is a failing of many budget American guns as well. Folks shooting off a bag on the range rarely notice an issue, but in the field it can be a big one. Firm contact with the barrel will definitely alter the point of impact of your round, especially if the barrel was in a different position when you zeroed your rifle.
Just like my SPS (my first bolt action rifle) this can be remedied by glass and pillar bedding the stock. This is work any person who pays attention can do with minimal tools, and you’ll find that it makes a significant difference in the consistent performance of your rifle. With the Mauser M18, I would consider this mandatory work, at least if you are actually going to get out and hunt with the rifle.
The polymer five-round double stack magazine never failed to fully insert, lock into place, or fall free when the magazine release was depressed. I never had any problems loading or ejecting with any round, as long as I forcefully cycled the bolt, and the gun loads rounds just fine.
You’ll need to be careful when single-loading rounds. Because of the dual feed ramps and the ledge right before entering the chamber, the case mouth tends to stick prior to the bullet entering the breach. That means fast loading a single round on an empty magazine will almost certainly fail.
The only way I was able to quickly load one round on an empty magazine was to point the muzzle at the ground and place the bullet in with a pincer grip on the base of the cartridge. If you are in a hurry, that’s a no-go.
The Mauser M18 performed admirably from the bench. The best scoring round was the Hornady 168gr BTHP Match, averaging a 3/4-inch five-round group over four-shot strings from the bench at 100 yards. The IMI 175gr SMK scored the worst, doubling the best round with 1 1/2-inch groups under the same conditions.
Every other round I fired scored somewhere between those two extremes. All rounds were fired from a Caldwell Stinger shooting rest using an Atibal Nomad optic at 12 power.
For some folks — and I’m one of them — the M18 will be overly harsh in recoil for the caliber and weight of the rifle. That’s because the stock has a fairly pronounced toe angle. The bottom of the stock is longer than the top, at least when compared to many other modern rifles.
That means that women or men with broad chests will end up getting the pointy end of the bottom of the stock, the “toe,” pressing into their chests during recoil. It’s not debilitating by any means, but it definitely diminishes the shooting experience.
There’s nothing “old world” about the fit and finish of the M18. It’s a cheap plastic stock under a black gun. There were a few mild scratches and marks in the rifle, but I don’t know if this was the first time out for this trial and evaluation gun or not.
I own several Mauser rifles, and their variants. Their new M98’s are exceptional in every possible way, and I would highly recommend them to anyone. With the M18, Mauser has attempted to make a low budget rifle for the masses. So what I was hoping for when I got this gun for review was a cheap Mauser rifle. What I got instead was a cheap rifle, made by Mauser.
Specifications: Mauser M18 Rifle
Caliber: .308Win (other’s available include: .30-06, 243 Win, .270 Win Mag: 7 mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag)
Barrel length: 22 inches
Overall length: 42 inches
Weight: 6.3 lbs
Magazine capacity: 5+1 rounds
Surface: black burnished
Stock: Polymer 2- Componend with Softgrip inlays
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * *
A flimsy plastic stock and matte black metal is not what a Mauser should be.
There’s not much on the aftermarket for the gun, and there are few options available as well.
Reliability * * * *
As long as you use the factory magazine and give the bolt a push, there are no issues at all. It ran fine with any round I put through it. The difficulty of loading a single round in the chamber is frustrating.
Accuracy * * * * *
The M18 produced 3/4 inch with the best round and several under 1 MOA. I seriously doubt that holds up under field conditions with this stock, but off the bench, it’s a shooter.
Overall * * *
If this were any other brand of rifle, it would get three stars, so it gets three stars. It’s a decent gun. It’s inexpensive, reliable, and accurate. It’s not comfortable, and its materials and design will not stand the test of time. I understand the desire for any company to get a piece of the larger “people’s rifle” (their phrase, not mine) market, but Mauser should have no horse running in the race to the bottom.