My Favorite Cartridges for Africa. (Part 5)

by david on October 19, 2012

I want to mention a few things about my preference in rifles before I get into the cartridges themselves.  It will become very evident, as you read on, that I have had a love affair with Mauser rifles for a long time.  What got the whole thing started was a WWII surplus Mauser that hung in my grandfather’s gun rack for many years.  My uncle still owns it and occasionally still uses the rifle.  My uncle is somewhat of a gun collector (I know this is where I got it from) and has quite a collection but he still uses the old Mauser from time to time when he is feeling nostalgic.  I am also prone to suffer from fits of nostalgia and, to me, nothing is more nostalgic than a tented African safari, an old gun, and a classic old cartridge.

That one gun got me started with a lifelong desire to learn about and use old cartridges where appropriate.  I have learned that newer is not necessarily better.  What better rifle to shoot an old cartridge with than a Mauser?  Paul Mauser started experimenting with guns in the late 1860s.  His first rifle was in 1871 (I may be a year or two off), and in 1898 the model 98 Mauser was introduced to the world.  It is my opinion that the model 98 Mauser was and is one of the finest rifle actions ever produced.  It is extremely strong, durable, safe, and capable of very good accuracy when coupled with a good barrel. 

My favorite thing about the model 98 Mauser (other than its age) is it is its controlled feed action.  By that I mean when the bolt moves forward and starts to push a cartridge from the magazine, it grabs a hold of the cartridge and keeps holding on to it all the way until it is locked into battery.  After the shot is fired, the shooter works the bolt and as it is starts its rearward motion, it is still grasping the cartridge.  It maintains control of the cartridge until the end of the rearward movement and the spent shell is ejected.  This simple feature can be very important when you are hunting dangerous game or are simply in a dangerous game area.  How so?  Let me explain.  If something big and nasty is coming at you fast in a concerted effort to ruin your day, most people get a little nervous.  If they get nervous they tend to make a mistake, either jamming their gun or working the action and dumping the cartridges on the ground.  A controlled-feed Mauser action makes doing this much more difficult.  All of my current dangerous game rifles are equipped with Mauser actions.  Since I believe that confidence comes with familiarity, my other safari rifles (except my 300 Weatherby) have Mauser actions as well.  With everything being the same, I do not have to worry about what I am doing while getting ready to shoot any of my safari rifles.  This allows me to switch back and forth quite comfortably between a light, medium or heavy rifle.

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