All the previous entries in our “Classic Bolt Action Rifles” series have been iconic in one way or another–the 03 Springfield and the Lee Enfield’s service life, the fine craftsmanship of the Swedish Mauser, or the groundbreaking cartridge in the Lebel rifle. But today lets take a look at another military bolt action rifle that is not as well known, but its fairly common in the market today: the Spanish M1916 Short Rifle.
Spain had been one of the first adoptees of the Mauser pattern rifle back in the 1890s, but by the middle of the Great War, she was looking for something more handy. Enter the M1916. With the same basic action as the old M1893 rifle, the new gun featured a turn down bolt handle, rear tangent sight graduated to 2000m, and a tapered front sight protected by a pair of steel ears.
The barrel length is just 21 inches and the rifle still uses the well known 7x57mm Mauser cartridge. This low recoil, yet flat shooting round was still in its prime as a military issue cartridge with countries like Serbia, Spain, Mexico, and the vast majority of South American countries. Today the round lives on very healthily as a hunting cartridge with both old and new rifles available in the chambering. The original military cartridge featured a round nosed 173 grain bullet traveling at a leisurely 2300 fps, though by 1916, the spritzer type of bullet was in play with a lighter 139 grain bullet traveling at about 2900 fps. Like all smokeless Mausers, the m1916 can be loaded with rounds one by one or with five round stripper clips, making rapid reloads an easy proposition at the time.
Unlike the legendary m1893 that saw use in the Spanish-American War, the M1916 had to wait until the terrible Spanish Civil War (1936-39) to see any action. But thanks to Spain’s neutrality, the country was largely unscathed by the World Wars and these little carbines stayed around in police service well into the 1980s with many of them being rechambered for the new 7.62mm NATO cartridge. These rechambered models are very common in the marketplace today for around the $200 mark and are generally seen as good guns, though the 7.62 NATO round has a tiny bit more pressure than the original 7mm round, which leads to some concerns about headspace and gun explosions. Yet, I have been unable to find a single verified case of this. But a 7.62mm M16 is a story for another day on Classic Bolt Action Rifles.