Monday, October 23, 2006

Argentine Mauser Modelo 1891: The last antique rifle.

The late 19th Century was witness to a frantic global arms race; the introduction of the Mle. 1886 Lebel by the French had, almost overnight, obsoleted every other military rifle in the world. The Germans responded by fielding the Gew. 1888 "Commission Rifle", so called because it was designed by a committee, rather than any independent factory. Mauser, feeling snubbed, set to work designing a rifle that eclipsed the Gew. 88 in every way, and shopped it to the Belgians. Due to the fact that the Mauser works were running nearly at capacity supplying the Turks, Ludwig Loewe & Co. (the owners of Mauser) and the Belgian State arms factory at Liege formed a new syndicate, known as Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre (now known universally as "FN") to manufacture the new rifle. The design was wildly successful and, in 1891 Argentina, who had completed their transition to Remington Rolling Blocks only 11 years earlier, purchased an improved version: the Modelo 1891 rifle, in 7.65x53mm (a caliber now known as "7.65 Argentine.")

Modelo 1891 Argentine Mauser. Photo by Oleg Volk.

The new rifle incorporated a couple of significant advances: First, the bolt was a strong, one-piece unit with dual horizontally-opposed locking lugs at the front, and second, it operated from a box magazine that was loaded from stripper clips (a design first) and unlike most every other military rifle of the day, it had no magazine cutoff; it was intended entirely to be used as a fast-reloading repeater, rather than as a single shot rifle with a magazine held in reserve for "emergencies".


Detail of action; note how ejector assembly forms part of charger guide. Photo by Oleg Volk.

The action, with its dual locking lugs that were part of a one-piece bolt body, and its push-feed, pivoting-extractor design, would be familiar to anyone owning a modern sporting rifle from Remington, Savage, or Winchester, being much closer in mechanics and manner of operation to these current rifles than its later, claw-extractor controlled-feed brethren from Mauser.

The rimless cartidge originally specified by the Belgians, and known (inexplicably) to posterity as the 7.65 Argentine, is modern looking, and a close ballistic cousin to the .308 Winchester/7.62x51 NATO, throwing a 174- or 155-gr bullet at 2460 or 2710 feet per second in its military guise. Commercial hunting ammo is still available from Norma.

L to R: 7.62x51 NATO, 7.65x53 Argentine, and 5.56x45 NATO.

Possibly the most fascinating thing about the rifle, aside from how teriffically modern it appears compared to designs only a few years older, is the fact that, due to its age, it's not considered to be a firearm by the BATF. The example in the photos, built by DWM in Berlin, is remarkably well-preserved for being such a senior citizen, and is still just as fine a rifle today as it was when it was made; maybe a finer rifle now, since the meticulous craftsmanship and all-machined-steel construction harken back to a bygone era. The BATF may think it to be the last antique rifle, but thousands of shooters know better; it's really the first truly modern rifle.

32 comments:

Mushy said...

A so it lives! Looks great.

ChargeOfQuarters said...

My dad had one when I was a kid... it was stolen when he was transferred from Hawaii to Nebraska... he was pissed... He loved that thing.

Vic303 said...

Hope to see you do a write up on this one day!
http://militaryrifles.com/Uruguay/UruguayNagantRem.htm

Anonymous said...

The Argentines are nice weapons. I have a Mod. 1909 that's beautiful.

Strange that the recoil feels sharper that my Mosins or any of my Mausers.

Tokarev

Hobie said...

I can't tell you why, but the M91 is the only Mauser bolt action that really floats my boat. I've had two. The second, still here, is an "engineer" carbine. This gun shoots to point of aim with the service load AND with the 215 gr. original load (of which I've made up a hundred or so using Woodleigh's bullet). It seems to bridge the gap from the old ways to the new.

guile said...

is this the one used in saving private ryan?..

Tam said...

No, that would be the Mauser kar. 98k.

Anonymous said...

The '91 is the first high powered rifle that I owned. My Father bought it for me when I was 16 or 17 (back in the '60's) from Ye Old Hunter in Alexandria, VA. It still shoots well and is an example of splendid wood-to-metal fit. I own other Mausers, but this one was my first. Fine rifle!

Anonymous said...

i have one of those and i was wondering how much it sells for

Tam said...

It all depends on condition. A bubba-ized or badly beat up one may only bring $150, where a pristine example with matching numbers and an intact crest can fetch north of $500. The example shown, while in exemplary condition, has the crest defaced for export. It would probably bring about $450 without too much effort.

AntiqueWeapons.org said...

Word of caution when referencing Argentine M91 as antique as rifles manufactured by DWM are only antique for serial number prefixes A through J & about 1/3 to half of serial prefix K. All Loewe, Berlin manufactured are pre 1899, antique as DWM took over production in 1897.

Anonymous said...

Er, the "thru K" for DWM refers to model 1895 Chilean Mausers being antiques. As for model '91's-- Allegedly, DWM stopped making model 91's in 1897 (shortly after its foundation). Again allegedly, this was to clear up the production line for Model '98's. So all Argentine model 91's are likely antiques.

The Frank Family said...

I have recently purchased one of these 1891 Argentine Rifles at an auction. It has the smoothest bolt action that I have ever used. Very accurate with iron sights. Love it!!! This one has been sporterized but hasn't been cut on at all. That's the bad part. The good part is that I picked it up for a mere $30. I'm only having one problem with it. The magazine is wore at the top and won't hold the shells in against the force of the spring. I've just been loading it with the magazine already attached through the top with the bolt back. Do you know where I might be able to get a new magazine for it?

dan f said...

I have a M91.It has taken a while but I finally know what I have. The wood stock has been cut back to the strap buckle. other than that it seems to be in great shape. I just bought some 7.65 X 54 for it. NOW how much should I worry about it having the correct headroom? I don't know when it was last fired. I bought it in 1991. It has been stored since then....but I have kept it oiled and clean.

Anonymous said...

I just acquired a 1891 Argentine Mauser carbine which was sporterized...stock butchered. So I would like to get a complete stock set for it...that which I could add my barrelled receiver and mag housing, the stock must have all the metal related parts including the front sight hood/ stock nose. Anyone have anything...even a cheap parts gun?
972 420 0891

Anonymous said...

I have a Model 1891 that has all matching #'s (even the cleaning rod) I don't think it has ever been fired. Is this uncommon?

Thanks

Tam said...

"Is this uncommon?"

Very! Supposedly some unissued ones were surplussed, but they are scarce.

"NOW how much should I worry about it having the correct headroom?"

As a general safety precaution, it's best to have any surplus rifle looked over by a competent gunsmith before firing it. You only get two eyes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info about my "uncommon" rifle. I have had it for about 20 years, but just recently became interested in the history of it.

Anonymous said...

ludlo1 said
i own one in very nice shape with all the marking and a full sun. i would like to sell it my dad past away and left me 11 forign military rifles which i do not use.

Anonymous said...

Excellent rifle, I own 2 argentine cavalry Mauser and one turkish mauser.. a huge monster!!!

Anonymous said...

I know this is a newbee question but how do you know 1891 is a long gun or carbine? Barrel length?

Chris said...

Ok i have got what i believe to be a Model 1891 Argintine Mauser Carbine, there is a hole in the front of the stock where i assume the cleaning rod would go, anyone know where i could buy a replacement one?

Dan Szepesi said...

My dad picked up one of these surplused at a department store in the '60s. The Argentinian seal is filed off, but it is in great shape and shoots very well even in my unworthy hands.

I am lucky enough to have a Cabella's within 5 miles that actually sells 7.65 Arg so it gets some moderate use.

I am a major military history nerd and love getting more background on the weapons themselves. I have read your main blog for a while but just started on this one. I have a few hopes for a few certain guns to show up in this blog - i will keep my fingers crossed.

Thanks for the (continuing) history lessons.

birthelmerjerry said...

Anyone know where to get a magazine that is in newish condition? Mine keeps miss-feeding the rounds when I rock the bolt forward.

Lulu the Helvetian said...

Why is the modelo 1891 a special caliber?Must have been more expensive to produce,no chance finding 7.65 in a country that Argentina would invade ,only useful if Argentina was invaded.At the time it was the Chileans that could have been a threat with their 7mm.Maybe the Arg. wanted to 'outshoot" their neighbors.
I think they outstyled them at least.
Lulu the Helvetian.

Anonymous said...

Just Asking:What does the circle with the sun and letters in it mean? What does the shield with letters in it mean? Also, what is the reason it has hands shaking on it? In different spots.

Alfred Ferraro said...

The 1891 Mauser Carbine I own has a shield with no wording.

The two half fields in the center background represent the colors of the Argentine flag (sky blue and white) in the rifle the colored top half of the shield is represented by striations in the metal) this half represents: Justice, Loyalty, and Fraternity.

The bottom half (blank area) represents the white area of the flag and it stands for: Purity, Faith, Nobleness, Integrity, Strength and Obedience.

The hands represent the Fraternal Union of Men and Countries.

The hands are holding a staff representing Authority, Dignity and Sovereignty. The hat at the top of the staff represents Liberty, Equality and Sacrifice.

The laurel branches on either side are a symbol of Victory and Glory.

The nascent sun on the top represents Truth, Majesty and Prosperity at the same time it gives additional meaning to the New Nation, full of splendor, glory pure and radiant as the sun...

Daren said...

I am looking for a parade /cerimonial 1891 Argentine Mauser. Phone 509-534-0909. Thanks

BYTHEBAY said...

I have one of these 91's for sale. No cleaning rod. Bracket for stock ring is still in place but no ring. Metal plate on butt of gun is rusted but intact. No ammo clip. Action seems very smooth. Safety functions.

Anonymous said...

The magazine is not detatchable. You are supposed to load it with it already attached.

Ron Winn said...

Happy Memorial Day, 2013
Hope ppl are still posting...!
I have a 1891 Argentine Mauser handed down from father-in-law.
The Ser# starts with an L 87XX
Not the real serial number, but...
I think it's a 7.65X53
Father-in law got to "Perl Harbor" just after the attack, he was a kid then, Anyhoo, he was Navy & for over 12 years.
But I have a Rifle with this on side by bolt of rifle...
"MAUSER MODELO ARGENTINO 1891."
"MANUFACTURE LOEWE BERLIN."
The rifle looks almost new, so this memorial day I've been on the computer trying to find the exact

James Keenan, Jr said...

It's the day before Valentine's Day 2014. I was passed down a Modelo Argentino 1891 Deutsche Waffen-Und Munitionsfabriken Berlin model with matching serials from buttstock to cleaning rod and all crests/markings intact including the hands.

I was wondering if mixing Hoppes 9 with Simple Green is enough to clean the bolt which is rusty at the exposed rear area but pretty polished on the rest. Could I soak this mixture in a tin foil bowl or will it eat the tin foil (as I have nothing else to fit the entire bolt in)? How long should I soak?

I don't wanna cause any harm to this rifle as there are only minor indents in only a few places on the wood, what can clean the wood the best without harming it?