Sniper Rifle Mania
The Collection Tops 14, And Counting.
Somehow or another during the decade-long process of assembling my World War II firearms collection numbering about four score and 10 at this writing, I’ve become severely infected with sniper rifle mania. Some of these scoped sniper rifles are originals I bought. Others are reproductions I had built. One is a replica sold complete with scope which can be purchased right off the shelf. All are shooters.
My mania has even caused me to buy a couple of post-WWII sniper rifles simply because of their accuracy reputations. One is a 1950s vintage Swedish Mauser Model 41b 6.5x55mm mounted with 4X Ajack scope. Model 41bs are merely Mauser Model 1896s fitted with optical sights and so mine is dated 1919 on the front receiver ring. It is more accurate than the average 21st century sporting rifle. The second is a reproduction of the 1960s US Marine Corps’ 7.62mm NATO Model 40. As were the USMC originals it’s a Remington Model 700 with varmint-weight barrel, Parkerized metal finish and oiled stock. Caliber is .308 Winchester, the civilian alter ego of the NATO round. USMC Model 40s were issued with Redfield 3-9X rangefinder scopes. Because my repro Model 40 easily groups minute of angle (MOA) I’ve fitted it with a new Weaver 3-15X tactical scope with precise 1/8-MOA click adjustments.
My least valued sniper rifle is the Japanese Type 97 6.5x50mm. Why is it so disrespected? Type 97s are rare collectors’ items but I value mine less because in my opinion the Japanese had little idea of what a good rifle should be. That fact is not surprising because as a nation Japan has much more a tradition of sharp objects instead of firearms. The Japanese mounted 2.5X scopes on the left side of Type 97 receivers in quick detachable mounts.
The scopes themselves have no provision for adjustments. Rifle-scope zeroing was done at arsenals by tweaking the mounts. Soldiers were not supposed to mess with them thereafter. Instead the scope has a complex reticle with various elevation and windage hash marks. Snipers were expected to memorize where their rifles hit at different ranges and in different conditions with the various marks. It took an extreme amount of patience, coupled with a plentitude of ammunition and a friend’s extra set of hands and IQ to finally get mine sighted in adequately.
By Mike “Duke” Venturino
Photos By Yvonne Venturino
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