I’m the first to admit I like a fancy rifle with fine timber, high lustre blueing, steel components and all the traditional features. German company Mauser, besides its well documented military heritage, is likewise famed for producing excellently engineered high-end commercial rifles along such time-honoured lines and generally with a price tag to match.
So I was very interested when I heard about Mauser’s new value offering in the M18 rifle. As much as I like a fancy rifle, when it comes to going afield I have a little more austere view towards what I carry and am happy to swap the lavish timber and all-steel construction for modern polymer for stocking and fittings such as triggerguards, magazines, bolt shrouds etc – materials totally inert to inclement conditions while lightweight and durable. Of course, function and quality are things I don’t want to compromise on and the M18 Mauser would appear to meet that brief perfectly.
The Mauser M18 has a no-nonsense dark grey polymer stock featuring a thick soft rubber kick-pad that’s removable to access a void in the rear of stock which Mauser claims as a storage area. However on the sample gun this void was foam-filled. No loss there as who needs gear rattling around in their stock anyway? And foam filling removes that hollow sound when knocked or bumped, a feature more familiar to some cheaper plastic stocks.
The pistol grip is flared with a little palmswell on each side, and along with the fore-end both have soft grip inlays to give good grasp in all conditions. The triggerguard and end cap are integrated into the stock as a single unit and there are the ubiquitous Quick Detach (QD) studs front and rear for sling fitment. All in all the stock has a good feel and the comb height is well suited to scope mounting. The basic design is ambidextrous so lefties could run the gun quite easily, albeit with the right-handed bolt throw, of course.
The action is of tubular design which uniquely extends to a flat section about halfway across the bridge, so it’s not a completely open breech but not an enclosed port-style action either. This seems to be good middle ground as engineering-wise it would add stiffness to the action although it still allows ample room for single round loading or ‘topping off’ the mag from the open breech.
Departure from the traditional Mauser-style action (dual opposing locking lugs with claw extractor and control round feed) doesn’t stop there with the M18 having a large rounded bolt body featuring a three-lugged bolt head offering 60-degree bolt lift and a very slick throw. The bolt head also features a generous extractor with two plunger-style ejectors. The bolt handle is steel and incorporates an oversized polymer bolt knob which rolls nicely in the palm. This combined with the bolt lift, which on the M18 was also noticeably light, adds to the smoothness in cycling for rapid manipulation when needed.
The bolt is finished with a polymer bolt shroud, recessed at the rear end exposing the back of the firing pin and incorporating a red collar, providing a visual and, in low light, tactile indicator as to whether the bolt is cocked or not.
To the right and just forward of the bolt shroud is a neatly knurled lever operating the three-position safety. Position one locks both bolt and trigger, position two allows for cycling the bolt with the trigger remaining locked and position three is the fire position. The safety is ideally located for thumb operation while still maintaining a full grip and is silent in activation between positions. Ergonomically I found the relationship between trigger, safety and bolt handle just about perfect.
The rifle as supplied was chambered in .308 Winchester but calibre selections include .243 Win, .270 Win, .30-06 Springfield and .300 Win Mag. Standard calibres all come with a 56cm barrel length which extends to 62cm for the .300 Win Mag, giving the rifle an overall length of 106cm and 112cm respectively. The barrel and all other metalwork carries a black burnished finish and bare rifle weight is 2.9kg for the Standard calibres and 3kg for the Magnum.
The M18 is marketed as featuring a ‘Mauser Six Pack’ having a total ammo capacity of five rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, though I’m assuming you might lose a round or perhaps two with the fatter .300 Win Mag. The double stack five-round polymer magazine also has a polymer follower and stainless-steel magazine spring. The M18 has a full-length action and the magazine (as supplied) was correctly blocked at the rear for the medium action length .308 cartridge. This is commonplace with most manufacturers using standard full-length actions for multiple calibre offerings.
I’d also note, perhaps as a giveaway to future options, the magazine was marked for .243 Win and .308 Win plus 7mm-08 and 6.5 Creedmoor as well. I hear 7mm Rem Mag may be in the offering shortly. It’s flush fitting with the recessed magazine release located just forward of the magazine. The release is a push button affair and on activation the magazine just about jumps free, singlehanded removal done by pinching the stock between thumb and middle finger and pushing the release button with your index finger, allowing the magazine to drop into your hand.
For testing the Australian distributor for Mauser, Outdoor Sporting Agencies, supplied the rifle with a Zeiss Conquest V6 3-18×50 riflescope in quick detachable rings on two-piece bases. This is an optic of the highest quality and completely in step with the German theme. Just on optics mounting, I understand the M18 receiver is compatible with Remington 700 bases which would open many options in this area.
The M18 barrel is cold hammer forged and Mauser guarantees accuracy to be sub-MOA. On the range I had little trouble producing results between 0.75 to 1.3 MOA, so no doubt that when paired with the right ammo the sub-MOA guarantee would be readily and consistently achievable.
The M18 comes with a ‘dry standing, direct action trigger’ according to Mauser marketing, and to honest I couldn’t find out exactly what that means other than it ‘breaks dry’, ‘breaks like glass’ and a few other trigger clichés. What I can say is the trigger is exceptional for a rifle in this price range, adjustable for between 2-4lbs it broke cleanly and felt consistent and predictable.
General balance and feel of the M18 was excellent with smooth lines and practical grip surfaces, comeing to the shoulder well and pointing freely. As an everyday hunting ‘sporter weight’ rifle the Mauser M18 impresses. It fits that matter-of-fact brief of providing all the basics you need in a solid hunting rifle combined with acclaimed German quality and all at a highly reasonable price.
Just released, at the time of writing an online search found the M18 available for as little as $895, which is exceptional value for this rifle. More at osaaustralia.com.au.
Rifle: Mauser M18
Action: Bolt-action (three-lug bolt, 60-degree bolt lift)
Trigger: Dry standing, direct action 2-4lb adjustable
Calibre: Tested .308 Winchester, also available in .243 Win, .270 Win, 30-06 Spr, 300 Win Mag (at time of writing)
Capacity: Five rounds detectable box magazine (4x Magnum calibres)
Barrel: 560mm Standard, 112mm Magnum calibres
Sights: Open (accepts Rem 700 bases)
Barrel finish: Black burnished
Stock: Black polymer with ‘soft grip inlay’
Weight: 2.9kg Standard, 3kg Magnum
Length: 1060mm Standard, 1120mm Magnum calibres