Tim Pilbeam jumps at the chance to try out two guns from Mauser’s MO3 range: the Alpine and the Stutzen
The well-known MO3 range from Mauser is based on a modular concept, allowing a wide range of stocks and barrels to be fitted with different levels of quality and design.
The Mauser Alpine and Stutzen are classic examples of Mauser’s high-quality workmanship, aimed at the client who enjoys hunting with beautiful rifles. When I mentioned to Robert of UK Mauser importer Open Season that I would love to try the Stutzen, he had one specially delivered to me within two weeks, despite this design not being popular in the UK (unlike the rest of Europe).
The modular concept starts with the manual cocking safety system. This is a wonderful design that combines a safety catch and cocking lever. Push the bolt assembly forward and lock it into the breech. To shoot, push the lever on the rear of the bolt to the right, and to return to safety, press a small knob located below the lever to let it spring back to the left, at the same time de-cocking it. With safety off, one can cycle and shoot a round without having to go through this procedure each time, which is very useful. When de-cocked, the stainless steel bolt handle cannot be moved.
This action is exceptionally well put together, beautifully smooth and highly engineered. Some may say it is too complicated. As the MO3 can interchange with most calibres, the bolt travels nearly five inches to accommodate the longer cases, and for the smaller calibres it does feel excessive. The bolt is locked into the action with three double lugs, and the head is easily interchangeable by overextending the cocking lever to the left.
The 2.5lb trigger is crisp with no creep, and a delight to use in all disciplines. These models have the luxury of a set trigger, activated by pushing the trigger blade forward. When de-cocked, the set trigger automatically returns to normal. The steel magazine, once again, is of the size to accept a wide variety of calibres. The open receiver design enables easy loading and with a capacity of four rounds, it can be removed by pressing a large button located to the front. This can also be locked by twisting the release button.
So how do these models differ? Both subtle ‘hog back’ stocks are made from grade five fine-grained Turkish walnut, and share the same beautifully crafted ‘double fold’ Bavarian cheekpiece with elegant pistol grips and slight chequering. The ebony pistol grip caps and forends are beautifully made, with the Alpine sporting a 23in barrel, the Stutzen a 19in. The Stutzen’s ‘split’ forend is attached to the barrel, allowing the rest of the barrel to be fully floated, maintaining accuracy in all conditions. Most Stutzens have accuracy issues when they become a little damp, or when the barrel becomes warm, because the wood is directly secured to the barrel. This clever design avoids these issues. If you wish to change the look of the rifle, remove the barrel and replace it with another to make it into an Alpine. Simple. This particular model also has the detailed engraving, finished off to a high level of detail.
For the review, I was lucky enough to receive a Swarovski Z6i 5-30×50 P with 4A illuminated reticle. Unique to Mauser, a QD saddle mount is needed (at an extra cost of £405) to fit any optics to the rifle. It is located to the front and rear of the receiver and can be easily removed by pushing forward the locating levers to release the levers backwards. Once again, it is beautifully engineered, which is essential to retain zero when removed or refitted.
So how do they shoot? As with all the MO3s, accuracy is not an issue, constantly achieving around a one-inch group at 100 yards (1MOA), which for an all-round hunting rifle in .308 is perfectly adequate. With 2.5lb triggers, each rifle is skilfully balanced, but they feel different to shoot. The longer-barrelled Alpine gave less recoil and muzzle flip, with the Stutzen being quite lively thanks to the 19in barrel. I love the classic Stutzen design. It feels compact, very pointable, ideally suited to close woodland stalking or mountainous terrain.
I was able to take the Alpine to the Forest Estate in Dumfries and Galloway to undertake a spot of wild goat stalking. Despite the weather being against me for most of the trip, my keen eyed stalker John managed to move me into a herd of 15 animals. This culminated in a billy from about 125 yards, which dropped instantly with a well-aimed shot to the vital organs. Imagine his face when he asked me the price of becoming the proud owner of a MO3 Alpine.
Both these rifles are at the top end of most people’s budgets, with prices starting at £4,000 for the Alpine and £4,500 for Stutzen (with the engraving another £1,750). I have a soft spot for the MO3 range – especially with the Stutzen, my heart sank watching the courier’s van take it away up the farm drive. What more can I say?