Ammunition

Review: Mauser M18 Bolt-Action Rifle

mauser 6.5 PRC in action

For the past forty years, I have owned quite a few Mauser rifles. A number of Model 95, 98, 98K, Brno, Zastava and other variants have given good service.

All are based on the most prolific bolt action rifle of all time, the handiwork of Paul Mauer.

The newest Mauser bears little resemblance to the earlier bolt-action rifles, but the rifle, like other Mauser designs, is intended to compete and sell well. I believe it will do so.

The Mauser M18 is intended to offer a higher-quality package rifle than many competitors while maintaining an attractive price point.

While the Mauser is more expensive than the Savage Axis, Remington 783 and similar rifles, it costs a fraction of what the Blaser rifle may. Yet, as we will see, the Mauser 18 offers exceptional accuracy.

The rifle is as modern as possible and offers features not found on less expensive rifles.

Mauser Rifle Specs and Features

Mauser M18 Design Features

While the new rifle isn’t a Mauser 98, it is an authentic Mauser rifle. For around $700 without optics, this is an affordable first-class rifle with good performance.

It is a budget rifle for those that desire the best in performance. The stock is among the best features. The stock features soft rubber gripping surfaces around the pistol grip and the fore-end.

There isn’t a lot of abrasion, but the stock offers good adhesion in firing. The stock narrows toward the semi-pistol grip and then swells where the palm sets.

Mauser rifle stock
The stock is very well-shaped for fast handling.

By pressing in on tabs holding the butt pad, the recoil pad may be removed, allowing storage of small items like a cleaning kit. The stock is foam-filled, eliminating the drum sound of cheap synthetic stocks.

The M18 isn’t a controlled feed design, such as the original M98, but rather, this is a push-feed design that includes three locking lugs and a plunger-type ejector. One of the locking lugs features a robust extractor.

The rifle has plenty of leverage thanks to the bolt design, with a 60-degree bolt lift. The rifle is fast to cycle, however. The M18 also demands that you use a certain rhythm and work the bolt aggressively for best feed reliability.

Mauser rifle bolt and safety
The Mauser bolt is smooth. Note the three-position safety.

The M18 features a box magazine that holds five cartridges rather than the usual three or four. The bolt’s operating knob is an ideal size for easy manipulation. The bolt shroud features a red-based cocking indicator.

The bolt isn’t difficult to field strip, clean and maintain. The action features a cylinder-shaped bolt. This bolt isn’t difficult to machine compared to many of the more complex rifles of the past.

This action allows for precise machining and fit for excellent accuracy potential.

Mauser rifle handle
Mauser’s detachable box magazine is easily handled.

Among the advantages of the original Mauser was a three-position safety. This safety allows the shooter to operate the bolt with the safety on and lock the bolt as well if desired.

The Mauser M18, however, handles the safety location in a different manner. The safety is located on the side of the receiver.

The position at the rear is safe and bolt-locked, while the middle is also safe, but the bolt may cycle—while the furthest forward position is fire. After a few manipulations, the safety is intuitive and very fast.

Three dots are a visible indication of the safety’s location. An important feature is that the safety is silent in operation. In the modern fashion, the rifle features an adjustable trigger.

There is a screw in the top of the trigger that may be turned clockwise to increase the trigger weight and counterclockwise to decrease pull weight.

An important advantage of the Mauser M18 is the trigger action. The trigger is among the cleanest I have ever used in a factory rifle.

Mauser stock storage compartment
The Mauser stock offers a storage compartment near the recoil pad.

The rifle is supplied without an optic. After some study and thought, I added a Minox optic. The Minox ZL 3 4-12 x 40 Plex was chosen.

While Minox offers several good choices, I like the choice of four to 12 power over the common three to nine power. The optics are very clear and offer good clarity.

The adjustment knobs are easily moved and the scope proved easy to sight in. The rifle is light enough at just over seven and a half pounds with the scope mounted.

This is an ideal weight for a hunting rifle; not too heavy to carry all day, but heavy enough to absorb recoil. With the standard 22-inch barrel, the rifle has an overall length of 41.5 inches. The barrel is free-floated.

mauser/minox rifle
The Mauser/Minox combination is a fine choice for hunting.

Mauser M18 Caliber Options

The M18 is available in several calibers, including one of my favorites: the .308 Winchester. In the interest of my education and the readers as well, I ordered an example in 6.5 PRC.

This is a brilliant new cartridge developed by Hornady. This cartridge has been called a short magnum for its performance. The advantage over the 6.5 Creedmoor includes a supercharge of over 200 fps with the same bullet weight.

Hornady loads
Both of the Hornady loads tested gave excellent performance.

There are only two loads at present: the 143-grain ELD MATCH at 2910 fps and the 143-grain ELD X at 2960 fps. When fired in the Mauser rifle, each was spot on for velocity.

The 143-grain load was slightly faster at 2976 fps. The ballistic efficiency of this cartridge is impressive. With the rifle zeroed for a dead-on hold at 100 yards drop at 1,000 yards is about 25 inches.

This is an impressive standard. Yet the 6.5 PRC accomplishes this without excess recoil. The 6.5 PRC in my estimation doesn’t kick harder than the .308 Winchester.

A hard-kicking rifle will affect even the best rifleman. The 6.5 PRC is a cartridge that you may set at the bench and fire for extended periods without discomfort.

While there are good 6.5 cartridges from the past, the rifles twist rate isn’t well suited to the modern low-drag 6.5 bullet and neither is the cartridge case shoulder.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is an improvement over these and the 6.5 PRC an even greater improvement.

Mauser rifle cartridge comparison
Left to right: 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 x 55mm Mauser and 6.5 PRC for comparison.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is an increasingly popular cartridge. The 6.5 Creedmoor is chambered in economy rifles and self loaders. The 6.5 PRC, due to its design, isn’t likely to be chambered in a self-loader.

The 6.5 Creedmoor will do much of what needs to be done in the hunting field, given proper bullet selection. The 6.5 PRC is for those that desire more performance.

The Mauser M18 was pleasant to fire and use with the 6.5 PRC cartridge. The rifle comes with an accuracy guarantee of 1 MOA. The rifle certainly met any reasonable accuracy standards.

Firing the 147-grain match loading at 100 yards (107 measured), the rifle exhibited 0.6- to 0.8-inch groups. The 143-grain ELD X loading was even more impressive, with three-shot groups of 0.5-, 0.7- and 0.8-inch.

How I lined up the crosshairs and pressed the trigger was also a factor, but either load is more accurate than I am able to hold.

mauser rifle comparison
The 6.5 x 55mm Mauser, top, was a wonderful hunting cartridge. The 6.5 PRC, lower, is much more powerful.

Conclusion

This is a pleasant rifle to use and the 6.5 PRC cartridge is an outstanding choice. The Mauser M18 is a classy rifle if not a classic yet. It offers excellent accuracy, smooth function and a pleasing appearance.

What do you think of Mauser’s latest bolt-action rifle? Let us know in the comments below.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (9)

  1. Hmmm… $700.00 with no sights and plastic parts is a budget rifle ? Not for me, I’m afraid. I am an old retired fossil and that kind of money is not low cost. Not disparaging this writer, but his idea of low cost is different than mine. I am also a bit confused as to how a $700.00 Mauser is a competitor for a $329.00(with scope) Axis. Maybe he should have written from the angle of this rifle comparing favorably with a $1200.00 rifle ?

  2. I haven’t had a chance to handle the new Mauser, but I do have a question. Is the 6.5 X 55 Mauser cartridge you mention the same as the 6.5 X 55 Swedish Mauser?

  3. I may catch some serious flak for this, but to me, if it doesn’t have a claw extractor which allows controlled feed, it isn’t a Mauser, and holds no interest to me.
    I own a Zastava built brand new Mauser of the 98K design, in 8mm, which I would take hands down to the rifle reviewed in the article.
    I also own a CZ-527 in .223 which comes complete with controlled round feed. It is in current production, and I love it. Accurate to 1moa, it will outshoot me.

    The M18 may be for some folks, but give me the design that has stood the test of time, and become a classic.

  4. No matter how many times I see the accolades of the 6.5 CM, 6.5 this or that, I fail to understand what advantage it gives over my 6.5X55 Swedish Mauser by Remington. My rifle is one of Remington’s Model 700s and delivers 1″ moa or under any day of the week @100yds. The rifle is somewhere around 30 years old, weights 9lb with bipod, sling and loaded mag. It’s mine!!!

  5. I have an old model 98, 8MM that I bought for $50.00 when I was 15 years old from a friends father. I hauled hay all summer long to buy that gun, killed many deer with that gun, and still use it at times. Miss those good ole days when life was simple and Void of Sick Liberals !

  6. Very nice at first sight, however I do have a problem with plastic ( polymer ?) trigger guards, and I cannot get over the fact that very few manufacturers offer a rifle with open sights ! Even with today’s optics, I feel open sights should be present.
    Just sayin’…

  7. I like Mauser rifles and I have four, including a military BRNO 98. They handle and shoot well. The M18 sounds very nice and of excellent quality. It is certainly accurate, as I would expect from Mauser. I can’t get enthused about yet another 6.5 MM regardless of the initials after the caliber. It seems good enough in a forest of 6.5 caliber cartridges but not so very different from the 7 MM WSM that I have in my Winchester Model 70 which is accurate, low recoil and expensive to buy like all the 6.5 MM wonder calibers. They mostly came about to give AR aficionados something to shoot besides the 5.56 and really duplicate many existing cartridges.

  8. I also find the Mauser M18 to be a very accurate rifle. I got mine last year and it’s first offering was 6 choices. No 6.5PRC was available. I ordered mine in the 300 WIN MAG and it handles the power with no issues. I mounted it Leupold Marksman LR scope, as I got this at a great price from Bass Pro store. Took only 8 shots to be dead on bullseye… And I certainly did not pay retail for the rifle, either. I searched many sites until getting a great price. I do also have other rifles in other calibers including 1 in 6.5 Creedmore and that rifle is a Franchi Momentum,, also a high end , moderately priced rifle that is very accurate. both are great rifles in my collection.
    Any one interested in a great quality rifle at a decent price point, could not go wrong with a Mauser M18 in what ever caliber you prefer. You won’t be disappointed ….

  9. The very first picture at the head of the article looks astoundingly like a range that is local to me which is part of Sumter National Forest area, Leeds Range.

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