2020 Rifle of the Year: Mauser M18

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posted on February 11, 2020
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At the end of 2019, American Rifleman editors and contributors got together and discussed the guns, ammunition, optics and gear that emerged from the marketplace over the past year. From these conversations emerge the Golden Bullseye award winners for 2020, and such has it gone since the first Golden Bullseye awards decades ago. For more details on the criteria considered in selecting a Golden-Bullseye award winner, check our list below, but the winner of our 2020 Golden Bullseye Award for Rifle of the Year goes to the Mauser M18.

For many of today's riflemen and history enthusiasts, the name "Mauser" needs no introduction. The vaunted action first seen in the Gewehr 98 served as the basis for many of the world's premier hunting and military rifles. Of course, the rifle equipped German forces through two world wars and continues to see service today in hunting fields across the world. That action, however, first emerged at the end of the 19th century, and much has changed in the intervening years. In an effort to create a modernized rifle that still retained the qualities that made Mauser great in its glory days, the company released the M18. Here's our take on the design of the Mauser M18 from the pages of American Rifleman:

The new Mauser is part of a trending class built on cylindrical receivers containing bolts notably stouter than the traditional pipe-stem type. In fact, the M18’s fat, 0.805" bolt shank completely fills the inside of the receiver and actually exceeds the lug diameter by a few thousandths, thus negating the need for raceways or other internal guides. As a result, cycling the action is as smooth and rattle-free as you’ll find on any Mauser, and because the push-feed bolt has three locking lugs instead of two, the M18’s bolt throw is shorter and quicker than the Model 98’s. Another trendy, perhaps useful, touch is that the old-school straight handle ends in an oversize polymer knob.

...At an MSRP of $699, the Mauser M18 is priced a bit higher than most competing models, but well below any new-production Mauser since the height of the Cold War. While rifles in this class are typically spartan, the M18 offers a few extras along with better-than-expected test results. Purists who can’t separate the brand from its full-length-extractor/controlled-round-feed legacy won’t be fans, but hunters seeking an affordable rifle with reasonable expectations of Mauser performance and durability, likely will be.

You can read the full review here.

To qualify for consideration for a Golden Bullseye Award, a product must have been:

  • Recently introduced and available to consumers prior to the selection of the Golden Bullseye Awards;
  • Used/tested by a staff member or regular contributor to the magazine and/or affiliated media;
  • Reliable in the field, meeting or exceeding the evaluator’s expectations;
  • Innovative in design and function;
  • Readily perceived as a value to the purchaser; and
  • Styled in a manner befitting the shooting and hunting industry and, perhaps more importantly, its enthusiasts.
“Selected by a six-member committee consisting of editors, graphic designers and veteran NRA Publications staff, [these products] epitomize what NRA members seek in their shooting and hunting equipment—outstanding performance, innovation and value," said Doug Hamlin, executive director of NRA Publications. "Congratulations to those who have created the industry’s best new products.”

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