Firearms

Review: Mauser 18 Savanna — A New Rifle From Old Company Performs Well

Mauser Savanna .30-06 rifle with a Picatinny top rail on a wood-topped table

When the name Mauser comes to mind, most of us envision a World War II era rifle. The German gunmaker is still around, and today its focus has shifted from battle to hunting rifles. I was fortunate to get my hands on a new sample of its Savanna, a variant of Mauser’s new Model 18 series, to discover this company can also make a classic hunting rifle with updated features.

Mauser describes the design of the 18 Savanna as being for short distances and tight terrain. It sports a 22-inch barrel and synthetic stock around a Remington 700-based bolt action. The sample pictured here has tan-colored furniture. Longer-barreled variants are offered in two types of camo.

Mauser Savanna .30-06 rifle laying across a wood log
The Savanna by Mauser has the shortest barrel of its new Model 18 series. The barrel is 22 inches. We added the Leupold rail to the drilled, tapped receiver.

Features

To be more specific, the blued barrel is hammer forged and 17mm in diameter. It’s threaded with a plain, easily removed end cap that stays true to the gun’s traditional look. The thread pitch varies by chambering. In the case of the .30-06 Springfield sample in this article, it’s 9/16×24.

Speaking of chambering choices, there’s a plethora. Consumers can pick from .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, 7mm Remington Magnum, and .300 Winchester Magnum. This model is thus capable of taking on any four-legged game of choice, including the largest ones, when chambered accordingly. Case in point: my co-reviewer made a respectable 300-yard, one-shot kill on a Barbary ram with this rifle. The .30-06 Springfield round did not exit the animal.

The lightweight stock has texturized black highlights at operator contact points including the grip, cheek rest, and recoil pad. The latter is removable with a squeeze of the black tabs on the buttstock to reveal a storage compartment, reminiscent of the storage on most AK-style rifles. Remove the foam insert inside, and the space transforms from matchbox-size to large enough for, say, a cleaning kit, fire-starting supplies, or the skinnier components of an MRE.

Those who like a semi-custom trigger should be pleased with the single-stage, adjustable model on the Savanna. I find it to be plenty light out of the box for a hunting arm. I estimate pull at two to three pounds, with no creep. Likewise, the bolt runs with no wasted motion. A little assertion is required to start it on its path, which is typical of most bolt guns.

The five-round, detachable magazine worked well during the several sessions in which my partner and/or I have put rounds downrange through the Savanna, staying easy to eject, load with ammo, and secure into the receiver. The exception to five-round capacity is the .300 WM Savanna, which has a four-round mag. A thumb-operated, textured, three-position safety is located on the top right of the grip, accessible enough for left-handed shooters. Mauser made sure its operation is silent, so as to not startle game. There is no palpable play that I’m able to detect in the action. It operates with confidence-inspiring consistency.

Box magazine loaded with 5 rounds of .30-06 Springfield ammunition being loaded into a Mauser 18 rifle
The box magazine release and the mag itself function well. Mauser made stealth a priority in the Savanna’s construction. Magazine removal and insertion can be done silently.

Results

That all sounds good, but how does it shoot? I put the 18 Savanna on a bench with a target set at 100 yards. I wanted to find out whether the typical accuracy claims are true, and which of our limited assortment of ammo yields the tightest group. A downside of the .30-06 cartridge is seasonal shortages—manufacturers tend to not push much out their doors except for fall hunting season.

Three loads from three companies were tested with five-shot groups. Between a cold bore shot and two shooter error flyers, they’re measured as four-shot groups with the “flyers” eliminated. Results were as follows: 

Remington Core-Lokt 165-Grain had the widest five-shot group at 2.0 inches. Some of that may be attributed to including the cold bore shot. While its paper performance was somewhat lacking, this is the round that killed the Barbary sheep at 300 yards.

Mauser 18 Savanna rifle, right profile, on a shooting mat with Remington Core-Lokt, SIG Elite Hunter, and Hornady Outfitter ammo boxes
A trio of ammo brands were used to test accuracy. They are Remington Core-Lokt, SIG Elite Hunter, and Hornady Outfitter.

SIG Sauer Elite Hunter 165-Grain performed well in terms of grouping with a 1.25-inch spread. The ammo supplied by SIG Sauer was from the pandemic lockdown/materials shortage era, and some components (including case material and bullet tip) are obviously not the same as advertised (not the same colors). Several rounds failed to detonate. The ones that did were plenty accurate. SIG makes great ammo that I’ve made a good kill with before. SIG’s virus-era stopgap measures are not something I hold against the company.

Hornady Outfitter 180-Grain was the standout performer by a narrow margin over SIG Sauer. This pricey load is of great quality, turning in a 0.75-inch group.

This is representative of typical hunting ammunition, obtained with hunting, not target practice, in mind. Not all perfect target ammunition performs well on game, and vice versa. To my way of thinking, these groups are an exercise to find out which brand and grain weights this individual Mauser 18 Savanna shoots best. It’s not uncommon for a different rifle of the same brand and model to shoot differently. Know which loads your gun barrel prefers.

Mauser 18 .30-06 rifle with a box of Hornady Outfitter ammo
Hornady Outfitter, the heaviest load tested at 180 grains, proved to be the best performer in terms of accuracy with the Savanna. It’s not cheap, but it performed extremely well.

Final Thoughts

I think Mauser delivers on its promises with the 18 Savanna. It’s a manageable 41.9 inches and lightweight at 6.4 pounds before ammo/optic. Simple, traditional styling and doing the basics well is a recipe for a hunting rifle that will last for many seasons. And even though the company’s culturally naïve, nearly hilarious slogan for the Model 18 is “Men Prefer No Fuss,” this American woman finds it entirely non-fussy and practical to shoot as well.

The current MSRP is reasonable for this good-looking, good-shooting rifle. It’s set at $849 for the Savanna tan-colored stock or $949 for camouflage stock models with a longer barrel.

The Mauser name is synonymous with strength and quality, but Mausers have been out of the spotlight for far too long. Are you a Mauser fan. Which caliber would you choose for a Mauser 18 Savanna? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Mauser Savanna .30-06 rifle with a Picatinny top rail on a wood-topped table
  • Savanna rifle with Mauser 18 on the barrel
  • Box magazine loaded with 5 rounds of .30-06 Springfield ammunition being loaded into a Mauser 18 rifle
  • Rifle grip cap with the Mauser logo
  • Mauser Savanna .30-06 rifle laying across a wood log
  • Mauser 18 Savanna rifle, right profile, on a shooting mat with Remington Core-Lokt, SIG Elite Hunter, and Hornady Outfitter ammo boxes
  • Removed recoil pad on a Mauser Savanna .30-06 rifle
  • Mauser 18 .30-06 rifle with a box of Hornady Outfitter ammo
  • Threaded barrel cap for a rifle
  • Rear view fo the Mauser Savanna and its three-position safety
  • Eve Flanigan shooting a Mauser 18 rifle from a bench rest and Lyman shooting bag
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 (3)

  1. To my eyeball, if you showed this rifle to me and did not say what it is, I would think Winchester Supershadow (model 70), in one of the WSSM calibers. Good for Mauser! This is a nice looking, lightweight 30.06.

  2. I have the 6.5CM chambering of this rifle. A little disappointed that it’s not controlled-feed like the old-school Mausers, but it’s still an excellent rifle for the money. The short throw bolt is fast and smooth to operate and won’t get in the way of your optic. (It’s cock-on-open so it needs a little authority to start it after a shot.)

    Sighting in a Burris Fullfield 3-9×40 with a grab bag of ammo, groups at 100y stayed around an inch or better. More than enough for hunting and field applications, but I’m pretty confident that tailored handloads could achieve half-inch groups or better. Trim your brass well when reloading for this rifle. The chamber tolerance is very tight and the action will refuse to lock down on a casing with even a mild amount of stretch.

    The polymer end cap on the bolt did start rubbing on the bolt body after some use, causing an annoying creak on opening the action, but addressed with a little oiling.

  3. I bought a 98 Mauser in 338-06 years. I put a Hogue dark earth overmolded stock on this year. Ive reloaded 30/06 cases with Barnes 160gr TTSX bullets in front of 57 gr of Hodgeon H335.

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