Mauser has had a fine reputation for building high-quality rifles for a very long time. The problem in getting more shooters behind Mausers, though, has been the prices. The Mauser 12 was the most affordable model, but it still cost from $1,000 to $1,500. A brand-new Mauser 98? Anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000!
But hunters received a gift recently in the form of the new Mauser 18, a synthetic-stocked, bolt action with a suggested retail of $700.00. Currently, prices on the Internet are just under $500.
And the rifle isn’t only affordable. After a good deal of shooting, I found the new Mauser 18 very accurate and very easy to use, and I believe it is the equal of any sub-$500 hunting rifle I have used in the last half dozen years.
Truthfully, the Mauser 18 is as accurate and functional as many of the $1,000 hunting rifles I’ve shot.
The Mauser 18 I received for review was chambered in .308 Win and featured a 22-inch, cold hammer-forged barrel. The rifle does not come with sights, so I installed a Bushnell LRHS Elite 4.5-18x44mm scope on the Mauser, mounting it with a set of Mauser rings made by Talley.
During my time with the rifle, the Mauser 18’s three-lug bolt worked smoothly and locked up tightly. The short-throw, 60-degree bolt allowed over 1.5-inches of space between the bolt handle/knob and scope when the bolt was fully opened, making for easy loading of rounds into the chamber.
Mauser, of course, made its name with the M98 controlled-round feed system, where the massive, claw-style extractor at the face of the bolt stripped the cartridge from the magazine and guided it into the chamber.
The Mauser 18, though, employs a more modern “push-feed” system, with the bolt pushing the cartridge forward, out from the magazine and into the chamber. The Mauser 18 bolt also features two plunger-type extractors that fling empty brass a good 6-7 feet from the shooter. Generally, the push feed approach is less expensive to manufacture, which helps explain one factor in Mauser offering this rifle at a more budget-friendly price point.
The rear of the Mauser 18’s bolt shroud features a cocking indicator. When the rifle’s firing pin is cocked and ready to fire, the shooter will see the red-based cocking indicator sticking out from an opening in the center of the bolt shroud.
The Mauser 18 has the easiest-to-load magazine I have ever used in a bolt action rifle. I simply pushed the .308 rounds onto the top of the polymer magazine, and they were grabbed and held in place. No hard shoving, no having to start the rear of the brass into the magazine track. Push and in. Done.
The Mauser 18’s trigger breaks and resets damn near like a custom trigger, and my Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge measured the trigger at an average of just 2-pounds, 4-ounces. The trigger itself is externally adjustable with an Allen wrench. But with that very crisp, 2-pound, 4-ounce break, I had no need to adjust the trigger.
At my local range, I first zeroed the Mauser 18 at 50 yards and then proceeded to test accuracy at 100 yards, shooting from a rest. For .308 Win ammunition, I used: Terminal Shock made by Dynamic Research Technologies, firing a 150-grain frangible JHP bullet at 2,653 feet-per-second (fps); Hornady Precision Hunter with a 178-grain ELD-X bullet at 2,480 fps; and Remington Hog Hammer, loaded with a 168-grain Barnes TSX bullet launching at 2,330 fps.
All fps readings, by the way, were done with ten rounds of each ammunition and measured by my PACT Professional XP Chronograph, from Brownell. My PACT unit was approximately six feet from the rifle’s muzzle.
Accuracy averaged near MOA or better with all three brands, firing three- and four-shot groups. The Hornady Precision Hunter topped all others with a three-shot group at .711-inches, while the Hog Hammer and DRT averaged .980-inches and 1.13-inches, respectively. Averages were based on five groups of three and four shots apiece.
Mauser nicknamed the Mauser 18 the “People’s Rifle.” And being that it’s made for the “people,” the rifle sports a very functional but no-frills polymer stock with a straight comb. Mauser added soft, grippy inserts on the pistol grip and forearm for better control that the poly stock’s surface alone provides.
The stock even incorporates a small storage space in the stock, large enough to store a bore snake.
The rifle also features a rocker-style, three-position safety perched on the right side of the action. The bolt is locked when the safety is on the rearmost position, while the center position allows the bolt to move so the hunter can unload the rifle though the rifle will not fire in this position. With the safety pushed all the way forward, the Mauser 18 is ready to fire.
The safety’s tab is textured and operates through all three positions without a sound.
The M18 is available in .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, .270 Win, .308 Win, and 30-06 Sprg. Magnum calibers are limited to the 7MM Rem Mag and the .300 Win Mag.
The rifle weighs in at 6.5 pounds unloaded and without a scope in the standard calibers, and just 6.7 pounds in the magnum offerings. Barrels on the standard calibers are 22-inches long and blued, and 24.4-inches in the magnums.
With SUB-MOA performance and a price tag of under $500, that’s a whole lot of “People’s Rifle” for the money. No, this isn’t the prettiest rifle you will find afield. It’s simply a very accurate and reliable workhorse of a hunting rifle, made to get the job done in any conditions.
SPECS: Mauser 18
Caliber (as tested): .308 Win.
Three-lug bolt, push-feed system
Barrel: Cold-hammer forged, 22-inches
Twist Rate: 1:11
Magazine Capacity: 5 Rounds
Length: 41.7 inches
Weight: 6.5 pounds
Sights: None, drilled and tapped for optic
Included: Rear-stock compartment for cleaning kit; sling studs installed; recoil pad.