Zbrojpvka BRNO Mauser Commercial rifle 8x60mm

Manufacturer’s marking and location.

Zbrojpvka BRNO Mauser Commercial rifle 8x60mm

Allow me in introduction to say this is one of those rifles that give one a sensuous feeling just picking it up.  That feeling increases when shouldering the rifle.  (The reader should look up ‘sensuous’ if suspecting I am sexually aroused by a rifle.)  This simply feels like a rifle should.

This is it. A device of steel and wood with spirit.

This is a bolt action rifle.  The action is made by Zbrojobka Brno in Czechoslovakia.  By the way, “Zbrojobka Brno” are the Czech words meaning ‘firearms manufacturing company’ in Brno, Czechoslovakia.  Brno is the name of a town and is pronounced “Bruno”.  “Zbrjobka” is pronounced “szBro-yo-ka” (the first part of the first syllable is sort of a ‘hiss’) as best as I can type it here.  There is a video on You Tube with audio giving a better model.  The meanings of the words are my understanding of usage shown on the internet.  Here endeth the linguistics lesson.  I speak no Czech, I found the pronunciation on YouTube.

Stock

The stock is of classic style. No cheek piece in the modern sense; intended for use with iron sights, not telescopic sight. Checkering around the grip and a bit on the forend, where gripped by the supporting hand. Rear sling swivel on the bottom of the stock, near the butt. Front swivel on the barrel. Fairly short forend with a ceremonial schnable rather than a noted one. Other than decoration, my observation is the schnable or knob or end cap is to serve as a stop or warning to the support hand of the end of the forearm. A ‘positioner’ if you will, to indicate the forward most position of the support hand. (Of course, I could be all wrong.) On the bottom of the fore end, one finds a metal ‘diamond’ inset into the stock fixed with a slotted screw. Until I remove the action from the stock, I have no idea.

The stock has been used. There are a few ‘dings’ and scars, none serious. The finish is ‘flat’ rather than shiny. The finish and use marks give the rifle character rather than an abused look.

Speaking of the stock, I find forty-seven (47) notches on the bottom side of the butt stock. From one man familiar with the customs and practices of the area, they indicate game (he said ‘moose’) taken with the rifle. It would appear this rifle has been taken hunting in times past.

All those notches represent taken game. Possibly moose.

Metal work suggests more than merely utilitarian intent.  All the metal parts are surface finished.  That is, all parts are smooth and even.  No grinder or machining marks.

Action

As mentioned, this is a bolt action rifle.  The size and general appearance suggests a basic 98 Mauser action.  (Presumably based on the VZ24 action.)  The action is commercial.  There are no charger clip guides and no left side thumb access.  Top of action has integral (milled into action) telescopic sight mounts.  The size of the integral rail is between the milled .22 long rifle rail on a .22 rifle and the outboard ridges of Weaver type mounts.  The space between the rails, the top of the action is handsomely milled in a ‘wave’ pattern.    One thinks this is more of a European design; your correspondent remembers no U. S. commercial or military rifle so equipped.

Hopefully the pictures give a better idea.

The forward top section of receiver showing scope mount rail.

Rear top of receiver showing details of scope rail. Also manual safety not of standard Mauser style.

On the forward portion of the action, the ‘top of the receiver’ where manufacturer, model designation and date of manufacture are found, there is a rather small logo featuring a stylized “CZ” on the grooved matte finish.  The “CZ” mark may indicate this rifle is a bit later than I originally thought, but is still a classic rifle.

One’s overall impression is this is not a reused military action, but manufactured as a commercial rifle action.

Bolt handle is the flat “spoon’ or “dog ear” type.  It is reminiscent of the Mannlicher-Schonauer rifles of the interwar period.  One finds no other features of the Mannlicher-Schonauer designed rifles.  The bolt shape feature draws one’s attention.

Bolt handle – Mannlicher look? – and manual safety.

As normal with ’98 actions, the magazine is fixed and non-detactable; capacity of five rounds. Also as usual, the floor plate of the magazine is openable to reload the magazine without chambering a round. This version has a lever on the floor plate to release the rear of the floor plate. A nice touch.

This lever allows magazine floor plate to be opened without high drama, but seems rather secure.

All metal parts are blued.  (There is wear from use, but nothing to suggest a poor job.)

Trigger is based on a military (Mauser, I presume) two-stage trigger.  Trigger pull  – after take up – is four and one half pounds (4.5 #) and rather clean.  I was rather surprised as this is rather light in relation to the military rifles I normally collect.  Happily surprised.

Sights

Iron sights mounted on the rifle are the traditional style European – including British – sights.  The receiver is drilled and tapped holes for scope mounts, but the stock puts one’s face and eye low for a scope.

Front sight is a standard post with bead – brass or gold faced – mounted on a transverse dovetail.  This is mounted on a ramp.  Front sight is installed by and ‘adjustable’ for windage by drifting at time of sight in.  It must be manually moved (commercial screw device or brass drift and hammer) and is not ‘adjustable’ by means of screw adjustments.

Front sight. Ramp with gold or brass bead. One can see the ‘hood’ groove; the hood is long gone.

Rear sight is an open top flat leaf.  The leaf portion is mounted in a dove tail, which is machined from a boss on the barrel, part of the barrel.  It too is drift adjustable for replacement and adjustment for windage.  It too is not readily adjustable by hand in the field.

Rear sight mounted in dove tail on boss integral with barrel.

Elevation is adjusted by either replacing the front sight with a higher or lower post; or filing down or replacing the rear sight leaf.

One observes this rifle – and sights – was intended for ‘standard’ factory loaded ammunition.  This did not consider various bullet weights nor alternate velocities as U. S. based reloader types might use.  The idea was to use one load of ammunition continuously.

Most military organizations have the same theory, if one considers the matter.

Originally the rear sight leaf had two leaves, one fixed for shorter ranges and one ‘flip up’ for longer ranges.  The ‘flip up’ sight has been lost.  I am searching for a replacement, but I imagine the leaf remaining will serve in nearly all cases, and all of my cases.

Trigger is based on a military (Mauser, I presume) two-stage trigger.  Trigger pull  – after take up – is four and one half pounds (4.5 #) and rather clean.  I was rather surprised as this is rather light in relation to the military rifles I normally collect.  Happily surprised.

Chambering and Ammunition

Caliber designation on barrel over chamber.

The caliber is 8x60mm S.  It is essentially a lengthened 8x57mm round.

8x60mmS loaded round. Believed to be 200 grain round nose soft point (expanding) bullet. Norma headstamp.

 

At the end of WWI, the Treaty of Versailles included a restriction on the Central Powers (the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires and their allies, vassals and such) from owning ‘military’ weapons.  However, ‘sporting’ – hunting – arms and personal defense weapons were allowed to be owned by civilians.  One presumes some local laws required registration of some sort.

As it happened, there were half-a-barn-door’s-full of hunting rifle – owned by civilians of course – in caliber 8x57mm.  That was the German Empire’s infantry rifle caliber.  (Much like the United States found the .30-06 Springfield cartridge to be handy for the same purpose.)

Some resourceful European gunsmiths came up with the idea of chambering the rifle a bit deeper.  This rather inexpensive modification changed the chambering and cartridge used by the rifle.

So, by deepening the chamber of a forbidden rifle in 8x57mm by three millimeters (two in the body and one in the neck) the rifle is now chambered for a ‘sporting’ cartridge, namely 8x60mm S.

Voila!  The rifle is no longer illegal!  I have no idea what rechambering a rifle cost in those days, but I’m willing to bet cheaper than forfeiting one’s rifle and buying another.

Barrels were unchanged, magazines (fixed and internal) were unchanged, bolt faces (the part that holds on to the cartridge) were unchanged, even the fussy bits inside the action funneling the cartridge into the chamber and removing it again – at the proper time, of course – were unchanged.  Sights didn’t have to be altered, and reloading components and equipment were the same.

Makers of sporting – hunting – rifles were manufactured in the ‘new’ caliber.  Well into the 1950s, if not later.

Does this sound familiar and absurd, like most gun control laws?  Nothing new, boys and girls.

By the way, the “S” suffix can mean one of two things, perhaps both.  “S” is a shorthand for Spitzgeschoss, Anglicized to ‘spitzer’ – pointed – bullet.

The “S” is also thought to be a designation for a .323 inch bullet (and presumed bore diameter) in a German designed 8mm rifle.

In point of fact, the 8×57 cartridge – then the German Empire’s issue rifle cartridge – changed the specifications in 1905.  What had been a 14.5 gram (224 grain), 8mm (.318”) round nosed bullet at about 2100 fps was changed to a 10 gram (154 grain), 8mm (.323”) pointed (spitzer) bullet at nearly 2900 fps.  The change from round nose to pointed bullet (S) happened at the same time the bullet diameter changed from .318” to .323” (S).

Then a longer range round was developed for machine gun use around the end of WWI.  This loading (version) of the round was a 196 or so grain pointed boat-tail bullet – known as the sS (“schweres Spitzgeschoss”) at a velocity around 2500 fps.  This is also identified as the “Ss” type bullet and loading.  To simplify supply chain demands, this loading was made the standard round for infantry rifles as well.  This was the cartridge and loading used in the 98K rifle of WWII.

In research, one finds a number of various specifications and precise history of developments.  They are all reported as Divine Truth.  Be flexible with other people.  One finds more than one explanation of the same phenomenon.

None of this directly applies to the 8x60mm cartridge, except as background to the loading of this ‘new’ cartridge.  Most of the commercial information relating to the 8x60mm suggest a 180 to 200 grain (at least in English translations) bullet, with velocities ranging from around 2500 to about 2700 fps.  (Comments on recoil will be mentioned later.)

The rimmed versions were typically loaded to a somewhat lesser pressure, as the hinged actions were not rated for higher pressure.  This ‘rule’ seems to apply to all such cartridges.

I will restate the rifle under discussion is a bolt action rifle.  The cartridge is the rimless version.  The barrel is the larger – .323” – bore.

The 8x60mm cartridge should be just a bit more powerful than the 8x57mm cartridge.  The case has somewhat more powder area.  I rather imagine the difference is more theoretical than actual.  The ’98 Mauser action tends to maintain a specific pressure limit for rifles; but one finds one gets higher velocities (at the same pressure) with larger powder charges.  However, this requires slower burn rate powders.  Such powders were not available in the past.

5th Edition Ammo Encyclopedia and Cartridges of the World list four variations:  The rimless type, the direct alteration of the 8x57mm round; the same with a rim for single, double and combination guns.  This is then doubled with both .318” and .323” versions.

A full loaded 8×57 round is a full charge rifle cartridge and easily competes with any of the full power rifles of the era up to current times.

The 8×60 S is a full sized, full charge rifle round – very similar to the 8x57mm round – suitable for harvesting any of the major sized animals of Europe or North America.  Personally, I think there are a few of the very large, dangerous bear with which one should be more careful.  In any case it will quite handily harvest anything which can be taken with .30-06 Springfield.

Recoil is based on velocity times bullet weight, divided by rifle weight (including scope, sling and attached good luck charm.  This rifle weights roughly six pounds, ten ounces.  In contrast, the 98K Mauser used in WWII weighed eight pounds, three ounces to nine pounds.

This rifle is ‘light’ and (to my thinking) recoil is restricted to what is suitable for the shooter.  I do NOT care to load this rifle to the absolute upper limit.

This 8x60mm rifle was not designed for casual plinking or an afternoon of groundhog shooting.  This is a ‘stalking’ rifle; carried a lot and shot seldom.

Think of shoulder pain.  Perhaps back pain.

A word of caution.  For those who find a rifle in this caliber, the 8mm caliber is either .318 or .323 inches.  The smaller bore size normally requires the correct sized bullet.  Firing the larger bullets in the smaller bore size is not a good idea.  Most likely, the rifle won’t blow up in a catastrophic failure, but over pressure is not good for the locking lugs and interior of the chamber and bore.  And it just might blow up.

This rifle uses bullet weights of from around 125 grains to 200 grains, easily.  The latest military loading of the 8x57mm round used the heavier bullet and it caught on with most everyone else.  In fact, the heavier bullet is defined in metric terms – grams – as 12.7 grams or 196 (actually 195.990951) grains.  In countries using English measurement, this is typically rounded off at 200 grains.    Loading data seems not to bother with the four grains or so of bullet weight.

Comparison: From right – .223 Annoyance, .308 Winchester, three 8x60mmS rounds.

Three headstamps for 8x60mmS. Norma, DMW, and an as yet unidentified cartridge.

Loaded ammunition is available from Privi Partisan.  Their website shows a 12.7 gram (196 grain) bullet at 780 meters per second (2559 fps) AND a 12 gram (185 grain) bullet at 800 meters per second (2625 fps).  No ‘light’ loads are shown.

Norma (of Sweden) manufactured it at one time, their website does not show such a product currently.  Precision Cartridge Inc. (PCI) sells one loading via Selway Armory.  The PCI ammunition features a 175 grain PSPBT bullet but does not specify the velocity.  Some other European munitions manufacturers once produced this ammunition, but don’t show it currently on their websites.

Privi Partisan sells unloaded brass made for Boxer primers.  Bullets, large rifle primers and powders of the ‘middle’ burn rate rifle use are fairly universal and available.  Regular 8x57mm loading dies work fine, but remember not to resize the cases full length and turn the 8x60mm case into a 8×57 case with a long neck.  8x60mm loading dies are available if you please.

I have settled on experimenting with bullet weights of 150 and 200 grains.  The fixed sights may force me to one bullet weight. I may do some experimentation with 170-175 grain bullets.

Allow me to point out this is not a long range rifle.  The rifle weighs – as noted – less than seven pounds.  Pushing a 200 grain bullet becomes problematic in recoil rather quickly.  The difficulty is not the strength and endurance of the rifle, but the strength and endurance of the shooter.  It kicks like a Missouri mule in a bad mood.  Combine this with iron sights and the aiming process, and one realizes a likely hunting range of 300 yards or meters at the furthest; more likely 200 yards or less.  This, in fact covers the bulk of North American game hunting.

Making ammunition

The easiest and most satisfactory solution of ammunition is to load it myself.

So far, according to the research I’ve done, the WWII 8x57mm round shot a 12.7 gram or 196 gram bullet at near 2400 fps.  The earlier 8x57mm round shot a 10.0 gram or 154 grain bullet at nearly 2900 fps.  The earlier loading was measured in a thirty inch barrel, the WWII loading was from a twenty-four (or so) inch barrel.  Commercial loads are typically low pressure. The existence of older action – particularly the M1888 Commission Rifle – and the uncertainty of .318″ bore diameters tend to make commercial loaders a bit leery to risk their good name and insurance coverage.

Therefore, I should be able – with modern powders – to get a 150 grain bullet to 2700 fps without straining too much and a 200 grain bullet to 2300 fps or better.  My shoulder will probably give up prior to the rifle.  (My fillings could come loose before I hurt the rifle!)

Initial loadings show IMR 4046 pushing the 150 grain bullet around 2800 fps; this load is derived from 8x57mm load information from Lyman #45 manual and is ‘cautious’ in pressure level.  The same powder pushes a 200 grain bullet at just over 2300 fps.  I shot that series of loads from a standing rest.  The recoil still pushed the comb of the stock into my right cheekbone rather briskly.

Reloader 15 (Re15) is in the same – more or less – burning rate as IMR 4064, but seems to be a little slower.  Preliminary experimentation gives me a 200 grain bullet at 2200 fps and still under maximum.

No.  I’m not being specific about loads.  I’m still in the research stage and will reserve specific information pending corroboration and certainty of my own finding.

I know modern rifles and ‘fashion’ (perhaps ‘fad’) tend to suggest rifles must shoot into the next county in order to properly dispatch game, but I disagree.  It will take a mighty big moose to shrug off a proper hit from a 200 grain bullet at 2200 fps.  And mule deer don’t get that big.

Besides, this rifle is cool.

Yeah. Cool.

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