Luxury Deep-Woods Gun (Part 1)

I have often spoken of the need for a decent deep-woods gun — preferably carbine-length barrel, with a hard-hitting cartridge that could take care of any game likely to be found inside a hundred yards.  (From memory, the average distance for game taken in Pennsylvania forests is about a hundred feet.)

Of course, we all know what fits this bill:  the venerable lever-action rifle chambered in something like .30-30 (.30 WCF), which has always done the job with distinction and will no doubt continue to do so for the rest of time as we know it.  Here’s a Marlin 336 as seen at Collectors:

Or if we were to go upscale, so to speak, then there’s always the gorgeous Cimarron 1894 carbine:

Now as all my Loyal Readers know well, I am not one who tinkers lightly with tradition, so as a rule I would just say, “That’s that” and move on to other topics.

Not today.

You see, there’s another kind of deep-woods hunting, this time as practiced by Germans, Austrians and the like for as long as anyone can remember.  And they didn’t use lever rifles, but bolt-action carbines chambered in their equivalent of our .30-30, the 7x57mm Mauser cartridge, which they found quite adequate for hunting in the forests of Western- and Central Europe (which are as dark and deep as any forests to be found in the U.S., as anyone who has seen them will attest).

And as all my Loyal Readers also know, I have a deep, abiding love for the old Kraut cartridge, having taken many, many impala, springbok and even kudu back in the day with its long, thin and deep-penetrating bullet.  (Also one eland, but we can talk about that another time.)  Here’s a comparison between the 7x75mm and the well-known .308 Win:

In my case therefore, were I looking for a deep-woods rifle, I would not be limited to a Marlin, Henry, Uberti or Winchester, oh no not me.  That would be too easy.

I would also be considering a bolt-action carbine in 7x57mm (just to make my life even more complicated than it should be).

So… with all that background, imagine my surprise, as I was meandering along the electronic highways and (mostly) byways of Ye Internettes, when I stumbled into that evil place known as Steve Barnett Fine Guns, and found this:

Have mercy.  A Mannlicher-style full stock encasing an old Mauser?  Be still, my beating wallet.

And beat it would;  for this paragon of musketry costs over six thousand dollars, in that it was built by master gunsmith and stockmaker, the late Dale Goens.

In Part 2 next week, I’ll be talking about this situation in detail.

10 comments

  1. A few years ago my wife and I visited people we met in Italy, who lived in Georgia (US, not USSR). The male half of the couple was preparing to go to a gun show to sell off some stuff he no longer wanted/needed, and among the items was a Mauser chambered in 7×57 with Mannlicher stock, looked very much like the one pictured above (although nowhere NEAR as pretty, the rifle had been used, had nicks/scratches/etc, and IIRC there was a repaired crack on the stock). Still a lovely rifle. He had a $400 price tag, and had I not had to fly back to Dark and Fascist NJ I’d have written him a check then-and-there.

    One of few gun-related regrets I have is not finding a way to smuggle, er, purchase that rifle.

  2. I have a question that’s been sitting at the back of my mind through a few of the gun posts here. What is it about the Mannlicher style full length stock that you like so much?

    If it’s simply the esthetics that you like, that’s a matter of taste and move along as we’re all different. If there is a practical/functional reason I would really like to know.

    1. There’s no practical reason. Early carbines were simply sawn-off rifles, so the fore-end of the rifle came up to the end of the muzzle.
      Some people swear that under humid / hot conditions, the wood will warp and “bend” the barrel off true.
      That has NEVER happened to me in the heat (see: Africa), but I can’t speak for high humidity. Mr. Free Market claims that it happens in Britishland in their wet ‘n humid climate.

      I just think full-stocked rifles are gorgeous (see: SMLE rifles). And to paraphrase The Englishman: that Goens Mauser makes me tingle in parts that haven’t tingled in years.

  3. I have the CZ 7×57 with mannlicher stock and I bought it years ago as a retirement gift for myself, it is great gun and for me it is the European traditional shape that just looks right. I load that cartridge and with various bullet weights and powders it is a lot of fun to shoot.

  4. 7×57 (.275 Rigby, my man) is a great cartridge. The 140 grain load is so fun to shoot, especially out of a 29″ barrel. The pre war (pre WWI) South American contract guns made by Loewe are possibly the finest made military arms around- the fit and finish has to be seen to be believed. And somehow, they missed the insane values found with antique Winchesters and Lugers.
    Every SCREW has a proof mark on it. And every single small part is serialized. Like the cleaning rod. And the barrel bands. Mauser was nuts.

    IMO the ideal pair would be a 7×57 and a .375 H+H. When I hit the lotto…..

  5. Bush gun, huh? How about one that does it all?

    Mine is the Ruger No.1, with a 24” bull barrel, chambered in 25-06. It will shoot half to three quarter inch groups all day long, carries like a dream in the bush, and shoots long and flat in the fields. Because it’s a falling block single shot, it comes in a package the size of a 30-30 lever gun. The only downside is that it weighs in like a full size magnum rifle. That is only a drawback in mountainous terrain though.

  6. I did have a Ruger 7×57 Mannlicher that I sold a number of years ago to give my sone a $1000.00 check for his wedding present, I was not in a good place financially at the time so that was my gift to him and it was appreciated. At times we do have to let our little friends move on and I don’t regret that a bit. What a fantastic gun that was and I shot a Corsican Sheep with that one.

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