Member's Hunt: My 128-Year-Old Rifle

posted on March 21, 2020

By Gary Brown, Conklin, Mich.

In November of 1969, I harvested my first big-game animal, a whitetail doe, with one shot from a rifle I borrowed from my brother. It was a 1891 7.65mm Argentine Mauser. Hunting in South Africa 50 years later, in July 2019, I harvested a trophy waterbuck bull from 280 yards—another one-shot kill with the 7.65mm Argentine Mauser. This rifle is now 128 years old, and I’ve got a love affair with it.

This is the only rifle I’ve carried in all my 50 years of rifle hunting. I moved to Michigan in 1974 and many whitetails have fallen to this rifle. In 1973, I started making out-of-state hunting trips; over 40 to Montana alone, 14 to Colorado, six to Alaska and now four trips to South Africa.

I bought that “borrowed” rifle from my brother in 1969 for $15 with the understanding that I would sell it back to him for $15 if I ever desired to sell it. Needless to say, Roger never did get it back.

I carried this rifle on foot and on horseback to over 12,000 feet of elevation in Colorado and Montana in pursuit of elk and mule deer. I carried it in Alaska to mountain peaks in pursuit of mountain goats. It’s gone to alpine tundra in pursuit of moose and caribou, and to islands in the Prince William Sound for Sitka blacktails and black bear. I have many fond memories of carrying this gun across my back while paddling down rivers, island-hopping for whitetails in Montana. And it is quite the conversation item around the nightly bonfires when on African safaris. One of those conversations was about other items that were made prior to the 20th century that are still in regular use today. This was before automobiles, airplanes and most appliances.

My Argentine Mauser isn’t customized, and therefore looks like it came off the battlefields around the turn of the 20th century. It has the bayonet mount, and it looks wicked with the bayonet in place. I did add the high-rise side mount Bushnell scope in 1975 to help me with long-distance shots.

More than 40 elk, similar numbers of mule deer and whitetail, numerous antelope, black bear, moose, caribou and two mountain goats have all fallen to this rifle. And it has proven its worth in South Africa: 17 different plains-game species, including the 1,700-pound eland that I took on my last trip in July 2019. The shot was from 93 yards, and the great bull only made it 22 yards before collapsing for good.

I do have a confession to make: There are actually two different 7.65mm Argentine Mausers that I’ve used in my 50 years of hunting. My first Mauser was destroyed in a fire in 1986 caused by a terrible truck/trailer crash that my brother-in-law and I were involved in while on the way home from our annual Montana hunting trip. My rifle was insured, and I could have used the money to buy a more modern hunting rifle, but since I still had the Lee hand-loading die and bullets for the 7.65, I chose to try to find another one.

And lo and behold, by brother came through once again—this time finding one at a gun show in Missouri. I set up the rifle just like my original, with a high-rise offset Bushnell 3X9 scope and all. Even though I’m right handed, I’m left-eye dominant. With the same cheek-to-stock position, my open sights are in line with my right eye, making it perfect for close, running shots. It just works for me.

My Argentine Model 91 was made in 1891 by Ludwig Loewe and Co., which had a contract for 180,000 rifles and 30,000 carbines chambered in 7.65mm. Others were later built by Deutsche Waffen-und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) when it took control of Loewe in 1896. But the much more popular 7mm based on the now-famous Model 98 made the Model 91 almost obsolete … but not to me!

I still use the rifle today, and I plan to continue using it for as many more years as the good Lord allows me to hunt.

Do you have an exciting, unusual or humorous hunting experience to share? 
Send your story (800 words or less) to [email protected] or to American Hunter, Dept. MH, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA. 22030-9400. Please include your NRA ID number. Good quality photos are welcome. Make sure you have permission to use the material. Authors will not be paid, and manuscripts and photos will not be returned. All material becomes the property of NRA.


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