Sporterizing Model 1896 Swedish Mausers

Finding a new life for an old Swedish military arm developed over a century ago and chambered for the 6.5x55mm Swedish cartridge would represent a formidable gunsmithing challenge.

by Norman E. Johnson

Here I will show how an old military rifle was transformed to a cherished beauty that looks and shoots with the best of them. The rifle was purchased with plans to convert it to a customized version for hunting and target shooting. This would include sporterizing the old, burled hardwood stock, shortening the forend and adding a fancy tip, precision bedding the receiver, free-floating, shortening and crowning the barrel, altering the bolt, mounting a scope, and installing a new trigger. Attempting to convert a badly worn, old relic wouldn’t have fit my plan, but this was quite a different story. The odds of finding such a vintage rifle that appeared to be in virtually unused condition is rare indeed. I was determined to see what this transformed rifle would do from a performance standpoint.

The original stock would be used, albeit much modified. There would be alterations of the barreled action. These would include cutting 2 1/2-inches of the nasty looking, threaded muzzle and front sight from the 29-inch barrel, re-crowning it, and turning down the rear sight housing. The factory trigger would be used awhile but with some adjustment and then replaced. The bolt handle would be shaped to conform to scope mounting and the receiver would be drilled and tapped for a pair of bases and rings. Seems like a major face lifting just to bring out the latent potential from an old rifle, but I’ve worked harder on many a rifle with no guarantees of success… we would see.

Let’s have a a closer look at this remarkable old rifle. As I disassembled it I saw a very…

Read more in the January 2020 issue.

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