Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Another New Toy

It's An Addiction!

So, I'm bopping around town last weekend on my semi-regular sweep of area pawn shops looking for DVDs (Found one place selling them for $3.25!) when I ran across a cutie sitting on the gunrack of a shop over on Hwy 6. Now, I wasn't really in a rifle-buying mood, and in fact had told my buddy Little Bee Boy just the day before that I wasn't shopping for guns until this fall. Still, no harm in looking, right? Heh, yeah, right!

I will say that a bit of self-restraint held me back. It was a good price on a very good looking BRNO 8mm rifle, but as I said, I was DVD shopping, and also just didn't feel like filling out a 4473 form that day. So, I left without a gun purchase.

I couldn't stop thinking about the rifle, though. What I know about Mauser clones, though, you could fit in a small cartridge box. I knew BRNO is or was a Czech arms maker, and had a good reputation for quality firearms, but not much more than that. I called in the services of the resident expert on all things related to Germans and Guns. Rockhauler went and found some beefy tome on Mauser bolties, and we ID'd the beast as a VZ24, probably made 1935 or thereabouts.

I've never been a huge fan of Mauser rifles or their clones, with the exception of the 1903 Springfield. They've always struck me as kind of clunky and overly heavy.

Not being a fan does NOT denote lack of respect, though. The Mauser action has dominated the field of bolt-action rifles since its introduction. Like Sam Colt's Single Action Army, and John Moses Browning's 1911 .45 Auto, it's a design that's mechanically sound, and hard to improve upon.

Mauser-armed Boers perforated British troops with fiendish glee in South Africa, as did the Mausers of the Spanish down in Cuba against our army. In both cases, it motivated the perforees to rethink their weapons style, and in our case, we dropped the Krag-Jorgenson in favor of the 1903 Springfield with its Mauser-based action. The Brits exchanged their old Lee-Metfords and long-barreled Lee-Enfields for the improved SMLE design in 1902.

My previous experience with Mausers had been with Rockhauler's KAR98 models. Many times he's dropped a bag of 8mm surplus rounds in front of me, and said "Shoot all you want!" Between the steel skullcrusher buttplate and the stout recoil, I could usually manage 40-50 rounds before I needed to get some padding between me & the rifle. I should've taken pictures of the bruises that resulted from that! There were colors not found in nature coming up out of my shoulder!

I needed a beater/SHTF rifle, though. One that's low-cost, can travel in the trunk in a gun case for weeks at a time, and not attract too much attention when pulled out. My SKS, with the 30 rd mag and red-dot sight is a bit flash to be carrying around. Makes the GFW's nervous.

I decide to go take another look at the rifle, but since I commute downtown via the METRO Park & Ride, I can't get out to the shop on the far west side of town until after they close. I just *know* if I wait until Saturday, the rifle's gonna be gone.

I jet out of work a bit early this Tuesday, squeeze my posterior on the first available bus heading west instead of waiting for a less-crowded one, race to my car, and then drive like a bat out of hell, reaching the pawn shop 5 minutes before they closed. The rifle's still there, and I took my time looking it over.

What attracted me to it was the quality of the wood. Other than a few minor handling dings and a couple of small cracks underneath the fore end, the wood is beautiful, a nice blonde-colored hardwood, not a laminate. It's either never seen a coat of cosmoline, or a previous owner has completely stripped the wood, refinished it, and re-lacquered afterwards. I tend to think this might be the case, as there has also been some checkering applied to the area just under the action. It's good work, with perfect outlining, sharp checkers and very little variation in the individual check sizes.

All the bits and pieces are there, with the exception of the front sight hood (which I would have removed, anyway). The bolt handle and safety have been polished down to a shiny finish, and someone has worked on the bolt itself, as there's a nice slickness to the action. The bolt body and extractor have been jeweled.

The action and barrel are still a deep blue, and judging from the looks of the stamp marks and manufacturer's markings, it's not been re-blued. The bore's a little dark, but the crown is excellent, and the rifling's nice and crisp. The screws are about universally buggered, though still usable. Why everyone doesn't invest in a set of gunsmithing screwdrivers is a mystery to me!

I'm surprised the pawn shop bargained with me. After calling them to let them know I was coming, and considering how long I checked out the rifle on Saturday, they should have known I was a sure thing. Still, when I expressed reservations at paying $159.95, the pawnbroker dropped the price to $125 without missing a beat. SOLD!

I know Mausers have gone for under $100, but I have a sneaking suspicion this was someone's project rifle, and I got a 200% return on my money in terms of the work already done. No, I'll likely never get someone to pay me $250 for it, but if there's also been trigger work or a barrel-bedding done that I'm not aware of yet, I might just have one hell of a shooter on my hands. I've lined up a gunsmith to give it a lookover before I take it out to a range. While the work looks good to me, for all I know, the previous owner just handed his Dremel tool to an orangutan, and paid him in bananas.

Now, I wish I could show you a picture of this beastie, but Mom has yet to release her death grip on the digital camera so I can use it. Apparently if you do not take a picture of your new grandkid every 30 minutes or so, they fade into oblivion. That's her excuse for not returning it, anyway.

Here's the next best thing, a similar Brno VZ24, though not nearly as pretty as mine!

The next Blogfest shoot needs to be at an outdoor range! Y'all gotta try this one out! I may have outsmarted myself, though. This one's too pretty to use as a 'beater' rifle. I may just have to go acquire another one that's not quite so nice!