MAUSER M12 EXTREME
A return to fixed-barrel construction offers a more affordable version of this popular, well-engineered and dependable rifle, says Dominic Griffith
THE Mauser heritage is built on its famous “98” (developed in 1898), one of the best-designed bolt actions ever made. Now based in Isny and owned by the Blaser group, Mauser continues to design, build and develop pioneering rifles for the sporting market.
The M12 (2012) follows the take-down M03 (2003) but signifies a return to a more traditional, fixed-barrel rifle.
Sharing barrel making with Blaser and Sauer, the Mauser hammer-forged, free-floated, medium-weight “Sporter” barrel is of indisputable quality. It is factory screw-cut for the UK market and supplied with a muzzle cap. The action is delightfully smooth and the full diameter, straight-handled bolt is designed with six lugs in two circles of three for additional strength. The extractor claw and twin plunger ejectors guarantee positive and powerful 90-degree ejection of each spent cartridge.
The Extreme features a strong but lightweight synthetic stock with a strengthened fore-end and a grey, soft-touch finish chequered at the pistol and fore-end grip. The high raised comb ensures perfect alignment of cheek, eye and scope. Unseen but of intrinsic importance is the M12’s bedding with its transverse steel lug at the front receiver and rear aluminium pillar. This ensures great stability and strength. The forward sling swivel is mounted at the tip of the fore-end allowing for this test rifle to be fitted with an additional lug for the attachment of a bipod.
The single stage trigger is set at 2lb and is perfectly crisp, with no discernible drag or creep. The safety is a three-stage, wellchequered lever giving positive movement between fully back for “safe” (both bolt and trigger locked), the central position for “safe unload” (trigger locked) and forward to “fire” (both unlocked) with a white dot aligning to the various stages, including a red “F” in the fire position. When the rifle is cocked an unambiguous red cocking indicator protrudes from the rear of the bolt shroud to demonstrate clearly the status of the rifle; the tightness of the lever to the cocking indicator in the rear safe position ensures that accidental release by knocking or brushing when crawling is almost impossible.
The rifle features a detachable polymer five-shot magazine with a recessed release catch that ensures against accidental release in the field.
Minox, like Blaser, is part of the L&O Group and the scope supplied with the review rifle was a Minox 3-15x56 variable ZE 5i, with illuminated reticule mounted on quick-detachable, return-to-zero Mauser “Hexalock” mounts that are locked into place with a simple quarter-turn of the locking levers. The scope boasts exceptional clarity, parallax adjustment, a fine reticule and 12 stages of illumination. The moderator, also supplied by Blaser for the review, was a Barton reflex model 6in (16cm) long of which just 4in protrudes from the end of the barrel. Weighing a mere 250 grammes (½lb), it goes practically unnoticed and has no effect on the balance of this 9lb fully set up rifle. The combination of rifle, scope, mounts and moderator is the perfect match and gives you the confidence that someone has already made those choices on your behalf, and with success.
On the range, this rifle in .308 calibre performed well. It is comfortable to handle, mounts instinctively to the aim and is perfectly balanced. Using 150gr Lapua ammunition it shot consistent groups of an inch and performed slightly better with some 123gr home loads. By the time I tried RWS 150gr I was, perhaps, losing concentration, with the first two shots touching but the third pulling an inch to the right. Experimentation, as ever, will find that perfect match between rifle and ammunition.
This rifle is an utterly dependable and well-engineered product with a powerful pedigree. It is the perfect choice for any UK stalker, whether in the Highlands or southern England. It’s an everyday rifle for a discerning clientele and, together with its scope, mounts and moderator, will be a major auction lot at the British Deer Society’s annual London dinner this September.
The M12 Extreme fitted with a Minox 3-15x56 variable ZE 5i scope and Hexalock mounts