The Ruger company

The Ruger company was established in 1948 by the late firearm genius William Batterman Ruger (1916-2002) and Alexander McCormick Sturm (1923-1951) to manufacture and produce the well-known Ruger Standard .22LR semi-automatic pistol as Sturm, Ruger & Co.

Sturm’s mother Katherine gave him the US$ 50,000 seed capital and Strum designed the company logo. Ruger, having worked at the Springfield Arsenal and at Auto-Ordnance, provided the pistol’s design and the technical expertise. Sturm unexpectedly passed away from hepatitis in 1951 and Ruger became the company owner. The little .22LR pistol was a runaway success and the company expanded exponentially. Today Ruger is the largest firearm manufacturer in the USA.

The Ruger M-77 hunting rifle was introduced in 1968. It sported a nice adjustable trigger, a tang mounted shotgun style safety and some Mauser features such as a large, externally mounted, claw extractor. The 1968 model was replaced by the Ruger M-77 MkII in 1989 with a shroud safety and non-adjustable trigger. In 2006 the current Ruger Hawkeye replaced the M-77 MkII. Looking at the changes effected to the M-77 over the years, one may be tempted to conclude that such regular modifications were necessitated by flaws in the original design. There is another side of the coin. If we look at how regularly Paul Mauser changed his designs over the period 1871-1898 and how that improved firearms design in general one can also opt to say that Ruger M-77s constant evolution is the result of innovation.

Some of the changes to the original M-77 design were necessary because of design weaknesses, other as a result of the obsession Bill Ruger developed regarding public liability after a US$ 2.3 million award against the company.

The Remington action design can be summarized as follows:

  • Round receiver
  • Clamped recoil lug
  • Large load port
  • Several magazine configurations
  • Tang mounted 2-position safety
  • Drilled for scope mounts
  • Composite bolt shaft
  • Protruding forward dual opposed locking lugs
  • Non-rotating extractor
  • Plunger ejector
  • Adjustable trigger

Remington bolt action rifles are offered in three action lengths plus the lightweight Model Seven. Although the .458 Winchester Magnum cartridge was available, it was the only large bore cartridge except the .416 Remington Magnum offered by the company at one stage. The Model 700 action simply is not sufficiently well-girthed to handle bottlenecked cartridges larger than the basic .416 Remington Magnum configuration. Theoretically it is able to handle the .458 Lott, but it seems that Remington has realized that their strength lies in plains game rifles and chamberings as neither the .416 Remington or the .458 Win Mag are offered any longer.

The round receiver profile delivers reasonably constant flexing in all directions and the design has acquired a reputation for good accuracy. Remington rifles therefore generally are fine out-of-the-box choices for savannah and plains range hunting. They are however not more accurate than can be achieved with less concentric designs. The ejection and loading port is conveniently large, although it is not that much of a consideration on non-dangerous game rifles.

The rifles are offered in a bewildering array of magazine configurations and chamberings. Some rifles have blind magazines (no floorplate), others have traditional swing-open floorplates and other models are available with removable magazines. This provides the hunter with the ability to make a selection along his lines of preference.

The side mounted two-position safety is very similar to that of the well-known Brno ZKK and CZ-550 rifles, even though it works in opposite directions. This is however different from the bolt sleeve three position safeties found on Winchester, Kimber and modified Mauser rifles, so hunters are advised to properly acquaint themselves with these differences before going afield.

The absence of controlled feed, the history of trigger problems in dusty conditions and the recessed circular extractor riveted to the bolt are objections raised against Remington rifles from a dangerous game hunting perspective. Hunters coming to Africa where dust and dirt are abundant, are advised to have their Remingtons retrofitted with the X-Mark trigger system prior to coming.

Cartridge Model 7 M-700 Short M-700 Std M-700 Long
.17 Rem Fireball 26”
.204 Ruger 22”∆ / 26”
.223 Rem 20” 20” / 22”∆ / 24” / 26”
.22-250 Rem 22”∆ / 24” / 26”
.220 Swift 26”
.243 Win 18” / 20” 20” / 22” / 24” / 26”
.25-06 Rem 22” / 24”
.257 Wby Mag 26”
.260 Rem 20”
.270 Win 22” / 24”
.270 WSM 24”
7mm-08 Rem 18” / 20” 20” / 22” / 24”
.280 Rem 22”
7mm Rem Mag 22” / 24” / 26”
7mm RUM 26”
.308 Win 20” 20” / 22” / 26”
.30-06 Spfld 22” / 24”
.300 WSM 24”
.300 Win Mag 24” / 26”
.300 RUM 26”
.338 Win Mag 26”
.338 RUM 26”
.35 Whelen 24”
.375 H&H Mag 22” / 24”
.375 RUM 24”
* The ∆ symbol indicates a VTR triangular barrel only.

Horst Blaser, the man who launched Blaser rifles, was a car mechanic. He became a gunsmith because his future father-in-law refused to let him marry until he became a gunsmith. While he trained to handmanufacture a double rifle or drilling from scratch, Horst constantly contemplatred the chasm between the file of the gunmaking trade and the robot of the auto industry. He had barely completed his studies when he designed a new drilling which he introduced in 1957. This rifle, the Blaser Diplomat, set Horst Blaser’s course and contained the first core design features which characterised his later designs. The rifle was lighter than the traditional drilling. Its machine-manufactured components were not only produced at greater tempo, but, as in the car industry, were so dimensionally similar and compatible that they offered maximum interchangeability and minimum hand fitting. The Blaser Diplomat contained a third unique Blaser feature, the so-called cocking lever. It was a system that made Horst Blaser’s designs safer than traditional designs, as it did not involve the mere blocking a of a cocked firing pin. It did not hang like a raised guillotine over a bare neck, over the cartridge in the chamber. It allowed decocking, or relaxation of the firing-pin spring, which eliminated the discharge of a shot in the event of the safety failing even if the trigger was pulled! It simultaneously permitted instant activation with minimal movement and noise; just a push of the thumb on the cocking lever when the target was identified, and, in that a split second the rifle was brought back into full battery and ready to fell the target.
The Diplomat did very well in the German-speaking markets, but Horst Blaser was far from content. He constantly evolved the Diplomat. In 1970 Blaser evolution took a quantum leap when a new Blaser building stone entered the equation: Blaser offered his rifle in a take-down version with interchangeable barrels, and so introduced a permament characteristic for future Blaser designs. It was designated the ES 70, of course. The most outstanding and most significaent next step in the defining of Blaser design concepts followed in 1975 when modular component groups were introduced into his designs with the advent of the ES 75.
The stage was set for revolution. It came in 1983 when Horst Blaser stunned the world with his first bolt action hunting rifle, the SR-830. It was totally different from any bolt action ever produced before, a fresh and innovative design based on nothing that had preceded it, except Blaser’s own designs. It was a take-down system which offered barrel interchageability. It was a straight-pull rather than turnbolt design. Its breech lock-up system was unique. It offered the Blaser cocking system and it contained modular features. Quite frankly, to the non-European hunter, it also was damn ugly. Be that as it may, Ugly Betty captured the imagination of European hunters, and one in particular – Gerhard Blenk. Blenk is a passionate hunter and an outstanding businessman.
Blenk’s association with Blaser began when he acquired the rights to distribute the SR 830 into the USA. Blenk liked the Blaser so much that he eventually bought the company. The dynamic Blenk first built Blaser into Germany’s primary sporting rifle manufacturer and, secondly, ensured a constant stream of new designs, upgrades and improvements.

Insofar as African hunters are concerned, a watershed event occured in 1993 when Blaser introduced the R 93 straight-pull bolt action rifle. It eliminated the complaints against the R-83/84. Blenk sold the company to SIG, and it in turn sold it to entrepreneurs Michael Lüke und Thomas Ortmeier. In 2010 Blaser finally answered many of the R93 critics when it introduced the R 8 rifle. The Blaser R 8 provides for even more magazine capacity and can, for the first time, be had in serious African chamberings up to and including the mighty .500 Jeffery.

  • Chassis rather than receiver design.
  • Receiver upper includes bolt.
  • Interchangeable bolt heads.
  • Magazine housing accepts interchangeable cartridge inserts for variety of calibres.
  • Interchangeable barrels.
  • Riflescope mounts on barrel.
  • Locking lug consists of expansion system rather than fixed lugs.
  • Bolt head locks into barrel and not receiver.
  • Straight pull design.
  • Trigger not home adjustable.
  • Two-piece stock design (with exceptions).

Receiver: The R8 does not have a traditional receiver to which the magazine is screwed and into which the bolt is inserted. It sports a central chassis onto which a two-piece stock fits fore and aft; very much like the old Lee-Enfield, but that is where all similarities end. This chassis does not have the traditional ‘upper part’ of standard bolt action. In other words: It lacks a receiver ring and bridge, and it sits flush with the top of the forend of the stock. Even the bolt assembly slides into rails or slots in this chassis, almost like a car’s body is bolted to its chassis. It differs from the R93 in that the trigger group is not an integral part of the chassis. Without the trigger group, a cursory glance makes one think that the R8 has a traditional stock with a metal bedding surface.

Bolt: The R8 bolt differs from traditional designs in that it also contains what would normally be the receiver’s upper parts, such as the ring and bridge. There is no bolt shaft in the traditional sense. The R-8 bolt is not round but half-round, and it shows no ejection port. It does not have to be round, because this is a straight-pull design, not a traditional turn-bolt. Straight-pull designs are nothing new. Famous designs include the excellent Swiss Schmidt-Rubin M-96/11 service rifle first designed by Rudolf Schmidt in 1885.

Because the bolt head’s lugs lock directly into the rear of the barrel, and not into a receiver ring as on traditional designs, and because the entire bolt assembly moves backward when the bolt handle is pulled, it was possible to eliminate the ejection port. A quick glance at the accompanying picture will show how bolt assembly travel creates an ejection port. Depending on the bolt head, the hunter can also dictate the direction of case ejection.

From this ‘bolt assembly’ protrudes the bolt-handle and a stubby interchangeable bolt head, as well as the cocking slide or safety on the back of the unit. What I like very much about Blaser designs – and the safety in particular – is its ambidextrousness. The cocking piece can be operated with either hand with equal ease.

Interchangeable Bolt Heads: Different bolt heads are available in six different cartridge rim diameters and two colours, (silver and gold) all in left- and right-hand configurations. That means 24 bolt head options. The bolt head options are: MI (.222 rim sizes), ST (.30-06/9,3 x 62 rim sizes), ME (8 x 68mm rim sizes), MA (.375 H&H/Ruger rim sizes), UM (Remington Ultra Mag rim sizes), and then the unusual CH for the 10,3 x 60mm R Swiss cartridge.

These bolt heads can then be mixed and matched with barrels and magazines for different cartridges to the heart’s delight of the owner. The cartridge options are listed in the Specification Table at the end of the article.

R8 Trigger and Magazine Assembly: The R8 takes modularity to levels never before achieved with hunting rifle design.The R8 is a true mix-and-match design, but incorporating the trigger into a removable magazine housing has, to the best of my knowledge, never been done on a hunting rifle.

Apart from the fact that the excellent and crisp R8 trigger is built into the magazine, trigger lever is directly below the magazine, making the rifle much more compact than traditional designs where the trigger lever and mechanism sits behind the magazine. The R8 trigger actually is a three-part affair. The first unit, built into the magazine box consists of the trigger level and a little vertical pin. The latter is situated where the rear guard screw of traditional actions is found. This little pin press-engages the secondary vertical sear unit which reaches upward through the stock to the top of the chassis and engages the firing pin when the rifle is cocked.

Five magazine inserts are available for different cartridges, namely the Mini (MI), Standard (ST), Medium (ME), Magnum (MA) and the single shots CH for the 10,3 x 60mmR cartridge.

Interchangeable Barrels: The barrels can be switched in minutes by loosening the two Allen screws on the underside of the forend. Lift the barrel out, drop the new barrel in, switch to the appropriate bolt head. Tie everything down, select the right magazine drop-in, and off you go. Barrels are available in 36 calibers and can be had in fluted and round profiles and in several different weights.

Sights: The sights on all the Blaser rifles are in the same style. The R8’s front sight is a white plastic square, with the rear sight notch accordingly profiled.

Stocks: The Blaser R8 is available with wood and synthetic composition. The variations are just too much to list, but a basic classic style and ‘hogs back’ styles dominate the range at present.

The R8 is an improvement on its R93 predecessor and has turned Blaser into a dangerous-game-rifle contender. It is a well-made rifle, and a practical and flexible concept. Its metal finish is extremely durable and it is available with incredibly attractive wood. The stock styles may be too Teutonic for some tastes, and the absence of controlled feeding will take some convincing of old-school puritans, but so far they have performed very well in the game fields.

Mini MI
.222 Remington
.223 Remington
Standard ST
.22-250 Remington
.243 Winchester
6 x 62mm Frères
6,5 x 55mm Swedish
6,5 x 57mm Mauser
6,5 x 65mm RWS
.270 Winchester
7 x 64mm Brenneke
.308 Winchester
.30-06 Springfield
8 x 57mm JS Mauser
9,3 x 57mm Mauser
9,3 x 62mm Mauser
Medium ME
6,5 x 68mm
8 x 68mm S
7.5 x 55mm
8,5 x 63 (.338-06)
Magnum MA
.257 WbyMag
.270 WbyMag
.270 WSM
7mm Blaser Mag
7mm Rem Mag
.300 BlaserMag
.300 WSM
.300 Win Mag
.300 WbyMag
.338 BlaserMag
.338 Win Mag
.375 BlaserMag
.375 H&H Mag
.416 Rem Mag
.458 Win Mag
.458 Lott
.500 Jeffery

Brno

Officially founded in 1917, Zbrojovka Brno (‘Weapons Factory of Brno’) had played a small, but vital role in WWI. The Brno arsenal would soon make a name for Czech firearms which lasted the duration of the entire so-called First Republic (1918 – 1938).

From 1921, Brno manufactured Mauser rifles, since Germany was prevented from doing so by the Versailles Treaty, and concentrated on the vz-24 Czech Mauser for domestic and international markets. Československá Zbrojovka Brno’s trademark was the letter ‘Z’, inside a rifled bore.

Making Mauser rifles for international markets made Brno the best-known Czechoslovakian firearms company. During the period of communist control (1945 – 1988), the production of arms, ammunition, and related materials was controlled by a central state planning agency group. Since Brno had the greatest brand recognition outside Czechoslovakia, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Czechoslovak Proof Authority decided that all firearms exported would bear the Brno markings regardless of manufacturer.

Due to the political changes in the region since 1988, Brno eventually fell onto hard times and was liquidated in 2003. In 2004 a company, Eximat a.s. acquired the Brno assets and decided to save Zbrojovka Brno’s designs. Eximat is the majority shareholder in riflemaker Česká zbrojovka based in Uherský Brod (CZ-UB). Brno thus became a sister company of CZ-UB.

Česká Zbrojovka – Uherský Brod (CZ-UB)

Period One: 1936 – 1945: The year 1936 is considered the birth of CZ-UB as it was changed from a satellite plant of another company and incorporated as Česká Zbrojovka a.s Strakonice.

The Czechoslovakian cities in Bohemia were too close to Germany for strategic comfort. The Czech Defense Ministry therefore decided to move CZ from Strakonice to a strategically safer region, and Uherský was chosen. World War II interrupted the process.

Period Two: 1946 – 1950: After WW II, full nationalization and reorganization of the entire Czech arms industry followed the installation of a Soviet-backed communist regime. All production of arms, ammunition, and related materials was controlled by a central state planning agency consistent with Stalin’s collectivist production model, and over the next 46 years (1946 – 1992) CZ-UB was reorganized no less than six times to conform with the USSR economic plan.

Period Three: 1950 – 1958: During 1950 it was restructured and CZ-UB became an independent concern reporting to a central administrative unit.

Period Four: 1958 – 1965: In 1958 all Czechoslovak industries were reorganized. The most significant development was the decision to centralize handgun production at Uhersky Brod.

Period Five: 1965 – 1983: Things again changed in 1965. The manufacturing facility in Uhersky Brod became a member of the VHJ Zbrojovka Brno Narodni Podnik (Main Directorate). At this time the CZ rifles produced at Uhersky Brod were also marketed as Brnos even though CZ-UB and Brno were physically different manufacturing facilities.

Centralization of all small arms production at various plants (including CZ-UB) under the management of Zbrojovka Brno had a profound effect on the Czech arms industry. Česká zbrojovka (CZ-UB) had traditionally dominated the military market, while Brno dominated the European civilian market. Closer affiliation with Brno opened many doors for CZ-UB. This led to CZ-UB staff accompanying Zbrojovka Brno staff on several business trips to Western Europe in the late 1960s where they gained critical western experience applied to the development of the CZ 75 pistol.

Period Six: 1983 – 1988: During this period changes in economic policy resulted in the scrapping of the centralized collective trust management system. Under the new arrangement, VHJ Zbrojovka Brno Main Directorate was renamed Agrozet Koncern Zemedelskeho Strojirenstvi, Brno (Concern Enterprise for Agricultural Machinery, Brno), and CZ-UB became Agrozet Uherský Brod, Koncernovy Podnik (Agrozet Uherský Brod, Concern Enterprise).

Period Seven: 1988 – 1992: In 1988, as the communist system collapsed, CZ-UB regained some of its independence and became known as Česká zbrojovka, statni podnik, Uhersky Brod (Czech Weapons Factory, state enterprise, Uherský Brod). This period offered dramatic opportunities for marketing, export, and modernization, and CZ-UB emerged as the dominant arms manufacturer in the Czech Republic.

Current Period: 1992 to date: Since 1992, Česká zbrojovka (CZ-UB) has again become a fully independent joint-stock company. Growing sophistication in the marketing and promotion of its products, coupled with frustrations with earlier importers, led CZ-UB management to establish CZ-USA in 1991 as its importer and distributor in the United States. CZ-USA was originally located in Oakhurst, California, but moved to its current location in Kansas City, Kansas in 1998. From 1998 to present, the civilian market in North America has become the primary customer for CZ-UB products.

      The primary differences between the CZ rifles – originally marketed as the Brno ZKK series – and the modern CZ-550, revolve around the bolt sleeve. For the rest it essentially is the same rifle, the design of which can be summarized as follows:
  • The CZ receiver is a solid cast-steel unit machined to final dimensions.
  • The receiver is round-bottomed with an integral recoil lug.
  • Both the receiver ring and bridge have flat top surfaces equipped with scope-ring dovetails.
  • Its load and ejection port is very convenient, and large and perfect for dangerous-game hunting.
  • The bolt has two Mauser-style opposed locking lugs at the front of the CZ bolt shaft.
  • The ejector is a static bridge-mounted type in pre-1964 Winchester M-70 style.
  • It is a controlled feeding feature preferred on dangerous game rifles.
  • The extractor is external and similar to the Mauser M-89 type, but can close on chambered rounds. The CZ-550 Magnum rifles chambered for dangerous game cartridges do not close on chambered rounds.
  • The single trigger is adjustable and can be pushed forward to serve as a set trigger.
  • The safety catch is situated on the right-hand side of the receiver tang, next to the bolt sleeve.

Receiver: The CZ action contains both Mauser M-98 and Winchester M-70 features. It is a solid cast-steel unit machined to the final dimensions. The recoil lug is integral to the receiver bottom and large enough to prevent movement of the action in the stock under recoil. It is a sturdy design.

The receiver has a round bottom, which means that some hunters have certain reservations about it, but I believe it better than flat-bottom ones. It is also a bit lighter than its flat-bottomed counterparts. The CZ receiver is of double square-bridge shape as both the ring and bridge have flat tops. Longitudinal dovetails have been machined into the sides of these bridges, forming integral scope bases.

The left receiver wall between the ring and bridge is sturdy and solid. No Mauser M-98 style thumb-cut has been incorporated into the design. The extra metal makes the CZ receiver walls less flexible than that of the M-98 at this specific point. The ejection port is very convenient, large and open right down to the bottom of the right-hand locking lug raceway. This large ejection port is essential on any African dangerous game rifle.

Sturdy magazine-box guide lips form part of the magazine opening. These contribute to the overall sturdiness of the design and enhance the ability to make these feed reliably, and also makes it easy to modify the actions to accept wildcat chamberings.

The ejector extends more or less vertically from the receiver floor reminiscent of the pre-64 Winchester M-70 under-the-lug design, and has several advantages. It does not require a slot through the bolt’s left locking lug, which weakens it, nor does it require the same awkward operation to remove the bolt. The static bridge-mounted ejector forces a hunter to pull the bolt back completely before closing it. If he fails to do so, ejection does not occur. This is another important feature on an African dangerous-game rifle as it prevents short-stroking and the subsequent closing of a bolt on an empty chamber.

The bolt stop latch is situated on the left side of the receiver tang, just behind the rear face of the left receiver wall. When pushed forward it rotates the tip of the bolt stop out of the locking lug raceway, which dipping action allows bolt removal.

Bolt: Two typical Mauser-style opposed locking lugs adorn the front of the CZ bolt shaft. The ejector slot does not run through the left locking lug. The bolt-face rim is only partially recessed, similar to that of the Mauser M-98. This design provides the controlled feeding feature so sought-after on African dangerous-game rifles.

Breeching and lock-up of the CZ bolt is pure Mauser M-98 through means of the locking lugs which engage recesses in the receiver ring. No safety lug which locks in the bridge when the bolt sets back are incorporated in the CZ bolt shaft design. Some hunters will undoubtedly lament this from a safety point of view.  The ordinary hunter should never miss this lug as he does not reload.

The CZ bolt handle is a straight, low-profile one which ends in a pear-shaped bolt knob. The low profile is very convenient and enables the hunter to install telescopes quite low without any modifications.

The extractor is of the long and wide, external non-rotating Mauser M-89 claw-type, held in place by the traditional C-shaped collar. The extractor proper is prevented from slipping fore and aft by a lip which fits into a slot which virtually encircles the bolt head. The inside of the right locking-lug raceway is machined somewhat more generously than is the case with the Mauser M-98, which allows the extractor to be closed over the rim of a chambered cartridge of non-magnum models.

Trigger: The rifles come with a single set trigger. The set trigger is cocked by simply pushing the trigger bar forward until the audible click indicates the fact that cocking has taken place. When the trigger is not pushed forward, the trigger functions in exactly the same manner as a normal trigger.

Safety Catch: The two-position safety catch is situated on the right-hand side of the receiver tang, next to the bolt sleeve and just behind the bolt handle when the latter is in the closed position. The action is safe when the safety catch is pushed forward. Both the bolt handle and the firing pin are then locked.

Magazine: Some CZs come with detachable magazines. Mostly the CZ magazine box is made of thick sheetmetal pressed into a box form. The magazine is furnished with a vertical flute pressed into the sides of the magazine box just in front of the shoulder of a cartridge loaded into the magazine. The magazine follower is a highly polished casting with a steel rib on the one side, which rib accomplishes a staggered layout of cartridges in the magazine. The magazine follower is supported by a typical Mauser type W-shaped flat/ribbon spring of which the tips slide into slots on both the magazine follower and the floor plate.

Trigger Guard: The CZ trigger guard is a solid piece of steel fitted with a hinged floorplate. It is a very sturdy and good-looking system. The magazine latch is of the plunger type and situated in front of the trigger guard where the bow meets the flat level section.

Barrels: CZ barrels are hammer forged Poldi-Electro barrel steel and have a round profile with a convex sporting contour. An interesting feature is the forend screw which threads through the bottom of the stock into the underside of the rear sight base. This is not common to most modern rifles, but seems to reduce barrel whip considerably.

Sights: The CZ front sight ramp is fairly elegant. The sides are scalloped to reduce weight and to serve as catches for the sight hood. The sight fits into a long slot on top of the ramp and is held in position by a vertical plunger, but cannot be laterally adjusted for windage. CZ rifles come with a really large front sight hood.

The CZ rear sight is absolutely fantastic and fits into a base machined integral to the barrel contour. It fits into a dovetail machined perpendicular to the barrel axis and can be drifted sideways for windage adjustments by tapping it in the desired direction.

Stocks: Most CZ stocks sport the hogsback butt disliked outside Europe. A classics version is available, but hardly ever on offer outside the USA.

Summary: The CZ design is impressive albeit somewhat roughly executed. The action is very safe and serviceable and its features put the CZ in a class of its own as an African dangerous-game rifle. CZ sights are very practical and convenient and better than most found on competitive designs. All in all, CZ rifles most probably rate amongst the best African working rifles available on the market, especially if their prices are considered.

Model: 550 Barrel Length (mm) Magazine Capacity Weight (kg) Variants
.243 Win 520mm 5 3,3 L
6,5 x 55 520mm 5 3,3 L
.308 Win 520 / 600 / 650 5 3,3 / 3,4 / 3,9 / 4,2 L / S / Fs / Am/ P / V
.270 Win 520mm 5 3,3 L
7 x 64mm Bren 520 / 600 3 3,3 / 3,9 L / S / P
7mm Rem Mag 600mm 5 3,3 ML
.30-06 Spfld 520mm 5 3,3 / 3,4 / 3,9 L / S / Fs / Am / P
.300 Win Mag 600mm 3 3,3 / 3,95 ML / Fs / H
8 x 57mm Mau 520mm 5 3,3 / 3,4 L / Fs
9,3 x 62mm Mau 520 / 600 3 3,3 / 3,4 ML / Fs /Am
Model: 550 Magnum Barrel Length (mm) Magazine Capacity Weight (kg) Variants
.375 H&H 635 5 4,2 L/S
.416 Rigby 635 3 4,2 L/S
.458 Win Mag 635 4 4,2 L/S

Heym Expres
The firm Friedrich Wilhelm Heym Gmbh & Co was established by Friedrich Wilhelm Heym in the German city of Suhl during 1865. Suhl is situated in the mountainous East German province of Thuringe, which used to be the heart of the German rifle making industry until the end of the Second World War.

Friedrich Heym became famous during 1891 after he had patented the first hammerless drilling on 24 May 1891 under patent 60215. Adolph Heym, the founder’s son, took the firm over in 1912 and managed it through the First World War. Adolph Heym was turn succeeded by his son, August Heym, during 1920. The latter had been responsible for achieving the excellent international reputation the firm. This he achieved by using the famous Anson & Deeley as basis for Heym multi-barrel firearms.

The end of the Second World War was a crisis in the history of the firm. Suhl ended up in communist hands and the Heyms wisely decided to move to West Germany. To Ostheim in the Rhön region of Unterfranken (Lower Franconia). Manufacturing of rifles had been prohibited by the Allies. August and his son Rolf was forced to manufacture airguns, clocks, computing rulers and various other products in order to survive. Survive they did and prospered as well. In 1952 the Heyms took the plunge and established a new rifle manufacturing works by relocating to Münnerstadt when the Allieds lifted the gun manufacturing ban.

In 1963 Rolf Heym assumed control of the company and commenced the development of new products in an attempt to capture new markets. He realized that Heym had to enter the market of the average man and decided to introduce a bolt action rifle. Heym’s first modern bolt action rifle, the SR-10 saw first light as a result of this new approach. The SR-10 was marketed during the 1960’s as the Mauser M-3000. The unexpected death of Rolf Heym in 1972 was a tremendous set-back for the company which forced his wife, Elisabeth Heym-Dschulnigg to assume the company’s reigns.

During the closing stages of 1989 Heym took one of the most significant steps in history, insofar as the African dangerous game hunter is concerned. It introduced the Heym Express rifle. A rifle which offers controlled feeding, claw extraction and ejection at the rear of the bolt’s stroke. Unfortunately it did not seem to have changed the company’s woes. The Heym family lost control when a Jürgen Nierich purchased it in 1992 and erected a modern plant in Gleichamberg, Thuringia in 1995. He in turn sold it to Thomas Wolkmann in February 1998. In October, 2002 the company and adopted its current name, Heym AG in 2007. The Heym Express has been replaced by by the Heym Exress Light.

  • Double square bridge receiver with flat bottom.
  • Flat receiver sides.
  • Large loading/ejection port suitable for dangerous game hunting.
  • Magnum length action suitable for .460 Wby Magnum and .505 Gibbs size cartridges.
  • Bolt stop on left receiver wall and functions vertically.
  • Solid magazine block with cartridge movement control features.
  • Dual opposed front locking lugs.
  • Mauser style external extractor.
  • Ejector recessed in bolt face.
  • Three position horizontally functioning side-swing safety.
  • Adjustable trigger.

The Receiver: The Heym Express receiver looks somewhat like a cross between a double square bridge Mauser and a Ruger M-77. Both the receiver ring and bridge sport flat tops in typical double square bridge style, but are drilled and tapped for telescope mounting.
Heym has opted for flat rather than rounded sides, but machined elegant slants into the areas protruding above the stock line which belies the actual size of the system once recessed into a stock. The ejector port is nice and large as on the traditional Mauser. It makes it easy to top the magazine up. The Heym receiver’s bottom is flat from the very front right up to the rear main screw hole. The only interruptions being a very sturdy integral recoil lug situated in the center of the ring and an integral bushing surrounding the tang hole. All the above features makes Heym’s Express action one of the sturdiest and rigid hunting rifle actions.
The Express was clearly designed from the outset as a ‘magnum action’. At only 10mm (0.393″) longer than the standard Mauser M-98 it is shorter than the Magnum Mauser action, but still capable of accommodating massive cartridges such as the .500 A-Square, the .460 Weatherby Magnum and the .416 and .450 Rigby cartridges.
The bolt stop latch is situated in the traditional place on the outer left bridge wall. It looks like a light switch and functions vertically, not horizontally as is the case with most other designs. It is much more convenient to use than the Mauser M-98’s or even the Winchester M-70’s.

The Magazine: The Heym Express has four extremely interesting features. The first is the magazine. It is a block of steel that extends from the tang to the tip of the receiver and even encloses the trigger unit. It is impossible to warp or stress the receiver by uneven tightening of the main screws. The Express magazine will withstand the most severe battering even the most powerful cartridge can dish out for centuries and more. The second feature of interest is a 1934 Mauser concept, which I have never actually seen on a Mauser. Vertical slots are machined into the back wall of the magazine box.  The extractor groove of the cartridge case is slipped over these rails when the magazine is loaded and they then hold the cartridges in position by the bolt. No amount of recoil can cause the cartridges to slip forward. Another advantage is that it prevents cartridges from dipping to some extent as W-ribbon (flat) springs are prone to. The entire magazine of the Express is superbly designed for fast and reliable feeding. The magazine release is of the inside the trigger bow type.

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Bolt: Bolt design deviates from the Mauser M-98 design in two important respects. The left locking lug is not slotted to allow passage of an ejector and it has a novel ejector system. A plunger style ejector pin has been recessed into the bolt face. This would have seriously detracted from the design and its controlled feed capability, had it not been for the fact that it does not operate on the plunger principle. It merely is a kind of reverse plunger which lies inside the bolt, but when the bolt is pulled to the rear of its cycle a pre-’64 Winchester M-70 style static ejector blade pops into a slot in the bottom of the bolt shaft and punches the ejector forward, ejecting the case in a manner quite reminiscent of the Winchester under-the-lug system. The main difference between the Heym and Winchester systems is that the ejector slot does not stretch into the bolt face, but stops behing the extractor’s bolt head groove.

Firing Pin Assembly: The firing pin assembly is unusual in that it is a two-piece design. The striker is a small component that looks like a screw or nail which floats inside the bolt head within a small and fairly weak coil spring that only provides sufficient force to prevent the tip from protruding through the hole in the bolt face, but not enough to inhibit its forward movement when the sear releases.

Behind the striker lies the firing pin rod. The rod engages the cocking piece through means of a slot and tongue system. It is easier to dismantle than the threads used on most modern competitors and less complicated to machine than the lugged Mauser system. The rest of the assembly consists of a sleeve and the traditional firing pin spring. The sleeve fits between the spring and the bolt sleeve over the firing pin rod. I have been unable to figure the rationale for this complicated system out and I don’t like the floating striker.

Safety Catch: The three-position Express safety catch is a bolt sleeve mounted side-swing type. It engages the firing pin assembly directly. Effectively it is a Winchester M-70 type safety catch. The safety lever is large and positive and stops in two extremely graceful recesses on the fore and aft positions.

Trigger: The trigger is the tried and tested Timney two lever trigger we all retrofit to our hunting rifles. It is adjustable for creep, weight and overtravel. The trigger can be adjusted once the stock has been removed.

Barrel: Heym Express barrels are 610mm (24.0″) long. It is about as short as barrels for the large calibres for which the Express had been designed can be.

Sights: The rear sights are situated on a very elegant EAW style saddle with hollow ramp contours.  It is a three blade system of which two leaves fold down into the sight base completely in typical English style. These two leaves are calibrated for 100 and 200m (110 and 220 yards) respectively. The other leaf is a fixed standing leaf calibrated for 50m (55 yards).  The front sight of the Heym Express was rather novel upon introduction and altogether impressive, if not the best in the world. The front sight bead looks almost like a miniature screw for a stock swivel. The bead is placed on the top of the screw. This screw fits into a vertical hole in the top of the front sight ramp. Elevation is determined by the depth to which it is threaded into the hole.

Stock: The Express stock forend is very much traditional British express rifle, but the butt (no pun intended) is American classic. The recoil pad is a solid red “Old English” style pad about 25mm (1.0″) thick on the well known black synthetic spacer. The cheeckpiece is pure American classic teardrop style and not the small egg shaped unit used on many older English or European rifles.

The grip has a long radius, but the curve is more constant than on British rifles and will counter the tendency to knock the fingers against the trigger guard under recoil caused by poor stock design on some rifles.The tapering forend is all British and it ends in a contrasting ebony forend tip. Two cross bolts are fitted to counter stock splitting. One behind the recoil lug and one behind the rear main screw.

Summary: The Heym Express is a fascinating rifle. The innovations such as the front sight, the various magazine features, the ejector system and a few other odds and ends indicate that a lot of original thought had gone into the design.

The rifle is made from quality materials and because they are made on special order, the workmanship is custom quality. Every rifle is also made cartridge specific and it can for all practical purposes be considered a custom rifle. Hence the price of the firearm hovers around R 60,000.

Accuracy of the rifles is similar to accuracy from all my other custom big bores, that means in the region of 1 – 1½ MOA with me as the shooter. Better bench shooters than me will undoubtedly fare better than I do, because I am just an average shooter.

The Heym stock design controls recoil well. I have never seen a Heym Express with particularly fancy wood and that to some extent detracts from the rifle in my view. I was recently been informed that Heym has decided to redesign the Express to be more mass production friendly. I have not seen one of the redesigned Heym’s yet, but I sincerely hope that we do not end up with the same situation we did when Winchester redesigned its M-70 in 1964.

The Heym Express is available in two versions; the Heym Express, which is effectively chambered for large bore cartridges as well as the .338 Lapua and the .378 Weatherby Magnum and the Express Light. The Heym Express is the only bolt action rifle in the world I am aware of chambered for the might .577 NE and .600 NE rimmed cartridges originally developed for use in double rifles.

The Express Light is essentially chambered for transition bore cartridges from .338 to .375, but it is also available in three medium bore chamberings, the .300 Winchester and .300 Remington Ultra Magnums and the 8 x 68S and a few of the shorter larger bores. These include the .404 Jeffery, .416 Remington Magnum, the .458 Winchester Magnum and the .458 Lott.

Mauser M03

The Mauser company has a long and troubled history that begins with the Konigliche Württembergische Waffenfabrik, or Germany’s Royal Arms Works. Konigliche Württembergische Waffenfabrik had relocated from Ludwigsburg to Oberndorf in 1811. Oberndorf was the home of Peter Paul Mauser, the man destined to perfect the bolt action rifle.

Upon his return to Oberndorf from the military arsenal in Ludwigsburg in 1859 where he had been stationed, Peter Mauser and his brother Wilhelm began working on breechloader improvements and introduced their first such design in 1871. It was accepted as the German military service rifle. The brothers Mauser then established the company Gebrüder Wilhelm und Paul Mauser on 23 December 1872 to continue their development.

The Konigliche Württembergische Waffenfabrik was not doing well at the time. The Mausers offered to buy it for ±100,000 Guilders, but the offer was rejected. Soon after however the Württemberg Military Administration approached the Mausers to manufacture a 100,000 Mauser M-71 rifles, but subject thereto that the Mausers then had to purchase the Konigliche Württembergische Waffenfabrik. They did so and acquired the company for 200,000 Guilders on 27 October 1873. To handle the new joint structure they incorporated Gebrüder Mauser & Cie on 5 February 1874. The new situation proved a handful and banks such as the Vereinsbank and the Deutsche Unionsbank acquired shareholding to keep the company afloat. Staff were laid off.

Things slowly began improving when the states Bavaria and Württemberg placed orders late in 1879. In 1881 the Serb government also placed an order for 120,000 rifles, but the order came at a cost. Wilhelm passed away on 13 January 1882. Paul Mauser overextended on infrastructure development to meet the orders and the company again landed in trouble. The Württembergische Vereinsbank stepped in and on 1 April 1884 it changed the company to a joint-stock limited partnership concern named Waffenfabrik Mauser with Paul Mauser holding just 334 of its 2,000 shares.

In 1887 Mauser landed the Turkish contract for 500,000 M-87 rifles and 50,000 carbines in 9,5mm calibre – the biggest ever for Mauser until then, but again there was a snag. It had to divulge all new patents to Turkey and if required – incorporate it into the design. He was also restrained from taking on other orders during the contract period. Making 500 rifles per day required expansion but the bank declined to assist. The company Ludwig Loewe took the entire shareholding over and Paul Mauser lost his entire shareholding in the process.

Orders began streaming in, but because Mauser could not fulfil them due to its Turkish commitments, these rifles were built by Ludwig Loewe & Co. These orders included Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Equador, Mexico, Orange Free State, Peru, Serbia and our very own ZAR.

The company’s great breakthrough came after Mauser demonstrated his latest design on 1 September 1897. After months of testing it was adopted as the new German service rifle under the designation Gewehr 98. We know it as the great K-98 or Mauser Model 98. The company boomed. Two years after Paul Mauser passed away from an embolism on 29 May 1914, the company provided work to 7,000 employees.

By the end of the First World War though, the Treaty of Versailles forced cutbacks and staff was reduced to 1,500. Only one weapons plant was permitted to operate and it turned out to be Simson Co, Suhl – not Mauser. In fact Mauser had to transfer 1,500 of its machines to Brno in what presently is the Czech Republic plus another 800 to Yugoslavia. Things were so bad that the decision was made to close the factory, but a Worker and Employee Committee refused to accept the severance. They submitted a report to the regional labour department which saved the company. The Inter-Allied Military Control Commission accepted the resurrection of the Mauser Sporting Arms Department. Mauser commenced production of measuring tools, cars and sewing machines. To reflect production of non-military equipment the name was changed to Mauser-Werke Aktien Geselschaft.

Things gradually came under control and in 1930 Mauser acquired control of DWM. Demand exceeded supply and Mauser entered into a further agreement with the Industrie-Werke, Karlruhe of Augsburg in an attempt to keep up. Germany re-introduced compulsory military service in 1935 and to equip the military it adopted the Mauser Karabiner 98k – which was also exported to China, Japan and Portugal in numbers. Mauser was on top again.

Then came World War II and six years later, on 20 April 1945 the French marched into Oberndorf and took control of the plant. On 1 May the French ordered production to re-commence. This was short-lived and production was terminated during June 1946. The company was dissolved in 1947 and destruction of the plant commenced in July that year. Time heals many an injury. The company was eventually revived and on 11 January 1954 the new Board of Directors took control. The company again started making measuring tools and merged with Industrie-Werke Karlsruhe, but a subsidiary known as Mauser-Werke AG Oberndorf am Neckar was soon permitted to revert to small arms production.

In 1965 Mauser introduced the telescopic bolt switch-barrel rifle, the Model 66. The M-66 was not a logical evolution from the M-98; it was a radical departure. Its purpose had been to offer a single system which could meet most of a hunter’s requirements and needs. To this extent the M-66 was a forerunner of the current M03. Mauser however remained a troubled company. It became part of the Diehl group and was then sold off to Rheinmetall in 1995. Currently Mauser forms part of the mighty Blaser group.

  • The reader must expel all aspects of the traditional rifle design from his mind when he tries to comprehend the Mauser M03 design. The M03 effectively is a mix-and-match design so different from other rifles that a short explanation is required before we proceed discussing it.

    Imagine the following concept. You buy a stock, and within certain limits you are then free to pick different magazines, different calibre barrels and different bolt face fittings (bolt heads) and mix-and match these to become the rifle you need for the day’s task at hand. You have four basic bolt head sizes to chose from the MI (mini) for small cartridges in the .223 Remington bolt head category, the ST (standard) for standard cartridges sharing the .30-06 diameter case rims, the MA (magnum) for .375 H&H belted type cases and the MX (maximum) for large diameter cartridges based on the .404 Jeffery case.

    Having selected a bolt head and fitted it to the bolt, the hunter then selects his barrel. The choice is wide but not unlimited. If you selected an ST bolt head you can pick between barrels chambered for the .22-250 Rem, .243 Win, .308 Win, 6,5x55mm, 6,5x57mm, .270 Win, 7x64mm, .30-06, 8x57mm, .338-06 (8,5x63mm) and the 9,3x62mm. Once the barrel is selected you simply select one of the five magazine types (A-E), drop it into the magazine well in the stock and Bob (not the one from Zim) is your uncle. You may have been hunting with the .243 in the morning. Come the afternoon you want something different for big game at long range, you simply switch the necessary components and you walk off with a .300 Weatherby Magnum.

    I have not come across a single person who, upon first acquaintance with the Mauser M03 system (and the effectively identical Blaser R-93 and R8 systems), did not express reservations about the accuracy potential of these mix-and-match take-down designs. It is a valid question. Truth be told, I have not come across any actual user of these systems who complained about accuracy. It effectively is a free-floating system which eliminates accuracy killing elements such as non-concentricity, receiver flex, stock warping and the like. I have used some pretty accurate and some pretty inaccurate traditional designs in my time. I have also not yet come across an inaccurate Mauser M03 or Blaser and I assume it is because so many of the accuracy affecting variables have been removed from the basic concept. It can also be because I have not used enough of them or them enough, but somehow I doubt it. It is also a fact that neither the Mauser M03 nor the Blaser R-93/R-8 hold any world accuracy records, but that most likely is because nobody has tried to use them to set any. In accuracy summation I have to conclude that the M03 is as accurate as any other rifle I have used, if not inherently more so, but with the same preferences for certain cartridges and bullets over others as all ‘normal’ rifles.

    Well, enough about the Mauser history and the generalities of the stars wars M03 design. Next month we will delve into the specific nitty-gritty’s of the Mauser M03’s various components.

The Receiver – The M03 receiver chassis is imbedded in the stock al-la the Blaser R-93. Although it has a receiver ring and bridge, their purposes are merely to provide a cosmetic similarity to traditional rifle designs and offer place for telescope installation. The spine of the system is the stock-imbedded metal underpart.

A single telescope mounting socket is machined into the square bridged receiver ring and bridge respectively. The bridge type telescope base unit which fit into these sockets is fitted with a 3-lug rotor catch, operated by throw levers, at each end. The lugs are slotted into the sockets and the throw levers are then pushed forward. The movement rotates the catches into the locked position. It is a very fast and effective system which offers 100% return to zero. Its main drawback though is that the scope has to be removed every time you want to change the barrel.

Despite the exchangeable barrels fitting into the receiver, it is not the receiver which holds the barrel in place, but the chassis and it is actually held in place by two captive Torx head screws which thread through the stock and its forend based metal chassis into studs on the bottom of the barrel.

The M03 can accommodate cartridges from as short as the .223 Remington (54mm) to as long as the 91,44mm of the .375 H&H Magnum and anything in between.

On traditional right handed bolt actions the receiver has a connecting wall on the left side between the receiver ring and bridge, while the right side is open to facilitate loading and ejection. In the Mauser M-98 and the Winchester M-70 this wall also contains the raceway for the left locking lug. The M03 contains no such wall. It does not make the M03 flex-prone. Remember that the locking lugs of the M03 lock directly into recesses in the breech of the barrel so all stresses are contained in the barrel with no stresses transferred to the receiver.

The receiver chassis imbedded in the forend also contains a lip which fits into a recess in the underside of the barrel to serve as an additional recoil lug. Not only is the recoil lug system inverted from traditional designs, but the compression strains generated by cartridge thrust against the bolt face and breech lugs are absorbed by the barrel and not the receiver.

The Bolt Assembly – The locking lugs on the M03 bolt head lock directly into recesses in the rear of the barrel.

The M03 bolt shaft is unusual. It is just a tube with four flat outer sides. Its only purpose is to serve as body for the bolt head-, bolt handle-, bolt sleeve- and striker assemblies. The bolt head is removable such as on the Lee-Enfield and it sports recessed locking lugs a-la the Weatherby Mk.V; six of them in three banks of two each. Interchangeable bolt heads for four different case head sizes are currently available on the M03.

The main benefit of the three sets of locking lugs is that it reduces wobbling of the bolt face under the immense back thrust generated during the firing of a cartridge to which dual lug systems are so prone. Any reduction in bolt wobble under back thrust represents an equal improvement in potential accuracy. The second advantage is that bolt lift is reduced to about 55° as opposed to the 90° required on traditional dual opposed lug designs.

The bolt is removed by depressing the bolt stop on the left receiver wall down, simultaneously pulling the bolt from the receiver. Very traditional, but the bolt stop catch sits flat in the wall without any protrusions.

The typical modern German cocking/de-cocking system as found on Krieghoff and Blaser rifles and doubles, rather than the traditional safety catch system of traditional rifles, had been adopted for the Mauser M03.

On traditional rifles operating the bolt cocks the rifle and compresses the firing pin spring. Although the firing pin does not touch the primer of the chambered cartridge, the safety has to be applied to mechanically prevent the firing pin from slamming forward when the trigger is pulled. Many hunters have adopted the hazardous habit of not using the safety on traditional rifles, but to pull the trigger while closing the bolt – thereby relaxing the firing pin spring. They forget that the firing pin then rests against the primer and that even a slight jar can bounce the firing pin and discharge the rifle. Others only partially close the bolt. I have often seen the bolt slip shut and the oblivious hunter ducking and diving through brush with a cocked and loaded rifle and a muzzle waving in all directions.

The German cocking system as used on the M03 is safer than traditional safety catch systems, but takes getting used to. It not only relaxes the firing pin, but it also eliminates contact between the firing pin and the primer of a chambered cartridge.

The heart of the M03 cocking system are the cocking lever tail which swings horizontally between the safe (S) and fire (F) positions, as well as the de-cocking button situated just below it and which protrudes from the rear end of the bolt shaft. It is very conveniently positioned for both right- and lefthanders and another reason why the M03 is available in both configurations at no extra cost. In fact a family like mine can have both configurations on a single rifle by simply switching bolts and then only the stock has to be ‘neutralized’. To cock the rifle you simply thumb the lever towards the ‘R’ and the direction is determined by the right or left handed configuration of the bolt used. To de-cock you press the button below the cocking lever and allow the lever to flip to the ‘S’ position. There is a trick; upon first closing the bolt, it will not allow you cock it. You have to cycle the bolt once before it becomes functional.

The M03 is equipped with the typical modern cat-nail extractor recessed in the bolt face and a plunger style ejector. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this for plains game hunting and many modern designs, the M03 being one of them, feeds and ejects as reliably as the more traditional dangerous game designs; if not more so. These modern designs are more prone to double feeding and jamming as controlled feed designs, but that is operator induced rather than a rifle design problem as I explained in the book African Dangerous Game Cartridges. Fact is – the nervous dangerous game hunter is better off with a controlled feed system than with an uncontrolled feed system.

I have nothing against non-rotating extractors, but I do distrust plunger ejectors. Dirt and grime affects their reliability and they cause the cases to constantly scrape against chamber and breach area walls.

Trigger – Two trigger types are available on M03 rifle. The set trigger version available on special order, is activated by pushing the trigger lever forward, but comes with a caution; if the set is engaged too vigorously it can trigger a shot unintentionally.

The standard, or direct trigger version is the more common type and conveniently profiled and contoured. The triggers remain in the stock when the rifle is dismantled. Accessing the trigger for maintenance or adjustment is a real issue. You need to remove the recoil pad and the retaining rod in the butt as well as the chassis before the trigger can be accessed.

The Magazine – The M03 magazine is a removable sheet metal unit with a synthetic follower (platform) which retains the cartridges in a traditional staggered column format. Five standard head sized and four magnum calibre fit into a magazine, while three is the norm for .404 Jeffery based cartridges.

The magazine can be locked in place by means of an override feature for those who do not like detachable magazines. The magazines can be filled in or out of the rifle.

The magazine release button is situated in front of the magazine box and you depress it with your index finger to drop the magazine box in the palm of your hand. It is far superior to traditional latch designs.

The magazines are long enough to accept .375 H&H Mag length cartridges. For shorter cartridges a synthetic spacer is placed in the rear of the magazine to keep short cartridges in position.

Barrels – A variety of round and fluted barrels are available from as short as 470mm (18.5”) to 600mm (23.5”) in 25 chamberings. With exceptions barrel increments generally are 20mm (0.8”).

Sights – Iron sights, even on dangerous game rifles, are becoming increasingly less common, especially amongst my generation with gradually failing eyesight. The M03’s iron sights are functional without being impressive.

The sight ramps are very elegant. The front sight is a non-adjustable round brass bead, while the rear sight sports a round notch on a flat-topped pyramid style blade. The blade obscures the minimum target area due to its sloped sides and is quite functional. A bright, blaze orange 3-dot system is also available and most likely the better option as it is incapable of an off-centre reflection as round brass beads are prone to do with sunlight coming in at an angle. On the Africa models a wide V rear sights blade is standard.

Stock – The M03 is available in walnut and synthetic material in about 14 different stock styles and counting. This aspect of the M03 actually requires an article all on its own. Butts can be had in straight combed classic and the European hog’s back styles. The grips are offered in modern classic or the curved German style, while forend options are classic, schnabel (beak) and a very elegant fullstock. Both walnut and synthetic versions are also available with a beautifully and practical adjustable comb as on target rifles.

Conclusion – As modern switch barrel rifles come, the M03 should find favour with most hunters. It is a growing concept traditionalists must come to grips with – even if not prepared to acquire.

Naturally free floating switch barrel systems do not have the tight forend to metal fit we see on custom rifles. I still have to overcome that prejudice, but this is a factory rifle and it is a well-made and mated firearm so judged. It is convenient to use and with the ammunition used it was as accurate as any traditional fixed barrel rifle I have fired.

German rifles tend to have overly complicated triggers from an African perspective and the M03 is no exception.

MAUSER M03 OPTIONS
Case Groups Cartridge Mag Group Mag Capacity
Mini (MI) .222 Remington A 5
.223 Remington A 5
Standard (ST) .243 Winchester B 5
.308 Winchester B 5
.25-06 Remington C 5
6,5x55mm Swedish C 5
6,5x57mm Mauser C 5
6,5x65mm RWS C 5
.270 Winchester C 5
7x64mm Brenneke C 5
.30-06 Springfield C 5
8x57mm JS C 5
8,5x63mm (.338-06) C 5
9,3x62mm Mauser C 5
Magnum (MA) .270 WSM D 3
.300 WSM D 3
7mm Rem Mag E 4
.300 Win Mag E 4
.300 Wby Mag E 4
8x68mm S E 4
.375 H&H Mag E 4
.416 Rem Mag E 4
.458 Lott E 4
Magnum X (MX) .404 Jeffery E 3

Roy Edward

Roy Edward Weatherby (1910 – 1988) was born in Salina, Kansas. Upon completing high school Weatherby joined the Bell telephone company. In 1937 he went to Topeka, California where he sold insurance.

Weatherby experimented with cartridges. His first wildcat was the.220 Weatherby Rocket intended to improve the .220 Swift. Disappointment with the results switched his attention to the .270 calibre. Weatherby owned a .270 PMVF, the PMVF case sported a concave, single-radius venturi shoulder designed by Ralph Miller around 1940. Weatherby liked it, but wanted Miller to incorporate a second convex radius to the shoulder design. When Miller refused, Weatherby went his own direction and created a double radius shoulder style case for the .270 using a blown-out .300 H&H case. He launched the .270 Weatherby Magnum in 1943. It carried the trademark double radius shoulder and followed that up with several other calibres during 1944 – 1945.

He soon began building custom rifles for his wildcats on a part time basis. Initially Weatherby built his rifles on a variety of actions with Weatherby chamberings being the only common factor. Demand soon exceeded supply and within a few months Weatherby was compelled to attend to this new enterprise on a full time basis.

In 1949 he incorporated the business as a company and entered into an agreement with Fabrique Nationale of Belgium to supply him with commercial Mauser actions adorned with the Weatherby logo. A year later (1950) Weatherby and his stockmaker, Leonard Mews designed the distinctive Weatherby stock in the extravagant Californian style that remains one of Weatherby’s trademarks to this day.

Despite all the success Weatherby was still not satisfied. He was not happy with the Mauser actions and wanted to use the best and strongest actions possible on his rifles. From 1956 to 1958 Weatherby and his engineer, Fred Jennie, developed the action which eventually became the Mark V action – still used by the company on its flagship rifles. The action designation was derived from the fact that the fifth prototype eventually satisfied Weatherby and became the production model.

Roy’s son, Ed, took the leadership of the company over in 1983.

  • Action tested to over 110,000 psi (758 MPa) and claimed as strongest action on the market.
  • The round Mk V receiver is a solid one-piece nickel-chrome-molybdenum steel forging.
  • An inverted L shaped recoil lug is welded to the underside of the receiver ring.
  • Receiver ring and bridge are drilled and tapped for scope mounting.
  • Receiver ring has nine locking lug recesses into which the bolt’s locking lugs engage.
  • Loading/ejection port is large and convenient for dangerous game use.
  • No locking lug raceways in receiver due to recessed lug design.
  • The bolt is a solid forging machined to final dimensions.
  • Fat, fluted bolt shaft design with diameter 0.144”/3,67mm larger than the Mauser’s.
  • Nine locking lugs at the front of the bolt shaft in three rows of three banks.
  • Bolt lift only 54°.
  • Countersunk bolt face with fully enclosing rim bar extractor cut.
  • Push feed design.
  • Recessed extractor and bolt face positioned plunger ejector.
  • Fully enclosing bolt sleeve and excellent gas control.
  • Vertical safety on right side of bolt shroud.

Receiver: The Weatherby Mk V receiver is a solid one-piece nickel-chrome-molybdenum steel forging. An inverted L shaped recoil lug forms an integral part of the underside of the receiver ring and provides a flat bedding area under the ring. The rest of the action’s underside is round.

The top of the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounting and the inside of the receiver ring has nine locking lug shoulders into which the bolt’s locking lugs engage. The front locking lug lay-out remains way superior to rear locking lug systems as found on some European rifle designs, as it eliminates bolt compression, bolt flex and case stretching.The receiver bridge is round with a very elegant and slightly flattened upper profile. The left receiver wall is fairly thick since the recessed locking lug system requires no locking lug raceways. This strong receiver wall contributes to the overall sturdiness and rigidity of the Mk V design.The ejection port of the action is nice and large. This permits fast reloading and clearance of stoppages. In this regard the Mark V action is as good as any and better than many.As with most modern designs the Mark V receiver has a notch in the tang into which the bolt handle drops. This serves as a safety lug, which is probably superfluous given the fact that the Mk V action withstood much more bolt thrust than the reliable Mauser M-98 during testing.

Magazine: The magazine and trigger guard assembly of Mark V rifles are made of a ligthweight alloy. The magazine box is a separate, but strong sheet metal affair with integral shoulders which prevent cartridges from moving to and fro under recoil. On the powerful Weatherby chamberings it is a very important feature. It is a tremendous pity that more manufacturers do not incorporate magazine shoulders in their designs, especially on rifles chambered for African big game. The magazine spring is the common W shaped ribbon spring. The magazine latch of some Mark V’s is situated in the front outside of the trigger guard.

The floorplate of the Mark V magazine is of the common swing open type which does not protrude below the stock line. The solid one piece trigger guard is sturdy and has a very elegant shape. The trigger guard is held in place by the traditional front and rear main stock screws which are much better than the three screw lay-out found on Winchester M-70 and the Kimber M-89 rifles.

Bolt:  The Mark V’s bolt was most revolutionary upon introduction and is a so-called ‘thick bolt shaft’ type. It means that the bolt diameter is larger than that of traditional designs. The Mauser M-98’s bolt shaft diameter measures 0.695” (17,65 mm) whereas the Weatherby bolt shaft diameter is 0.839” (21,32 mm). The Weatherby’s are recessed below the bolt shaft diameter. The Weatherby system has been copied by numerous manufacturers such as Browning, Voere and Sauer as testimony to its effectiveness. It also means that the Mk V is excellently suited to large head diameter cartridges.

It is a fascinating concept, but the width of the lugs reduces the available camming forces a bit. That only becomes a consideration when cases are stuck and that just does not readily happen in an Mk V due to its ability to handle immense pressures and contain case deformation. Another criticism is that not all the locking lugs actually bear evenly against the locking lug shoulders, which effectively reduces actual bearing area of the multiple locking lug design. Well, that is true for two-lug systems as well and that is why even Mauser actions are trued or blue-printed for accuracy. Fact is, that if one Mauser lug does not bear evenly it exerts a great effect, but an Mk V offers eight other lugs to counter the problem. This occurrence is also not nearly as prevalent on modern day CNC machined actions as it used to be on actions made in the past and modern steels also eliminate the need for warping heat treatment required with old actions.

A further revolutionary aspect introduced with the Mark V bolt shaft is the longitudinal slots machined into the outer surface. It does not only serve as decoration, but during cycling of the bolt, any grit and dirt on the shaft face accumulate in these slots. This feature of the Mk V action has been copied by all and sundry.

The Weatherby Mark V bolt shaft and handle is a solid chrome-molybdenum forging machined to final shape. The fact that the bolt handle is an integral part of the bolt shaft is an important consideration. It not only serves to improve the value of the bolt handle as a safety lug, but ensures that you do not end up with a bolt handle in one hand and a rifle in the other at a critical moment.

The Mk V bolt throw is a mere 54°. The low angle reduces cycling time and makes the action extremely riflescope compatible. The low bolt throw offsets some of the time lost in cycling the long Weatherby cartridges. This might not be a consideration when plains hunting or when hunting normal big game, but when hunting dangerous game it is.

The bolt can be closed on a chambered round. The encircling bolt face rim and the recessed extractor unfortunately pass controlled feeding up. This may be lamented by some, but I know of no hunter (and I include Adelino Serras Pires and his Mozambique outfit who all hunted exclusively with Weatherby Mk V during the sixties and early seventies) who has experienced a problem with this. Controlled feeding is only required when fear or nervousness takes grip of the hunter and he short-strokes because he is not accustomed to handling his rifle.

Extractor: The extractor is of the bolt head placed recessed spring loaded type held in position by an axis pin. The Mk V extractor is wide and does not tear through the rim of a stuck case any easier than a Mauser’s does. Add to that the fact that cases will stick in a Mauser chamber way before they do in an Mk V. A lot of African dangerous game has successfully been hunted with Weatherby rifles for half a century and there is little doubt that it has stood the test of time.

Ejector: Is the plunger type recessed in the bolt face shared with most modern designs. The main disadvantage of the plunger type ejector is that it starts ejecting the case the moment the bolt’s backstroke commences. It is a feature shared by all but the oldest military based designs.

Gas control: Three gas vents on the bolt shaft redirect any gas that may penetrate the action from a ruptured case away from the shooter. In the unheard of event that a Mk V action yields under excessive pressure, these vents will direct any escaping gas into the atmosphere, rather than into the magazine as is the case with most other designs. This feature should reduce stock damage and is the best system on any rifle design. Since no locking lug raceways have been machined into the receiver wall, gasses will find it very difficult to work their way through the action and the bridge into the face of the hunter. Should it happen, the bolt sleeve is so nevertheless so designed that the gas will be deflected away from the face of the hunter.

Safety Catch: The Mark V safety catch is situated on the right side of the bolt sleeve. It is of the vertical standing rotating type and operates along the barrel axis. Viewed from the side, it resembles a cobra poised to strike. Small differences exist between the safeties on early and later models.

Trigger: Several trigger styles have used on Mark V rifles over the years. The standard Mark V trigger is adjustable for creep and weight of pull. All adjustments can therefore be conveniently effected without stock removal.

Barrel: Weatherby barrels are made of SAE 4140 chrome- molybdenum steel. Weatherby pioneered hammer-forged barrelmaking in the USA. The six lands and grooves of Weatherby Mark V rifling are kept to tolerances lower than 0.0127mm, which explains why Weatherby barrels are renowned for their accuracy.

Sights: No sights are available as standard equipment on Weatherby rifles.

Stock: Weatherby stocks are distinctive and most probably one of the most controversial aspects of the rifle as such. Many new variations of the Mark V stock styles have been added over the years to suit different tastes, but the typical Mark V stock with its prominent Monte Carlo comb and a Californian cheek piece with a fairly vertical tight radius grip and triangular shaped forend profile still epitomises Weatherby Mark V stocks. A rakish contrasting Rosewood forend tip with a 45 degree contact face and a similar grip cap with a white plastic diamond inlay wrap it up. White line spacers and ventilated recoil pads finalize the design.

Summary: The Weatherby Mark V action was designed and is built for high pressure and powerful cartridges. It is a strong and reliable action. Finish, workmanship and the quality of material on Weatherby rifles are amongst the very best available on any production rifle anywhere in the world. The low bolt throw, excellent quality and powerful chamberings make the Mark V usable as an African dangerous game rifle in modern context, although many African hunters prefer rifles with controlled feeding for such hunting.

Mk V – UltraLight Barrel Length Magazine Capacity Weight (lb / kg)
.240 Wby Mag 24″ / 610mm 5 5.75 / 2,61
.257 Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 6.75 / 3,06
.270 Winchester 24″ / 610mm 5 5.75 / 2,61
.270 Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 6.75 / 3,06
7mm-08 Rem 24″ / 610mm 5 5.75 / 2,61
7mm Rem Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 6.75 / 3,06
7mm Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 6.75 / 3,06
.308 Winchester 24″ / 610mm 3 5.75 / 2,61
.30-06 Spfld 24″ / 610mm 3 5.75 / 2,61
.300 Win Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 6.75 / 3,06
.300 Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 6.75 / 3,06
Mk V – Accumark Barrel Length Magazine Capacity Weight (lb / kg)
.240 Wby Mag 24″ / 610mm 5 7.25 / 3,29
.257 Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 8.75 / 3,97
.270 Winchester 24″ / 610mm 5 7.25 / 3,29
.270 Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 8.75 / 3,97
7mm Rem Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 8.75 / 3,97
7mm Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 8.75 / 3,97
.308 Winchester 24″ / 610mm 3 7.25 / 3,29
.30-06 Spfld 24″ / 610mm 3 7.25 / 3,29
.300 Win Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 8.75 / 3,97
.300 Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 8.75 / 3,97
.30-378 Wby Mag 28″/ 711mm 2 9.00 / 4,08
.340 Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 8.75 / 3,97
.338-378 Wby Mag 28″/ 711mm 2 9.00 / 4,08
.338 Lapua Mag 26″ / 660mm 2 9.00 / 4,08
Mk V – De Luxe Barrel Length Magazine Capacity Weight (lb / kg)
.240 Wby Mag 24″ / 610mm 5 6.75 / 3,06
.257 Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 8.50 / 3,85
.270 Winchester 24″ / 610mm 5 6.75 / 3,06
.270 Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 8.50 / 3,85
7mm Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 8.50 / 3,85
.308 Winchester 24″ / 610mm 3 6.75 / 3,06
.30-06 Spfld 24″ / 610mm 3 6.75 / 3,06
.300 Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 8.50 / 3,85
.340 Wby Mag 26″ / 660mm 3 8.50 / 3,85
.378 Wby Mag 28″/ 711mm 2 9.00 / 4,08
.416 Lapua Mag 28″/ 711mm 2 9.00 / 4,08
.460 Wby Mag 28″/ 711mm 2 10.0 / 4,54
*  Other Mk V models specifications mostly fall within above parameters.

Weatherby MK V
Roy Edward Weatherby (1910 – 1988) was born in Salina, Kansas. Upon completing high school Weatherby joined the Bell telephone company. In 1937 he went to Topeka, California where he sold insurance.

Weatherby experimented with cartridges. His first wildcat was the.220 Weatherby Rocket intended to improve the .220 Swift. Disappointment with the results switched his attention to the .270 calibre. Weatherby owned a .270 PMVF, the PMVF case sported a concave, single-radius venturi shoulder designed by Ralph Miller around 1940. Weatherby liked it, but wanted Miller to incorporate a second convex radius to the shoulder design. When Miller refused, Weatherby went his own direction and created a double radius shoulder style case for the .270 using a blown-out .300 H&H case. He launched the .270 Weatherby Magnum in 1943. It carried the trademark double radius shoulder and followed that up with several other calibres during 1944 – 1945.

He soon began building custom rifles for his wildcats on a part time basis. Initially Weatherby built his rifles on a variety of actions with Weatherby chamberings being the only common factor. Demand soon exceeded supply and within a few months Weatherby was compelled to attend to this new enterprise on a full time basis.

In 1949 he incorporated the business as a company and entered into an agreement with Fabrique Nationale of Belgium to supply him with commercial Mauser actions adorned with the Weatherby logo. A year later (1950) Weatherby and his stockmaker, Leonard Mews designed the distinctive Weatherby stock in the extravagant Californian style that remains one of Weatherby’s trademarks to this day.

Despite all the success Weatherby was still not satisfied. He was not happy with the Mauser actions and wanted to use the best and strongest actions possible on his rifles. From 1956 to 1958 Weatherby and his engineer, Fred Jennie, developed the action which eventually became the Mark V action – still used by the company on its flagship rifles. The action designation was derived from the fact that the fifth prototype eventually satisfied Weatherby and became the production model.

Roy’s son, Ed, took the leadership of the company over in 1983.

The Remington action design can be summarized as follows:

  • Round receiver
  • Clamped recoil lug
  • Large load port
  • Several magazine configurations
  • Tang mounted 2-position safety
  • Drilled for scope mounts
  • Composite bolt shaft
  • Protruding forward dual opposed locking lugs
  • Non-rotating extractor
  • Plunger ejector
  • Adjustable trigger

Remington bolt action rifles are offered in three action lengths plus the lightweight Model Seven. Although the .458 Winchester Magnum cartridge was available, it was the only large bore cartridge except the .416 Remington Magnum offered by the company at one stage. The Model 700 action simply is not sufficiently well-girthed to handle bottlenecked cartridges larger than the basic .416 Remington Magnum configuration. Theoretically it is able to handle the .458 Lott, but it seems that Remington has realized that their strength lies in plains game rifles and chamberings as neither the .416 Remington or the .458 Win Mag are offered any longer.

The round receiver profile delivers reasonably constant flexing in all directions and the design has acquired a reputation for good accuracy. Remington rifles therefore generally are fine out-of-the-box choices for savannah and plains range hunting. They are however not more accurate than can be achieved with less concentric designs. The ejection and loading port is conveniently large, although it is not that much of a consideration on non-dangerous game rifles.

The rifles are offered in a bewildering array of magazine configurations and chamberings. Some rifles have blind magazines (no floorplate), others have traditional swing-open floorplates and other models are available with removable magazines. This provides the hunter with the ability to make a selection along his lines of preference.

The side mounted two-position safety is very similar to that of the well-known Brno ZKK and CZ-550 rifles, even though it works in opposite directions. This is however different from the bolt sleeve three position safeties found on Winchester, Kimber and modified Mauser rifles, so hunters are advised to properly acquaint themselves with these differences before going afield.

The absence of controlled feed, the history of trigger problems in dusty conditions and the recessed circular extractor riveted to the bolt are objections raised against Remington rifles from a dangerous game hunting perspective. Hunters coming to Africa where dust and dirt are abundant, are advised to have their Remingtons retrofitted with the X-Mark trigger system prior to coming.

Cartridge Model 7 M-700 Short M-700 Std M-700 Long
.17 Rem Fireball 26”
.204 Ruger 22”∆ / 26”
.223 Rem 20” 20” / 22”∆ / 24” / 26”
.22-250 Rem 22”∆ / 24” / 26”
.220 Swift 26”
.243 Win 18” / 20” 20” / 22” / 24” / 26”
.25-06 Rem 22” / 24”
.257 Wby Mag 26”
.260 Rem 20”
.270 Win 22” / 24”
.270 WSM 24”
7mm-08 Rem 18” / 20” 20” / 22” / 24”
.280 Rem 22”
7mm Rem Mag 22” / 24” / 26”
7mm RUM 26”
.308 Win 20” 20” / 22” / 26”
.30-06 Spfld 22” / 24”
.300 WSM 24”
.300 Win Mag 24” / 26”
.300 RUM 26”
.338 Win Mag 26”
.338 RUM 26”
.35 Whelen 24”
.375 H&H Mag 22” / 24”
.375 RUM 24”
* The ∆ symbol indicates a VTR triangular barrel only.

Winchester Model 

The founder of the Winchester tradition was Oliver Fischer Winchester (1810 – 1880). Born in Boston, he later moved to Baltimore where he initially operated a men’s outfitter concern. In 1848 Winchester started a clothing manufacturing plant in New Haven, but then purchased the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company in 1855. In 1867 he rationalized the firm and renamed it the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.  He appointed one Benjamin Tyler Henry (1821 – 1898) as plant manager and chief designer.  Henry became famous for the extensive line of firearms he designed, some of which remain popular to this day.

During the depression the company almost went under. This enabled the Olin Corporation to acquire a controlling interest in 1931. Shortly thereafter the company introduced one of the all-time great bolt action rifles, the Winchester M-70 in what later became known as the pre-’64 configuration. After the take-over by Olin, Winchester became a subsidiary of the Western Cartridge Company, another Olin subsidiary.

In 1964 Olin changed the M-70 design from a controlled to a push-feed design. It amounted to slow suicide. The company just never recovered from the market alienation which followed that decision. It hung in there, but only just. In July 1981 Olin sold the manufacturing rights to investors trading as the United States Repeating Arms Company (USRAC). Winchester ammunition to this day remains firmly under the control of Olin. The bolt action side of USRAC never did particularly well, even after it re-introduced a controlled-feed pre-’64 style bolt action in 1992 – about the time the French GIAT company (that also owned Browning) purchased USRAC.

GIAT did not keep USRAC for long. It sold control of USRAC to the Belgian concern, Fabrique Nationale. In March 2006 FN closed the Winchester/USRAC plant in New Haven, Connecticut. That terminated production of both M-70 and M-94 rifles for a while. During October 2007 FN re-introduced the M-70 with a redesigned trigger. The new M-70 is manufactured at the FN plant in Columbia, South Carolina where FN also builds military rifles.

  • Round top flat bottom receiver design.
  • Bridge and ring drilled and tapped for riflescope mounting.
  • Recoil lug at very front tip of receiver.
  • Conical (funnel) breeching with no inner collar in ring.
  • Front main screw threads into receiver ring, not into recoil lug.
  • Large loading/ejection port suitable for dangerous-game hunting.
  • Vertical bolt stop latch on left tang behind bridge wall.
  • Solid one-piece bolt with dual opposed locking lugs at front tip of bolt shaft.
  • Partial bolt face rim and external claw extractor offering controlled feeding.
  • Extractor circlip equipped with gas block behind left locking lug.
  • Static bridge-floor-mounted ejector operating under and not through left lug.
  • Solid one-piece trigger guard assembly holding swing-open floorplate.
  • Separate magazine box.
  • Three-position horizontal side-swing safety.
  • Fully adjustable trigger.

Receiver: The M-70 receiver is a forging machined to final dimensions. The receiver ring and bridge have the typical round tops drilled and tapped for riflescope installation.  The action is almost completely round, except for the bottom, which offers a flat bedding surface over its entire length. The front main screw does not thread into the bottom of the recoil lug as is the case with most designs, but into a threaded hole in the center of the receiver ring bottom, slightly behind the recoil lug which is situated at the very tip of the ring.
Only one gas outlet had been drilled into the right-hand receiver ring wall.  Slightly inferior gas control is one of the view weaker points of the pre-’64. The bolt sleeve does not have a flange which blocks the left locking lug raceway and which can deflect gas away from the face of the hunter.
The pre-’64 M-70 had only been available in one action length, and a variety of ingenious methods had been used to adapt it for cartridges from as small as .22 Hornet to as long as .375 H&H Magnum. The pre-’64 M-70 receiver was approximately 220mm (8.66″) long, whereas the re-introduced 1990’s model had an overall receiver length of 235mm (9.25″). The current model comes in three lengths.

Extractor: The pre-’64 M-70 Winchester design uses the same external claw extractor and twin opposed front-locking lug layout as the Mauser M-98, but the rings have tapered faces.

Bolt Stop: The bolt stop of the M-70 is a vertical latch situated on the tang behind the left bridge wall and not on the outside bridge wall, as is the case with the Mauser M-98. It is much more convenient to use when dismantling a rifle than is the case with the Mauser M-98 design. The ejection port of the M-70 is large, accessible and suitable for dangerous game use. Despite the ejection port being so large, the rail linking the ring and the bridge on the right side is very sturdy. More so than the Mauser’s.

Ejector: The pre-’64 M-70 introduced the famous under-the-lug ejector, which means that the ejector does not slide through a slot in the left locking lug, as is the case with the Mauser M-98, but through a slot situated just below the bottom of this locking lug. Theoretically, the fact that it does not require a slot through the left locking lug leaves the left locking lug stronger than is the case with the Mauser.

Bolt: The M-70 bolt is the component on which the greatest changes have taken place since introduction.  Even all the bolts predating 1964 are not exactly the same.  The same is true regarding post-64 bolts. This article will not cover post-’64 push-feed bolts.

Pre-1964 Bolts: (Serial Numbers < 700,000)

The first M-70 bolt, which was the one manufactured in the period 1937 to 1963 can, in many regards, be compared to the Brno ZKK bolt. The early bolt head was in typical Mauser M-98 style, with two twin opposed locking lugs. The bolt face was not recessed for the cartridge case head, and the design therefore incorporated the controlled feeding feature, the main difference being that the left locking lug is longer than that of the Mauser and that it has a slanted forward face. It is a stronger design. The right locking lug is so near to original Mauser configuration that it can be considered identical.

Two large gas outlets are situated near the front of the bolt shaft for proper gas ventilation. A guide rib has been incorporated in the design. The Ruger M-77and the pre-’64 Winchester are birds of a feather in that the guide rib does not run through a slot in the underside of the bridge roof, but it is so situated that bolt rotation turns it onto the floor of the left locking lug raceway where it serves as a guide.

The Winchester bolt handle is considered by many to be the best one available on any rifle. It sweeps back to place the bolt knob in the perfect position just above the curl of the trigger finger, and it still offers better leverage than most other designs. It also requires the minimum of hand movement.

2007 Version

This version of the M-70 lacks the guide rib on the bolt shaft, but a gas block has been added on the extractor retaining collar. The guide rib is not a serious modification, but the improved gas control really is an excellent addition to this rifle.

Safety Catch: The 3-stage M-70 safety catch is situated on the right side of the bolt sleeve and operates horizontally. It is a so-called side-swing safety. Two styles of safety catches appear on M-70 rifles. The initial design had the safety catch on top of the bolt sleeve. It was difficult to operate with a telescope installed. This catch was relocated to the side of the sleeve, which makes it much more convenient.

When in the rearward position, the M-70 safety is fully engaged. Both the firing pin and the bolt are then locked in position. With the safety in the center position, the rifle is still safe, but in the interim unloading condition.

Trigger: Until the advent of the 2007 version of the M-70, the M-70 trigger was exceptionally simple and reliable. Unlike other modern day designs, it did not have a frame, and a substantial bit of weight was saved. The shortcoming of the trigger is that it cannot be adjusted without stock removal. These triggers could only be adjusted for weight of pull and over travel. The 2007 version has a more complicated, fully adjustable modern trigger inside a housing.

Magazine: Despite unconditional acceptance by the American hunting public, there are several aspects of the original M-70 magazine and trigger guard assembly which African hunters find less likeable than comparable Mauser M-98 features. African hunters prefer a solid steel single unit with integral magazine box instead of a removable sheet metal box. The sheet metal magazine has, however, become an almost standard feature on the majority of modern hunting rifles, and the M-70, therefore, is no better or worse than any of them.

The W-shaped ribbon-style magazine spring and magazine follower are standard and comparable to those of competitive designs.

The pre-2007 M-70s employed three bedding screws which complicated bedding and, if incorrectly tightened, also affected accuracy.

The plunger-type magazine catch with its button-like latch is situated in front of the trigger guard bow as is the case with most current designs. The finger which depresses the latch always seems to be in the way of the floor plate when it swings open, and one always gets nicked on the cuticle.  Apart from that, the hunter normally never has enough hands to hold the rifle, depress the latch and catch the spilling cartridges.  This lay(c)out is, unfortunately, shared with most production rifles, and the M(c)70 should not be singled out for criticism.  Two styles of magazines latches are found.  The one type has a square face, whereas the other has a slightly angled face.  A Sauer M(c)200 or even the Argentinean Mauser inside(c) theªtrigger(c)bow latch as found on the Ruger M(c)77 would have been a tremendous improvement over the existing design.

The floor plate assembly is held in position by the front stock screw which threads through a hole in the floor plate hinge, through the stock, and into the bottom of the receiver.  The floor plate swings open in the traditional manner.  The trigger guard is held in place at the rear by the tang screw, and at the front by the center screw.

Barrels: Due to the tremendously long production life of the Winchester Mª70, a wide variety of barrel styles and contours is available.

Sights: Sights on Winchester rifles between 1934 and today have also changed dramatically. A whole chapter can most probably be devoted to this topic, but it would be unfitting here.

Stocks: A wide range of stocks had been fitted to M-70 rifles over the years.  At the time of writing, more than 20 stock styles have already seen light.

Summary:  Anybody who criticizes the M-70, and especially the pre-’64 model and its later reincarnations, is putting his life on the line. The trigger guard assembly, magazine catch and floor plate of theM-70 was not well-liked, but this has been improved on the 2007 version. The pre-’64 Winchester M-70 employs the same breeching concept as the Enfield designs, the merits of which will not be dealt with as this does not concern the hunters so much.  Gas control on the pre-‘64 was not as good as that found on the Mauser M-98, but still better than is the case with many competitive designs. With the advent of the 2007 version and its direct predecessor, this criticism had been obviated.

The three pre-’64 style Winchester M-70 rifles are African big- and dangerous-game rifles par excellence, either of which no hunter should for one moment hesitate to take dangerous-game hunting.

Model 70 Barrel Length (inch) Weight (lb)
14 Model Summary
.22-250 Rem 20″ / 22″ /24″ 6.0 / 6.5 / 6.75 / 7.5
.243 Win 20″ / 22″ /24″ 6.5 / 6.75 / 7.5
.25-06 Rem 22″ / 24″ 7.0 / 7.1 / 7.25
.264 Win Mag 24″ / 26″ 7.25 / 7.5
.270 Win 22″ / 24″ 7.0 / 7.1 / 7.25 / 8.25
.270 WSM 24″ 7.0 / 7.25 / 8.0
7mm-08 20″ / 22″ 6.5 / 6.75
7 x 57mm 22″ 7
7mm Rem Mag 26″ 7.25 / 7.75 / 8.5
7mm WSM 24″ 7.0 / 7.5
.308 Win 20″ / 22″ / 24″ 6.5 / 6.75 / 7.5
.30-06 Spfld 22″ / 24″ / 25″ 7.0 / 7.1 / 7.25 / 8.25 / 8.5
.300 WSM 24″ 7.0 / 7.25 / 7.5 / 8.0
.300 Win Mag 24″ / 25″ / 26″ 7.25 / 7.5 / 8.5
.338 Win Mag 25″ / 26″ 7.25 / 7.75 / 8.5
.325 WSM 24″ 7.0 / 7.25 / 7.5
.375 H&H Mag 24″ / 25″ 9
.416 Rem Mag 24″ 9
.458 Win Mag 24″ 9
Model 70 Barrel Length (mm) Weight (kg)
14 Model Summary
.22-250 Rem 510 / 560 / 610 2,7 / 2,9 / 3,1 / 3,4
.243 Win 510 / 560 / 610 2,9 / 3,1 / 3,4
.25-06 Rem 560 / 610 3,2 / 3,3
.264 Win Mag 610 / 660 3,3 / 3,4
.270 Win 560 / 610 3,2 / 3,3 / 3,7
.270 WSM 610 3,2 / 3,3 / 3,6
7mm-08 510 / 560 2,9 / 3,1
7 x 57mm 560 3,2
7mm Rem Mag 660 3,3 / 3,5 / 3,9
7mm WSM 610 3,2 / 3,4
.308 Win 510 / 560 / 610 2,9 / 3,1 / 3,4
.30-06 Spfld 560 / 610 / 635 3,2 / 3,3 / 3,7 / 3,9
.300 WSM 610 3,2 / 3,3 / 3,4 / 3,6
.300 Win Mag 610 / 635 / 660 3,3 / 3,4 / 3,9
.338 Win Mag 635 / 660 3,3 / 3,5 / 3,9
.325 WSM 610 3,2 / 3,3 / 3,4
.375 H&H Mag 610 / 635 4,1
.416 Rem Mag 610 4,1
.458 Win Mag 610 4,1