Image – Michael E. Cumpton
Q: I have been left a fine German Mauser sporter mounted with a an old Hensoldt scope in claw mounts. It appears to have been custom-built since it has engraving on the action and a nice slim pistol grip stock with horn forend tip. There’s only one snag; it is chambered in 8x57mmJS. I’d like to use this rifle in the field on fallow and red stag. Do you think the calibre is powerful enough to handle game of this size? Or, maybe I should have it rebarreled to .30-06? By the way I am reloading for a number of calibres and could do the same for the 8mm Mauser.
A: All too often the guy who winds up with an 8x57mm ’98 will immediately begin to figure out how he can convert it to a more desirable calibre, since he doesn’t really consider the cartridge to be on a par with more modern sporting calibres. There is certainly no need for any handloader to convert his 8mm Mauser. Properly loaded, this venerable cartridge is more than adequate for any of our introduced deer species. For example, if you want to shoot woodland deer with it, the 200gn Woodleigh RNSN can be driven at slightly over 2500fps by 46.5gn of AR2206H. This is faster than the factory-loaded .30-06 220gn bullet. If you prefer a somewhat lighter projectile the Barnes 180gn TSX can be launched at up to 2668fps with a maximum charge of 51gn of W-760.
While for goats and pigs the 150gn Speer can be speeded up to around 3000 fps by 51gn of AR2206H – virtually approaching .30- 06 factory loads with the same weight bullet. Whatever you do, don’t put thegrand old 8mm Mauser down because it is over a century old and U.S makers have always badly underloaded it. In fact, you don’t have to handload to have really modern performance – just pick up some of the fine European ammo made by RWS, Geco and Sellier & Bellot and I’m sure you’ll be impressed. Think that over before spending time and money rebarreling a good 8mm ’98 sporter to some other calibre.