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  1. #1
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    Oct 2008
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    Default Mauser Action Lengths - Revisited

    A recent post professed confusion concerning mauser action lengths. A brief and cogent answer was provided, but the underlying source confusion seemed unaddressed. The problem is partially a matter of semantics, but is also very much rooted in logic. The issues are best introduced with a simple statement of facts.

    1. The Mauser factory at Oberndorf regularly produced three principal models of their 98 action, primarily characterized by differing overall lengths. Such were designated as Magnum, Standard, and Kurz.
    2. Within this group, four different bolt lengths were utilized.
    4. The Standard and Intermediate actions are of the same overall length.
    5. The Magnum, Standard and Intermediate actions all share the same action (trigger guard assembly) screw spacing.

    And now, the rest of the story…

    An error occurs with the seemingly logical assumption that for all four referenced actions, “action length” equates to overall length. The Magnum and Kurz actions are truly longer and shorter, respectively, in overall length than the Standard/Intermediate actions. Where the Standard and Intermediate actions differ is not in overall length, but in the inter-relationship between bolt and receiver ring lengths. Simply put, the intermediate action features a comparatively shorter bolt length combined with a longer receiver ring. (Note that receiver ring length should not be confused with receiver ring diameter, the latter being irrelevant here.) A dumb but graphic analogy is of people of equal height, one with a long torso and short legs and another with a short torso and long legs. So exists the dimensional relationship between bolt and receiver ring lengths which produce equal overall length.

    Compounding Intermediate action confusion, the term has also been expanded as an action length designator, to loosely encompass 98 actions produced by other firms such as Fabrique Nationale (FN) of Belgium. The FN firm produced both a dimensional copy of the Oberndorf Standard 98 action as well as other close copies featuring slightly reduced overall length. In any context, applying the Intermediate descriptor overlooks the unique characteristics ot the Oberndorf product. Worse, referring to a shorter than Standrd mauser action as “Intermediate” compounds the fundamental misnomer.

    Moving to conjecture. I believe that the Oberndorf factory never used the term “Intermediate” (in German or English) to either describe or promote the Intermediate action per se. In the context of the above referenced three models, to do so would have likely created the very confusion that exists today. The Intermediate action seems best viewed as a very interesting and novel sub-species of the Standard model. In the annals of Oberndorf sporting rifle production, it remains unique as their only action offered in a single factory chambering, that of 7x57 Mauser.

    In conclusion. Demystifying mauser action lengths simply requires:: A) Understanding the three Oberndorf 98 actions that are truly differentiated by overall length. B) Appreciating the differences between the Standard and Intermediate actions in terms of relevant component dimensions. C) Reserving the name “Intermediate” for the unique Oberndorf offering. D) Appreciating the fact that the misnomer is compounded by applying the Intermediate term to any mauser action shorter than the Standard action length.

    Finally, a disclaimer. This offering is not provided for the mainstay readers/contributors to this forum. It for those readers who are where I have so often been, in trying to sort out the basics underpinning facts. I am not a mauser expert and much of my knowledge of the topic of this forum is coincidental with a wider interest in bolt action sporting rifles. I do acknowledge and enjoy the expertise exhibited in this forum.

    The long and short of it – my take.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Laramie, WY area.
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    Default Speed et al. also show a "short intermediate" action.

    Speed, Schmid and Herrmann describe and show a short intermediate action that Mauser supplied to Rigby early on which they said was .2 inches shorter in the receiver ring , but with same bolt length as the regular intermediate. It seems theTurkish 1903 in 7.65 was the first large production "intermediate" and I would conjecture that the Serbs got the idea that that was the "normal" length for a Mauser from examining Turkish weapons- and then ordered that dimension from Mauser for their 1910 and then from FN for the 1924?? Or was the Mexican 1902 the first miliary contract intermeddiate? In Ball, it is described as a 1895 type rifle with 1898 bolt features- did it have an 1898 breech? I have not ever examined a Mexican Model 1907 either. The intermediate length certainly seems to have been common about 1910. And which action set the pattern for the Siamese 1903?

  3. #3
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    Oct 2008
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    1,126

    Default Thanks!

    Thanks Icmunn for the response and information. I have the Jon Speed, et al, book and regard it with reverence. I seem to recall the Rigby you mention. I was careful to frame my discussion in terms of regular Oberndorf production for the very reason of the breadth of their variations. Rigby was a big sporting customer and particularly in the pre WWI years, something of an inspiration for Oberndorf sporting lines. As such Rigby was an important portal for Mauser actions to the POSH English trade. If Oberndorf would have made an experimental or small run sporting model for anyone, Rigby would probably have been at the top of the list.
    As I admitted, I'm not terribly knowledgeable about the military mausers and you have left me 'at the post' (pun intended) regarding much of the military models you mention. I do understand that the 1924 FN and their spin offs were a truly shorter action than the Standard/Intermediate models. I have a couple of Yugo 1924 short action models that I enjoy. I would also love to have a nice 1909 Peruvian Intermediate. But none of the few I have seen impressed me for condition. Also along the lines of what you have mentioned here, I' like to find a complete listing of all the true Intermediate military models.
    I am a big fan of the Intermediate Oberndorf sporters and have nice examples of them in normal, single square and double square bridge models. I was tempted to post photos with my discussion, but such seemed too far afield for this forum.
    I forgot to mention in my (perhaps overly long) post that it was the late Jack Lott who, in a 1975 G&A article, coined the term "Intermediate" in describing that action style. He did a great job there of discussing and illustrating Oberndorf action lengths. It remains a worthy and concise article on Mauser sporting rifles.

  4. #4
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    Feb 2009
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    Laramie, WY area.
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    Default Why did Turks chose the Intermediate action?

    Iskra, I hope my comments never come off as negative. You have a much more organised mind than I do and I benefit from reading your summaries, on action lengths here, and some you've done recently on the Commercial sporting rifle and Husqvarna forums. It never struck me until I read your post here just how totally dissimilar the Mauser plant intermediates and the Yugoslav/Serb intermediates are. Most folks lump them and I accepted that but you are correct in pointing out that they were made at different plants/different times and with very different dimensions. The Turkish order was huge and important to Mauser so they surely were able to order just what they wanted- I wonder why the intermediate action?? Having the same barrel shank diameter as the 1893's in their inventory would have been a small advantage I suppose. And they did stick with the 1893 type bayonet mounting. But the long receiver??

  5. #5
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    Oct 2008
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    Default Undeserved compliment.

    Thanks for the compliment, but it truly is undeserved. I'm not a good historian in any sense of the word. I simply recite facts, which takes little talent. I do sometimes speculate but try to plainly categorize any opinions as such. Concerning this post, I tried to point out that my knowledge is primarily of Mauser sporting rifles. Just how directly that analogizes to military production models, the reader needs to decide. I really don't know the Oberndorf Mauser firm history sufficiently to be able to answer your question. Thus, I do much better with 'whats' than 'whys'. Not knowing such background information is what separates me from the true experts like you and others in these forums.

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