Mauser’s M18 Feldjagd has it all, says Con Kapralos
Diversifying a rifle model line is something firearms manufacturers have been doing for decades but whereas in years gone-by producers would offer a blued or stainless barrelled action with either a walnut or synthetic stock, advances in materials sciences and metal finishing has led to an expansion in longarm development technology. Nowadays barrelled action processes, metal finishes (Cerakoting being a notable standout) along with ongoing advances in stock-making with glass-filled polymer, fibreglass, aluminium and carbon-fibre are to the fore.
It’s not uncommon to see a up to a dozen variants of a single rifle model being marketed, some with a simple change in cosmetics and others completely redesigned to the point where the receiver is the sole identifying component. Everything else is hi-tech with carbon-fibre barrels and aluminium chassis two of the custom components used.
Outdoor Sporting Agencies sent Australian Shooter two Mauser M18 rifles in .223 Remington – the Stainless (reviewed last month) and Feldjagd (‘Hunting in the Fields’), both hunting rifles in the sporter guise. They share the same action and magazine set-up but the stock and barrel are different. The M18 Feldjagd is in the spotlight here and came supplied with a fine optic in the new Nikko Stirling Octa 3-24×56 with Nikko Stirling Zero Lok scope mounting hardware.
At a glance
The Mauser M18 Feldjagd is a full-size bolt-action repeater with push-feed action and semi-heavy sporter-weight fluted barrel. The receiver and barrel are made of chrome molybdenum steel and finished in matte black, mated to a savannah-coloured polymer stock with adjustable Kalix cheekpiece. The .223 Remington calibre has a four-shot detachable box magazine, the bare rifle weighing 3.28kg with overall length of 1060mm.
The receiver is made of cylindrical steel bar-stock and maintains a rounded profile in the milled unit with the exception of a flat segment halfway across the bridge between the front and rear receiver rings. An ejection port permits unhindered discharge of cases from the action and is sufficiently enclosed to keep out any unwanted debris. The receiver top is drilled and tapped to accept Remington 700-style bases or any other scope-mounting attachments using the mounting pattern.
The left of the receiver has minimal fanfare with only the serial number engraved into the surface and the bolt-release lever at the rear flank. On the other side the receiver ring carries the Mauser logo, country and year of manufacture and proof marks. The underside of the receiver maintains the circular dimensions with a cut-out to accept the magazine as well as a slot milled into the base of the front receiver ring which mates with a steel recoil lug in the floor of the stock just behind the front bedding screw, the trigger group fixed to the receiver body directly behind the magazine cut-out.
This is tailored to the nature of the rifle, being hunting and long-range application. It’s 560mm long (620mm for magnum calibres) but being cold hammer forged from chrome moly steel, it has a 19mm diameter at the muzzle and a series of flutes along the length. Fluting does lower the barrel weight slightly and also increases the surface area, permitting faster cooling when its heats up.
At the muzzle end an M17x1 thread makes the rifle suitable for accessories such as muzzle brakes. While many factory-made rifles in .223 Remington gravitate towards faster twist barrels such as 8 and 9 twist to handle longer and heavier projectiles, the Mauser M18 group offers a one-in-10 twist which will help stabilise projectile weights up to 70 grains without a problem. The barrel was cleaned thoroughly before use and for a modern rifle suited to hunting and long-range shooting, it’s one of the best I’ve reviewed in a while.
The substantial round-bolt body is 182mm long and 19mm wide with a three-lugged bolt head permitting a 60-degree lift and smooth travel. Case removal is via two plunger ejectors through the bolt face and a claw extractor recessed into one of the locking lugs. The rear of the bolt has a separate steel shank which accepts the straight steel bolt handle which features a generous polymer knob.
The bolt is finished with a polymer shroud which has a recessed segment to allow visual inspection of whether the firing pin is cocked or uncocked, a red collar showing the bolt being cocked. The bolt is easily removed from the action by sliding to the rear and pressing the release lever on the left of the receiver tube.
Trigger, safety and magazine
The trigger unit is excellent and fully adjustable from 0.8-1.9kg using an Allen key through a small hole in the alloy trigger blade. Trigger pull was crisp and clean without any drag or creep and set at the factory for a 1.4kg let-off. Safety is a three-position affair behind the bolt handle and operates in a linear manner. A knurled safety lever moves smoothly throughout all three settings, the rear position locking both bolt and trigger, the middle allowing the bolt to be cycled while keeping the trigger locked and forward allowing the rifle to be fired.
The magazine is a detachable box design of hard-wearing polymer holding four cartridges in the .223 Remington calibre. It has a section of the rear blocked off to accept the short cartridge and loaded cartridges sit in a staggered manner. One drawback of the .223 box magazine is the inability to top-load through the action and, when loading, cartridges had to be inserted from the front by pressing the follower and sliding them back into the magazine, a fiddly operation.
This gives the rifle its identity and purpose and is excellent. Made from tough polymer its savannah colour complements the black rubber pistol grip and fore-end inlays, giving a positive slip-free grip and mating with the matte black of the barreled action. The Feldjagd stock is the only model in the M18 line-up offering an adjustable cheekpiece with the Kalix unit fitted to the hollow buttstock cavity with the riser positioned on the comb. It’s easily adjusted to any height using the single screw with the polymer knob on the right of the buttstock.
This feature will be welcomed by shooters and hunters using large-objective optics which require the riflescope to be mounted higher and attain the correct cheek-weld in the process. The buttstock retains the removable recoil pad which exposes the cavity and makes it possible to store any small tools or cleaning pull-throughs for instant access in the field.
Inletting of the stock carries on from the other M18 models with extensive cross-bracing in the barrel channel and rigid sections in the bedding platform giving a free-floated barrel and stable action, anchored to the stock via two counter-sunk hex-head nuts. The recoil lug system consists of a cross-slot milled into the underside of the front receiver ring which mates with a steel lug affixed into a mortise in the floor of the stock, a standard arrangement which serves its purpose well. Two sling swivel studs complete the stock for attachment of a front bipod or similar.
At the range
The rifle was topped with the Nikko Stirling Octa scope in 3-24×56 for range testing. OSA also supplied hunting loads in .223 Remington from PPU, Hornady, Buffalo River and GECO along with two other factory loads with heavier bullet weights in the Winchester 64gr Power Point and Sellier & Bellot 69-grain Match.
Mauser M18 Stainless .223 Remington – accuracy testing at 100m
|Ammunition||Best group (mm)||Worst group (mm)||Average group (mm)*|
|PPU Rifle Line 55gr Soft Point||20||32||25|
|Buffalo River 55gr Sierra Game King||20||28||24|
|GECO 56gr Express||16||29||22|
|Hornady 55gr Spire Point||22||34||25|
|Winchester 64gr Power-Point||10||19||14|
|Sellier & Bellot 69gr Match||15||26||20|
* Average group calculated from five 3-shot groups at 100m from a benchrest
The M18 Feldjagd shot well, doubtless attributed to its semi-heavy sporter barrel and fluting which helped dissipate heat more quickly, cooling the barrel in the process. All average groups were easily within one Minute of Angle (28mm at100m) or less, some tight groups shot with GECO, Winchester and Sellier & Bellot ammunition and I’m confident an astute handloader could produce single-figure three-shot groups by carefully adjusting bullet seating depth and powder charges. The rifle functioned perfectly, chambering and extracting all cases with the Kalix cheekpiece a breeze to adjust for positive cheek-weld.
This is one serious hunting, stalking and long-range rifle offered in a wide array of calibres to cater to all hunting requirements. Its savannah-coloured polymer stock, adjustable cheekpiece and nicely profiled fluted barrel, when mated to a suitable optic makes for an excellent outfit. With RRP of $1990 it should make the shortlist when looking for your first hunting rifle or adding another calibre to your firearms safe. More at www.osaaustralia.com.au
Rifle: Mauser M18 Feldjagd
Action: Bolt-action, push-feed (three-lug bolt, 60-degree lift)
Trigger: Single-stage, adjustable from 0.8-1.9kg
Calibre: .223 Remington (tested) also available in .243 Win, 6.5×55 SE, 6.5 CM, 6.5 PRC, .308 Win, .30-06 Spr, 8×57 IS, 9.6×62, 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag
Capacity: Four rounds (.223 Rem) detachable box magazine. Other calibres five rounds (standard), four rounds (magnum)
Barrel: Semi-heavy sporter weight, fluted, cold-hammer forged, 560mm for standard calibres, 610mm for magnum, muzzle threaded for accessories
Sights: Open, drilled and tapped to accept Rem 700-style bases
Barrel/Action finish: Chrome molybdenum steel, matte black finish
Stock: Two-component polymer, savannah-coloured with soft-grip black rubber inlays, adjustable Kalix cheekpiece
Weight: 3.28kg (standard calibres)
Length: 1060mm standard, 1120mm magnum calibres
Distributor: Outdoor Sporting Agencies