Third Party Press

Sporterizing my K98.

Jawoj_71

Well-known member
My gunsmith has a plaque on his wall from a customer thanking him for "Converting his useless old mauser into a beautiful hunting rifle". I honestly wonder how that customer feels now, the plaque looks pretty dated.
 

bob32268

Senior Member
The pic of the ad about sporterizing that 98k appeared in a copy of the American Rifleman in the late 1960's IIRC... The company may not even be in business any longer.
Tks,
Bob32268
 

luftpirate

Well-known member
My gunsmith has a plaque on his wall from a customer thanking him for "Converting his useless old mauser into a beautiful hunting rifle". I honestly wonder how that customer feels now, the plaque looks pretty dated.
Probably dead and fed his family for many years. Died a happy man.
 

Muncher 1953

Senior Member
Steve,
Williams published a 90 page catalog of their milsurp converting products that they sold for $1.95 in 1969. I think I have 2 copies (maybe I should offer one on the Trader)
It features various style sights, butt plates, sling mounts & a section for various familiar rifles & how to convert (ruin) each type.
My 1st Mauser, a 1909 Argentine cavalry carbine, has Williams sights installed, & they’re the only open sights on any rifle I own that I feel confident with. (thick eyeglasses w/strong correction) It’s the rifle I take on a rainy day deer hunt, no issues w/ a scope getting wet! I think the sights were professionally installed, but other sporter mods on the rifle were crudely done.
 

Scarey

Member
I am always on the look out for sporters to save, it kills me to see these old advertisements. I've restored 2 sporters so far and have one I'm trying to buy from a guy but doesn't want to sell yet for sentimental reasons, father brought 2 back and the one was dads hunting rifle. The 2 pictured below.
 

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Muncher 1953

Senior Member
I find these old catalogues really interesting. Makes you wonder what percentage of K98k’s got sporterized back in the day. I know up here in Canada its wayyy easier to find sporterized K98k’s than ones in original trim.
I think it was pretty much of a cottage industry in many of the allied countries where troops were able (if not really ‘allowed’) to “bring back” these rifles. Probably less so in the UK & on the continent than in the ‘colonies’ but still in those countries. Williams & Lyman both had full lines of sight products designed for conversion of military rifles, and there were numerous companies making replacement stocks, now gone. I don’t know what proportion of captured rifles were converted, but I believe it is a significant portion. In the ‘40s & ‘50s the war experience was still fresh for the vets & not heavy on nostalgia or fascination for 3rd Reich paraphernalia. Then, to convert a nasty Nazi rifle was almost an act of patriotism, to ‘defile’ a symbol of one’s former defeated enemy. ‘Beating swords into plowshares’ in a manner of speaking.

I forgot to mention above that the illustrations (exploded parts diagrams) in the Williams catalog bear an uncanny resemblance to those used today on the Numrich/Gun Parts Corp website (& catalog). IMO the Williams catalog is the source of those drawings, FWIW.

My grandfather, a career US Navy officer through both world wars, hunted with a sportered US Springfield 1903 rifle fitted with a Lyman receiver mounted peep sight, converted during the interwar years. (yes, I still have the rifle!)

Good job, Steve!
 

Cyrano4747

Well-known member
A ton of rifles were also imported for the express purpose of being cheap guns that people could sporter into a budget hunting rifle. Especially in the 50s-70s.

Not a new phenomenon then either. There are tons of ads from the very early 20th century through the 50s-60s offering pre-sportered krags, mosins, etc. Bannerman made a whole business off that.

I used to have a whole folder of those old adverts before my last hard drive died, but here's a quickly googled example:

RKyc1aR.jpg


Also you can find some WILD stuff looking at pics of old bannerman adverts.

Looks like this is a Gew88 re-barreled and re-stocked for the American market?

A621wvj.jpg
 

Scarey

Member
2 more from google. The first pic is selling already sporterized rifles (sears catalog)
 

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agentcq

Senior Member
I have a Williams K98 sporter that I picked up to maybe use for a sniper clone project.

I do have to admit that there are some companies out there that do take military rifles and use the action as a base for some very lovely hunting rifles.

Fanzoj from Ferlach Austria does just that, they use South American contract rifles as a base and go from there. I toured their building - amazing stuff.

 

Cyrano4747

Well-known member
I have a Williams K98 sporter that I picked up to maybe use for a sniper clone project.

I do have to admit that there are some companies out there that do take military rifles and use the action as a base for some very lovely hunting rifles.

Fanzoj from Ferlach Austria does just that, they use South American contract rifles as a base and go from there. I toured their building - amazing stuff.


A well made sporter can absolutely be a joy in and of itself. Don't get me wrong - I'd much rather have a rifle in original military condition. But man, some of those old gunsmiths in the 50s and 60s could really, REALLY make some nice stuff.

When you're talking that level of craftsmanship - again, not bubba with a hacksaw and a tapping kit in his garage - I really stop thinking about the military rifle that it was and look at it as a sporting gun. Maybe not something I'm going to put into my collection, but I'll absolutely understand someone who does.

This goes for more than just milsurp rifles, incidentally. I've got an acquaintance who collects old Smith & Wesson handguns and he's made quite the little niche for himself grabbing old target pistols. Same deal as you have with K98ks - a lot of S&W collectors will turn their nose up at something that's not their version of 100% matching, unsanded, perfect finish etc. But back in the day a lot of those guns had aftermarket sights added to them, ribs, hammers improved, triggers tuned etc. They're starting to get some more collector cachet, but 20 years ago he was grabbing these "worthless" "ruined" pistols left right and center, and specifically focused on the ones that went through the D.W. King workshop. Some amazing examples of really good gunsmithing and really intelligent choices that made just wonderful shooters.
 

moconfed

Senior Member
I have an exceptionally well done heavy barreled sporter built on an early Sauer action, and recently saw it's twin built on another later Sauer action. Good sporters are out there! The frightening thing is that there are some that have been built recently.
 

WreckTangle

Mad Dog 20/20 Connoisseur
Fast forward to 2022 and there are people doing the reverse process, more or less openly, some of them producing "rare-and-onne-of-a-kind"...

You mean like the recently discovered Hitler's Chromed SS Parade Rifle? The guy that got that was probably the one that also scored Hitler's watch for $1 mil. the other month. lol.
 

BrianNv

Member
I find these old catalogues really interesting. Makes you wonder what percentage of K98k’s got sporterized back in the day. I know up here in Canada its wayyy easier to find sporterized K98k’s than ones in original trim.
My grandfather was a gunsmithing instructor at Lassen Gunsmithing school from 1950 to 1963. He talked about the 55gal barrels full of ww2 rifles. At the start of each school year they would bring them out and let the students pick through them for their school projects. Iirc, they were like $4 each. To complete the 2 year course you had to sporterize a Mauser into a fine hunting rifle.

Another story he talked about was rebuilding well used Garands and 03a3 rifles, at the end of the year they would take them out to the desert as a class trip to shoot Jack rabbits and feral horses/donkeys. They had all the surplus ammo they could shoot on that class trip. Gone are those days for sure.
 

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