A Hale and Hearty Fellow

I recently acquired an elegant old Parker Hale chambered in .308. Its the Safari model, with an old Redfield 4×12, and I already love her.

20160625_161728And here she is. What a gorgeous piece of English rifle making.

Originally Parker Hale was founded when two gentlemen, A.G. Parker and Alfred Hale, formed a partnership in 1910 to manufacture firearms and accessories. The company was quite busy during both wars, as one may imagine. Unfortunately the company folded in 1992. As far as I can tell, the folding of the company was due to an inability to compete with bigger manufactures, not due to any qualitative reason in the product itself.

The particular gun I have was manufactured sometime in the ’70s. Precisely dating a Parker isn’t my forte, so to speak.

My Father-in-law and I went out shooting over the weekend and I brought this gun along. Several things stood out in my mind about her.

I have never before owned a rifle with such a fine, light, sweet trigger as this has. Some gun bloggers throw clichés like ‘breaks like glass’ at their poor readers until some poor soul begs for a reprieve. I am not one such boor, but it does break like glass. Er… whatever, man.

This trigger has just enough creep to remind you that triggers have that, but not enough to remind you of your prom. When the trigger passes the threshold from firing to fired, you barely feel anything. Except recoil. Being a .308, the recoil isn’t much. If you are accustomed to booming magnums, then the felt recoil from this rifle is more like feathers than bricks.

Mounted atop this fine example of ballistic art sits an old Redfield scope. In its day it was a very good scope. In todays day… I need a new scope for it. The scope works, mind you. Having used newer Vortex and Nikon scopes quite a bit I found that the Redfield doesn’t let in as much light, tends to lose focus, and is generally less comfortable on the eye. It isn’t horrible, but I do want to update it.

As for the shoot, I twice placed 3 rounds in a 1/2″ area at 100 yds, once kneeling, once prone. This gun is awesome. I shot both those groups with steel cased Barnaul junk. Ejecting the steel cases required rather more force than the brass cases, so be careful in buying that stuff. I plan on sticking to brass from here on out with this gun.

To sum, this is a fine rifle. I am happy to have it, and I plan on hunting with it in the near future.

 

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.