Mauser M18 Stainless

Mauser’s M18 Stainless rifle cements a glowing reputation, says Con Kapralos

From longarms specifically for military contracts to some of the finest commercially made hunting rifles based on the M98 action, Mauser have fans the world over. Current sporting rifles based on the M98 action out of the factory in Isny, Germany are testament to the enduring design initiated by Peter Paul Mauser more than 100 years ago and are arguably the pinnacle for shooters craving the best.

Yet for rifle manufacturers to survive they must cater to all sectors of the market and avoiding the ‘entry-level’ or ‘budget’ brackets is done at their peril. Of course, manufacturers who turn out custom rifles will continue to prosper but for commercial operators like Mauser, which is part of the Blaser & Sauer conglomerate, their M18 released in 2018 was the perfect pitch into that ‘entry-level’ market.

When the M18 was released the .223 Remington chambering was not in the initial cartridge line-up but demand quickly changed that. In the past four years various models have been released and one of the most successful has been the M18 Stainless so when local distributor Outdoor Sporting Agencies sent Australian Shooter one for review in .223 Remington it was eagerly received.

At a glance

The Mauser M18 Stainless is a full-size bolt-action repeater with a push-feed action and sporter weight barrel, the receiver and barrel made from stainless steel and mated to a dark-grey polymer stock. The .223 Remington calibre supplied has a four-shot detachable box magazine and was fitted with a SIG Sauer Whiskey 3 in 4-12×50 optic in Nikko Stirling Zero Lok one-piece rings/bases, the test rifle weighing 3.1kg bare with overall length of 1055mm.


This is made from cylindrical stainless steel bar stock and maintains a circular profile, the exception being a flat segment halfway across the bridge which makes for a good-sized ejection port but also offers some protection from debris falling into the action. The receiver top is drilled and tapped to accept Remington 700-style bases with the front receiver-ring mounting area maintaining a round profile while the rear receiver-ring top is slightly curved.

The left of the receiver tube is quite bare with only the serial number ‘Mauser 18’ engraved into the surface and the bolt-release lever positioned at the rear-left flank. On the right only the front receiver ring has markings, namely the Mauser logo, country and year of manufacture along with proof marks.

The underside of the receiver maintains that circular profile with a cut-out to accept the detachable box magazine and a slot milled into the base of the front receiver ring which mates up with a steel recoil lug in the floor of the stock. The trigger group is affixed to the receiver body directly behind the magazine cut-out using the rear tang screw (stud) and another at the front of the trigger group.


Quite a few modern longarms use a bolt which works on a push-feed system to chamber and eject rounds and the Mauser M18 is one of them. While traditional Mauser followers cite the dual opposing lugs, claw extractor and control round feed ‘a la’ M98, it makes complete sense for the M18 to deviate from this. The fat round bolt body is 182mm long and 19mm wide with a three-lugged bolt head offering a 60-degree lift and slick cycling. Case extraction and ejection 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 segment to accept the straight steel bolt handle which terminates with an oversize polymer knob, the bolt finished with a polymer shroud which also incorporates a recessed segment to allow visual inspection of whether the firing pin is cocked or not with a red collar showing ‘cocked’.

Trigger, safety and magazine

The trigger unit is fully adjustable from 0.8-1.9kg using an Allen key through a small hole in the base of the trigger blade, trigger pull crisp and clean without drag or over-travel and at a factory setting of 1.4kg was spot-on for testing. The safety is a three-position affair just behind the bolt handle notch and operates in a linear fashion via a knurled lever with the rear position locking the bolt and trigger. The middle position allows the bolt to be cycled while keeping the trigger locked and the forward position enables the rifle to be fired as indicated by a small red dot on the stock, the safety easy to access with the thumb and silent in operation.

The magazine is of a modern polymer detachable box design and holds four cartridges in.223 Remington calibre though oddly is also marked with the .222 Remington calibre. It has a section of the rear blocked off to accept the short cartridge and loaded cartridges sit in a staggered manner, though what didn’t appeal was loading the magazine as cartridges couldn’t be ‘top-loaded’ with each having to be pressed down the front of the polymer follower and slid into the magazine. This four-shot capacity and fiddly loading is something Mauser should address.


Stainless-steel and of a sporter profile it’s 560mm long (22”) and is made using the cold-hammer forging process. In.223 Remington it has a one-in-10” rate of twist which seems an oddity as traditionally this calibre relies on a one-in-12” but modern trends have seen the 8” and 9” twists prevail for their ability to shoot heavier bullets. A 10” twist in .223 would be interesting and should be good up to 70-grain bullet weights but only range testing would verify that.

The barrel is screwed into the receiver, a positive trait considering Mauser/Sauer use a heat friction fitting method for installing barrels in some of their models. The muzzle is threaded M15x1 to accept compatible accessories and has a cap to protect the threading, the crown finished in a slight concave manner conducive to accuracy.


The dark grey unit complements the stainless barrelled action well and is designed around a classical American pattern devoid of cheekpieces or combs with a fullish pistol grip and ambidextrous palmswells. Grip around the pistol and fore-ends is accentuated by the use of black rubber inserts which feel positive in the hands with the slim fore-end shape pleasing. The stock has the triggerguard integral and magazine release button fitted into the underside just forward of the magazine well cut-out.

Blued sling-swivel studs are fitted to the underside of the fore-end and toe of the buttstock while one of the M18’s most discernable features is the removable recoil pad. Pressing the two ‘Mauser’ tabs either side of the buttstock the recoil pad can be removed to expose a cavity of sorts. The pad is a sorbothane material, excellent in reducing recoil and I liked this concept which never gave any issues while removing and refitting the pad.

Inletting of the stock is neat with a steel recoil lug affixed into one of the main polymer braces in front of the magazine well, this lug mating with a slot milled into the underside of the receiver for a positive bedding platform and free-floating barrel. The rear of the receiver bears directly on the polymer stock around the tang and rear action screw platform, the barrelled action anchored to the stock by two screw studs which are actually captive to the receiver underside. They accept countersunk nuts which are tightened by an ‘H5’ Allen key, another way of attaching a stock to the barrelled action.

At the range

The rifle was fitted with a neat SIG Sauer 4-12×50 optic in Nikko Stirling Zero-Lock mounting hardware, distributor OSA also supplying hunting loads in .223 Remington from PPU, Hornady, Buffalo River and GECO. Two other factory loads with heavier bullet weights were sourced in the Winchester 64gr Power-Point and Sellier & Bellot 69-grain Match load and considering 1 MOA is roughly 29mm at 100m and 1.5 MOA is 44mm at 100m, the review rifle shot all groups bar one into 1.5 MOA or less.

All factory hunting loads were in the 55-64 grain bullet weight (with only the target load at 69 grains) and it’s worth trying as many different loads then stick with a couple which shoot consistently and accurately. Any of the factory loads in the accompanying table would fit the bill as a small game load out to 250m, anything further pushing the bounds of ethical hunting with the .223. This rifle seemed to shoot best with Winchester 64-grain Power-Point and Hornady 55-grain Spire Point (as a hunting load) and performed even better with the 69-grain Sellier & Bellot Match. An astute handloader should easily be able to produce clover-leaf groups by carefully adjusting powder charges and bullet-seating depths for maximum accuracy.


Adding the .223 Remington calibre to Mauser’s M18 line-up has been well received, especially in Australia where this rifle is just the ticket for small game enthusiasts or farmers after a reliable pest control firearm. The M18 Stainless is available in other select calibres but in .223 Remington has an RRP of around $1570. It’s a rifle to take what Australian hunting climates can dish out and keep on delivering with great accuracy and reliability. More at


Rifle: Mauser M18 Stainless
Action: Bolt-action, push-feed (three-lug bolt, 60-degree bolt lift)
Trigger: Single-stage, adjustable from 0.9-1.8kg
Calibre: .223 Remington (tested) also available in .308 Win, .30-06 Sptr, .300 Win Mag
Capacity: Four rounds (.223 Rem) detachable box magazine; other calibres: five rounds (.308 Win/.30-06 Sptr); four rounds (.300 Win Mag)
Barrel: Sporter weight, cold-hammer forged, 560mm for standard calibres, 610mm for Magnum calibre, muzzle threaded for accessories (M15x1)
Sights: Open, drilled and tapped to accept Rem 700-style bases
Barrel/action finish: Stainless steel
Stock: Dark grey polymer with black ‘soft-grip’ inserts
Weight: 3.1kg Standard, 3.2kg Magnum
Length: 1055mm Standard, 1120mm Magnum
RRP: $1570
Distributor: Outdoor Sporting Agencies

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 21 50 35
Buffalo River 55gr Sierra Game King 24 36 31
GECO 56gr Express 22 36 32
Hornady 55gr Spire Point 13 38 26
Winchester 64gr Power-Point 15 28 23
Sellier & Bellot 69gr Match 18 22 20


* Average group calculated from five 3-shot groups at 100m from a benchrest.

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