This is a gun that will help you get the most from your shooting ability. It won’t make you a better shooter than you are, but you’ll still shoot better because the gun is about as accurate as a gun can get. I used a Caldwell Lead Sled to hold the rifle in position to see how accurate the rifle was, taking the shooter out of the picture as much as possible. My smallest group was 0.4” center-to-center at 100 yards with off-the-shelf Hornady hunting ammo. The three rounds weren’t in the same hole, but pretty close.
Mauser has always been synonymous with rugged, dependable bolt action rifles. The original Mauser action in fact has been used in one form or another in the majority of dangerous game rifles around the world. That’s an arena where dependability is more than just a word.
With the new M12 (first introduced mid-2013), Mauser combined the elements of modern design with the finest materials and manufacturing techniques to produce an accurate, dependable, high quality rifle you can shoot with confidence. The fact that it’s a beautiful work of the gun maker’s art is a bonus.
Caliber: .308 Win.
Barrel length: 22″
Magazine Type: Detachable Box Magazine
Magazine capacity: 5+1
Overall length: 42″
Weight: approx. 6¾ lbs
Trigger Type: Direct Single Stage
I’ve always loved the harmony of wood and steel in a well made gun. It just looks right. When you handle a lot of guns, you also develop a feel for them. Some feel chintzy and awkward, some feel sort of generic, and some feel just right. Goldilocks would love the M12.
One thing this is not is a typical Mauser action. The Mauser pattern design incorporates a full length extractor that maintains control of the round throughout the loading and extracting process. This is referred to as controlled feeding. The M12 uses push feeding which is actually more common. As the round rises in the magazine, the bolt picks it up on the forward stroke and pushes it into the chamber. The round is not gripped by the extractor until the bolt is fully closed. In sporting use, you don’t really need controlled feeding. It was intended for combat use where you might be shooting from unusual positions, moving while firing and cycling the bolt, and where dust and dirt could cause a round to jam in the chamber.
The M12 bolt does, however, incorporate a number of the other Mauser pattern features. It is a rugged one-piece design with six locking lugs at the front to prevent case stretching. Two sets of three lugs lock the bolt solidly closed. The bolt face is recessed so that it encircles the case head which puts an extra layer of high density metal between you and any possible case head failure. The bolt body is the full diameter of the lugs making for a smoother, easier to operate bolt. The handle is bent down keeping it close to the stock. It sits just above the second joint of your trigger finger for easy access and quick follow-up shots. Your hand comes straight up from the trigger, cocking the action in the process. It also only needs to rotate 60 degrees. You don’t have to worry about interference with the bolt for any scope you mount. There’s plenty of clearance. In operation, the action is both smooth and fast.
The M12 has a short extractor and two spring loaded plungers in the bolt face that propel the spent casing briskly to the side. The setup works very well, even with a heavier round that has not been fired. If you get a misfire, you’ll be able to quickly eject the unfired round and chamber a fresh one.
The magazine is made of polymer and fits flush with the stock on the bottom. A button in front of the magazine lets it drop free for loading or to exchange with another magazine. The rounds are held in a staggered pattern with a capacity of five rounds of .308 Win. You can also load the magazine while in the gun simply by pushing the rounds through the opened bolt. The long open top receiver facilitates loading single or multiple rounds. I used Warne #M902/832M Weaver style mounts and Leupold medium rings to attach the Leupold 6-9 x 40mm scope. This brought the scope to the perfect height and left plenty of room underneath for loading from the top.
There’s an excellent three position safety. Mauser calls it the SRS for Smooth Roll Safety. The lever is on the back of the bolt, easily accessed by your shooting hand thumb (for most of you who are right-handed). Fully forward is the firing position. The middle position locks the trigger and sear but you can still cycle the bolt for safely unloading the gun. The third position (lever fully to the rear) also locks the bolt handle down for when you’re moving. In the third position, the safety lever rests just short of the midline of the bolt making inadvertent inactivation difficult. However, you can quickly release the safety by simply flicking it forward with your thumb. In a hunting situation, you’d obviously want to do that slowly or even employ your thumb and index finger to keep it quiet.
The hammer forged barrel has a slight constant taper from just in front of the chamber to the crown where it measures 0.669”. This produces a strong barrel without the weight of a full bull barrel and contributes to the excellent balance and pointability. The balance point is at the front of the magazine, midway between your hands, which is ideal. The barrel is free floated in the stock, a good thing, especially with a wood stock which can change dimensions slightly with changes in humidity. The combination of hammer forging, and heat treating and quenching should mean the barrel is minimally affected by heat, making for more consistent shooting. I didn’t see any changes in point of impact due to barrel heating at the range.
There are many factors that go into the accuracy of a gun, but the trigger is obviously one of the most important components for getting all the accuracy your gun can deliver. A bad trigger can make it difficult to shoot any gun well. Fortunately, the trigger on the Mauser M12 is one of the best I’ve come across. There is absolutely no creep and virtually no overtravel. The sear breaks cleanly at an average of 1 pound, 11.9 ounces. It’s definitely not the trigger for hunters who get the shakes when they see their game animal. But for experienced hunters, this trigger allows you to place your shots precisely.
The ball on the end of the bolt handle is polished; the rest of the metal ceramic bead blasted to give the barrel/receiver a flat finish, then blued. The markings on the barrel, receiver, and bolt were all sharp and easy to read. Fit and finish was excellent. The bolt was jeweled, which gives the gun a richer look. The Walnut stock had an efficient yet elegant shape. The machine cut checkering and the oil finish contributed further to the classic good looks of this fine mid-priced gun. The raised comb put my eye at the ideal height for the scope/mounting setup and the checkering contributed to the classic good looks and provided a good grip. The M12 is also offered with synthetic furniture as the M12 Extreme.
The way this gun feels in your hands inspires confidence which is reinforced when you get on target and find that everything else falls naturally where you expect it to be. The length of pull, the comb height, the location of the trigger, bolt handle, and safety. It just feels like a great fitting suit.
SHOOTING THE MAUSER M12
How accurate can a rifle be, right out of the box? Put the cross-hairs on the bulls-eye, take a breath, steady, touch the trigger, when everything’s right, increase the pressure on the trigger, and the shot breaks. When you know exactly where the cross-hair was when the shot broke, you know it was a good shot.
Do I need to say there were no malfunctions, the rifle performed flawlessly? It did. Operating the bolt was effortless. The action felt smooth and solid and you knew when it locked up. Recoil was typical for a light bolt-action .308. I didn’t even notice the first few shots when I was sighting-in the scope. After firing ten rounds or so though, I was noticing it more. The .308 doesn’t recoil like the heavier hitting magnums, but it still has enough to make you sore after a day at the range. Of course, the Hornady Superformance rounds are a little hotter than Winchester or Fusion, for example, so you experience a little more recoil.
On that note, I have to give some credit to Hornady. There are a lot of factors that go into making rounds that deliver consistent performance. This is not match ammo, this is their hunting ammo. To get 0.4 MOA performance out of hunting ammo is a testament to the pains Hornady takes to produce loads you can count on.
Once the scope was zeroed, it was a matter of centering the reticle and touching off the shot. They all went pretty much to point of aim. Three-shot groups averaged under ¾ of an inch at 100 yards with the best group 0.4”. Nuff said.
The M12 is available in all the most popular flavors: .22-250 Rem., .243 Win., .308 Win., 6.5 x 55, .270 Win., 7 x 64, .30-06, 8 x 57 IS, 9.3 x 62, 7 mm Rem. Mag., .300 Win. Mag., .338 Win. Mag. MSRP for the Mauser M12 Extreme with the synthetic furniture is $1499. With the wood stock as tested the M12 has an MSRP of $1799. I’ve seen higher prices online but none lower. My best advice is to check with your local gun dealer. Personally, I think it’s a good buy, even at the MSRP. You get a lot of rifle for your money.
The M12 is light, rugged, well-balanced, cycles quickly, and is very accurate — the result of the harmonious blending of many small but important details. This is a gun you’ll want to pass on to your grand-kids.