A mauser in the hand is worth more than two in the bush

This rifle is pretty sweet. Czech it out...
This rifle is pretty sweet. Czech it out…

I finally did it. I bought a Mauser! The VZ 24 is one sweet piece of Mauser history. Many consider this rifle to be one of the finest Mausers ever made, and I can certainly see why. A friend hooked me up with the seller, and once I picked it up I could not set it down. He had a couple of other Mausers for sale, including a Portuguese contract Mauser with matching bayonet, but this little gem had to be mine. What follows is a brief write-up, touching on the history and suchlike.

In 1924 the Czech Army adopted the VZ 24 as their battle rifle. It is essentially a Mauser K-98. Pretty near everything in this rifle is k-98.

Not the original bolt
Not the original bolt

The bolt I have isn’t matching, by the bye. Originally the bolt would have been a straight bolt, not bent. In fact, this whole rifle looks kinda funny, if you know what you are looking at. The VZ series of rifle did not use a k-98 sling. This stock is clearly a k-98 stock. It is a puzzle. A crest usually adorns the receiver above the chamber, but this has been ground off. What is this gun?

mauserbookBetween a bit of help from Google and my cousin loaning me the book on Mauser rifles, I think I have it figured out.

As we well remember, the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938. After that was done, the Germans pressed the Czech arms industry into service. The Brno factory had originally bought all its tooling and equipment from Mauser in 1919. All the rifles made by Brno were basically well-made Mausers. It made sense for the Germans to do this, and they did.

My rifle is an odd duck. It was made in 1924, if I read the date stamp correctly. It is a very early VZ 24. At some point the stock and bolt were switched out for newer parts, either due to wear and tear, or just because somebody had the parts around and thought this would be a great idea.

When I took the bolt apart and the stock off I found Waffenampts on the bolt behind the handle and on the underside of the barrel. It seems that the bolt at least came straight out of a k-98, and that the barrel was proofed for service in the German Army. It is a bit exciting finding definite proof (no pun to see here folks) of war provenance. So far as I can tell, the bolt was proofed in Leipzig. WaA 22 is the stamp on the bolt. I don’t know how a part made in 1938-9 made it on a gun made in 1924, and in two different countries, but hey. This is cool.

The whole things is very interesting. Then we get to shooting it. VZ Mausers rightly have a good reputation. I have bad eyes and I still print nicely at 100 yds with this rifle. The recoil of an 8×57 round is similar to the Lee Enfield, except that it kicks straight back into the shoulder, unlike the Enfield, which has a distinct rise to its kick. All told, it is a comfortable and pleasant rifle to shoot. If you want ammo for an 8mm Mauser you will need to reload. This stuff is hard to come by. Twenty rounds can put a guy back as much as sixty bucks! In a later post we will discuss reloading for this rifle.

The end of the road

At the end of every road comes… the end of the road. For 100 years, to the year, Lee Enfield #2438 Mk 1 III was in better than serviceable condition. Yet, I am a reloader who likes to economize on things like brass. Blown out shoulders can be fixed, old guns can be rebuilt.

The Old Lady needed better care than I could give her. I broke down and sold my very first rifle to a collector who rebuilds Enfields to their former glory. A part of me is sad to see her go, but having gone I am glad for her. Then I saw the pictures…old lady

This fellow has done well by my old Enfield. Thank you sir.