Classic sporting rifles of Empire


May 4, 2012, 05:31 PM

I was wondering what the opinion was on classic sporting rifles made by the British vs the Germans/Austrian.

We have H&H, Purdy, BSA, Parker Hale etc. on the British side and Mauser, Blaser, Sauer, etc. on the Austro-Germanic side.

I'm interested in the different thoughts on which rifles were more sought after and which countries made better rifles during the colonial to mid 1980s with the end of Empire.

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May 4, 2012, 05:57 PM
On the breech loading guns I go with the English.

On the bolt guns have to go with Mauser.

In fact, most bolt rifles built by English gun makers are based on Mauser actions.

May 4, 2012, 06:12 PM
I agree in general, but even on bolt guns I generally prefer the aesthetics of the British guns. There were some very nice German and Austrian guns made but often the engraving is a little heavy for my style. For investment purposes go with the finest you can afford, and H&H or Purdey pre 60's with classic engraving is always a sought after firearms.

For a lightweight stalking rifle I do prefer the German single shots with a full length stock, really fine looking rifles.

May 4, 2012, 07:21 PM
A classic German or Austrian hunting rifle would have a full length Mannlicher stock.

May 4, 2012, 07:46 PM
They're all good. Some are extremely nice. But you're looking at a very expansive time period and a global set of empires.

The British seem to have dominated sporting arms outside the USA through most of the 19th century. Their muzzleloaders and BPCR's were superlative and the explorers and hunters who left accounts from that period seemed to favor them. Combination rifles were a Germanic tradition of course, but were not favored by big game hunters and explorers. They tended to be used by meat bag hunters who needed protection (ie the Cape Gun) or by hunters after a mix of medium and small game. That's very, very generalized though.

Smokeless changed everything. It's impact was deep and profound. The continental designs such as the Commission Mauser and the 1895 Steyr-Mannlicher were early favorites for sporterizing, and the PH's were quick to see their advantages. The British did have light smokeless arms such as the Lee Speed, but for reasons I've never been able to determine continued building enormous doubleguns. With black powder they made sense. BP can only move a round so fast, and if you want more killing power beyond that you have to use a bigger hunk of lead. So massive 8 and 4 bore doubleguns were the only reliable way to bring down dumbo prior to 1886. After that, the shift was on for light weight high velocity rifles. The British nitro double guns certainly had their fans, but they were gradually eclipsed by Continental designs. Cost, recoil, weight and practicality all favored the bolt actions. With the advent of the 1898 Mauser the game should have been over, yet doubleguns soldiered on for decades and are still in use today.

Overall, personally, if I wanted a BPCR I'd go with a Farquharson and if I wanted a smokeless I'd go with a Mannlicher-Schoenauer 1903.

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