Affordable appeal

It’s cheap and it certainly is cheerful. Stuart Wilson finds that the new Mauser M18 puts a smile on his face

I had really enjoyed reviewing the Mauser M12 impact, so it was with high expectations that I waited for Mauser’s next offering to arrive. Finally I took delivery of the M18 in .308 Win, which is complemented by a scope, mounts and moderator, all of which become part of a package offering.

The brief Mauser have aimed for with the M18 is ‘no frills workmanship’ – moreover, a ‘genuine tool for genuine hunters with a sensational price-performance ratio’. These are direct quotes from Mauser’s website – but how did they fare? First we need to look at the rifle, then think about its price point.

Initial unboxing

The Barton Gunworks inclined rail and Minox scope top the Mauser off nicely

The final tag of tape cut, slipping the lid from the box, revealing a black action, black synthetic stock, and black/blued barrel, basically everything was black from stock to moderator save for some stainless-steel screws in the mounts. The stock felt good to the first touch, as did the bolt, as I slipped it into the action, I assume the barrel is just blued to save the cost of the Ilafron coating seen on the M12 Impact or the black burnished finish of the extreme, this was my only reservation of my first impression, but the barrel is still finished to a high standard. Unboxing a full package has multiple benefits, it makes my job much easier as all the necessary components are quickly assembled together with only a little time needed before any zeroing needs to be done, great for review purposes, but also for any potential customer looking for a functional and complete package, grabbing a few boxes of ammunition and I was ready to pop to my zeroing ground.

Zeroing

The M18 came topped with a Minox ZX5 3-15×56, illuminated and parallax side wheel, with a clean central dot over the standard European three thicker posts thinning to fine crosshairs. Both turret cover and adjustment turret proving very tactile as the necessary clicks were applied to bring the rifle to my favoured ‘inch high’ at 100 yards zero. The rifle shoulders very nicely, and the firing cycle is sweet and functional, with the Barton Gunworks moderator taming the blast very nicely despite its lightweight. After several rounds through the rifle, and some solid groups just under the inch mark, I had a quick walk around my boundary to check for any sign of deer activity, noting any tracks or fraying, unfortunately not spying any bucks. Nonetheless I had a very pleasant armed ramble, almost forgetting the M18 slung on my shoulder.

Stock and forend

A handy place to store a calibre-specific bore snake

The black synthetic stock initially looks fairly plain, but there are rubber inserts on the pistol grip and forend. These panels blend nicely into the stock and provide good grip, grip that may be more appreciated in some of our more inclement weather, helping the shooter place the shot with greater confidence when its most needed. Even in the dry summer weather I felt the stock was incredibly secure in both hands, shooting from the sticks but also with forend gripped as I shot from the bipod. The comb dimensions really help cheek weld for scoped rifle shooting – I think Mauser have got this right on the M18.

The forend is sturdy and allows for a nicely free floated barrel, regardless of the shooting position, and the buttpad just stays rooted in your shoulder thanks to its rubber construction, the buttpad is also quickly detachable and allows the shooter to store a barrel bore snake with the rifle at all times, I couldn’t decide if this was a gimmick or just handy. Finished with industry standard sling swivels fore and aft, the stock can be slung on the shoulder, and perhaps partly due to the very light Barton Gunworks moderator, is hardly noticeable.

Barrel and action

Mauser’s double ejector plungers make for superb and consistent ejection

The action sports a pleasing matt black finish on a simple tubular bolt action, to the rear
and left-hand side of the action is the bolt release that also doubles as the bolt guide as it engages into a machined slot in the side of the bolt. The top of the action is stepped, retaining the standard round profile to the front, with the rear being ground to a lower broader radius, much like the old Mauser 98, if not the same. The ejection port is neat, and somewhat tight for my sausage fingers, but with index finger I could comfortably guide or remove any obstruction or misfeed to allow shooting to continue. Personally I am more than happy with a minimal ejection port because this makes for a more rigid action, which in turn usually helps accuracy.

The bolt is three-lug, using a low 60-degree lift that aids scope clearance and makes for speedy cycling when the need arises. The bolt face is near identical if not identical to the M12, with a sliding extractor claw and double ejection plungers that fling cases accurately out of the tight ejection port, this rifle flings cases – so beware all you home loaders who are trying to keep your cases. The bolt shroud is nicely contoured to match the profile of the rear of the action, and a cocked rifle will see a cocking indicator, coloured red, protrude from the rear centre of the bolt.

The magazine installed in the well, with release button above

The mount system that arrived with this rifle is a Barton Gunworks 10MOA inclined weaver rail. If you have to ask which way the rail is inclined, I suggest you surrender your FAC immediately. You may think I am joking but I have recently had to explain this concept to a licence holder, which is probably more frightening than comical. The Minox was set in a pair of blacked aluminium mounts with slightly curious stainless screws – perhaps this will be a new trend. The rail and ring mounts are both neat and functional.

Moving on to the safety catch, which sits to the right-hand rear of the action, it’s three position: forward for fire, mid-position for safe with operable bolt, and finally fully rearwards for safe and bolt locked. Colour-coded with two white dots and one red, it’s a neat, simple system, and I much prefer being able to set the safety and have the bolt locked – this avoids any bolt movement that could potentially raise the bolt, causing resistance to the normal firing cycle. One word of caution: The safety catch is loud if it is left to click forward without a finger damping its progress, and by loud, I mean loud enough to spook any self- respecting deer or fox that you have sneakily drawn a bead on to. The sinking feeling associated with the click of a carelessly used safety catch just needs noting before you tackle live quarry.

The barrel is a sporting profile, blued to a good standard, factory threaded with a M15x1mm no spigot, which is blued the same as the barrel. Removing the thread protector cap, the moderator screws on smoothly and stops securely as it reaches the shoulder. The crown is slightly dished and then finished with an internal chamfer that keeps the end of the rifling out of harm’s way, the no frills aspect of the Mauser is most noticeable with the barrel, the finish is good, and the shooting is more than good enough, it may be that I am more used to some of the higher-grade rifles Mauser manufacture, more an aesthetic issue perhaps.

Trigger and magazine

I really like this trigger. It breaks very cleanly, straight out of the box, so need to even explore any adjustment. It really is a cracking trigger, the broad curved blade meets the trigger finger, the proportions are perfect, and when pulled there is no noticeable creep or anomalies, I almost feel like I need to have a word with myself – getting so excited over a rifle trigger, something that is used for milliseconds when hunting but so curiously deliberated and discussed so much when they just aren’t right, top job Mauser.

The magazine is listed by Mauser as being 5+1 (five in the mag and one chambered before the magazine is clicked into place). I could not comfortably click the magazine with five rounds in place into the magazine well – it does go in but it is tight. I would be more than happy to fill the magazine, chamber from there and forget the +1. Built from durable polymer, the magazine loads as a double stack – simple and easy to use – loads and then locates into the rifle with a positive click, and releases after the recessed button forward of the magazine well is pressed.

Final thoughts

The Mauser M18 has been pleasant to shoot, light to walk around with, measuring a tad over 45 inches including the light moderator and weighing in at 4.2kg for the whole package. While the range of calibres is quite small, the main favourites are there – .243 Win, .308 Win, .270 Win, .30-06 Spr, and magnum calibres of 7mm Rem Mag and .300 Win Mag. If the M18 loses any ground at all it will be on calibres that just aren’t available.

The Mauser M18 has everything it needs and nothing that it doesn’t, proving to be a functional rifle, with a build quality the belies its modest price tag, slotting nicely into the utilitarian rifle price range.

The combo shot just as well off sticks as it did off the bipod

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