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Rifles

A Sporting Mauser

by Ed Timerson   |  September 23rd, 2010 4

Husqvarna’s classic sporter performs as well today as it did after the Great War.


My first hunting rifle was a .30-06 my gunsmith father and I built on a World War II German 98 Mauser action. I was a teenager, and with handloads and peep sights it accounted for everything from woodchucks to deer.

Many years later, during a visit to the local gun shop, I spotted an old commercially made Husqvarna Mauser sporting rifle. Inspection showed that it had been used but not abused. It had been carried a lot, showing small stock dings and checkering points that were shiny with wear, which only added to the lovely aged patina of the fine old European walnut stock.

Most of the metal blueing was good, with some wear around the trigger guard and floorplate, common from handling. The bore was bright, smooth and well cared for.

My father had once owned a Husqvarna Mauser, but I hadn’t seen one for years, and when I saw it was chambered to the classic 7×57 Mauser, I purchased the rifle on the spot.

It came without a scope but carried early Leupold Detacho bases and rings. The slim and trim quick-release rings were popular in the 1950s and ‘60s, and I was pleased that they remained with the rifle.

I knew little of the history of Husqvarna’s rifles, except that they were considered one of the best-made commercial Mausers offered. With my curiosity stimulated, I went to my library and researched the rifle in Mauser Bolt Rifles by Ludwig Olson.

Husqvarna is a very old Swedish firm, dating from the early 1600s. Olson writes that the company made some of the finest Mauser sporter rifles and carbines, and after examining mine, I have to concur.

Early sporter rifles were built on the Model 96 Swedish Mauser action. In the late 1930s, and through the 1940s, Husqvarna sporters were also built on refinished military Model 98 Mauser actions.

In the early 1950s, Husqvarna used commercial FN Mauser actions and exported rifles to the U.S. through Eric S. Johnson Company of Chicago, Illinois, and Tradewinds Inc. of Tacoma, Washington. About 1,955 HVA Mauser Sporters were imported.

My rifle’s modified commercial Mauser action has a full-length small ring receiver with solid left wall. The bolt has a very streamlined FN-style striker assembly, with low-profile bolt handle for scope clearance. The handle has that classic rearward sweep common to commercial Mausers of the period.

A safety lies behind the bolt handle. There is a small push button bolt release on the bottom left receiver wall, instead of the large pull-lever seen on typical Mausers.

The bolt has the usual large extractor and controlled round feed. The left locking lug is much longer than typical Model 98 lugs, extending forward to the bolt face. Also, it is not split for the ejector; the ejector slot is in the bolt body, under the lug.

Early Husqvarna rifles were offered in 9.3×57, 6.5×55, 9.3×62 and 8×57. With Husqvarna rifles on FN actions, the .220 Swift, .270 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield calibers were added.

When HVA started making its own action, offerings ranged from the .243 Winchester to .358 Norma Magnum.

I also did a little research in one of my favorite sources, Frank de Haas’ Bolt Action Rifles, which went into a bit more detail. HVA actions and rifles were made from 1954 until the late 1960s. Early models had steel trigger guards and floorplate assemblies. Later rifles came with a lightweight alloy unit. Deluxe models had adjustable triggers; sporter models were not adjustable.

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Accuracy Results

HUSQVARNA MAUSER

7×57 Mauser Bullet Weight (gr.) Powder Type Charge Weight (gr.) Muzzle Velocity (fps) Avg. Group (in.)
Federal Power-Shock 175 Factory 2,148 0.96
Speer spitzer boattail 130 IMR 4064 46 2,794 2.12
Sierra spitzer 140 IMR 4320 43 2,649 1.84
Nosler Ballistic Tip 150 IMR 4350 47 2,508 0.88
Nosler Partition 160 IMR 4350 46 2,414 1.43
Note: Loads are for strong modern rifles only. Velocity recorded eight feet from muzzle.Loads are in new Remington brass with 9 1/2 primers. Accuracy average of three three-shot groups, except one group only for factory load.


With nice lines and a trim, lively feel, the sporter Mauser makes a responsive, light hunting rifle.

Sporters had straight or Monte Carlo stocks, with either a Schnabel fore-end or full-length stock and a black buttplate and pistol grip cap. All were hand checkered and had sling swivel studs. Barrels are hammer forged and were 201⁄2 inches long.

Stocks on the Deluxe models had white-line spacers under buttplate or recoil pad, pistol grip cap and fore-end tip, and the checkering was fancier. Bolts were jeweled, and Deluxe rifles came with 233⁄4-inch barrels.

Three actions were available. The Model 501 was for .30-06-length cartridges, the 502 for short-action rounds and the 503 for standard-length belted magnums. All were actually long actions, with simple magazine plugs for the shorter cartridges. Actions and barreled actions were also sold.

In about 1968, Smith & Wesson entered the rifle market by selling these rifles with slight stock-design changes and S&W markings, but the basic rifle was the same.

My rifle is the lightweight Monte Carlo Sporter model. With a 201⁄2-inch barrel, slim, trim stock and Schnabel fore-end, it is a graceful, light little carbine, in part because of the small receiver ring action that allows a slim stock. It doesn’t have a big thumb clearance cut in the left receiver wall, as do military actions.

Husqvarna claimed it could safely chamber modern high-pressure cartridges in these small-diameter receivers due to the use of modern, top-quality steel. The company even chambered belted magnums, and I have never heard of any problems.

My rifle has the Husqvarna crest stamped on top of the receiver ring. It is also molded into the plastic buttplate. On the bottom of the receiver ring are proof marks and a serial number. The barrel sports a small crest and the word “Nitro”–a smokeless powder proofmark. My rifle also has the earlier steel trigger guard and floorplate assembly.

I had not worked with the 7×57 cartridge in years, so after bringing the rifle home, I began digging through my storage cupboards to determine if I had any ammo or brass. I had neither.

A trip back to the gun shop produced a box of Federal Power-Shok ammo with heavy 175-grain round-nose bullets–along with dies and component to work up some handloads.

I mounted an early model Simmons 3-9×32 scope in the Leupold mounts. It has a long tube, which fit nicely in the wide-spread rings. Before testing I checked the barrel bedding and found slight fore-end contact over most of its surface. I left it as is, for aged wood is fairly stable.

After sighting in, I shot a three-shot group at 100 yards and was pleasantly surprised to get a 0.96-inch group.

Deer season was close at hand, and I wanted to test a few handloads that would be appropriate for hunting whitetails in the eastern woods.

Handloading for a strong action such as the Husqvarna has a definite ballistic advantage. Most factory ammo in this caliber is loaded to mild pressures, as the 7×57 is downloaded for safe shooting in old military rifles of questionable strength and condition.

Most loading-manual data are mild, also. Nosler’s fifth edition data is up to modern standards and is accompanied by a warning to use in strong rifles only.

The other advantage to working with this action is that, with its full-length magazine, there is plenty of room to load bullets long–thus losing no powder space. The rifle has lots of freebore, so no chambering problems were encountered.


The Husqvarna factory crest is molded into the hard plastic buttplate.

In fact, the only bullet tested that could be loaded out long enough to touch the rifling was Nosler’s 160-grain Partition. At an overall cartridge length of 3.275 inch, it touched the rifling when seated in the neck less than a quarter-inch.

The first bullet I loaded was Speer’s 130-grain boattail spitzer . It had a very long jump down the throat to the rifling, and best groups were around two inches. Next I tried Sierra’s 140-grain spitzer, which produced groups just a bit smaller.

So I went still heavier, hoping a longer bullet would close the gap to the rifling and improve accuracy. Nosler’s 150-grain Ballistic Tip is long, streamlined and showed good accuracy, with groups averaging a little under one inch.

This ideal deer bullet became my hunting load. But alas, I did not have an opportunity to harvest a deer with the rifle. Just the same, it was handy and light to carry, ideal for hunting the eastern woods.

I also worked up loads with Nosler’s 160-grain Partition. Accuracy was acceptable–in the 11⁄2-inch range–but not as good as with the 150-grain Ballistic Tip.

These rifles were made for several years, so there should be many of them around. But I have seen only this one for sale in recent years, which tells me those who have them keep them. If you have an opportunity to purchase one in good condition, consider yourself lucky.

WARNING: The loads shown here are safe only in the guns for which they were developed. Neither the author nor InterMedia Outdoors assumes any liability for accidents or injury resulting from the use or misuse of this data. Shooting reloads may void any warranty on your firearm.

  • Nathan White

    Thanks for the article. I have a 270 Win. Husqvarna Vapenfabriks AB rifle, with same exact stock you show in this articles pictures. I do have a recoil pad on it. However, my action doesn't have the safety behind the bolt handle. I have the flip up/down safety on the back of the bolt, that I can actuate with my right thumb. I have the tapered 24" barrel on it as well. The bolt release is a heavy rectangular arm that I have to pull back towards myself to release the bolt. I have a serial number of 131XXX and was wondering if you knew how to locate the information on this. I would like to know when it was made, and if possible the exact model number. This is the first gun I had ever bought and will never sell it. It would be nice to know its history. Thanks.

    • Hans Lonnberg

      Nathan.

      Your rifle is made in 1951 according to the serialnumber. This would make it a model ’640′

  • Steve Utzinger

    Great info,I have a 30.06 Husqvaran Vapenfabriks sporting rifle but with the full lenght monte carlo stock.I bought this rifle new when I was 16 years old,in the early 60,s. I think I paid aronund 130.00 new at a real gun store in Downtown Milwaukee. This is a great rifle lite, accurate and beautiful.

  • New River Valley Outdoorsman

    I own one of the last Model 1896 actioned sporters Husqvarna built: it is made in 1944. Production ended in that year and after the war Husqvarna used FN-made Model 1898 actions. Mine is not a converted military rifle, but a purpose built sporter with no thumb cut on the left side of the receiver. It’s in the great 8×57 caliber. I used this rifle in Namibia three years ago and took a great deal of game with it, including a monster eland. A beautiful gun, and in my opinion the M1896 makes a much trimmer and more elegant sporting rifle than the M1898 action.

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