Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 rifle (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 logo (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 bolt face (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 bolt gap (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 trigger (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 stock (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 foam insert (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 safety (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 guts(image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 barrel (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 magazine (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 chamber (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 on the bench (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 groups (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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.

Gun Review: Mauser M18 Rifle in .308 Winchester

Mauser M18 chattering (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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
MSRP $699

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * *
A flimsy plastic stock and matte black metal is not what a Mauser should be.

Customization *
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.

comments

  1. avatar Sich says:

    I have a Frankin’ Mauser 98k in 7.92x57mm, with an Arisaka Type 38 Barrel, ATI Stock Replacement and a Sarco 25-round Trench Magazine…

    1. avatar jwm says:

      You may actually have something that’s uglier than a mosin nagant. Well done.

  2. avatar tdiinva says:

    You can find new Winchester Model 70’s for around that price. They have returned to the Pre-64 quality with a Mauser 98 action. Much better rifle for just a little more. The M18 is in the same class as the Ruger American and is almost twice the price.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      If I want an affordable Mauser, I’ll buy a Ruger 77.

      Oh wait! I did.

  3. avatar Draven says:

    Psst… the lugs are in front… that thing at the back is just a cap. ‘Fully in battery’ is at the front. Come back after you’ve owned a couple more bolt actions.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Your comment has nothing to do with the firearm being in battery, and I never said that was a lug. In fact, in describing the bolt, I said the opposite.
      Read better.

      1. avatar Greg says:

        How about write better?

  4. avatar GS650G says:

    I’ll take my savage axis 11 over this one.

  5. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    I think I’ll hold out for one that has enough in stock storage to hold a beer.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Dammit, comment editor’s broken. st ock

  6. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    It’s a disappointment, but mostly predictable for just about any company that is trying to mass-market their rifles into the US market.

    The lack of a real recoil lug is very disappointing, and will consign the action to low-recoil cartridges forever.

    As for your specific issue closing the bolt on a round into the chamber, it appears to me that the inside edge of the extractor needs to be beveled and polished up a bit.

  7. avatar jwm says:

    In the cheap ‘meat rifle’ category I’m sold on the Ruger American. I got mine plus a Redfield 3×9 scope and rings for less than what the price is for this Mauser alone. It’ll do the job I need done and if it drops off a cliff, no big deal.

  8. avatar John in AK says:

    Not.
    A.
    Mauser.
    Sorry.
    Pass.

  9. avatar Charlie says:

    I bought a Tikka T3 CTR Stainless in .308 about this time last year, and it’s a beautiful piece of work. Yeah, it cost $250.00 more than this Mauser, but I don’t care.

    Mauser is going to have an up-hill slog marketing this against the Remington 7.

    Charlie

  10. avatar possum says:

    Mauser has been making rifles for one hundred an fifty years,. ,,,,Now this

  11. avatar Southern Cross says:

    From a Mercedes-Benz to a Toyota.

    I could have said Yugo but Zastava makes a Mauser 98 clone that is well regarded.

  12. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    This gun is just a symptom of how the “but I could get __# of cheap gun company x for the price of that gun” people are ruining the gun industry.

    A race to the bottom indeed… and way too many good gun manufacturers are getting dragged into it.

  13. avatar DrDKW says:

    If I were looking to spend $700, I think I can still find a used K98!

  14. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    First off thanks for the honest article. I would not buy this piece of junk if someone gave it to me. Maybe I missed it but you did not state if the trigger was adjustable and if it is what the trigger pull was at its lowest setting.

    Also I see it is a 3 lug bolt which means fast follow up shots would not be as quick as with a two lug bolt because the bolt lift will be much harder at least that has been my experience with every multi-lug bolt gun I ever handled.

    The bolt not going fully going into battery without using a sledge hammer blow is really a serious problem

    The junk injection molded stock makes the gun not as good a deal as people think because I have known way to many people that have taken their factory injection molded stocks and thrown them right into the trash and then getting a decent replacement stock drives up the price of gun to the point you would have been better off buying something of quality to begin with. I saw an injection molded stock actually bend when shaken lightly on a Thompson Contender gun and a Winchester M70 injection molded stock mushroom out when the middle screw was tightened even slightly which let the screw bear against the bolt which locked the bolt up tight. What trash these injection molded stocks are.

    The action is a push feed which can and probably will get you killed if you try and use it on dangerous game as I have seen way to many hunters short stroke their bolt gun under pressure and then jam it up hopelessly. I once as a kid in the 60’s jammed up my first push feed M70 too and had to pry to loaded rounds out of the action that had twisted themselves together. Boy that was a sweat using a long screwdriver to get them broke free. Now you know why I hate and loath push feed bolt guns.

    I have only ever found two types of bolt rifles worth hunting with, the original pre-64 Model 70 rifle which despite its crude workmanship was reliable and reasonably accurate. The best rifle of course is the original 98 Mauser Rifle. Even today you can find some real gems at some of the gun shows used. Some will have been sportsitized and some will be original factory guns. Sears sold a nice one that had an FN commercial action and an FN barrel and an American walnut stock and so did many other American companies that either imported them or used the 98 action to build them with their barrels and stocks. The list is very long.

    The Swedish Husqvarna Rifle was a good one although built on the 96 action not the 98.

    The original 98 Mauser was a controlled feed action preventing double feeding and a hopeless jam up.

    The 98 had a very safe gas escape system and I assure you it does work as I had a cartridge case fail once and I was not harmed.

    The 98 had a powerful ignition system with 1/2 inch striker travel it will work if the gun is frozen, dirty, full of water or over heated. Few modern made junk guns will have this kind of strong ignition system. Modern speed lock ignition systems are for weekend sand bag plinkers, not serious hunters or people who have never learned “follow through” after pulling the trigger.

    Many of the older 98 guns with original barrels had the old fashioned deep groove hand lapped rifling which lasts way longer before throat burn out than modern junk shallow grooved button rifled barrels or the completely junk hammer fudged type of rifling. I might add the original military barrels were actually hand lapped twice, once for uniformity to eliminated loose and tight spots in the barrel and a second time to eliminate any burs or roughness.

    The original 98 was designed so you could change out a broken extractor or firing pin without tools and in a matter of minutes. Most modern made junk guns take a trip to the gunsmith to get this accomplished.

    The Original 98 had double heat treated receivers that could take a real pounding from over loads.

    Yes make mine an original Mauser 98 because there is no other rifle even today that compares to it in reliability, safety and workmanship. And it brings with it the nostalgic history of famous big game hunters of long ago like W.D. M.Bell who slew the most mighty of dangerous game on the planet. They did not use junk guns because their lives depended on a rifle that would not fail them at the critical moment and in hostile environments of heat, dirt, dust, and rain or hostile tribes or brigands who would slit your throat as soon as look at you.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      I’ve commented here at TTAG that every bolt gun since the 98 has been an exercise in removing safety features and simplifying machining operations, with the culmination in the Remington 700, a rifle where the bolt is made from three pieces of steel silver-soldered together and the receiver is naught but a round bar of 4140 steel that’s been drilled, broached and then milled out.

      The issue for the 98 is that there are just so many machining operations on a 98 receiver, the cost of production in today’s environment blows up through the roof. There are some outfits here and in Germany that make new Model 98 actions (bolt, receiver and trigger) that start at about $2500 and go up to $6K (a titanium action in magnum length). Most gun buyers just won’t for over that much for just an action.

      The other issue for gun buyers is that, unlike the Rem700 compatible receivers, usually the original 98K actions need some TLC from an old-fashioned gunsmith to make them into something the modern shooter wants today. eg, The bolt handle needs to be forged down. The keeper screw holes in the bottom metal need to be TIG’ed closed. The bolt might need to be faced off a bit, perhaps the firing pin hole needs to be bushed.

      If you’re going to use a scope, you need a “barn door” style safety (ie, like the ones on the Model 70’s or Ruger M77’s). Ed LaPour makes those for 98’s.

      Usually, I’ll put the receiver on a mandrel and face off the front of the receiver, so it is normal to the bolt axis. It usually only takes a couple thou to make this cut clean up all the way ’round. Then I’ll lap the lugs in on the bolt, before hanging a new barrel on it.

      The Mauser 98 has more safety features and better construction (IMO) than most of the bolt actions out there today. You’re right that it has a better gas venting system than just about anything else – and there’s a reason for this: Paul Mauser lost an eye due to a case failure in another gun design he was working on. This made him hyper-aware of gas leakage problems, and so you have the 98.

  15. avatar smith young says:

    can you tell me what’s the scope you use ?i am interested in 。 thanks

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email