Military Surplus on a Budget ft 1916 Spanish Mauser
The author aims his 1916 Mauser at his target. Photo credit: Terril Hebert
If you enjoy shooting powerful rifles and handguns without spending alot of dough it is hard to ignore military surplus weapons. They are sturdy weapons built for heavy use and fire serious rounds that are still capable of winning competitions, plinking around with, putting down predators of all types, and putting meat on the table. While many military firearms have gone up in price in recent years as the free supply of imports are drying up at this time one of the best, and most overlooked, deals is the Spanish m1916 Mauser.
it is somewhat ironic that declining empires and second rate powers were the first to embrace the great game changing weapon of the late 19th century. The Mauser rifle. A five shot bolt action repeating rifle that was fed using stripper clips. The Spanish Empire was among the very first to adopt it for their forces. The 7mm Spanish Model 1893 gave American soldiers a scare of their lives in our war with them in Cuba (1898-99). In 1916, the army improved on their 93 by shortening the rifle and adapting the sights for spitzer style ammunition as well as other issues.
The old Model 1893 is also legendary in the hands of the South African Boers whom gave the British a beating in the Boer War (1899-1902). Photo credit: shootingtimes.com
Spain would experience turmoil, a bloody civil war, and a restoration of democracy after 1975. The Spanish Mauser saw her country through all this yet Spain’s uneasy neutrality in both World Wars means the Model 1916 rifle does not rank high with many collectors. That is unfortunate because the 1916 is a great weapon but also fortunate because they can be had for $200 or so in very good condition with the ergonomics and accuracy you can expect from a Mauser.
Spanish women firing their 1916 Mausers at the enemy in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Photo credit: Getty Images
The Model 1916 Short Rifle has a 21 inch barrel that features a front sight protected by a steel guard and a rear notch sight graduated to 2000 meters. Since it is based on the old 93, the bolt action has two locking lugs. Very strong for the 7x57mm Mauser round it is chambered originally for but not as strong as later Mauser rifles (that have three lugs). The bolt is turned down unlike many rifles of that era and has the three position safety typical of Mauser on the back of the bolt. It also features a stripper clip feed and a five round staggered magazine, full length wooden stock, and steel furniture as typical for the day. It was chambered originally for the 7x57mm round that has a reputation for long range accuracy. In the 1950s and 60s many of these 1916s were rechambered for 7.62mm NATO because Spain could not make enough CETME rifles. Both rounds are easily found at gun stores across the US and both are famous hunting numbers but there are some concerns that the slightly higher pressure 7.62 NATO round could cause problems in rifles designed for a lower pressure round.
While I intend to shoot a 7.62mm version in the future I got a nice m1916 rifle in 7mm Mauser. There are no markings on the receiver of the rifle as many were rubbed off during refinishing by the Spanish but the bluing and wood finish remains very good and the bores are generally better taken care of than other milsurp rifles. The rounds I used for shooting was Federal’s 139 grain soft point ammunition. The ammunition is fairly easy to find at local gun stores but the ultimate would be reloading for the round. The 7mm Mauser round does not disappoint on the range.
Shooting Mauser rifles makes me turn my nose up at other milsurps and the Spanish Model 1916 rifle is no exception. To load the rifle just bring the bolt back, insert your stripper clip into the bridge and push the rounds into the magazine. Slam the bolt and the clip falls out and the first round can be chambered. You do not need a clip as you can thumb in individual rounds, but to me no milsurp collection is complete without those rare 7mm clips. The sights are not great but not as blocky as the sights on a Mosin Nagant style rifle. Bolt manipulation and making the gun safe using the 3 position safety is a piece of cake. Recoil was very light and shooting for accuracy at 50 and 200 yards proved to be a two video ordeal producing groups of about four inches at 200 yards. The 7mm round is long for its caliber and bucks wind and drop very well while being light on the shoulder like many of the first generation smokeless cartridges are.
If you want a nice rifle that has light recoil, adequate power, history, and ergonomics, the Spanish 1916 Short rifle might be the choice for you. It is not the only budget military surplus rifle out there, but I think it is the best of them. Try one and you may agree.