Saturday, June 14, 2008

Just ill.

The first Mauser rifle adopted by Germany was the Gew. 71. It was followed shortly by a carbine variant for horse soldiers, cannon-cockers, and the like. The carbine was a diminutive little thing, with a full-length stock of the type now referred to as "Mannlicher-style", a turned-down bolt handle, and a stubby 20" barrel.

Apparently, sporting conversions of these rifles were somewhat common around the end of the 19th Century, after they had been obsoleted. I came into possession of one such, a bringback from a WWI Doughboy who pulled occupation duty in Germany during 1919; I bought it from his grandson. Mine was originally made in 1877 by C.G.Haenel & Sohn in the town of Suhl. It had been sporterized in a fashion that would be familiar to later generations of American shooters, by the simple expedient of shortening the military stock to the barrel band and refinishing the wood. In meticulous Teutonic fashion, every piece, down to individual screw heads, bears the gun's serial number, and they all match. The finish is worn to an even brown/gray patina. It looks very much like the one here, except the stock on mine is a little longer and has no inlet pistol grip.

This single-shot black powder Mauser carbine is a handy, compact little weapon. So compact that one could mislay it in the frenzy of moving, and it could lay on a table in a basement with a large sofa cushion atop it. Up out of the floodwaters, mind you, but with the cushion preventing air circulation...

I just noticed it yesterday. I was almost physically ill. It really wasn't too bad; just some freckling on the receiver, the knoxform of the barrel, and the bolt, and an hour or so's diligent work removed the orange cancer spots, but still...

A 131 year old rifle is going to carry the marks of history, and some of those little marks on this rifle from now on are going to be from the Great Indiana Floods of 2008.

11 comments:

og said...

holy sweet mother of god.

Look, I don't want this to sound like I'm some kind of freak...

OK, so it's far too late for that.

Anyway, it sounds like the contents of Roseholme need to be collectively doused in some 30 weight motor oil.
Maybe just the parts susceptible to rust.

Tam said...

Oh, all my milsurps are virtually coated in accumulated years of oil. As long at they get air circulating around them, they're golden. Lord knows that the Swiss rifles have seen worse flooding in their time. (Ever notice that the last six inches of most S-R stocks are darker than the rest?)

og said...

Yeah, mine is a little dark and dinged, but not as bad as many I've seen. I've been told this was because of the rifles being jammed in the snow, and then kicked to break free of ice, I've also been told this was due to the rifles being jammed up against wet boots in close military formation.

Me, I could care less if it was painted pink and had blue polka dots. It shoots.

But yeah, I wouldn't dare cast aspersions on your firearms care- I just wanted to volunteer to help rub oil on stuff.

Firehand said...

Oh, I hate that feeling. Something you've cleaned up and worked on, and you find it when something's happened and you see RUST!!!

And no, it doesn't matter that it cleans right up, the feeling hangs on.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about entroy sneaking up on you like that.

Mannlicher stocks, what is it about those that makes a rifle so damn nice looking? I know, it's supposed to reduce accuracy and all, but still, wood out to the tip makes me go all weak inthe knees.

Anonymous said...

That's be "ENTROPY"

Anonymous said...

The oldest rifles I own are the 1891 Argentine Cavalry and Engineer Carbines. I've killed deer with both of them. Also 1898 Krag, M1s, T44, K31 K98, Swede M38, et. et. Someone has offered me a trapdoor Springfield but so far he hasn't come through.

Alan said...

I had a similar situation with an 1873 Winchester . (well not really but I'm feeling mouthy today.)

My grandfather had lent the 1873 Winchester (which had some actual historic value in that local) to a local museum. When he died he left it to me. When the museum handed it over, and I was shocked to see a light coating of rust all over the barrel.

The curator told me they left it that way because the rust made it look more authentic. Needless to say I denied their request to keep it.

Anonymous said...

Tragedy? I think not. There is no better way to get close to your rifle, it solidifies your bond. At least for me any way. No regrets.

dr mac said...

Pray tell this novice, why two triggers ?

Tam said...

Those are "double set triggers". One can either pull the main trigger normally, or one can pull the "set trigger" first, which sets the main one to a hair trigger.

Mine, has the original military trigger group. In fact, all I need is a Kar. 71 stock to restore the rifle.

Which is like saying that all I need is the winning ticket to win Powerball.