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Interview with Management at Mitchell's Mausers

July 11, 2012
Bill Waugaman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

As I was getting ready for a pre-1950 military rifle shoot, conversations with other shooters turn to classic military rifles, and especially Mausers. A military Mauser can be purchased at firearms dealers who handle military rifles, gun shows, individuals and companies that specialize in this niche market, like Mitchell's Mausers.

Contacting Mitchell's Mausers, I had the fortune to talk several of the upper management staff. Having done some research on the Internet and in talking with individuals who have a passion for military memorabilia, I posed some questions about the company and the rifles.

Q. How long has Mitchell's Mausers been in business?

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A. Since 1976

Q. Is it true that there is a difference in 8mm Mausers (i.e. .318 and .323 bores)?

A. Yes, indeed. There is an important distinction between .318 and .323. When the 98 first was introduced it had a bore diameter of .318 but that was abandoned in favor of the heavier bullet of .323 for combat reasons. There are no .318 rifles sold by us (and no one else should sell them either) because of liability problems. Using a .318 bullet in a .323 barrel is not only unsafe, but is disappointing. The other way around is definitely unsafe!

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Q. What differentiates a K98 and M48 Mauser?

A. K98 rifle is the original German manufacture. The M48 is Serbian production of the K98 built in Kragujevac, Serbia, which had been occupied by the Germans during WWII. Before the end of the war, Mauser rifle production started using modified German tooling to make a stronger version of the German K98's. The M48 Collector and Premium grade rifles we deliver are in military-new conditionthey have never been issued. This is the best deal going today for a quality Military Mauser rifle in the WWII style! The markings on this rifle commemorate the defeat of the Nazis. The German-manufactured K98 Mausers bear the Nazi production marks, which some people find historically interesting. However, there are no 'military-new' K98 rifles. Every K98 was used before the Nazis were defeated in 1945. The K98's we offer were factory overhauled to be as near military-new as possible.

Q. Where do you find these rifles?

A. Generally, in the Balkan countries. Over about ten years, Mitchell Manufacturing obtained all of the proper export and import licenses from the various governments (including our own BATF) and has contracted for all the "military new" Mausers in the newly independent countries.

Q. What does 'Military-New' mean?

A. It means the rifle has never been issued and is in a condition very much like when it was first produced at that time. It means the metal and wood finishes are in the military style, unlike a highly-polished new rifle today.

Even though the rifles were not in combat, they are carefully inspected to make sure that age did not affect the rifle stock, that the springs were alive and that the overall fit and function is equal to new.

Q. Are there many 'Military New' rifles still available?

A. No. We believe we found them all. Our current stock of rifles is depleting rapidly and then.who knows. It for certain however, that the price will rise.

Q. Having been in storage for 50+ years, aren't these rifles in poor condition with rust and decay?

A. Even though in storage, the Mausers were still kept in reserve, combat-ready for military service. The rifles were removed from storage every five years and tested for function, serviceability and preservation. The stock may show some military handling blemishes from being tested every five years by the military. Bluing is near 100%. The varying applications of preservative grease over the years have subtly affected both the stock and the bluing on each rifle differently, which means each rifle has acquired its own personality. The stock of the M48's is made from a local wood stock, nominally Teak, which resists gun oils, because it is laden with natural oils.

Q. How much restoration work is put into a Mitchell Mauser before it is made available for sale?

A. We disassemble every rifle to assure fit, function and appearance. We do whatever is necessary to assure the customer is getting a military-new rifle. Mr. Mitchell would have it no other way. (He's pretty old and cranky about this.) As an aside, we are required to do so because we furnish product liability insurance covering everything we sell.

Q. Are Mitchell's Mausers assembled from assorted parts to build a complete rifle?

A. No. All major parts on the rifle have original matching serial numbers: the receiver, the bolt, the stock, and the floor plate. Every rifle has its cleaning rod in place, as well as its front sight hood. All parts are original manufacture (no aftermarket parts). In addition, every rifle comes with its own serially numbered Certificate of Authenticity.

Q. What is the difference between Service Grade, Collectors Grade and Premium Grade?

A. A service grade is a serviceable rifle that simply is not up to our Collector grade standards. The collector grade is a rifle that has survived the years very well in a superior condition, with original parts numbered to the SN of the gun. It is a good historical example of the production as it was done at that time. Premium grade rifles are selected for their beauty and absence of the little manufacturing defects that were considered acceptable for military production at that time.

Q. Gun shops, sporting goods stores and web sites sell 'vintage' military rifles, including Mausers. What is the difference?

A. These are generally rifles that can't be restored to our standards of quality. Initially, we inspect every single rifle at the source prior to purchase. Rifles we reject for one reason or another are sold off to 'junk importers' at very low prices.

Q. There are some very unfavorable comments about Mitchell's Mausers being over priced and deceptive advertising claims. How do you address these issues?

A. These claims are primarily from another importer who lost the right to import the rifles. We have the best rifle on the market and also the highest priced. (The axiom that "you get what you pay for" is true). Our rifles are higher priced because of our care and concern for the quality of what we sell. We leave the junk to other importers. The rule of supply and demand also comes into the supply of K98 and M48 Mausers has been dwindling, the price has gone up and will continue to do so.

Q. Another company makes some contrary claims and unfavorable comments about Mitchell's Mausers. Your response?

A. This company was an importer of these rifles and sold them 'as-is'. Definitely the wrong way to go but he has the protection of not having to comply with U.S. insurance regulations. Our old guy, Mr. Mitchell, has ancestral history going back 800 years in the Balkans; he knows how to do what is right, both there and here. Bottom line, the best measure of our performance is the many tens of thousands of happy customers we have made and continue to make every day.

Q. Since the rifles are purchased sight unseen, how do you deal with customer dissatisfaction?

A. Mitchell's Mausers has a 'satisfaction guarantee' Our return rate from customers is less than 1%. Most of those are from buyers who could not pass a background check (but don't talk about that).

Q. If a rifle is ordered from Mitchell's Mausers, is it shipped to my home?

A. No. The rifles are shipped to a dealer with a valid FFL license. The purchaser is required to abide by state and federal laws including background checks as required. Mitchell's Mausers does have some FFL dealers already on file as a designated shipping point.

Q. Do Mitchell's Mausers have a warranty, and if so, what is the warranty?

A. Mitchell's Mausers come with a 90 day satisfaction guarantee. If there is a problem after the 90 days, give us a call and let us know. We'll gladly work with you on a solution.

First Published June 2007; Updated July 2012



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