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Several nice bucks stood on the bank and curiously watched us float by. If deer season was open, we'd frantically replace the #6 duck/squirrel shot in our shotgun's chambers with buckshot. However, at the first noise of an action opening, off would run the bucks. I decided to buy a beat-up, dirt cheap deer rifle and keep it in the water and mud in the bottom of the boat. It would be my "Boat Rifle," I told my hunting partner. At the time, hunting deer from a boat was legal here in Louisiana.
Not long after I made the decision to buy or build a boat rifle, up walked a fellow in need of money and with his hands holding the ugliest rifle my eyes had ever gazed upon. It was a badly sporterized Model 1893 Spanish Mauser in caliber 7 x 57. The military sights had been removed and replaced with no sights at all, and the barrel had been shortened. The rear half of the barrel was bare, shiny metal, and the front half was spray painted black. In other words, it was a perfect boat rifle. Who cares if it gets muddy and wet? This particular hindsight being not so 20-20 after 20 years or more, I think I gave the fellow $30 for it. Another kind of hindsight being a perfect 20-20, I should have looked down the bore because I soon discovered that the barrel's last 4 inches of rifling were completely rusted away. A long ago dirt dauber nest, I figured.
As you can see in the photo to the right, perfect eye relief came with the scope mounted just forward of the receiver. The total cost was less than $75 for rifle, scope, mounts, and having a gunsmith drill four holes in the barrel for the mounts. If you own a M93 or M98 Mauser and you're thinking of installing a scope on it, consider installing a pistol scope and saving some money.
At the muzzle my light 7 x 57 load compares in energy to the 30-30 Winchester. But due to the much better ballistics of the .284 154 gr spire point vs the .308 150 gr flat point or round nose, my light load arrives at 100 yards with more energy than a 30-30.
From the Hornady Handbook, Third Edition, we see:
So, as you can see, even with a reduced load my $75 boat rifle is a dandy deer rifle. Due to circumstances in my life, it never saw the bottom of a boat. But I deer hunt with it almost every year. If rain is pouring down, you'll find me on my stand and with my boat rifle in my hands. Who cares if it gets wet?