Based on the original design drawings, the new Mauser M98 Magnum has combined the unique strengths of the ’98 action with modern machinery, metallurgy and flawless craftsmanship. It is absolutely stunning.
As its designation suggests, this rifle is initially being offered only in magnum chamberings, in this case, .375 H&H and .416 Rigby; it doesn’t get any more classic than that! The receiver is of double square bridge design set up to accommodate a swing-off scope mount. With this rifle Mauser has adopted the Model 70-type 3-position safety that locks the firing pin. A single-stage trigger is supplied factory set at 3.3 lbs., which is about right for a dangerous game rifle. Iron sights are of course standard, and a beautiful set up
it is. The 50-yard standing rear is of thick solid steel dovetailed to its base, in front of which are two folding leaves factory-sighted for 100 and 150 yards. Up at the muzzle is a barrel band front sight that is height adjustable. The front sling swivel is of course also of the barrel band variety. The floor of the receiver has two recoil lugs abutted by cross bolts fore and aft of the magazine, which is a drop-box affair that holds five .375s and four .416s. The hinged floorplate has an adjustable locking latch, a unique feature that ensures solid, rattle-free closure.
The stock is as elegant as it is functional. Grade 5 French walnut is standard (with 6 and 7 grades optional). The grip curve is shallow, as it should be on any big bore rifle to minimize bruising of the middle finger from recoil. A purely American-style cheekpiece done in shadow line graces the left side of the butt stock, while 22 LPI checkering adorns the grip and the ebony-tipped forend. A steel grip cap is finely engraved with the Mauser coat of arms. Bottom line, it is one gorgeous rifle! Being owned by Blaser, the Mauser M98 Magnum is produced in the Blaser factory at Isny, Germany.
Speaking of Blaser, another interesting rifle to debut this year is the R8 Professional S. Ever since the introduction of its predecessor, the R93, the straight-pull Blaser has been among the top-selling centerfire rifles throughout Europe, as well as the rest of the world. Here in the States it continues to gain acceptance, but frankly, its starting price of $3600 has prevented it from attaining any significant inroads with the vast majority of American hunters. And let’s face it, it’s never going to be because it is an expensive rifle to produce. However, with the Professional S, a Blaser could be within
the financial reach of a lot more folks. Retailing at $2895, it’s $700 less than what heretofore was the least expensive R8. Now that may not seem like a lot less, but the Blaser people tell me that here in the American market they’ve found there’s a significant resistance level beginning at $3000, and the Professional S is meant to address that. They feel this one model could well double the number of R8s sold here.
So what did they do to arrive at that price point? Not much, really. All they did was to eliminate the removable trigger/magazine housing and replace it with a fixed box that’s loaded from the top like any other blind magazine rifle. Other than that, all existing barrels, bolt assemblies and scope mounts will function in the new platform. All the versatility of the R8, therefore, remains with the new gun.
The more I get to test straight-pull rifles like the Blaser, the Merkel Helix, and the Heym SR-30 and use them in the field, the more I like them. It’s really the only area in sporting rifles where we see new, innovative thinking. Surely it’s only a matter of time before some enterprising individual or company here will come up with an American answer. In fact, I’m surprised we haven’t seen one before now, notwithstanding the Browning T-Bolt, which is a rimfire.–Jon R. Sundra