My first centerfire (FR 8) with pics and vid


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sawdeanz
May 6, 2014, 01:18 AM
Wanted to share my recent acquisition. This Spanish FR 8 (Spanish Mauser, arsenal converted to .308, more history below) is my first centerfire rifle. I bought it at the Tampa gunshow the other week and got to take it out to the range Sunday. I wasnít particularly looking for one, but I had in mind to keep an eye out for a suitable toy. I was hoping for a .308 or 30-06 something, thinking I might be lucky to find a converted Enfield or Mauser, it turns out the FR 8 was exactly what I was looking for. I was about to consider an Enfield thinking .303 ammo might not be so bad, but then I saw probably the only FR 8 Iíll ever see. I had read about it before, so I knew what it was. Surplus rifles that were originally configured to shoot modern calibers are rare, and being a large ring Mauser I figured it was probably a better bet than an Ishapore which I have read so-so reviews about.

I paid $475 for my all matching example, even the wood, mag plate, bolt, stock plate etc all match. I would say it is in VG+ condition, the wood is still varnished or lacquered, the parkerizing even with very little wear, clear numbers, good looking bore at least to my untrained eye. The receiver is stamped 1951 serial 088xx (more on that later). Something which I think is sort of unique to my rifle is that it is stamped both 308 and 7.62. I havenít seen that, usually just 7.62. I suspect the 308 was added by Century Arms who also had their roll mark on the barrel, but still unusual. A little more than I had in mind to spend going in but after confirming that was in the ballpark, and considering the prices for these have literally quadrupled in as many years I said what the heck. Iím really glad I didnít buy ammo at that show though.

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a60/Sawdeanz/Guns/IMG_5793.jpeg (http://s9.photobucket.com/user/Sawdeanz/media/Guns/IMG_5793.jpeg.html)

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a60/Sawdeanz/Guns/IMG_5830.jpeg (http://s9.photobucket.com/user/Sawdeanz/media/Guns/IMG_5830.jpeg.html)

I picked up some .308 at the store though I really wanted the 7.62 Nato which the rifle was designed for.
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a60/Sawdeanz/Guns/IMG_5811.jpeg (http://s9.photobucket.com/user/Sawdeanz/media/Guns/IMG_5811.jpeg.html)

As it turns out the S&B ammo had the proper NATO headstamps even though the box said .308.
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a60/Sawdeanz/Guns/d6e16c49-c5e9-4559-9d0b-b1305ad705a3.jpg (http://s9.photobucket.com/user/Sawdeanz/media/Guns/d6e16c49-c5e9-4559-9d0b-b1305ad705a3.jpg.html)

No one had any NATO gauges, most didnít even appreciate the difference between commercial and military. I called around and finally found a fellow at Iron Site Gunshop in Clearwater who would check it out. He was very friendly and interesting. He claimed he could test it with a pulled round. I wasnít sure if that would tell me what I wanted to know but he said it checked out and was ok to fire, which is what I wanted to hear. (More on that later).

It was a good chance to try out the Manatee gun club outside of Bradenton, FL which I will say was very exciting, being the only range Iíve been to that had more than a hundred yard lane, let alone 1000 yds which it also had. They are also very easy on the rules, allowing rapid fire, any ammo you want, etc but with adequate safety officers. Highly recommended.

The biggest gun Iíve ever shot before was a Garand, and I remembered that being quite pleasant actually. The FR 8 was definitely more jarring, but I could get used to it. It has a flashhider, not a brake but I wasnít ever bothered by concussion despite the short barrel, and it is still a hefty gun but you still want to shoulder it tight. Operation is like any mauser but it has the updated sights which I liked. The sights are a nifty open style with the rear sight rotating to reveal peep holes for 200, 300 and 400 yds.
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a60/Sawdeanz/Guns/IMG_5804.jpeg (http://s9.photobucket.com/user/Sawdeanz/media/Guns/IMG_5804.jpeg.html)
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a60/Sawdeanz/Guns/IMG_5807.jpeg (http://s9.photobucket.com/user/Sawdeanz/media/Guns/IMG_5807.jpeg.html)


Fortunately my sights were pretty good out to the 75 yds I shot it at, but I didnít shoot for groups, I was running out of time. Click the image below to see my first shot (caution may contain foul language)
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a60/Sawdeanz/Guns/th_GOPR1673.jpg (http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a60/Sawdeanz/Guns/GOPR1673.mp4)

And my sort of rapid fire
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a60/Sawdeanz/Guns/th_GOPR1677.jpg (http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a60/Sawdeanz/Guns/GOPR1677.mp4)

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sawdeanz
May 6, 2014, 01:28 AM
My dilemma, because nothing can be perfect, the headspace does seem to be a bit large, with the primers backing out some. Here is a picture of one of the worse off ones.
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a60/Sawdeanz/Guns/IMG_5826.jpeg (http://s9.photobucket.com/user/Sawdeanz/media/Guns/IMG_5826.jpeg.html)


How long do I have? How bad is it? Does anyone know how easy or hard it is to get these barrels turned in a bit? (I believe the receivers are modified to accept the CETME barrels, but I could be wrong and maybe it is the other way around).

The other minor issue I have is that the rounds have a lot of play in the magazine. I thought they installed spacers in these to accommodate the shorter .308 but mine has probably a good .5 inch of play.


I promised a history lesson too. Short story is the spanish converted their Mausers in the late 50s to use as training and rear echelon weapons to complement their new CETME (HK G3 contemporary). The Mauser actions were converted to fire the NATO round and to accept the CETME barrels and front sight (hence the gas tube looking thing which on the bolt gun just serves as a storage tube and bayonet lug). The FR 8 were built on the large ring mauser actions, and the FR 7 on the small ring, so avoid those ones.

Fun Fact:
As I understand, and it is a common misconception, the dates on the receivers are the original dates of the action, not when the gun was converted, so I don't really know when my FR 8 started life as an FR 8. This can easily be confirmed by looking at a timeline of CETME rifle implementation, though i've seen many lesser sources claim the FR 8 was in service during the early 50s.

I think this also contributes to confusion about which round is safe to fire, since some will point to early 50s dates as if to say the conversions were done before NATO 7.62 standards or before Spanish NATO adoption, though other places have confirmed that the barrels used came from the CETME C which was chambered for the modern full powered NATO round. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

chicharrones
May 6, 2014, 10:03 AM
Nice write up. Congrats on getting the FR8! I wouldn't mind having one myself. :)

Willie Sutton
May 6, 2014, 11:05 AM
"As it turns out the S&B ammo had the proper NATO headstamps even though the box said .308"

Not surprising since they are the same.....

These are nice rifles. I'd have a gunsmith drop a go/no-go headspace guage into that one though. If it's excessive, the only cure is to remove the barrel and set it back one full turn and rechamber it. Not terribly hard but it'll add 50% to the cost of the thing.


Willie

.

Reloadron
May 6, 2014, 11:28 AM
I won't even get into the FR8 Spanish Mauser ammunition debate as it becomes unending.

However I will comment on this:
He claimed he could test it with a pulled round.

That really, in my opinion, isn't true. While I know what he likely had in mind using a spent case it is not a reliable or accurate method. The only way to accurately measure headspace in a rifle chamber is using a gauge designed for the purpose. A full set of 308 gauges looks like this:

http://www.bearblain.com/images/308%20Gauge%20Set.png

Using the correct gauge is the only way to really know what the headspace actually is. Using a spent case, in my opinion, will only yield marginal accuracy numbers.

As to the primers backing out give this thread a read (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=508752). Also, note Willie's post above.

Ron

desidog
May 6, 2014, 01:39 PM
The FR-7 and FR-8 rifles were made before NATO and their specs were around. They were chambered for 7,62 CETME, not 7.62NATO or .308Win. However, those three cartridges have the same external dimensions.
The 7,62 CETME was around 40,000PSI, while the modern .308Win is around 60K PSI.

They are fun and useful rifles. I didn't know that they command that kind of price these days.

Geno
May 6, 2014, 02:28 PM
Congrats on your first centerfire.

Geno

sawdeanz
May 6, 2014, 04:50 PM
The FR-7 and FR-8 rifles were made before NATO and their specs were around. They were chambered for 7,62 CETME, not 7.62NATO or .308Win. However, those three cartridges have the same external dimensions.
The 7,62 CETME was around 40,000PSI, while the modern .308Win is around 60K PSI.

They are fun and useful rifles. I didn't know that they command that kind of price these days.

http://zoneballistic.com/colinsballistics/fr-8.html

Based on this article which has some references and research I believe you may be repeating some missinformation. Like I said in my original posts based on the above link and another reference I'll have to look for again, I believe the date on the receivers are the original m43 dates not when the conversions were done. The consensous I've seen is that they were indeed chambered for 762 nato or at least the strength of the action should be strong enough regardless. Whether they could handle commercial 308 brass and loads is still up for debate.

Jeremy2171
May 6, 2014, 05:09 PM
However they were chambered in 7mm and 8mm Mauser BEFORE converting to 7.62...so pressure shouldn't be an issue.

desidog
May 6, 2014, 05:46 PM
I believe you may be repeating some missinformation.

I could be, but since that site has no trustworthy citations either, it's just another opinion as well. I have also discussed these rifles with former Spanish soldiers.

I believe the date on the receivers are the original m43 dates not when the conversions were done.

I've seen a bunch of FR-7's and 8's, and all the dates i've seen were 1951 and on; however, a lot of the guns had scrubbed receivers..possibly reused and older, possibly just the guy welding on the rear sight.

The consensous I've seen is that they were indeed chambered for 762 nato or at least the strength of the action should be strong enough regardless. Whether they could handle commercial 308 brass and loads is still up for debate.

Yes, the '98 (3-lug) FR-8 is...the FR-7 (1896 two-lug Mauser action) is not. While a kaboom could well happen, a case-head separation is more likely to blind the shooter with gases.

Whether or not the gun was "intended" for 762NATO use is a bit of a goose chase, since the switch to NATO happened in the same time frame as these guns were cobbled together, so at some point they were indeed "intended" for use with 7.62 NATO...I also heard that the FR-7's were sold off at that particular time. I do not have a citation for that, just a guy named Marco...

sawdeanz
May 6, 2014, 07:00 PM
There is no doubt these rifles have a rather unclear history. I've been basing my theories/opinions on the conflicting and little info internet research had provided so I welcome your experience as well. What did the soldiers you speak to say? If we could even just pinpoint the dates these were made (51 still seems too early) and used that might help. I also want to confirm that they did indeed use a cetme c barrel as ive read, but it could be there wasn't much different, perhaps a cetme expert could chime in. I don't mean to spread misinformation myself

Gottahaveone
May 6, 2014, 07:32 PM
Hi,
Congrats on the FR-8. Bought mine in as-new condition about 5 years ago and love the lil bugger. You might wanna take a look at the linked webpage, I found lots of good info there.

http://web.archive.org/web/20100113103543/http://surplusrifle.com/shooting/fr8/index.asp

Best of luck with your new rifle....

Jeremy2171
May 6, 2014, 07:43 PM
high primers indicate low pressure not necessarily excessive headspace...

sappyg
May 6, 2014, 08:47 PM
high primers indicate low pressure not necessarily excessive headspace...

Agreed. Seen this several times in my dad's cowboy loads. The primer backs out enough to lock up a wheel gun. Also observed this in an Arisaka bring back firing weak ammo

sawdeanz
May 6, 2014, 09:12 PM
Thanks for the link gottahaveone that pretty much confirmed my suspicions.

Also I found someone with .308 winchester gauges and he said it failed the go, no go and field, however I haven't found anyone with the nato spec ones. So now what?

Reloadron
May 6, 2014, 10:11 PM
Thanks for the link gottahaveone that pretty much confirmed my suspicions.

Also I found someone with .308 winchester gauges and he said it failed the go, no go and field, however I haven't found anyone with the nato spec ones. So now what?
The problem I see with 7.62 X 51 NATO chamber headspace gauges is that there seems to be no set numbers. Rather they seem to vary by rifle. For example you will see data that looks like this:

US M14 Rifle headspace settings
GO - 1.6355
NO-GO - 1.6405
FIELD - 1.6455

British L1A1
GO 1.6325
NO-GO 1.643

British L42
GO 1.628
NO-GO 1.635

Typical 308 Win to SAAMI on the other hand looks like this:

Go 1.630
No Go 1.634
Field 1.638

Now if you are curious as to your rifle whoever checked it with 308 gauges can try a trick I have used. I take precision shim stock and punch small circular pieces out of it. I use light grease to stick those pieces to my gauges pictured earlier. I know I have a 1.638 field gauge so I just add to that till the bolt won't close. All this will do is tell you what your chamber headspace is in your rifle. You will get a number.

Keep in mind that excessive headspace depending on where it is won't always cause a primer to back out as has been covered.

During the early 90s when the FR8 Spanish Mausers were pouring in through CAI (Century Arms) I sold a ton of the things. Most when I checked them came in using SAMMI Spec 308 gauges around 1.634 to 1.636 (Between No Go and Field) and they all shot well. Wish I had kept one or two. :(

Ron

sawdeanz
May 6, 2014, 10:15 PM
I already shot it and it didn't explode. Didn't really test accuracy but no weirdness besides the primers. But I don't want to ruin the rifle or myself.

Jeremy2171
May 7, 2014, 09:39 AM
I wouldn't sweat it at this point. You won't wear that rifle out thats for sure.

wally
May 7, 2014, 12:10 PM
I already shot it and it didn't explode. Didn't really test accuracy but no weirdness besides the primers. But I don't want to ruin the rifle or myself.

I wouldn't sweat it at this point. You won't wear that rifle out thats for sure.

I would sweat if it closed on the Field gage.

Closing on the Field gage means it needs to be returned for repair. OTOH I don't see how its possible to fail both a Go and NoGo -- after headspacing it should close on the Go and not close on the NoGo. But closing on the NoGo in a gun that has been used doesn't really mean much other than its seen some wear. So maybe the .308 gages you've found were damaged or the user didn't know how to use them.

The Go and NoGo gages are not much use for a gun that has been shot. They are mostly for the gunsmith to insure its not smaller than the minimum or larger than the intended maximum when it leaves the shop, the Field gage is the one that tells you when its had enough usage and needs to be returned for some repair work.

If the gages from different "specs" vary as much as Reloadron suggests I'd wonder if they are using the same datum to define the measured length. But if it closes on the M14 Field gage I'd definitely say it needs some work.

sawdeanz
May 7, 2014, 01:18 PM
It was just one of the big box store smiths do I don't know which gauges out if he knew how to use them, I didn't know at the time what I know now, but I'm still not sure how to tell a competent Smith from a dumb one. I'll ask around for some recommendations in my area.

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