Rambling thoughts on "El Cetmeton." The FR8
by Greg Ritchie
The FR8, or Fusil Reformado 8, is my favorite milsurp ("Military Surplus") rifle. Often called the "poor man's scout rifle" or the "bolt action assault rifle", it's a bolt action Mauser rifle chambered in 7.62x51 NATO.
Born in the 1950's, the FR8 was the result of the Spanish military transitioning to the 7.62x51 NATO and the CETME rifle. Not having enough CETME rifles to go around, the Spaniards took their M43 Mausers which were based on the model 1898 Mauser and replaced the 8mm barrels with CETME barrels. Receiver sights were added with apertures for 200, 300, and 400 meters. They also Incorporated a V notch for 100 meters. A tube that mimics the gas tube for the CETME rifle was added, but it was placed under the barrel. It is used to store small items like a cleaning kit and as a mount for the standard CETME bayonet. The muzzle is capped with a flash hider that allowed the FR8 to fire rifle grenades
The FR8 gets some, in my opinion, undeservedly bad press because of it's association with the much weaker FR7 which is basically the same rifle but built on the Spanish 1916 Mauser action, which was in turn based on the 1893 Mauser. The M1916 Spanish Mauser was chambered for the 7mm Mauser round which operates at lower pressure levels than the 7.62x51 NATO. The Model 43 was originally chambered form the 8mm Mauser which is in the same ball park pressure wise.
Additionally there is some concerns that the Spanish heat treatment of the steel was not up to the standards of the Germans. Finally there was the 7.52x51 CETME round which was basically identical to the NATO round except it used full metal jacketed lead bullet with a plastic core with a reduced powder charge supposedly to make the CETME rifle more controllable during full auto fire. Some say that the FR8 was intended to fire this round, but all documentation I have ever seen stated the FR8 was intended for the NATO round.
Because of the above, and because I prefer to err on the side of caution, I load my rounds for this rifle to 300 Savage levels, 155 grain bullets at just over 2600 feet per second. This has proven to be an effective loading for me in the role I normally use the rifle in. Open hardwoods deer hunting.
I think of this rifle as my scout rifle. It meets all of the late Col. Coopers requirements except for the forward mounted long eye relief scope. The sights give a nice picture though, and once sighted at 200 meters are very well regulated. At least in bright light. My old eyes just don't work as well as they used to. This could be easily fixed by tapping the action for a scope base and enlarging the apertures to ghost ring size. But don't do it! These rifles were easily found at $125 when they were first imported. IIRC, I paid $250 for mine. Unmolested versions now are commonly bringing over $500 now. Not a whole lot were imported. A lot were destroyed by the Spanish when they were taken out of service. While not exactly rare, they are not so easy to find now.
My FR8 is all original with no import marks. Did the importer forget to mark it, or was it souvenired from some obscure military action? Probably the first, but I like to think the later.