1903 Mannlicher Schoenauer 6.5x54, Questions

DmacD

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I replied to an ad for a gentleman selling an over/under 20g shotgun near me. Went to his house, checked out the shotgun and it was in great shape, so we made a deal and I handed over the money. Making small talk, I asked if he had any other firearms for sale. He said there were a couple more he didn't really use, so, I asked if he would mind showing me what he had. The first one was an old sporterized Mauser of some kind, a little rough, and I was not interested. When he brought out the next one, I got a little more excited. He told me he had bought it off of "an old German guy" many years ago, but that he could never find any ammunition for it in the stores around here so he put it away in the safe. I left his house, but could not stop thinking about that Steyr. It was in great shape, the bore was spotless, and after doing some research on getting some ammo, I went back to the man and made an offer two weeks later.....

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This is what I brought home. Carbine length, fullstock with a cheekpiece, double triggers, with intergrated scope mount and scope. There is one standing rear sight and one flip down sight marked for 300 meters. The front bead is gold. In addition to the wing safety, there is also a tang mounted safety, and they both work to stop trigger pull. I had a gunsmith take a look at it, and he told me that it looked to be in fine shape for shooting. He removed the stock as well, and found a layer of dried out grease, which he removed and then oiled everything again before puttting it back together. The bullets are on order, and I would like to take it deer hunting this fall.
I did however have a few questions regarding this rifle. First is the year it was born. I was wondering if anyone out there had any knowledge on these rifles as to what the serial numbers might indicate.
Serial number on the breech and barrel above the wood: 15921
Serial number on the breech and barrel under the wood: 1325.22
There is a -05, an "R" in a circle, a 2, and what looks like an NPv on the breech under the wood.
There is a +5, a C6.5, and another set of shapes stamped on the underside of the barrel.
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This is stamped on the left side.

The integrated scope mount has been installed over top of the factory markings in the rifle. Does anyone know if this would be a factory scope mount, or perhaps one that was installed at a later date?
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The scope itself is marked "Kahles" over top of "Wien". Underneath that is stamped "Heliavier". It looks to be in good shape with some bluing wearing of of the edges. It has a Duplex reticle and seems bright enough to me. There is adjustment for 100, 200 and 300 meters, and serial number is 21995. Looks like maybe a 4 power fixed?
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I would appreciate any and all knowlegde that any forum members might have. Whether it be info on the serial numbers, options installed, or even your experiences in shooting and hunting with these rifles.
Thanks
 

BobT

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I can't help much experience wise but you have a beautiful rifle, thanks for sharing!
 

Ridgewalker

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I too know nothing about them other than that is a beauty!
 

Hammergun

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I have a well worn 1903 but your carbine is in much nicer condition than mine. I'd love to find one that looks like yours someday. Excellent purchase. I'm envious!
 

Pondoro

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I think the 1325.22 under the barrel mean produced in 1922, the push-knob to remove the bolt mean pre-1924, after that they canged it to a lever aka M98.

The 6,5x54 with the original 160 grainer is famous for good penetration..
 

leslie hetrick

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I lost a MS 1903 in 6.5x54 with a standard stock and a after market scope mount with a not so good scope and not in near the shape your rifle is in. I offered 1400.oo for it and was turned down.
 
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Adrian

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Wonderful rifle and scope combination of Austrian craftsmanship and quality.
 

DmacD

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The 6.5x54 ammo has arrived so I will take it out sometime this week and give it a few test shots. Hopefully the scope is somewhat zeroed, I would really like to use it for what it was intended for, hunting.
 

Red Leg

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You have an exquisite model 1903 Mannlicher Shoenauer. The 6.5x54MS is a superb round for deer (or anything else of similar size.) The 160gr class bullets have BC off the scale and will punch holes through almost anything. Germans and Austrians use the caliber on red stag and boar as well as roe deer. Solids from this little rifle (along with 7x57 and .303) were used by "Karamojo" Bell to brain and amazing number of elephant.

Essentially, all mounts are post factory. You could have ordered it with telescopic sight installed, but even then, the work would have been outsourced. Most installed in Europe are claws of one type or another. Yours is a different variation (levers and studs rather than claws) but also most likely European. Though I have never seen that particular style before. Redfield also made a version of their mount that used a variation of their rings and bases once the receiver was drilled and tapped. The front was drilled normally - the rear attached back left. They can occasionally be found on ebay and similar sites.

The scope is almost certainly from between the wars and may or may not still be usable. A gifted gunmaker like JJ Perodeaux http://jjperodeau.com/ in this country could make new rings to fit those bases allowing the use of quality modern optics. Perhaps there is a similar savant in Canada? He did that for my little carbine shown below with the original period scope and soldered rings.


In any case, congrats on discovering a truly wonderful thing.
 
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Longwalker

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Those are lovely rifles, and handle like a dream. I had one once with a shot out barrel. sold it to a collector who didn't want to shoot it anyway. Still miss that one. I'm not sure if they did the same markings back when yours was made, but my 1968 Steyr-Mannlicher 7x64 Fullstock carbine has the year of manufacture "68" stamped on the left side of the front receiver ring and on the barrel left side near the chamber.
 

Red Leg

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Those are lovely rifles, and handle like a dream. I had one once with a shot out barrel. sold it to a collector who didn't want to shoot it anyway. Still miss that one. I'm not sure if they did the same markings back when yours was made, but my 1968 Steyr-Mannlicher 7x64 Fullstock carbine has the year of manufacture "68" stamped on the left side of the front receiver ring and on the barrel left side near the chamber.
Only the post WWII models are marked in that manner. Pondoro has pointed to the correct date mark on a pre-war ‘03.
 

John A Flaws

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I believe the first serial number 15921 was stamped by the factor and the second number 1325.22 was stamped on the firearm by the Austrian Proof House. The 1325 is the proof house number for the firearm and the 22 does represent the year the firearm was proofed by the proof house.

That is a fine little rifle you have there and hope you will have success shooting the 160 grain bullet. I have a Henry Atkin 256 (6.5x54) and it unfortunately it wont group 160's. I agree with Red Legs reference J.J. Perodeau. I have had JJ do work on a few of my rifles and his work is outstanding. One of the jobs was making a new set of Holland and Holland style rings for my Holland 375 and the result were excellent.

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Red Leg

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I believe the first serial number 15921 was stamped by the factor and the second number 1325.22 was stamped on the firearm by the Austrian Proof House. The 1325 is the proof house number for the firearm and the 22 does represent the year the firearm was proofed by the proof house.

That is a fine little rifle you have there and hope you will have success shooting the 160 grain bullet. I have a Henry Atkin 256 (6.5x54) and it unfortunately it wont group 160's. I agree with Red Legs reference J.J. Perodeau. I have had JJ do work on a few of my rifles and his work is outstanding. One of the jobs was making a new set of Holland and Holland style rings for my Holland 375 and the result were excellent.
Lovely little rifle. I have a Westley Richards 318 that also has a G&H side mount. Mine was equipped with 7/8 inch rings so I sent it to Griffin & Howe to replace them with 1 inch. Would have done 30mm, but they were concerned about proper fit on that particular rail and rifle. They confirmed it was indeed a pre-war mount. I have always assumed a small number of English rifles made their way to this country between the wars and were equipped by their owners with these side mounts as the only really viable dismountable alternative on this side of the Atlantic.
 
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7x57Joe

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Congratulations Dean, that is a fine little carbine! Love the Mannlicher-Schoenauers, the smoothest bolt rifles I've ever handled.
 

DmacD

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Thanks for the verification on the date Pondoro.
Red Leg, thank you for the insight regarding the scope mounts and scope. I hope to use it as is if the rifle will shoot straight for me. The next step would be to contact a respected gun maker here to create a scope mount to hold a modern optic if I needed to. I have read a few threads from a few other Canadians that mention a gun maker in Quebec that is pretty respected.
D.M.V., I ended up paying $1150 CAN for it which seemed high to me at first. After doing a little digging around on the internet, it seems like a good deal?
John A Flaws, I really enjoyed seeing your rifle as well.
 
 

 

 

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