These Affordable 7×57 Bolt Actions Offer
Quality Craftsmanship And Are Still Affordable
For The Beginning Collector.
Mike “Duke” Venturino
Photos: Yvonne Venturino
Some time back I mentioned becoming fascinated by military Mauser rifles. At this writing in my vault are ones either made by or for the following countries: Germany, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, Yugoslavia and Chile. The three I have from the latter country are especially interesting. They are all 7x57mm and represent Models 1895, 1912 and 1935.
According to Military Mausers Of The World, Third Edition by Robert W.D. Ball, the Model 1895 was so popular with the Chilean military that at one point their armories stored 80,000 full-length rifles and 30,000 carbines. At that time bolt-action military rifles were fitted with very long barrels because bayonet fighting was still considered important by military tacticians. Model 1895 Chilean rifle barrels were 29.60 inches. Overall length was 48.60 inches and weight of the one in my rack is 9 pounds.
For various reasons during this time, some countries including Chile saw fit to have both short rifles and carbines in addition to full-length rifles. Their barrel lengths differed a mere 3 inches: 21.25 to 18.25 inches in the same order. And their weights varied only from 7.90 to 7.50 pounds. All Model 1895 stocks had a straight grip and wide steel buttplate, but the short models had sling swivels on the stocks’ left for ease of carrying across a soldier’s back. Besides length, a difference between full rifles and both shorter versions was a straight bolt handle on the rifle and a turned-down one on the other two.
Sights were an open rear of the flip-up ladder type and a front sight consisting of a blade set in a dovetailed base. As is also usual for military rifles of this era, the sights were wildly optimistic, being elevation adjustable to 2,000 meters for rifles and 1,400 meters for the shorter versions.
Obviously the Chilean Model 1895 predated Mauser’s dramatic strengthening of their actions in the Model 1898 version, so today’s shooters need to use the proper ammunition and/or handload accordingly. However, all were made by the Ludwig Lowe factory in Berlin (It later became DWM) and so were made with fine craftsmanship, meaning if their bores are still in good shape they will likely shoot nicely with both cast and jacketed bullets.
Chile’s three basic Mauser rifles include (top to bottom)
the Model 1895, Model 1912 and Model 1935. All are 7x57mm.
Because Peter Paul Mauser decided to improve his bolt-action rifle design with a third locking lug and improved metallurgy, many nations already equipped with the earlier versions decided to switch to rifles based on the Model 1898 action. For Chile this was their Model 1912. Interestingly they switched from German manufacture to Austrian, namely the Osterrereicheische Waffensfabriks-Gesellschaft of Steyr. Instead of saying that mouthful, most sources just call the Model 1912 as the “Steyr.”
Model 1912’s are beautiful rifles. Their actions were left in the white while the rest of their metal is blued. Stocks were revised to have a pistol grip on both full-length rifles and short rifles. Yes, again there was a shorter Model 1912 with 21.5-inch barrel instead of the 28.75 length of standard rifles.
There is an oddity about Chilean Model 1912’s worth mentioning. By the model’s year of acceptance, World War I was about two years in the future. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was one of the instigators of the war and their army was short of all sorts of arms. This led to them taking over Chilean Model 1912 production to use for their own armed forces. According to collector sources, ones proven to have been issued in Europe instead of South America will bring higher prices. The fly in that ointment is there seems to be no identifying marks to denote Austrian issue.
Chile’s Model 1895 rifles were manufactured by the Lowe
factory in Berlin. It later became DWM.
The actions of Chile’s Model 1912 rifles were left in the white.
They were made at Steyr, Austria.
Chile’s Model 1935 was made at Oberndorf in Germany and
carried the Mauser “Banner.”
Chile’s third 7x57mm rifle is unique. It is actually labeled as a carbine while having the 21.50-inch barrel of the short rifle. It is based on the Mauser Model 1898 action, but this time Chile returned to Germany for manufacture at Mauser-Werke in Oberndorf and carries the Mauser “Banner” logo as used during the 1930’s. The stock is similar to the Model 1912 short rifle, with pistol grip and sling swivels on the stock’s left side.
Chilean Model 1935 rifles were made especially for their horse-mounted paramilitary Carabineros, which was a sort of border patrol. Supposedly, only about 10,000 were made which makes their going prices nowadays as much as three times the cost of a similar condition Model 1895 and Model 1912. (Duke’s Luck was at work again in 2015. I managed to buy two nice Model 1935’s in a 6-week period. The first one without having any idea as to exactly what I was getting.) Why the Chilean Government didn’t just issue Model 1912 short rifles to Carabineros is a mystery. In essence they are identical.
Speaking of prices, good Chilean 7mm Model 1895 and Model 1912 rifles are relatively inexpensive today. Ones with fine bores can be purchased for about half the cost of a current American-made, big-game bolt-action rifle.
They are great fun for cast bullet shooting or competing in informal military rifle matches.