Educational Zone #107 – A Custom Built Mauser

I guess every man has someone that they looked up to when they were a kid. I greatly admired my Uncle Jack. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up. He is still with us, and is 86 years old. Except for being almost deaf, he is in great physical shape, and I bet he could still wrestle me to the ground and rub my nose in the dirt. He was and is as fine of a Christian gentleman as I’ve ever known.

Around 1960, he commissioned a rifle from a local gun smith named Ken Witt, in Port Arthur, Texas. Ken Witt was a real craftsman and could do wonders with steel and wood. Uncle Jack wanted a really nice deer hunting rifle.

Here is what he got.

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It was built from a Mauser action.

Before anyone bemoans using a Mauser action to build a “Bubba” rifle, you must understand that back in the day, it was very common for a gunsmith to buy a Mauser action and then use it to build a custom rifle.

This rifle has a Mauser action with the bolt turned down for use with a scope.

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Another view.

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The barrel is a Weatherby barrel in .270 Winchester, or, as it is marked “.270 WCF” (Winchester Center Fire)

The barrel is chrome lined and is an excellent barrel.

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A Weatherby barrel was used because Weatherby used a chamber with a long leade, or a non-rifled section of barrel about ½ to ¾ inch in front of the chamber.

This was called “free boring” and it was believed to give the bullet a “free start” before pressure started to build when the bullet hit the rifling.

It allowed much more pressure in handloads and greater than normal velocity.

Such a system has fallen out of favor nowadays, but it was the “hot thing” back then.

The barrel is also marked with “Ken Witt” as the builder.

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The wood is fiddle back maple, and is beautiful.

It has rosewood inlays in the stock.

I realize that such stocks are not the fashion today, but they were very desirable back in 1960.

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Of course, the action is bedded and the barrel is free floated.

It also has the very excellent Mauser claw type extractor.

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I always admired this rifle as it hung in Uncle Jack’s rifle rack and one day when we were at his parent’s house in the country, he asked me it I’d like to shoot it. Of course, I said “Yes sir!”

I was about 9 years old and had never fired a high powered rifle in my life, but I had shot shotguns and thought, “How much more can it kick than a 12 gauge?”

Uncle Jack nailed a paper plate on a tree and we backed up about 50 yards. He and my Dad were standing behind me and my Dad later told me Uncle Jack was holding his mouth to keep from laughing. He knew just how hard this thing was going to kick.

I snuggled up real close to that scope and touched one off.

Uncle Jack later told me that when the rifle went off, dust came off all my clothes. The scope came back and hit me between the eyes and busted my forehead open and I bled like a stuck pig. He about died laughing.

I went in the house and my Aunt Ruby bandaged me up and when she brought me outside, she gave Uncle Jack a look that would have curdled buttermilk and he quit laughing.

After a while, he said, “Son, there’s only one thing to do when a horse throws you…..You have to get back on.”

So, I loaded it up again and took aim again. This time I left plenty of room for the scope to come back and have never had a problem with “scope bite” again.

On the first shot, I had hit the bulls eye, but on the second I missed the plate. But I didn’t get hurt, except for a sore shoulder.

Let’s look at the stock. It has a very pronounced cheek rest.

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The fore end has a rosewood end.

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And the grip cap matches.

And the stock has several inserts of matching rosewood.

This is amazing to me that a gunsmith in those days could not only do great work with metal and gunsmithing, but could also do beautiful work with wood.

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Let’s see how it shoots.

I load a handload of a 130 grain Nosler Boattail bullet over a very stiff load of IMR 4350 powder.

This load is very “hot” in the manuals, but shows no pressure at all in this rifle, probably due to the free-bored barrel.

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It has a truly wonderful trigger. Here’s a typical 100 yard group.

It will regularly put them into an inch if I do my part.

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Here’s the best group for today. 

That’s a three shot group, with the top two going in the same hole. 

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Conclusion:
Many years ago, Uncle Jack quit deer hunting and gave me his rifle, as he said he wanted me to have it as he knew that I loved accurate rifles and would appreciate it. It is a prized possession and I have enjoyed shooting it for years.

Thanks, Uncle Jack. I love this rifle. And it means more to me since it came from you.