“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

― Frank Herbert

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Israeli Mausers


If you are familiar with the history of Israel, you know that the British U.N. mandate to administer "Palestine" ended in 1948.  When the British pulled out,  the Israelis were attacked by the national armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and a lot of token contingents from other Islamic states. They also had to contend with swarms of "irregulars" which means indigenous Arabs up for a little looting, pillaging, rape and murder.

Since arms exports to Israel were banned by the U.N. (and the United States), the Israelis just had the weapons they'd been able to scrounge, smuggle, and steal.

The only country willing to ship arms to the Israelis (for cash on the barrel head) was Czechoslovakia. The Czechs sold a wide range of World War II surplus arms, from BF 109 fighters (with Jumo engines, a real widow maker) to rifles. Israel even purchased a complete Mauser factory from the Czechs, though it's generally said that it only repaired weapons, and did not produce any new ones.  Most of the equipment was flown in by transport aircraft acquired all over the world by Israeli purchasing agents.

Israel obtained a great many Mauser 98 K rifles, chambered in 8mm Mauser. Some were parts guns produced after the war, but most were left over from captured German Army stocks.


In the 1948 war, there weren't any civilians.  Organized military units like the Haganah and the Palmach operated alongside settlers in Kibbutz farming communities. Women were armed and fought alongside the men. The Israelis didn't have much choice, since the avowed goal of the Arabs was the total eradication of the Jewish state and the people living in it.

In 1956, when Israeli went to war with Egypt again, the Mauser 98 was still a front line issue weapon.



By 1967, The Israeli Defense Force was reequipping with the Uzi, the FNFAL, and more modern weapons. However, if you look at pictures taken in Jerusalem during that war, the paratroopers are frequently armed with the 98K. Many of them were reservists and that was the issue weapon.



Israel began reworking the Mausers, converting them to 7.62X51.  These guns are so marked on the receiver ring and on the stock.



Not all Israeli Mausers have the Jewish crest on the receiver. My gun does not, though it is marked 7.62 on the stock and receiver ring.



Because the Mausers had been rechambered, they were considered to be of no interest to collectors. When Israel began to release them on the surplus market in the 1970's,  they were very cheap and fairly common. Many were sold in South and Central America,and later resold to American importers.

Today you can find them for sale in pawn shops, or on line through companies that conduct gun auctions on the net. Sometimes they show up at dealers, such as Classic Collectors out in Texas. The Israeli Mausers have all the positive attributes of the original 8mm guns, and they have the added advantage of being chambered for a common American round.

If you come across one, it would make a practical investment and be a useful tool at the same time.


18 comments:

  1. I have one and I love it. Aside from it's history, it's one of my best-shooting Mausers and one of the few old milsurps that I would rely on without question in a fight for my life.

    http://lagniappeslair.blogspot.com/2009/01/another-day-at-range.html

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  2. I like mine. I have two types of World War II era guns in .308. There's my Israeli Mauser, and my Ishapore Enfields.

    I got lucky and got an Israeli Mauser in virtually unissued condition. Southern Ohio Guns had a big consignment come in back in the early 1980's. At the time, collectors had rich pickings and turned their nose up at any gun modified in any way, so these guns were sold dirt cheap as shooters.

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  3. Harry, other than the fact that the 7.62 (.308) is more widely distributed, I cannot understand why the need for a total conversion. I mean, the 8mm isn't a bad round, and the Germans proved that. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

    There may be other considerations that I am unaware of...thoughts? --Troy

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    1. I would imagine the consideration is one of logistics. If youve issued FAL's to your troops in .308, issued belt-fed machineguns to your units in .308, and are, most likely, issuing sniper rifles in .308 then why wouldnt you switch your reservist guns to .308 so you dont have to keep two different types of ammunition in your nations inventory?

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    2. Two persons shot in same place in anatomy probably will not be able to determine who is hurt more . . . :^) And if you were smart (and lucky) enough to buy 8mm milsurp when it was inexpensive and plentiful, the original 8mm would be a good choice.

      If starting from scratch, I'd pick the 7.62NATO chambered in a heartbeat.

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    3. The Israelis converted the Mausers to .308 purely for logistics reasons. They have always been an extremely practical people, and don't have the financial wherewithall to produce two rifle caliber rounds if they can make do with one. It also simplified the job of the Quartermaster Corps.

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  4. Harry - and you could ship me 3 or 17 of those anytime. just write on the customs slip "bedding" or some other such nonsense - bahahahahah! i put up a post with a pic of me in basic training just now - you might get a kick out of it! much love to you and yours, always. your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Kymber, I'll go over and take a look. I'd like to see that picture.

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  5. I really want a Mauser in 7.62x51. Cannot fully explain why except it is the only old war horse that would not further complicate my logistical footprint. Maybe next year.

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    1. 8mm Mauser in surplus is still available once in awhile by the case. An 8mm 98K would be a lot less difficult to find and less expensive to purchase these days. I can understand wanting one, though.

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    2. What I really like about the milsurp bolt guns are the stripper clip wings on top of the receiver. They make reloading fast and easy and very convenient to carry as well. The original 8mm clips work fine with .308 / 7.62 NATO cartridge rims, what a blessing!

      I can't remember if Ruger installed these wings on their Gunsite Scout, but they sure did miss the boat if they didn't, very cool feature. I'm sure the cost of adding these on may have been a reason.

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    3. The stripper clips are what really make the old bolt guns practical as defensive weapons. With some practice and stripper clips, you can put up a good rate of aimed fire. I have the most trouble with .303 British, they are the hardest to feed, at least for me.

      I don't know about the Ruger, I read about the gun but don't own a Gunsite Scout. I do have several of their pistols, and a few of their more common rifles.

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  6. I have minimal use for stripper clips. With modern, detachable mag fed, rifles I find them needless. For work they still load all our ammo in em but between the adapter thing for the mag, the mag and the stripper clip they work right about half the time.

    I always carry plenty of magazines and in the times I was someplace hairy we kept a box with a couple dozen spare loaded mags in our vehicle. Between what was on us, in our vehicles and various bags there were plenty of mags. The only way I would take rifle ammo not loaded in a mag into combat in a personal load out (vs a higher level of resupply, cache, etc) is a bandoleer in my ruck.

    As to the old war horses they are an important consideration in terms of rate of fire. A trained person using them could put out a surprising rate of fire. Prior to WWI a British senior Infantry training NCO did some things with an Enfield I would have a hard time doing with a scoped AR. Then again the man matters a lot, some guy from AMU (Army Marksmanship Unit) could likely do it with an AR standing on one leg hung over.

    If/ when I get an old warhorse that takes stripper clips I am not too worried about em. Honestly at moderately close ranges (under 100m) my weapon selection would be semi automatic mag fed rifles till I run out of them, lever action rifle, pump shotguns, bolt guns, rimfire.

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    1. Stripper clips are an inexpensive way to make an older bolt gun a more viable weapon. If you have an M4, then I'd use it and I'd use 30 round mags. Alas, many of the good folks out there can't afford an M4 or clone, but they can afford a Mosin. So using the strippers makes it more effective.

      Also, it's just a lot of fun to see how fast you can fire , reload, and fire again using aimed fire. I expect people who use bows do the same kind of thing, just seeing how many arrows they can put in the bull in a set period.

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  7. Nice. I'm looking at one right now. $1275.00 with bayonet.

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    1. Good God! I bought my Israeli Mauser about fifteen years ago, I think, from Southern Ohio Guns using my C and R license. I believe I paid about two hundred for it, with the bayonet.

      But times have changed. Everything is so much more expensive as the supply dried up.

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  8. Not sure if anyone is still looking at these messages but I have a question. I bought two 7.62x51 mausers as battlefield pickups a few years ago. I am usually skeptical of that term but in this case they both were full of dirt and sand and looked horrible so maybe... I cleaned em up and in addition to the 7.62 markings on the receiver and stock, they have Persian markings on the sites. Does anybody have a story for why Israeli re chambered Mauser would have Persian Sights? I know there were Persian Mausers sold by Germany during WWII but I can't see how that would be rechambered to .308 with markings like the Israeli ones.

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  9. I've not heard of any with Persian markings, and I checked Ball's "Military Mausers". No mention of them.

    The Israeli mausers came from Czechoslovakia, and most were rebuilds from the Brno factory, which used receivers from all over the world. I own a Brno built gun and the original receiver was German.

    Syria and Iraq both used the Mauser post war, which could account for Arabic markings, but Iranian markings would include the lion with the crown and the sun coming up behind him. If that's on your guns, I am guessing that the receivers were from Persian mausers that were not delivered. The Iranians set up their own factory to make Mausers and not all of the Brno contract was filled.

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