A Mauser-Gebby-Marciante Carbine
By Holt Bodinson
When three, historically prominent names in the firearms field come together in a single piece, it’s unusual. It’s also what makes gun collecting such an intriguing hobby. You never know what you’ll run into, and when you do come face-to-face with a treasure, you can only hope your wallet is thick enough that day to bring it home. Walking into Murphy’s Gun Shop in Tucson, Arizona, I came face-to-face with such a treasure—an original Kurz Mauser Type M carbine re-barreled by Al Marciante in Jerry Gebby’s .22 Varminter caliber. There was quite a story lurking there, fortunately my wallet was full.
Original Mauser sporting rifles were built at the Mauser plant in Oberndorf, Germany, from 1898 through WWII (Can you imagine Mauser turning out elegant sporting rifles until 1944? The last barrel date found so far is October 1944, and it’s on a Type S carbine with a double square-bridge action in 7×57!). In all their model variations and calibers, the Mauser sporters were the high watermarks in terms of factory-produced sporters and, in my opinion, still are.
The sporters assembled on Mauser’s small ring, short action, or “Kurz” action, are among the most appealing. The Kurz action appeared around 1900, and it’s estimated that somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 Kurz-action sporters were made at Mauser. The smaller action, typically chambered for the short 8x51K Mauser, 6.5x54K Mauser and the .250-3000 Savage cartridges, lends an elegance to whatever sporter model it graces, particularly the dainty carbines.
The Type M carbine evolved shortly before WWI. It was designed to compete head-to-head with the highly successful Mannlicher-Schoenauer carbine. Indeed, the Type M carbine incorporates a Mannlicher-style stock and a Mannlicher-type spoon-shaped bolt handle, and, frankly, I find the lines of the Mauser-made Mannlicher stock more pleasing than those of Mannlicher-Schoenauer.
Some of the features of the Type M pictured are its 20-inch barrel (which has been polished white and not re-blued), a hinged magazine floorplate with lever release, a unique Type M bottom-opening trapdoor buttplate for a jointed cleaning rod, stamped with the Mauser “Banner,” steel nose- and pistol-grip caps, a ramped front sight, sling swivels (the front swivel mounted with a barrel band) and a checkered walnut stock with cheekpiece. As pictured with Weaver bases and a Lyman No. 48 sight (the sight slide is carried in the butt trap), it weighs 6 pounds, 7 ounces.
Holt’s great gunstore find is this pre-WWII Mauser sporter rebarreled
by Al Marciante and chambered for Gebby’s .22 Varminter.
The Type M carbine was designed to compete head-to-head with the Mannlicher-Schoenauer.
The magazine floorplate carries the inscription, “Made in Germany,” which indicates this Type M was exported to an English-speaking country, presumably the United States. The side rail of the action carries the words “Waffenfabrik (Weapons Factory) Mauser,” indicating the action was produced prior to 1922 when, following Germany’s defeat in WWI, Mauser changed its name to “Mauser-Werke” (Mauser Works). More intriguing still is the action carries a serial number in the 98,000 range which doesn’t occur until the 1928-1929 period, indicating the action was built before 1922, left in-the-white until 1928-29, when it was then pulled out of inventory, used to build the carbine and serialized at that time.
The next chapter in the life history of this Type M Kurz carbine belongs to Al Marciante and Jerry Gebby.
Al Marciante of Trenton, New Jersey, was one of the most prominent gunsmiths of the 1940s-50s era. Interestingly, his gunsmithing career didn’t begin until his mother bought him a lathe as a wedding present. The rest is history. Marciante was one of the sparkplugs leading to the birth of the Eastern Benchrest Shooter Association on Labor Day in 1947. At the initial meeting, Harvey Donaldson was elected President, Col. Townsend Whelen, Vice-President, and Marciante was appointed to the Planning Committee. By 1949, the Association and their shoots had become so popular and well attended that the Association renamed itself simply, the Bench Rest Shooter’s Association.
nsmith of the era and a tough benchrest competitor but also a “wildcatter.” His name is forever linked to the hot .224 cartridge he worked on, the “Marciante Bluestreak.” The Bluestreak was based on an improved .22 Savage High Power or a .25 Remington case. It was a sizzling number yielding 4,389 fps with the 40-grain Sisk Express bullet, which was noted for leaving a distinct vapor trail (or maybe the plume from a melting lead core?), thus the name, “Bluestreak.”
The original owner probably had this Lyman Model 48 sight (top) installed.
This sporter also came with a spoon bolt handle. After a scope was added,
the Lyman was kept stored inside the trapdoor buttplate (middle). The unique
trapdoor buttplate of the Type M carbine is stamped with the Mauser “Banner” (bottom).
pe M carbine was at the time, but turning it over to a prominent gunsmith like Al Marciante, to be rebarreled in .22-250, indicates he was an accomplished shooter.
Gunsmith, barrel-maker and experimenter, Jerry Gebby of Dayton, Ohio, is deemed to be the father of the .22-250, AKA the .22 Varminter, although he never claimed to be the sire. In 1919, Charles Newton had given Gebby a .250 Savage case necked to .22, but it wasn’t until the early 1930’s, when custom handloader J. Bushnell Smith and Capt. Grosvenor Wotkyns of the Springfield Armory persuaded Gebby to make some barrels chambered for the wildcat. Smith and Gebby then went on to refine and market the .22-250 cartridge, which Gebby trademarked as the “.22 Varminter.”
Years later, Gebby climbed into his pristine 1935 Duesenburg SJ Roadster, roared from Dayton, Ohio down to Tucson, Arizona, where he retired.
In the late 1970’s, I walked into Murphy’s Gun Shop in Tucson, and there in the racks were the remnants of Gebby’s personal gun collection. Two rifles riveted my attention. There was a Pope/Stevens 44-1/2 Special Model in .32-40 with a complete set of Pope casting, lubing and loading tools and an early J.P. Sauer Model ’98 sporter with a tapered octagonal barrel Gebby had bored out and relined for the .22 Varminter cartridge! Unfortunately, my wallet was too thin in those days.
And so the story comes full circle to the day, 40 years later, when I walked out of Murphy’s Gun Shop in Tucson with a Mauser Type M carbine rebarreled by Al Marciante and chambered for Gebby’s .22 Varminter. It doesn’t get much better than that!
And, oh yes, Gebby’s 1935 Duesenburg Roadster? It brought a million dollars at auction.
MAUSER: Original Oberndorf Sporting Rifles by Jon Speed, Walter Schmid and Reiner Herrmann, hardcover, 508 pages, ©2014, $129.95, Collector Grade Publications, P.O. Box 1046, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada K9A 4W5, (905) 342-3434, www.collectorgrade.com
Twenty-Two Caliber Varmint Rifles by Charles S. Landis, Wildcat Cartridges by Richard F. Simmons, Out of Print