Gratuitous Gun Pic: Mauser 98 Sporter (8x57mm)

It seems like forever since I last did a piece bordering on idolatry about Mauser rifles, so here we go.

This one’s a pre-WWII ’98 Sporter in 8x57mm, and can be had at Collector’s for an obscene amount of money.  Why “obscene”?  Allow me to explain.

When I arrived in the U.S. after the Great Wetback Episode Of ’86, I was of course gun-less, having had to leave them all back in the old Racist Republic.

It took me few months before I managed to get my first gun Over Here, and it was identical to the one above except that mine had a single trigger and was, as the saying goes, very well-used.  It was also quite accurate (especially as this was thirty-odd years ago, back when I still had young eyes and could use iron sights).

The seller was a work colleague — a bit of a dick, actually — who was based in South Carolina, and when on a business trip there I went over to his house for dinner and to flirt with his very pretty wife, he took me into his workshop and showed this wondrous thing to me, whereupon I was overcome with gun lust and made him an offer.  He counter-offered, and we settled on $150.

Now the problem came about getting the thing back to Chicago.

Because I was stupid and knew nothing, I simply popped the thing into my garment bag, and when I got to the airport, checked the bag and was asked to fold it in two, I replied that I couldn’t because there was a camera tripod inside which was already folded up to its fullest extent.  The airline check-in clerk just shrugged, found me a large cardboard box and taped it shut before sending it on its way.

Those were the good old days.  Imagine trying to do that now.

Of course, I only found out a few days later that to own a gun legally, I had to have an Illinois Firearm Owner ID (FOID).  This I learned when I went to Ye Olde Gunne Shoppe to buy ammo.  Oops.  That’s me:  Oblivious Kim, breaking a stupid law again.

Anyway, I held onto the rifle for years, eventually selling it only in a time of great financial duress — I believe it was the very last gun I sold, back then — and I have to tell you, I still feel the wrench.


By the way:  the guy’s wife and I had a bit of a fling not long after, so I got him for a twofer:  his rifle and his wife, both very enjoyable to play with.

Gloom

Blogging has always been fun.  It’s fairly easy for me to write about, well, anything, and when all else fails, there’s always this:

…this:

…or this:

In these times, however — the times that try men’s souls (to coin a phrase) — there seems little incentive to pass comment about what just happened to us, and what is likely to happen to us.  All I feel is sullen rage, resentment and a burning desire to bite the head off a rattlesnake.

I wish sometimes that I could be a Lefty, and take to the streets, burn shit down and in general act like a 10-year-old child;  but I can’t do that.  The very thought of causing destruction to innocent people’s property, or beating people up in the streets, or doing any of that crap that the Left are so fond of doing when they feel aggrieved — well, I’m not going to do any of it.  Futile gestures are not my thing.

But at the same time, I feel like I’m living in some kind of hellish limbo.  I know, this is no doubt how the Left felt after Hillary Clinton lost;  but the difference is that while Trump was never going to put homosexuals into concentration camps, or overturn Roe v. Wade, or start deporting people en masse, there is every reason to suspect that the new crop of Lefties really are going to raise our taxes, try to confiscate our guns, muzzle our voices and fuck up our economy under the guise of “saving the planet” or some such bullshit.

So please forgive me if over the next few days or so the quality of this blog seems to head downhill, wherein I seem to be just mailing it in instead of giving it the gas.

Normal service will resume shortly, probably with even more invective and loathing than before.  Right now, however, I just feel like tying George Soros to a chair and beating him to death with a baseball bat.

And I may just reconfigure this blog somewhat, with a new, less self-pitying name.  Watch this space, and content yourself with this thought:

The Real Wonder-Nines

Way too much fluff has been written about the silly 9mm Europellet (a.k.a. 9mm Luger), the most egregious being its appellation as the “Wonder-Nine” [eyecross] , the only “wonder” being how people can believe all that crap.

So today I’m going to look at the two real wonder-nine cartridges that came out of Europe, i.e. the 9.3x74R and the 9.3x62mm, both well over a hundred years old and both the only serious contenders to the equally-venerable .375 H&H Magnum (blessings be upon it).

 

Both cartridges have a bullet diameter of .366″ with a typical weight of 285/286gr, and despite the different casing lengths, they are to all intents and purposes ballistically identical.  The 9.3x74R is, as the nomenclature suggests, a rimmed cartridge intended for use in double rifles such as the Beretta 689:

…while the rimless 9.3x62mm (sometimes called the 9.3x62mm Mauser) is available for both the Mauser Model 12 and 98:

…the Sako 85 Bavarian:

…the CZ 550 line:

…and SIG Sauer’s Model 100 XT plastic rifle is also available in this caliber:

No prizes for guessing which rifle I’d pick, but let’s just say that full-length stocks make me twitch in all sorts of places, while plastic stocks… never mind.

The 9.3x62mm is expensive to shoot, not so much because of the ammo cost (inexpensive Prvi Partizan sells for around $26 per box, while premium hunting ammo runs around $90 — in other words, pretty much the same as .300 Win Mag) but because the rifles thus chambered are generally super-spendy (with the exception of the Sauer 100 XT rifle, for around $700-$800;  the wood-stocked “Classic” is about $200 more).  CZ-USA doesn’t even issue the Mod 557 in 9.3mm, which is a pity.  (American hunters are already well served with other cartridge choices, which is no doubt the reason CZ didn’t extend the offering.)

As to why the smaller 9.3x62mm is often preferred over the .375 H&H, here’s a decent look at its ballistics.  Also, because the 9.3x62mm can be fired from a “standard” length bolt-action rifle, it’s still cheaper than  the longer “magnum” or “Safari” rifles — and, as the linked article suggests, its sectional density / penetration is pretty much the equal of the .375H&H, for considerably less recoil.

It’s even worse for the rimmed 9.3x74R cartridge (see here for an example), although I note that you can find the excellent Ruger #1 Medium Sporter chambered thusly, for about the same price as a regular quality bolt-action rifle.

 

I don’t think that anyone reading this is going to rush out and buy a rifle in either chambering anytime soon, but should you come across one for a decent price in a garage- or estate sale sometime, know that you won’t be making a bad buy, or buying something shooting an inadequate cartridge.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: Carcano Model 91TS (6.5x52mm)

While browsing through Collectors recently, I came upon this old girl:

I have often sung the praises of the Mosin-Nagant M44 as a short and handy carbine, but I have to say, the Carcano (often incorrectly called the Mannlicher-Carcano) Model 91TS as pictured would do pretty well in the same role.  I’ve shot quite a few in my time — one even back in South Africa — and what impressed me most is the pure handiness of the carbine.  One of the common complaints about battlefield carbines is their recoil — less mass means more recoil, because Sir Isaac Newton will not be denied — but the M91’s little 6.5x52mm cartridge is an absolute gem, and I have no idea why the Italian Army replaced it with the larger (and not much more effective) 7.35x51mm cartridge in the reworked Model 38.  (Maybe they thought that size mattered.)

Anyway, that long, thin 156gr boolet means excellent sectional density and therefore quite adequate penetration on humans:

…but as with all old cartridges, there’s always that availability problem.  And with the state the ammo industry is in now, it’s even more scarce than usual.  Graf & Sons, normally my go-to guys when it comes to old military ammo, doesn’t have any in stock (surprise, surprise) and even when they do, it runs about $2 per trigger pull — unless you go with the lighter Prvi Partizan variant at a very reasonable $0.83 per round.

Had I known then what I know now (back in the early- to mid-2000s a.k.a. The Happy Times), I’d have snapped up a decent M91 carbine for about $95, which is about what they cost back then compared to over $400 nowadays, and a few hundred rounds of ammo for less than half of what it costs now.

But that hindsight is a bugger, innit?  Here’s the much-longer M91 rifle, just for comparison’s sake:

The Browning Conundrum

We all know that I’m a huge fan of the Browning P-35 High Power pistol (despite its piddly Europellet chambering) because to me, it is the absolute zenith of John Moses Browning’s engineering handgun design (albeit with a huge assist from Dieudonné Saive).   It is one of my favorite guns to shoot, and is much easier to disassemble (and reassemble) when it comes to after-action cleaning.

I also love my Browning 1885 High Wall rifle in .45-70 Govt:

That “bank-vault-closing” feel as you pull the lever back up and close the action after reloading:  not much feels and sounds much better in the firearms world.  And the satisfaction one feels when pulling the trigger to send a giant 405-gr bullet downrange… ah, my friends, if you haven’t experienced it, it would be like trying to explain the beauty of a desert sunset to a blind person.

And everyone knows of my love for Browning Auto-5 shotguns like the Sweet 16 or the Light 20:

And yet those are the only three Browning guns I’ve ever owned.

That’s not by design, by the way.  I’ve fired many Browning rifles and shotguns — all belonging to other people, either at the range or while hunting — but for some inexplicable reason, I’ve never felt compelled to own a Browning long gun or pistol in the way that I am drawn to, say, a Mauser 98 or WinMar lever rifle.

It’s inexplicable, really;  there is no reason for me to turn my nose up at, say a Browning lever rifle (BLR), especially when chambered for a manly cartridge like the .308 Win:

…especially when the BLR’s stacked mag allows for spitzer-tipped bullets while the WinMar’s tube mags do not.  Would I feel in any way disadvantaged with the BLR out in the field?  Hell, no;  and yet for some reason, I’m drawn more to the Henry/Winchester/Marlin offerings than to the BLR.

That also goes for Browning’s bolt-action rifles.

Combat Controller uses one of these, an X-Bolt chambered in -300 Win Mag, for his Scotland hunts with Mr. Free Market, has never had a problem with it, and his deer tally over the years would certainly give one no reason not to use one (especially in those difficult conditions).  Yet I’ve never owned one, nor come close to getting one;  and the same is true for the excellent semi-auto BAR / Safari models:

(For some reason, I’m not a fan of hunting with semi-auto rifles, but that has nothing to do with Browning.)

Needless to say, I would never turn down a Browning double-barreled shotgun, except that they make mostly over/under models — but once again, my preference for side-by-side shotguns has nothing to do with Browning.  Their reputation and success in shotguns is very well earned, and thousands of people use them as religiously as I use Mauser rifles or John Moses Browning’s 1911 Government pistol.

This, by the way, is one of my “lottery” shotguns at Steve Barnett’s:  a rare older “BSS” model in 20ga:

…which has absolutely everything I desire in a SxS:  splinter forearm, double triggers and straight “English” stock.  The only thing that has stopped me from getting it is not the fact that it’s old and second-hand:  it’s the price:  $5,750.  Which, for an old secondhand gun, pushes me away a little.

And here, finally, may lie the the answer as to why I’ve never owned many Browning guns:  cost.

Loyal Readers know that I always go for quality in my guns — and nobody seems to have any arguments against Browning guns in that regard — but at the same time, Brownings always seem to cost just a little bit too much when compared with guns which are functionally their equivalent and whose quality is as good or in some cases better.  Once again, I have no problem with quality costing more than average;  where possible, I always go for quality (in all things) even though I know that it does carry a higher cost.  But Browning always seems to be just a tad over that tolerance, and I walk away.

How say you, O My Readers?  Is this your experience too, or am I missing something here?