Rambling thoughts on the Spanish Mausers
by Greg Ritchie
[Mauser K98 - Spanisch FR 8 *]
Back in the 70's, most department stores had a barrel in their sporting goods department. These barrels would be filled with Mauser rifles of all types, maybe an Enfield or two, Arisakas and Carcanos. A friend and I stood at one of these barrels sorting through and selecting our first deer rifles. I chose 8mm he chose a 7mm. A few boxes of ammunition each and off to the range we went. After shooting the rifles I was left with one thought. I wish I had bought a 7mm also. This is actually the incident that got me collecting milsurps, and my focus early on was the Spanish Mausers.
Spain basically had five different Mausers that served her from the 1890's through the 1980's. There were others, such as models used for support troops and calvary, but they were variants of the basic infantry models.
Model 1893. These were the first standard issue Mauser for Spain. Chambered for the 7x57 Mauser cartridge which was the smallest diameter bullet offered by J P Mauser at the time. This was also the first Mauser to have the flush 5 round staggered magazine. It had a 29 inch barrel, two locking lugs on the bolt, a straight bolt handle and cocked on closing, making it a very fast smooth action.
Model 1916. These were basically M1893's with the barrel shortened to 21 inches and the bolt handle turned down. Many original 1893's were shortened, but these were also made as new forearms under license by Spain. One variant of the 1916 is the Fusil Guardia Civil, or the Civil Guard rifle. These are M1916's that had the barrel removed. The barrels were bored and rifled for 30 caliber, about 1/4 inch was cut off the chamber end of the barrel in order to be able to clean up the chamber and chambered for 7.62x51 NATO. I believe all of these rifles had the Civil Guard crest stamped on the receiver. Mine had the end of the magazine follower radiused to keep the bolt from locking back on an empty magazine. I am told that this was not done by the Spanish armory but by the importer to make the rifle more attractive to sportsmen.
Model 1943. These are basically copies of the K98k rifle. Chambered in 8x57 Mauser, these rifles have three locking lugs and a bolt shrould.
FR7. The FR Fusil Reformado or "Refurbished Rifle". These rifles were built as substitute standard when Spain was transitioning to the CETME Rifle. They are the M1916 with the barrel removed and the stocks shortened. CETME barrels were installed upside down. The "gas tube" is actually a storage chamber and bayonet mount.
FR8. Like the FR7, the FR8 is a substitute standard rifle, but these were built on the M43 platform.
Closing thoughts. There is a lot of controversy about the 7.62x51 chambered Spanish mausers. Some say they were intended for the 7.62x51 Spanish. The 7.62x51 Spanish fires a 113 grain plastic core bullet at 2600 fps. I do not know if this is true, but I was shown a pamphlet recently concerning the 1916 Civil Guard rifle. The pamphlet has 7.62x51 NATO on the cover. That said, it is conceivable that the Civil Guard rifles and the FR7 were originally 1893's. It's certain that they were once 7x57 Mausers. The 7x57 is rated for 46,000 copper units of pressure. The 7.62X51 is rated at 50,000 copper units of pressure. The 308 Winchester is even more! I'll take the safe road and fire only low pressure rounds from mine!
*Image license: GNU Free Document License, Version 1.2 or any later version - Reference: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FR8-01.jpg