Last weekend I finally teased an Expert class score out of my 1940 Israeli Mauser in an NRA High Power match (reduced course 100 yard match)! Expert class starts at 89%, suggesting the shooter is hitting mostly 10s and 9s. Originally the goal was much lower, but as I started hitting each classification I nudged it up just to prove what the rifle was capable of. It took me roughly six or seven months, with a match each month, to achieve this goal.
Why an Israeli Mauser
So why did I do it? I think a few shooters in the club thought I was a little crazy at first. After all, I was shooting solid Master scores with the Service Rifle, on my way to High Master, and I just completed building a Remington 700 match rifle that has been sitting in the safe unfired. Why waste months on getting the Israeli Mauser to do something it was never intended, and essentially drop out of being a serious contender in matches during that time? Not to mention the money expense of getting the Israeli Mauser match capable?
I suppose one could say I have 6,000,000 reasons for doing it. The rifle was originally crafted by a nation that at one time sought to exterminate the Jews from the face of the earth. The steel receiver was probably made from iron mined in that same country. It is highly probable that soldiers from that nation used the rifle to fight Allied forces, kill Allied soldiers, and maybe even to kill Jews. But after WWII, the captured rifle made its way to Israel, a Jewish homeland born from the ashes of WWII. What the rifle may have been used for there is anyone's guess. Was it used by Jews in Israel's war of independence Did IDF soldiers use it for training thereafter? Was it the trusted companion of some frontier Jewish kibbutznik? And where did it go after Israel?
Now, you could argue that those are good reasons to acquire the Israeli Mauser as memorabilia, but not necessarily for using it. So what is the significance of using the Israeli Mauser? I think for me, it adds a new chapter to the rifle's life that hopefully my great, great, great grandchildren will remember and perpetuate. My use of it, and someday my daughter's use, and so on, serves to remind us that Jews must not only always be armed, but we must develop the skills to use those arms with precision and safety. A rifle that rusts away in a safe is useless. But a rifle used in sport develops the Jewish shooters' skills so that if someday, G-d forbid, we are ready. Of course, any rifle can serve the purpose of training, but there is something primal and especially memorable about actually using a 70+ year old rifle that has a history of its own. In my case, the Israeli Mauser was actually the first center-fire bolt action rifle I ever shot, and also the first in .308.
Still a Potent Weapon
And make no mistake, in the right hands the Israeli Mauser is still a damn capable rifle for hunting, and I dare say combat in a pinch. I never performed any formal testing, but based on my slow prone targets, I would say the rifle is mechanically capable of just over 1MOA (1" groups at 100 yards). Here is my prone target from the last match, the actual diameter of the aiming black is 6.35":
Yes, it only has an internal 5-round magazine, but I got to be very quick with my reloads using stripper clips. Remember, in High Power the sitting stage is 10 rounds in 60 seconds, with a reload. Here is my sitting stage target from the last match:
As I've been hinting, for several months now a fully ready Remington 700 configured as a competition match rifle has been patiently waiting in the gun safe. I am hoping that 2013 will be the year I earn my High Master card, and I'm feeling good about the R700's ability to get me there.