Model 93 7 x 57 Spanish Mauser
Boat Rifle

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The Boat Rifle
  A $75 rifle on a $100 car
About 20 years ago a friend and I enjoyed duck hunting by floating down one of the local bayous. We used a small, camouflaged boat with camo webbing installed on a frame around the boat. We'd leave my friend's truck a few miles down-bayou and then drive my truck, boat in the back, to a remote landing. It was a leisurely way to spend a day, letting the current carry us along and just occasionally using a paddle to keep the boat in the middle of the bayou. We killed many ducks over the water, and we killed many squirrels in the trees at the water's edge. We also saw lots of deer.

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.

The Boat Rifle's Scope
  No alterations made to the rifle's bolt or safety.
Now that I owned the rifle, up popped the question of what to do about sights. I wanted to install a low power scope on it, but that meant altering both the bolt and the safety and more money to a gunsmith than the rifle was worth. While I pondered my problem, up walked a fellow in need of money and with a 2 x 20 Simmons Long Eye Relief pistol scope in his hand.

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.

The Boat Rifle's Scope
  10-19-05: Here's the Boat Rifle after a coat of spray on "Ultra Flat" olive drab paint. It's looking good! I also chopped 2 1/2" off the barrel. It's a shooter now!
My boat rifle is handy and fast-pointing. Due to the rusted-out barrel it shoots cast bullets very badly—3 shots in about 12 inches at 100 yards. However, with the 154 gr Hornady 7mm spire point and a light, 2250 fps load, it puts 3 shots in about 4 inches at 100 yards. That's acceptable accuracy for deer hunting. I shoot light loads only in my boat rifle in deference to the old action.

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:

.284 154 gr Spire Point
VELOCITY (fps) 2300 2107 1926
ENERGY (ft. lbs.) 1809 1518 1268

.308 150 gr Round Nose
VELOCITY (fps) 2300 1876 1507
ENERGY (ft. lbs.) 1762 1172  757

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?

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