The Field - - Stalking -

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

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