The Swedish Mauser Rifles
and Joe Poyer
It is somewhat ironic that the rifles we in North America know so well as the "Swedish Mauser" were never called that by the military in Sweden. Swedish Mauser is a term that was first applied to these fine rifles when they reached the surplus arms market. The correct designation is "Light Infantry Rifle."
All Swedish Mausers were manufactured by one of three companies: Mauser, Oberndorf am Neckar, Germany; Carl Gustafs Gevärsfaktoriet, Eskskilstuna, Sweden (Carl Gustaf's City Rifle Factory) and Husqvarna Vapenfabriks AB, Husqvarna, Sweden. Production began in 1894 with 52 prototype carbines and continued uninterrupted at Carl Gustaf from 1898 to 1925 and intermittently into the 1930s. Production was resumed in 1941 at Husqvarna and ended in 1944. Production at the Mauser factory took place from 1895-1896 (m/94 carbines) and again between 1896-1900 when rifles only were manufactured.
The following paragraphs provide a quick overview of the main Swedish Mauser models and variants. Following are reproductions of two pages from the book, "The Swedish Mauser Rifles" that illustrate the part-by-part description contained in all "For Collectors Only" books.
Models of the Swedish Mauser
In all, only three models of the Swedish Mauser were originally manufactured. They were: 1) m/94 carbine, 2) the m/96 rifle and 3) the m/38 rifle. Fourteen other "variations" were produced from these original three models.
They are: 1) m/94-96 carbine, 2) m/94-14 carbine, 3) m/96-38 rifle, 4) m/38-96 (Fsr) rifle, 5) m/41 sniper rifle, 6) m/41B sniper rifle, 7) fm/23 match rifle, 8) fm/23-36 match rifle, 9) m/38 .22 caliber trainer, 10) CG 63-m/6 match rifle (6.5 mm caliber), 11) CG 63-m/7 match rifle (7.62 NATO caliber), 12) CG 80 match rifle, 13) m/63 sniper rifle and 14) fm/90 sniper rifle.
The Swedish military was armed with the m/94 carbine and m/96 and/or m/38 rifle from 1895 to 1978 when the last m/38 rifles were officially removed from service. The m/41B sniper rifle continued in use through the 1980s.
The very first version of the so-called m/94 carbine could more correctly be referred to as the m/93 carbine. These first test carbines were basically the Spanish Model 1893 carbine, and they were manufactured at Mauser in Oberndorf, Germany. Fifty-two were purchased, and they can be distinguished from later Mauser-made carbines by the fact that the receivers were marked only with the serial number (1 to 52) and did not carry a maker's name on the receiver ring, nor the year of production.
The initial field tests were successful, and a new contract for 5,000 carbines was arranged with the Mauser factory in August 1894. Designated the "Karbin m/94," it had a 17.7 inch barrel and a Mannlicher-style stock that ended in a heavy nose cap similar to that used on the British SMLE Mk I and Mk III rifles.
Following Mauser's practice at the time, all bolt components were left in the white and highly polished. The sling was attached to the carbine via a sling bar mounted on the left side of the rear barrel band. The other end was threaded through the left side of the stock, through a slot, and fastened with a buckle attached to the right side with brass screws. The carbine was not equipped with a cleaning rod but instead, a pull-through brush and jag were issued in a cleaning kit.
The entire first order of carbines were delivered in 1895. In June of that same year, an additional 7,185 carbines were ordered. In 1896, production of the carbine began at the Carl Gustafs stad gevärsfaktori in Eskilstuna, Sweden.
Engineer and coastal artillery troops preferred a short, fast-handling rifle that provided the same firepower as the infantry rifle but in a lighter, shorter package. Since neither service branch were mounted, they carried backpacks and slung their rifles over the shoulder.
The forward sling swivel on the m/96-96 carbine was moved from the left side to the bottom of the barrel band, and a rifle-style sling swivel and plate were inletted into the bottom of the stock. No other change was made. Many of this model were rebuilt between 1914 and 1920 into the m/94-14 carbine.
In 1914, the m/94 carbine was redesigned once again, this time to accept a bayonet. A reinforcing band was added to the rear of the nosecap and extended rearward to the barrel band. A Mauser-style lug was brazed into a cutout in the bottom of the reinforcing band, and a stud was added to the front of the nose cap. Two types of bayonets were issued: the coastal fortification troops received a bayonet with a 13.6 inch blade. Naval personnel received a 15 inch bladed bayonet. Many earlier m/94 and m/94-96 carbines were modified to accept the bayonet.
The Gevär m/96 was designed and deployed as an infantry rifle. Its 29.1 inch long barrel was believed necessary to burn all the powder in the 55 mm-long cartridge case to achieve maximum velocity and stabilize the 156 grain bullet in the m/1894 cartridge.
The first rifles were built at the Carl Gustaf factory with receiver dates starting with 1898 and serial numbers beginning at "1" and ending in 1925 at circa serial number 517,277 or later. The Swedish government paid Mauser a royalty of 2,25 Kronor (Crowns) for each rifle (about US $0.612 at the time).
In 1899, Mauser was granted a contract to build 40,000 rifles to supplement production at the Carl Gustaf factory using the best "Swedish steel" (the Swedes considered their steel so superior that its composition never changed from start to end of production).
All m/96 rifles were built with the long 29.1 inch barrel and rear sights calibrated to 2,000 meters. Those rifles with barrels threaded at the muzzle for the blank firing device were designated with a "B" prefix, i.e., "Gevär m/96B."
Note: A "B" prefix was applied by the Swedish military to all rifles with barrels threaded at the muzzle for the blank firing device-"Gevär m/96B," "Gevär m/96-38B," and Gevär m/38B." Blanks were never permitted to be fired from the sniper rifles, and therefore, their barrels were never threaded at the muzzle. The suffix, "B", in m/41B indicates a sniper rifle modified to 1955 standards.
Some 30,000 m/96 rifles were rebarreled at the Carl Gustaf factory beginning in 1938 with a 24.5 inch barrel to make the rifle handier for the foot soldier. The shorter barrel and the adoption of the new m/94/41 cartridge with the 139 grain spitzer bullet required that the rifle be equipped with a new rear sight. A quantity of new rear sights were manufactured for the m/96-38 by a local firm, but it proved more economical and-with a little training-just as effective to simply attach a metal plate or paper decal to the butt stock which gave the soldier a chart by which to quickly calculate the amount of hold "over" or "under." These decals or plates were attached to the stocks after the adoption of the new cartridge in 1941, see Figure 8. They were attached upside down so that the shooter could read them with the rifle at the shoulder simply by rotating the stock to the left.
The Gevär m/96-38 proved so successful that when new rifles were ordered for the military in 1941, the contract issued to Husqvarna specified that the new rifle be built to the same pattern. In all, 60,000 new rifles with the 24.5 inch barrel were built at the Husqvarna factory between 1942 and 1945. They can be identified primarily by the marking and date on the receiver-HUSQVARNA VAPENFABRIKS AKTIEBOLAG and a date between 1942 and 1944.
These rifles were stocked in beech wood. Only differences in factory and inspection markings, plus the turned-down bolt handle and a new rear sight design show that they are different. The new rear sight was also hinged at the front, but two vertical ears at the rear protected the sight leaf which was re-calibrated only to 600 meters. Two sight leaf variations are found-those calibrated for the original m/94 156 grain bullet and those for m/94/41 139 grain bullet. The latter sight leaf is marked with a "T" at the top. Figure 10 shows both the different markings and the redesigned rear sight use on the m/38 rifle.
Target Versions of the m/96 Rifle
Over the years, a number of m/96 and m/38 rifles were altered for use by civilian target shooters. At least five types of rifles are known that were altered, and in one case, manufactured for target shooting: the fm/23 and fm/23-36, the Fsr rifle (m/38-96) and the CG 63 and CG 80 rifles.
Approximately 500 m/96 rifles were rebuilt some time after World War I as target rifles. The fm/23 was a standard m/96 rifle equipped with a heavier barrel and a stock shortened to a sporting or target match configuration. Lyman receivers sights (M48) were installed, providing a range of 100 to 1,000 meters. It is not known if these receivers were manufactured exclusively for this rifle without the thumbcut, although since they were assembled in 1936, it is probable they were. The bolt had the thumbpiece removed to increase lock time, and the trigger pull was lightened for competitive shooting. The fm/23-36 differed only in that it was equipped with a thumb-hole target-style stock and the receivers lacked the thumbcut for clip loading. Both rifles were issued to military officers for match shooting.
Frivilliga skytte rölsen Rifles (m/38-96)
When World War II began, the military lacked sufficient rifles to equip members of the Swedish National Shooters Association (Frivilliga skytte rölsen) as reservists. The government turned to Husqvarna, who was already manufacturing the m/38 rifle. Husqvarna produced 20,000 m/96-type rifles with 29.1 inch barrels in 1944 and 1945.
Over the years, many of these were equipped with a variety of precision match-style rear and front sights.
CG 63 and CG 80 Rifles
When Sweden formalized its rules for 300 meter military-civilian matches, a new rifle was developed for competitors, the CG 63 through the Frivilliga skytter relsen.
At the Carl Gustaf factory, a new, heavy, non-stepped barrel was attached to an m/96 or m/38 receiver. The trigger assembly was adjusted and smoothed to match quality. A new beech Monte-Carlo-style stock with identical, if shallow cheekpieces, on either side for right- or left-handed shooters, a pistol grip and a short forend and handguard that allowed the barrel to float, were developed. Match quality adjustable micrometer aperture rear sights from several Swedish manufacturers were installed, as well as the American-made Lyman and Redfield adjustable rear sights, although these latter appear to have been added by the owners. Hooded front sights with interchangeable inserts were added to the new barrel. The distinctive vertical thumbpiece was removed from the bolt to increase lock time. The rifle, which averaged 4.6 kg (10.14 lbs), was available in both 6.5 x 55 mm, 7.62 x 51 mm NATO and .22 rimfire calibers. The military match versions were designated m/6 in 6.5 x 55 mm and the m/7 in 7.62 x 51 NATO. The m/6 military version was equipped with a short cleaning rod beneath the barrel.
The CG 80 is an improved version of the CG 63. It featured a new beech-wood stock that also included a pistol grip, Monte-Carlo-style cheekpieces and a short forend. The CG 80 did not have a handguard. It did have an aluminum rail inletted into the bottom of the forend to allow the attachment of an adjustable sling.
The exact designation applied by the Swedish military to the original sniper rifle equipped with the AJACK, AGA 42 or AGA 44 scopes was "m/41." These were standard m/96 rifles manufactured by Carl Gustaf or Mauser and selected for their accuracy. A telescopic sight mount and base were manufactured by the German firm of Jackenroll and bolted and pinned to the left side of the receiver. Standard European rings were used to mount the telescope.
Beginning in 1955, three important modifications were made to the sniper rifle which was then redesignated the m/41B: 1) AJACK scopes were substituted for the AGA 42 and AGA 44, 2) a set screw mount stop was attached to the base to prevent the mount from moving forward under recoil, 3) the bolts were blued and 4) a new rear sight was installed for use in those instances when the telescopic sight was damaged. It was designated the "SM-Sikte m/55."
When first issued in 1941-42, six m/41 sniper rifles were issued per company of infantry.
The Luxembourg Rifle
At the end of Mauser production in 1900, between 500 and 1,000 m/96 rifles were built and sold to the Duchy of Luxembourg. The are identical to the Swedish m/96 with the following exceptions: 1) receiver ring marking.
2) barrels were marked "L 205," 3) the standard Mauser 1893 upper band was substituted for the Swedish upper band to permit the use of a conventional Mauser bayonet. All parts including the barrel were stamped with the Swedish Crown inspection stamp.
This article is condensed from the author's new book, "The Swedish Mauser," by Steve Kehaya and Joe Poyer. The book is part of the "For Collectors Only" series and available from North Cape Publications, Inc. P.O. Box 1027P, Tustin CA 92781 at $19.95 plus $2.75 postage (CA residents add 7.75% sale tax) or phone Toll Free 1-800 745-9714. All major credit cards accepted. A complete listing of all firearms-related books from North Cape Publications and order form can be found at http://www.focus-success.com.