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8x57JS Mauser

8x57JS Mauser, 7.92x57 Mauser,  7.9mm,  8x57IS Mauser.


At a time of great financial hardship, brothers Wilhelm (1834-1882) and Peter-Paul (1838-1914) Mauser, while still children, followed in their fathers footsteps and began work at the Royal weapons factory in Oberndorf/Neckar, Germany. By the late 1860’s the now adult brothers were developing and modifying weapons based on the popular Chassepot and Dreyse designs. In 1871 the brothers secured their first major contract with the German military after successfully designing the Model 1871 single shot bolt action rifle, caliber 11x60. In 1884 the model 1871 was upgraded with the installation of an eight shot tube loaded magazine, this new model designated M71/84. In 1886, the French military adopted the worlds first smokeless powder propelled cartridge, the 8x50R, developed for the model 1886 Lebel tube magazine loaded rifle.  This was a huge leap forwards in technology, introducing a high velocity infantry cartridge into warfare.  
The 8x50R literally made the Mauser brothers 11x60 cartridge obsolete overnight. With the death of Wilhelm in 1882 and the Royal weapons factory now owned by and bearing the Mauser name, Peter-Paul undertook the sole responsibility of developing new rifle designs.

In 1888, the German military adopted the Commission 88 rifle and M/88 cartridge, neither being of Mauser design. The new rifle featured a Mannlicher style box magazine and fired a smokeless cartridge with a rimless case head, a defining point in the history of cartridge design. The M/88 is credited as the first smokeless, rimless cartridge. Groove diameter of the Commission 88 rifle barrel was .318” ( 7.92mm), matching the projectile diameter of .318 while land diameter was .312. The M/88 was initially loaded with a 226 grain round nose bullet at a velocity of 2100fps. The cartridge immediately became popular with German hunters and in its commercial guise was designated either 8x57I, I showing the cartridge’s Infantry derivative, or 8x57J, which some historical authorities quote as being Gothic for the letter I and therefore interchangeable. A Rimmed version of the 8x57I or J cartridge also became popular with German hunters for use in double rifles, this bore the designation 8x57IR or JR.
The Model 1888 rifle served Germany for ten years. During this time, Peter-Paul developed new rifle designs, each gaining a reputation of superiority over competing designs in battle. 
The Model 1892 Mauser saw the introduction of the famous “controlled feed” claw extractor. The accurate and long ranging model 1893 “Spanish” 7x57 was used with deadly effect during the Spanish American war while the model 1895 7x57 was used by the Boer’s to repel the British Commonwealth. The models M1894 and  M1896 “Swedish Mausers” chambered in 6.5x55 achieved equally great levels of accuracy however the culmination of Peter-Paul’s rifle designs was the Gewehr 1898, which was adopted by the country of his own origin, Germany. The beefed up Gewehr 98 or simply G98 featured further fail safes over the earlier model 96 making it literally foolproof for young panic prone soldiers. The G98 retained the wide heavy 7,9mm chambering rather than the slimmer, lighter weight and lighter recoiling cartridges which had become popular in many other countries.
During 1898, the US went to war against Spain. Although victory was achieved within the same year, US military officials realized that their success was in part due to the US military largely outnumbering its enemy. For its smaller forces, the Spanish formed an extremely strong defense which was aided greatly by the use of the M93 7x57 Mauser. By 1903 the US had developed a rifle based on this experience, the .30-03 Springfield. The Springfield rifle was a close copy of the Mauser 98 rifle design, the .30-03 cartridge also copying the case head dimensions of  7x57mm / M/88 cartridges. However, in an attempt to gain a tactical advantage the U.S military adopted a longer and potentially more powerful cartridge design with a case length of 63mm, something hunters and wildcatters of the future would greatly appreciate.
In the same year that Germany adopted the G98 Mauser, French ballisticians made yet another breakthrough with the design of a pointed and boattailed bullet, far more aerodynamic than round nose projectiles. The Lebel loading was also made lighter, from a 231 grain bullet at 2000fps to a 197 grain bullet at 2300fps giving an even flatter trajectory. Initially, changes to the base of 8mm Lebel cartridge case allowed the use of pointed bullets to be used in the Lebel rifle’s tube magazine however, by 1900 the French were successfully altering their arms to be clip magazine fed.
By the early 1900’s Peter-Paul Mauser had adopted France’s new projectile technology and was again leading the way. Advances towards a Boattailed bullet had not been so successful but were made up for by an even lighter projectile that could be driven at high speeds. With the G98 rifle’s ability to handle pressures of 50,000psi the 7,9mm was redesigned to fire a 154 grain Spitzgeschoss (pointed bullet) at an unheard of 2880fps. The new load was adopted by the German military in 1905. As a part of the redesign of the M/88 cartridge, projectile diameter was increased from .318” to .323”. This change required all G98’s in service to be recalled and re-barreled to the new dimensions. The groove diameter of the new G98 barrel was increased to .323” (8.2mm) while the land diameter of the G98 barrel remained unchanged. This deepening of the rifling most likely occurred as an attempt to counter the corrosive effect on barrels of primer compounds used at that time therefore extending barrel life.

The official military designation of the new cartridge would be 7,9mmS, S referring to Spitzgeschoss or pointed bullet while commercially loaded sporting ammunition bore the designation 8x57IS Infantry Spitzgeschoss, although in sporting ammunition the term Spitzgeschoss referred only to the change in bullet diameter as sporting ammunition frequently featured round nose bullets. Eventually, the letter I was dropped in favor of the letter J for sporting ammunition designation. The final designation of .323” sporting ammunition became 8x57 JS. The new cartridge was also referred to as the 7.92x57 Mauser, this being the first time the word Mauser was attached to the cartridge design.
After Germany’s adoption of the 154 grain loading for the G98 Mauser rifle in 1905, the US military changed the .30-03 loading from a 220 grain round nose bullet at 2300fps to a 150 pointed bullet at 2700fps. All .30-03 Springfield rifles were recalled and existing rifle barrels were turned in slightly and rechambered to suit the new bullet design. The new 150 grain load was adopted in 1906 calling for a re-designation of the .30-03 Springfield rifle to .30-06 Springfield. 
The G98 originally had a 29.1” barrel. This rifle and the 154 grain 7,9mmS load served Germany during the First World War of 1914-1918, an event which the inventor, Peter-Paul would never see, passing away early in 1914.
After Germany’s defeat in WWI the treaty of Versailles (1919) prevented Germany from mass producing arms beyond the provision of arms to its territorial force of 100,000 men. This would hopefully ensure that Germany could not again build a major armed force. To prevent military rifles from being hidden as civilian rifles which could be recalled to service later, German civilians were not permitted to own G98 rifles in the caliber 7,9mm. With hunting being a popular past time, German gunsmiths developed the 8x60S cartridge, a slightly longer version of the 7,9mm. Civilian owned G98 rifles were then simply rechambered to the new cartridge with its 10% increase in power, many of these examples remaining in circulation today. The 8x60S was also available as a rimmed version (8x60RS) as well as both versions being made for .318” bores 8x60 and 8x60R.
The G98 saw several modifications before the Second World War. The Karabiner 98b featured the same 29.1” barrel but had the bolt handle turned down. Karabiner 98a which followed, had a much shorter 23.6” barrel. The final standardized model rifle was designated the K98k and adopted in 1935. The K98k, sometimes also referred to as KAR98k stood for Karabiner 98 Kurz or in English, carbine 98 short and had a barrel length of 23.6” (600mm). Although the K98k was supposed to have been built in limited numbers only, mass production went undeclared and the K98k became the principle German infantry weapon used during the Second World War.
During the Second World War (1939-1945) the German military changed the 7,9Smm load back in order to utilize a heavy projectile. The new 197 grain pointed projectile featured a streamlined boattail having a BC of .547 over the previous 154 grain projectile’s BC of .321. Chamber pressure was around 45,500psi over the previous loading’s pressure of 42,700psi with the 197 grain bullet giving a muzzle velocity of 2500fps in the K98k. The new load was re-designated 7,9mmsS, sS standing for schweres Spitzgeschoss meaning heavy pointed bullet. This load produced more desirable extended range performance while producing deeper penetration through light armor in comparison to the 154 grain loading.
Over 80% of the 7,9mm ammunition used by the Germans in the K98k rifle and machine guns during the Second World War was of the 7,9mmsS type loading followed by dedicated armor piercing versions of a similar weight. When the US medical ballistics Department sent forensic researchers to study K98K rifles as found on the battle fields of Europe, most recovered rifles had clips of the 7,9mmsS load in their magazines. It should be noted here that the initial change from the 7,9mmS load to the 7,9mmsS load must have required the replacement of all existing rifle sights as the two loads shot to completely different points of impact. Most surplus K98k rifles are indeed sight regulated for the heavier load.   
The K98k rifle and 7,9mm cartridge served Germany until the Nazi’s defeat in 1945. In the later stages of the war, in order to speed production, pressed steel fittings replaced carefully fabricated parts where ever possible on the K98k and as timber for stocks became scarce, Germany pioneered and introduced sturdy laminated wood rifle stocks, produced in great numbers for the K98k. 
Eventually strategic bombing by allied forces in 1945 destroyed all Mauser production factories. What little that was left standing, including production records (to the dismay of collectors) was destroyed by ground forces. Nevertheless, the remnants of the sporting rifle division of Mauser which had stayed open for business during both world wars was allowed to continue production under French supervision. The company was gradually rebuilt and in 1954 a major restructuring enabled the Mauser company to once again flourish to its full potential. For a long time Mauser produced sporting rifles differing in design to the original model 98 featuring straight pull actions. Presently the company is again producing the 1930’s pattern sporting version of the 98 which features an action and magazine tailored to suit sporting length cartridges.
In total over 14 million model 98 rifles were produced in over 100 factories. During the Second World War the K98k rifle was produced in the arsenals of countries occupied by Germany as well as being adopted by many countries worldwide. Besides those mass produced in Germany, a great number of M98 rifles were produced in Belgium, Austria, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.
Belgium adopted the designs of Mauser to arm its forces as early as 1889. Rifles including the later M98 were produced in Belgium by Fabrique National De Herstal (FN). Belgium was invaded and occupied by Germany in both world wars. During occupation, the FN plant was utilized to supplement rifle parts for  German infantry rifles. The FN company continued to produce M98 rifles after the Second World War as well as fine sporting arms. The FN FAL self loading rifle developed during the 1950’s was another extremely successful design. Roy Weatherby initially used FN M98 style actions in the development of his sporting rifles. FN is now a Giant corporation and is the current owner of the companies Browning and US Repeating Arms (Winchester).
In 1912 the Steyr factory of Austria-Hungary obtained a license to produce the M98 rifle under the designation M1912 in the caliber 7x57 for contract to Chile. The Chilean contract ceased unfulfilled in 1914 due to the demands of war. Austria-Hungary did not adopt the Mauser design, opting for the Mannlicher M1895 design instead. Steyr’s remaining stock of M1912 were later reworked and rebarreled to 7.62 NATO in 1961 for export to Israel, designated M1912-61, these rifles have since found their way onto the civilian market and feature extremely well made actions. It is doubtful that the M1912 was ever chambered by Steyr for the 7,9mm cartridge, the M1912 rifle is mentioned here simply as a part of the M98 story.
In 1914 Austria-Hungary backed by Germany, attacked Serbia, initiating the First World War. In the later stages of the war, Czechoslovakia, a part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, pushed for independence which was obtained at the war’s end in 1918. Initially Czechoslovakia’s two main arsenals were privately owned. Ceska Zbrojovka located at Strakonice produced pistols, the company logo being the letter Z inside a C. Ceskoslovenka Zbrojovka located at Brno carried the symbol of the letter Z inside a rifled bore. This company concentrated on repairing the M1895 Mannlicher service rifle of the Austrian-Hungarian military. With Germany agreeing not to mass produce rifles under the Versailles treaty, all exports of Mauser rifles for foreign military contracts ceased (for a time). In 1921 the Czech company Ceskoslovenka Zbrojovka procured machinery for the production of the G98 for Czechoslovakia. Business subsequently expanded dramatically as the factory won contracts to supply G98 rifles to foreign powers. In 1924 Ceskoslovenka  Zbrojovka produced its own version of the M98 unique to Czechoslovakia designated the VZ24, caliber 7,9mm. This design was followed by the VZ33 lightweight variant, both extremely well made rifles.
By the mid 1930’s, the German Nazi political party under the leadership of Adolf Hitler had dishonored the Versailles treaty by instigating the mass production of arms in secret. While most of Europe did not want to believe that the Nazi government was intent on war, the German army invaded and defeated neighboring Czechoslovakia in 1939. The two Czech arms factories were then placed under German control, producing pistols for Nazi officers and K98k rifles for infantry. Production continued until the defeat of German forces in Czechoslovakia by the Russian army with the aid of Czech resistance in 1945. After the war, the change to communism forced the two Czech arms factories into state ownership and a blurred future. During the 1960’s, in order to increase domestic growth, the Ceskoslovenka Zbrojovka factory produced Model 98 style hunting rifles for export, simply bearing the name of the city where they were produced - Brno.  
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 followed by the forming of the Czech republic in 1993, the Ceska Zbrojovka (CZ) company, once responsible for producing pistols, took over the production of the hunting rifles produced by Ceskoslovenka Zbrojovka. CZ is now a flourishing, well known firm producing an increasing range of rifles based on the model 98 action at affordable prices.
After the Second World War the two Czech M98’s (VZ 24 and VZ 33) made their way into civilian markets and became extremely popular as a basis for building sporting rifles. The two models are commonly referred to as large and small ring Mausers relating to the thickness of the receiver steel. The VZ 24 was the standard infantry weapon of Czechoslovakia, having identical dimensions to the G98, this is referred to today as the large ring Mauser. The VZ 33 was a lighter weight mountain rifle design unique to Czecheslovakian manufacture, today referred to as the small ring Mauser. The VZ 33 rifles has in the past been highly sought after by fans of Mauser action sporting rifles wishing to build light weight mountain rifles, the action at one time being particularly well suited and popular for building rifles in the caliber .25-06 before the .25-06 became a common factory rifle chambering. Both the VZ 24 and VZ 33 in original condition are now sought after as collectors items.
Another power to adopt and manufacture the Mauser rifle in large numbers was the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The ‘Gunsmith shop’ located in Kragujevac, Serbia, began rework and rectification of arms for the Yugoslav infantry in 1836. Initially, due to financial limitations, the Yugoslav military purchased rifles of foreign manufacture. By 1900, the Gunsmith shop, now Military Technical Works was busily working with the M99 Mauser 7x57 rifle (improved M95) adopted by the Yugoslav military as well as converting single shot rifles from the caliber 10.15x63R to 7x57 with good results. In 1915 German and Austro-Hungarian forces invaded Yugoslavia resulting in the theft and destruction of most of the works machinery. In 1924 the Belgian company F.N was contracted to provide machinery, tooling and training to the Military Technical Works to enable the production of the M24 (M98 type) rifle in 7,9mm caliber, the plant becoming operational in 1928. 
By 1940 the Technical Works had become an industry giant but was again reduced to nothing with Germany’s second invasion in 1941. The plant initially remained intact to supply German forces but was soon stripped, over 70% of the machinery relocated to Germany. After the war, the remnants of Technical Works was reassembled, this time the capacity of rework and rectification was limited to the M24 7,9mm rifle only. In 1948 the M24 rifle was modified for infantry use. The M48/24 featured a shorter 22” barrel while a second variant M48/63 featured an even shorter 17.5” barrel. The M48 models were gradually replaced by the AK47 as finances allowed during the 1960’s, however the M48 7,9mm rifle remained in limited use during ongoing Yugoslavian conflicts through to the 1990’s.
During the 1950’s and 60’s Technical Works, now named Crvena Zastava, realized the necessity to expand beyond dwindling military contracts. To this end the necessary machinery and tooling was purchased for the production of sporting arms. Today the company is known for producing affordable sporting rifles based on the M98 system. Scaled down short action rifles (1980’s) were marketed as the Interarms Mini Mauser. Presently both long and short action rifles bear the company name Zastava. The Zastava plant has also continued to factory refurbish the M48/24 and M48/63 rifles in 7,9mm caliber for export to the civilian market. Straight from the factory, the M48 rifle holds a degree of collector interest due to its unique bridging of history with the present day.
The M98 action was the culmination of over 30 years design, mostly credited to the engineering genius of Peter-Paul Mauser rather than his brother Wilhelm. Those who had designed arms prior to this undoubtedly influenced its design however the final result must be considered the pinnacle, one of the most significant achievements in the evolution of the bolt action rifle. The M98 was so close to perfection that when future sporting arms companies tried to duplicate it, many of the subtle features were overlooked resulting in inferior designs and those who tried to improve it and advertised as such, often only achieved cheaper manufacture methods for both company and consumer - but no true gains as to advances in rifle design. It has been and is possible to create designs differing from the M98 but it is difficult to create a design that surpasses it mechanically. The workmanship and care involved in the original manufacture of the M98 rifle was such that in today’s dollars, the labor cost would amount to many thousands of dollars.  
The M98 action receiver features a solid flat underside and large recoil lug enabling the action to bed well to its stock for potentially high accuracy. The magazine and trigger guard are a one piece assembly which are bolted through the stock into the action with two machine screws, rather than the three found on some commercial sporters which often create stress on the action with incorrect tension. The front twin locking Lugs of the one piece bolt, while regarded as the norm today, are extremely strong and capable of the same accuracy as recent multi lug designs. A third locking lug at the rear of the action is set to slightly avoid contact with a recess towards the rear of the action. Should the front lugs rupture, the emergency rear lug moves back several thousandths of an inch making contact with its recess. The back thrust of the bolt is thereby arrested, protecting the user. Another feature of the Mauser bolt is the claw extractor. This gives a wide contact area around the chambered cartridge rim to maximize extraction should a cartridge reach excessive pressure and the case become jammed in the chamber. Along with this, the 90 degree bolt lift gives an extremely strong fulcrum and camming power to extract sticking cases - unlike modern 60 degree bolt designs.
The 18lb main spring driving the M98 firing pin is far stronger than required for ignition. This serves to ensure that the rifle will fire reliably when the bolt body is dirty, fouled with powder, or in cold conditions where oils in the bolt body may become gummed. The Mauser three position safety is extremely well designed. The first position is fire, the second locks the mainspring in the compressed position. This allows the bolt to be worked in order to empty the magazine with no risk of a discharge. The bolt can be removed from the action and with the mainspring disabled the user can simply unwind the cocking piece and firing pin assembly from the bolt body for inspection, this can literally be done in the field. The third safety position retains the mainspring in the disabled position but provides further safety by locking the bolt closed. In this position the user cannot help but be aware that the rifle is loaded when attempting to work the bolt. The third position is extremely safe, the Mauser can be loaded, isolated and locked out as a hunter enters the hunting area but can be quickly and quietly switched to the middle and then fire position. This safety operation is found today on Winchester, Montana Rifleman and Kimber rifles. After market bolt shrouds featuring this system are also available for Remington M700 rifles.
The two stage trigger mechanism of the Mauser also provided safety for young nervous soldiers. The first stage allowed users with little knowledge of the importance of trigger control to take up a measurable amount of weight and feel. The trigger could be pulled through the first stage, arriving hard against the second stage. A slight increase in pull fired the rifle. This was an extremely simple and uncomplicated trigger design. Though somewhat heavy by today’s standards, the M98 sear faces can easily be worked over. That said, the M98 trigger system can easily be replaced with an aftermarket unit. 
After the Second World War many companies used reworked surplus M98 actions as a basis for producing sporting rifles. Mauser Werke also produced full magnum length actions for commercial use but these are somewhat rare. The English companies Parker Hale and Churchill used M98 Rifles obtained as part of Germany’s war reparations to England as a basis for building sporters. That said, not all Parker Hale rifles are reworked Mauser rifles, the latter designs having a poor bedding platform and inferior safety system by comparison.
Companies such as Winchester and Montana are currently producing rifle actions loosely based on the Mauser action. These actions do not have the third locking lug but offer many of the same features as found within the M98 action design. The Ruger M77 also displays similar, but not identical features.
With both Germany and the US using the same case head dimensions and both countries sharing a passion for hunting, the 7.92x57mm Mauser cartridge is historically recognized as being the blueprint of modern standard cartridge design. That said, the M/88 cartridge was not designed by Mauser, the original cartridge born as a result of a wider German research effort. The original M/88 case design was responsible for the creation of the medium length 57mm cartridges, followed by the long action standard cartridges based on the .30-06 and the short action standard cartridges based on the .308 Winchester case.
As a hunting cartridge, the 8x57JS became popular with European hunters soon after its introduction as a military cartridge. This popularity (including that of the default 8x60s) continued through to the early 1980’s, the 8x57JS gradually losing favor as continental hunters became interested in the .30-06 Springfield. The 8x57JS was well regarded by German colonials in Africa for use on medium game however after the Versaille Treaty, the 8x57JS seemed somewhat in jeopardy. This resulted in the adoption of both the 8x60S and 8x64S Brenneke. Ultimately, all three 8mm cartridges enjoying a degree of popularity.
In Australia and New Zealand, the 8x57JS became popular after the Second World War due to an influx of military surplus rifles. But in a similar manner to Europe, popularity generally waned towards the late 1980’s.  When surplus M98 rifles and ammunition arrived in the U.S, the reception was somewhat different. The US already had a powerful, versatile rimless hunting cartridge and the supply of 8x57JS ammunition and brass was generally viewed as unreliable. When US ammunition companies began manufacturing 8x57JS ammunition, pressures were kept low to prevent dangerous conditions should the .323” calibre ammunition be fired in one of the rare .318” bore rifles. Resulting velocities were typically very low which further detracted from the cartridges popularity. By the time European manufactured full pressure sporting ammunition became available, the M98 action had become highly prized as well as being extremely economical for building Sporting rifles chambered for American cartridges. When reloading companies began to produce 8mm projectiles, reloaders could have trimmed and fireformed .30-06 cases to 8x57JS, but instead, many chose to further simplify the process via the creation of the potent 8mm-06 wild cat cartridge (very similar to 8x64S Brenneke). The 8mm-06 was based on the .30-06 case necked up to 8mm with no other change. This made use of the existing 8mm barrel and only required reaming to the new case dimensions, fireforming cases was extremely simple.
European made sporting ammunition loaded to high pressures used to be readily available throughout western countries during the 1960’s and 70’s but as the price of this ammunition rose and became less obtainable, and as 8x57JS bores became worn, the 8x57JS could not compete with modern purpose built sporting rifles and chamberings. By the late 1980’s, the 8x57JS was pretty much a dead issue.
Presently the 8x57JS is enjoying renewed popularity. Of the mail I receive from around the world, the 8x57JS is one of the most heavily discussed topics.  This popularity is based on interests in the M98 rifle design in its original form, interests in military history as well as the practical power inherent in the 8mm. Furthermore, for many, surplus rifles can be a joy to shoot with open V sights, demanding highly disciplined marksmanship. If anything, this popularity will continue to grow. But this popularity is not tied into modern rifles such as the short run of Remington M700 8x57JS rifles produced during the 1990’s. To the enthusiast, shooting the 8mm is an experience that involves both the Mauser rifle and cartridge, with or without optics.




The M98 action is perfectly suited to the 57mm length cartridges. The magazine length of 84mm (internal) is also well suited to shorter cartridges such as the .308 and .243 Winchester. However trouble tends to occur when chambering to longer cartridges. The M98 action can comfortably house the .25-06 and .30-06, but is somewhat limited if chambered to .270 Winchester, .280 Remington, cramping COAL’s. The M98 magazine can be lengthened to a maximum internal length of around 90mm but this requires extensive reworking of the action and box magazine.
As a scoped sporting rifle, the original safety switch of the Mauser is in-operable when a scope is mounted to the action. On a scoped M98 rifle the safety flag needs to be replaced with a ‘side swing’ safety which is relatively easy to fit.
The claw extractor of the Mauser is specifically designed to positively control the feed of cartridges as they are fed from the magazine into the breech. This system was designed to ensure that should a young nervous soldier panic and slam a cartridge into the breech (from the magazine) but not close the bolt and then attempt to re-cycle the action, the previous cartridge which has had its rim gripped by the extractor from the moment the bolt contacted it, would eject and prevent a jam. On push feed actions, the cartridge must be pushed all the way into the breech and the bolt closed before the extractor picks up the case rim. In the realms of hunting, there is the possibility of panic and short stroking the bolt when encountering dangerous game. Controlled feed can be very useful but it also poses limitations.
A push feed action is far easier to reload singularly when all ammunition in the magazine is used up. Consecutive rounds can simply be dropped into the breech and slammed home which has its benefits to hunters, cullers, dangerous game hunters and tactical units.  If a cartridge is dropped into the Mauser action rather than placed in its magazine the extractor will not align with the cartridge rim.  When the cartridge reaches the chamber, the extractor riding behind the cartridge is too stout to snap over the rim ahead and little clearance is given in the chamber for the extractor to move over the rim, this is designed to ensure the extractor does not lose its grip once enclosed on a cartridge. A cartridge chambered this way in the Mauser can become jammed. In the field, the bolt must be drawn to the rear and the butt knocked on the ground using inertia to remove the stuck cartridge. The Mauser extractor can be polished smooth to enable a cartridge to be dumped in the breech and loaded however excessive removal of the extractor metal and continued forcing of cartridges into the breech in this manner can eventually cause damage to the extractor.
Both the Mauser controlled feed and commercial push feed actions can be short stroked at the rear of the action. As a cartridge is ejected, if the bolt of either design is not pulled rearward enough to pick up on the rim of the cartridge below, the bolt will simply ride over the cartridge and close on an empty chamber. Many hunters get confused regarding this point, blaming push feed action designs as a cause of short stroking. The Mauser action has in the past been extolled as being immune to this problem.  Both types of action require sound knowledge and practice if used in dangerous situations and both have their merits.
To install a scope on the M98, the charger guide must be milled off and the receiver then drilled and tapped for scope mounting. As suggested, the standard trigger can be tuned but for accurate shooting at longer ranges it is better if replaced with an after market unit such as those offered by Bold, Timney and Dayton Traister.
In most instances, existing surplus M98 have had their sights regulated for 198-200 grain loads.  Furthermore, many have been re-regulate by end users to suit low powered factory ammunition. It is possible to re-regulate these sights for high velocity loads, the quickest method being to obtain spare ramp sights and file down the rear leaf by approximately 1 to 1.6mm or 40 to 60 thou. However exact calibration will always depend on the individual rifle and loads used.
The open sighted Mauser is capable of producing groups of around .75” to 1” at 100 yards, providing the rifle has sufficient accuracy potential to begin with. That said, away from the black and white contrasts of target shooting, the Mauser rifle sights can be difficult to use quickly in the field against dark backgrounds or at extended ranges due to the fine nature of the sights which tend to blend together and obscure the target view. Aperture sighted rifles are much easier to use in this regard.  Nevertheless, due to the fact that original rifles in good condition are becoming harder to obtain, it is my recommendation that original rifles should be left without optics unless mounting a no-modification type scout scope mount to the sight ramp.


Cartridge Performance

In factory ammunition form, the 8x57JS is badly handicapped. Ammunition manufactures remain rightly concerned over the potential for ammunition to be used in original M98 rifles with .318” bores. Performance on medium game at close ranges is fair, but killing is often delayed. In factory form, the 8mm is very much akin to the .30-30 Winchester.
With hand loads, the 8x57JS is a true powerhouse. Loads can be tailored to suit game of various weights at varying ranges. The downside of the 8mm is generally low BC’s, though this is gradually changing. As an example, the 150 grain Hornady Interlock can be driven at around 2900 to 3000fps, producing .270 or .30-06 like explosive performance on medium game. But as ranges are increased, speed of killing can change dramatically rather than gradually as projectiles lose velocity. Nevertheless, killing is generally clean out to moderate ranges of around 300 yards, regardless of changes in hydrostatic shock or lack thereof.
The 8x57JS is often quoted as being in the same class as the .30-06 which is a fair assessment. The 8mm has less powder capacity than the .30-06 but due to its slightly larger bore diameter, the 8mm produces similar velocities. The .30-06 can however be loaded with projectiles boasting superior BC’s than the 8mm. Bullet diameter of the 8x57JS is only .381mm or 15 thou greater than the .30-06. On its own, this is not enough to effect frontal area of pointed bullets in a meaningful manner with an increase in wounding potential as some claim (eg .325 WSM launch). Nevertheless, the slight reduction in SD (in comparison to the .30’s) can help increase energy transfer and help produce a unique level of performance with 165 to 170 grain bullets when utilized on light through to medium weight game. The reduced SD and potential increase in energy transfer also applies to heavy bullets to a certain extent. To some hunters, this may be a disadvantage (reduced penetration) while others may find it possible to exploit these SD’s to their advantage (stopping power). The reduction in SD is an important consideration with regard to the 8mm.
The 8x57JS produces fast kills on lighter medium game when hand loaded with 150 to 170 grain bullets and excellent results on mid weight deer species (Mule / Red) when utilizing stout 150 grain bullets along with bullets weighing 170 to 200 grains. Elk sized game are easily tackled with 200 grain bullets. Heavier 220 grain bullets can be employed for use on the large animal species. However, like the .30-06, the 8x57JS is not in the same class as the larger bores (e.g .375 H&H) when used on large heavy game.
For those who have had experience with and are fans of the 6.5x55 and 7x57mm military cartridges, the 8x57JS is fascinating to work with, boasting excellent power. But for those who are thoroughly familiar with the .30-06 cartridge, performance of the two cartridges is somewhat similar - not that this should put readers off enjoying the 8mm cartridge.
The key to the 8mm is to utilize the right bullet for the job at hand and drive it as fast as is safely possible. The 8mm does its best work at close to moderate ranges, but as new bullet designs emerge, the potential effective range of the 8mm as a hunting cartridge is increasing exponentially. The unique aspect of the 8mm is that it is able to utilize similar bullet weights to the .30-06, but the reduction in SD can be utilized as a means of enhancing energy transfer.

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Factory Ammunition

The most commonly available European loading available during the 1960’s - 70’s was Norma’s 198 grain HPBT bullet at 2500fps. This projectile was extremely soft with a massive hollow point. Best suited to light through to mid weight deer species, the BTHP was fully frangible. The HPBT was prone to produce multiple small exit wounds or expand until the remaining jacket resembled a peeled banana skin. On mid weight animals quartering away, projectiles angled into the rear ribs would arrest in a cluster of fragments in the off shoulder.
Norma eventually replaced the HPBT bullet with a 196 grain conventional softpoint bullet and the 196 grain Vulcan. Both were more suited to large bodied game, designed to be used on moose. Norma also produced a 165 grain Vulcan bullet suitable for a wide variety of medium game. Loaded to an advertised 2850fps this bullet was a fast and often spectacular killer. Penetration was fair, adequate for mid weight deer species from most angles. The BC of the protected point Vulkan bullet was around .300, making it susceptible to excessive wind drift and poor down range velocities which were of little concern to Norma as the Vulcan was designed to be used inside 200 meters. The 165 grain Vulcan (sometimes advertised as the PPC) was available as a reloading component as well as a factory loading. The massive wounding potential of the 165 grain Vulcan load gave the 8x57JS added prowess yet with no explanation it was dropped from production which to some extent, also resulted in a waning of interest in the 8x57JS among end users. Later, the 165 grain bullet was reintroduced, then retracted again, only to be repeated all over again at a later date.
Current loads from Norma include the 196 grain Alaska, the 196 grain bonded Oryx and the 196 grain Vulcan, all three producing around 2450fps in sporting rifles.
The Alaska bullet is Norma’s traditional, now entry level, conventional softpoint bullet designed for use on deer through to moose. This bullet is generally best suited to close range work on game weighing over 90kg (200lb) and up to 400kg (880lb) but can tackle larger animals. That said, on very heavy game weights, the Alaska can be prone to bullet blow up on large heavy round bone as well as suffering excessive weight loss. The Alaska is a basic conventional projectile akin to the Sierra Prohunter. Those who have experience with the heavy .30 caliber Prohunter bullets will be familiar with this level of performance.
The 196 Vulkan is designed for hunting mid-sized deer through to Moose. While most 196-200 grain 8mm bullets carry too much momentum and travel too slowly for fast killing when used on lighter bodied game, the 196 grain Vulkan is versatile across a wide range of body weights. The slow moving Vulcan does not produce hydrostatic shock but tears a large wound channel preventing lighter animals from traveling far from the shot. The Vulcan is adequate for cross body and lightly quartering shots on game weighing up to  450kg (1000lb). When striking heavy shoulder bones on this sized game the Vulcan is prone to partial bullet blow up with the remaining large fragments coming to rest inside the offside shoulder muscle and bone. On cross body rear lung shots the Vulcan penetrates reasonably well coming to rest in offside skin, weight retention averages around 40-50% when used on large game weights.  
Norma’s 196 grain core bonded Oryx bullet generally retains up to or above 90% weight after impact. This bullet is not well suited to light or lean game, coming into its own as game weights exceed 90kg (200lb). On game in the 450kg range the Oryx may exit on rear lung shots but where either one or both shoulder bones are broken the Oryx will arrest under the offside skin. This also dictates that the Oryx is suitable for slightly quartering on or away shots but not heavily raking shots. When using this bullet, it is best to stalk in on game as close as possible (if possible), regardless of game size, in order to effect widest possible wounding for maximum trauma. The Oryx is suitable for hunting out to ranges of around 200 yards, but is much better utilized inside 100 yards (2200fps) and closer.
It is worth noting that the 196-198 grain loading is the most commonly available weight offered by European manufacturers. These weights suit most ex-military rifle open sight settings, even though European hunters today commonly use scoped sporting rifles.
Currently, the most readily available 8x57IS factory loads are those produced by the American giants Winchester, Remington, Federal. All advertise a 170 grain soft point bullet at 2360fps giving around 2300fps in older 24” military barrels. The projectiles used in these loadings are extremely soft, designed for reliable expansion at low velocity, nevertheless ordinary chest shots produce slow kills and it is sometimes difficult to determine if game have been hit at all. Exit wounds are generally the size of the expanded projectile while penetration is reasonably good. These loads should be viewed in the same light as .30-30 loadings - as close range medium game loads. Due to extremely poor BC’s and low muzzle velocities, performance at extended ranges can be extremely poor. PMC (produced in China) have also produced a similar 170 grain load to those listed here in the past.
To this list, we can add Hornady’s current loadings which include the 195 grain SP Interlock, the 196 grain Vintage Match HPBT and the new 180 grain GMX Superformance lead free load. The first two loads are of a weight that can be set to match military sight settings. These bullets are discussed in more detail in the following hand loading section. The latter bullet is based on current lead free trends. At this time of writing (2013), Hornady have just announced a 170 grain SST projectile for hand loaders. It is expected that this bullet will eventually appear as a Superformance load, potentially offering vastly superior performance to all other factory loads when used on light through to mid weight deer species.
RWS presently list several 8x57JS loads however their ammunition is very expensive, discouraging importers and distributors outside of Germany from stocking a full and consistent range of ammunition. Please note, I have tested these projectiles in component form - not as factory loads.
The 12.7 gram (196 grain) TMR at an advertised 2625fps (estimate 2550fps in older rifles) is a conventional softpoint bullet in the same class as the Norma Alaska. The 12.8 gram (198 grain) ID Classic at the same velocity as the TMR is identical in design to the Brenneke TIG, a soft lead front core is swaged into a higher antimony hard rear core in an effort to obtain a balance of penetration versus expansion. Expansion and penetration are similar to US produced conventional controlled expanding bullets (Prohunter), adequate for lighter medium game although too slow and heavy to produce shock, adequate for larger medium game but like the TMR and Alaska, has the limitations of a conventional bullet.
The 12.1 gram (187 grain) HMK or H-Mantel at 2690fps (estimated 2600fps) also has a dual core. A large hollow point is protected by a copper tip, similar to the Winchester Silvertip, while a deep cannelure protects the bullet jacket from separating from the hard rear core. Upon impact the front section of the H-Mantel expands or fragments and where bone is encountered, the frontal area including the jacket is wiped off completely. The rear section then becomes like an 8mm diameter solid, producing very deep penetration. The H-Mantel is designed to give maximum destruction in the chest cavity when shooting large soft skinned game broadside. But where raking shots must be taken, the H-Mantel is able to shed its frontal area and achieve penetration into vitals.
There are some differences between the H-Mantel and premium bullets like the Partition, in that the H-Mantel does not have a fully partitioned rear core, instead having a deep swage that allows the frontal area to break away altogether leaving an 8mm diameter cup and core. This is an adequate bullet design at 8x57JS velocities but can be prone to full fragmentation at 8x68S / 8mm Rem Mag velocities when used on tough game.
The 11.7 gram (181 grain) DK or dual core bullet at the same estimated velocity of 2600fps features a copper cup to separate the front soft core from the harder rear core in a similar fashion to the Nosler Partition and A-Frame. The DK differs from the H-Mantel in that after the frontal area subsides during penetration, the rear core swells at the copper cup shifting its center of balance forward. This stability makes the DK more inclined to penetrate in a straight line. The final form of the DK is very similar to the Swift A-Frame, results on game being near identical to the .30-06 using the 180 grain Swift bullet.
Ultimately, the DK is a fast expanding bullet, suitable for mid to large bodied deer species. The cone point design is utilized to decrease bullet jump in the typically long throated military rifles while maintaining a short COAL, all towards the goal of optimum accuracy.  The cone point design tends to produce excellent terminal performance but with limited BC’s. 
Sellier & Bellot are another source of ammunition for 8mm users, though this ammunition is not that common these days. Traditional loads included the 196 grain Brenneke style bullet and 196 grain hollow point copper tipped bullet, both giving the typical 2450fps from an optimistic 2590fps. Both loads are conventionally constructed, designed for use on Red deer through to Moose with the usual limitations found in conventional type projectiles. These bullets are too slow and heavy to produce fast expansion on light framed animals yet are of too basic a design to be completely ideal for heavy animals, ideally suited to Boar and Red deer at woods ranges. S&B also list a basic 196 grain Military load, producing similar velocities.
Prvi Partizan, marketed in Australasia as Highland Ammunition produce very economical hunting ammunition for the 8x57JS. The 196 grain conventional softpoint at 2460fps for realistic velocities of around 2300fps gives adequate performance on larger animals at close ranges but can be prone to jacket core separation when striking heavy bone at velocities below 2200fps (100 yards). Higher impact velocities tend to help the jacket and core swage together, the opposite of what we might normally expect. For lighter animals, the 139 grain soft point bullet would appear ideal, however it is under loaded to an advertised velocity of 2690fps where it could have been loaded to a solid 2900fps. Worse still, true velocities are around 2570fps.  Performance on medium game tends to range from acceptable to poor with seemingly no uniformity.

Hand Loading

For optimum performance on medium game, the 8mm performs best with hand loaded ammunition. This is where the fun begins.
With lighter 125 to 150 grain bullets, fast burning powders in the H4198, ADI2207 range achieve top velocities while heavy charges of medium burn rate powders in the 3031, H4895 (ADI 2206H)  give best results with heavier bullets. Varget (ADI 2208) also works well with 200 to 220 grain bullets but in many instances, there are no practical gains in velocity. In practice, H4895 (ADI 2206H) tends to be the most versatile powder which can be further altered via changes in primer burn rate. For example, in very sluggish, loose 8mm bores, H4895 combined with the Federal 215 grain magnum primer can help boost velocities with 150 grain bullets.
Optimum working velocities for the 8mm Mauser include 3100fps with 125 grain bullets, 2900fps with 150 grain bullets, 2700fps with 170-175 grain bullets, 2650fps with 180 grain bullets, 2500fps with 200 grain bullets and 2300fps when using heavy 220 grain bullets. That said, it is possible to push individual rifles much faster, obtaining for example, up to and above 3050fps with 150 grain bullets with relative ease. It is no trick to drive 175 grain bullets at 2750-2800fps either. Yet by the same token, some rifles, although capable of producing such sizzling velocities, produce best accuracy some 50fps below the figures quoted here, therefore, these figures definitely present the average.
One of the most accurate sources of reloading data is the ADI reloading manual as duplicated by Hodgdon (or is the other way round?). The loads and velocities given are refreshingly accurate - and potent.
The 8mm Mauser is a long throated design, meaning that it is difficult to get close to the rifling with hand loads unless using a cone point style bullet. Nevertheless, the Mauser rifles do not seem overly fussed with bullet jump and providing hand loads are seated for optimum concentricity (see COAL article), the Mauser rifles are generally fairly straight forwards to work with. The standard twist rate of the Mauser military rifle is 1:9.45 which although optimized for 196-200 grain bullets, generally works well with 150 to 250 grain bullets.
Fortunately, brass for the 8mm is plentiful whether in loose form or derived from factory ammunition. In the past, I have stripped factory ammunition and revamped it using H4895 or in some instances, made 18 rounds from 20 using the existing powder, in order to fully exploit the projectiles in hand. This ammunition is then used for close to moderate range hunting and as a source of reloading brass. For the inexperienced, this is a dangerous practice. Only experienced hand loaders should attempt reworking loads, selecting a safe mid-point H4895 load.
Reworked factory ammunition is extremely potent to say the very least with the fast expanding Winchester and the old PMC load producing what is best described as violent, spectacular performance. Penetration is fair on mid-sized deer. Remington’s round nosed 170 grain bullet also enjoys a wake up call, an excellent game bullet when loaded to full potential. Both Winchester and Remington are excellent sources of brass for the 8mm.
Hornady projectiles include the 150 grain Interlock SP, 170 grain round nose Interlock, the 170 grain SST, 180 grain GMX homogenous copper bullet, the 195 grain Interlock SP and the 196 grain BTHP match. Hornady also produced a 125 grain 8mm projectile for the 7.92x33 Kurz but it appears as though this bullet is no longer manufactured. In the 8x57JS, it was possible to drive this bullet at velocities of 3100 to 3150fps. That said, a poor BC and SD dictated that although this bullet gave extremely fast expansion coupled with high shock at close range, performance waned very quickly while penetration was somewhat limited at close ranges. Loaded in the 8x57JS rather than the Kurz for which it was designed, the 125 grain bullet was prone to blow up when striking bone on at close ranges. 
One of the very best bullets available for the 8mm has been the 150 grain Interlock, primarily due to its soft nature. This soft nature is of great benefit to the 8mm due to the fact that although 150 grain bullets can be driven very fast, low BC’s lead to rapid loss in velocity.  The 150 grain Interlock is a stellar performer in spite of these limitations. Driven as fast as possible, the 150 grain bullet is very fast killing at close to moderate ranges, ideal for light or lean game through to body weights of around 90kg (200lb). BC of the 150 grain Interlock is .290, producing best results out to a range of around 250 yards and acceptable performance out to ranges of around 300 yards with 400 yards as the general cut off point. In New Zealand, the 150 grain Interlock has been used to take countless red stag weighing up to 150kg (330lb) but muzzle velocities of hand loads have typically been around 2700fps which was much easier on this very soft projectile, ensuring adequate penetration. Deep penetration cannot be expected with the preferred muzzle velocities listed here if the Interlock is used at close ranges. High impact velocities invariably lead to excessive bullet weight loss should close range shots occur on heavy bodied deer, although the 8mm Interlock does generally penetrate vitals with relative ease, regardless of bullet integrity.  
The 170 grain Hornady round nosed bullet is an odd duck. Loaded fast, it is a good woods bullet, producing wide wounding. But this bullet design has handicapped the 8mm for many years with gun stores sometimes stocking this bullet as the only option for hand loaders, limiting effective range of the great 8mm. Further to this, the 170 grain Interlock is capable of fair but not exceptional penetration, again due to its soft nature. In plain and simple terms, this is an excellent woods bullet for light to mid weight deer species, delivering rapid expansion, producing wide wounding with some room for shot placement.
The biggest news for 8mm users, has been the release of the 170 grain SST. For many years I have recommended the 150 grain Interlock as an antidote to lack luster performance in the 8x57JS but the 170 grain SST is about to change the game dramatically. Unfortunately, I have not been able to test the SST at this time of writing, this bullet has only just been released. With a BC of .445, I am willing to estimate that from an MV of 2700fps, this bullet will have an effective range of around 600 yards. I would also estimate based on past research with the 8mm, that because of the unique (to the 8mm) weight and SD, this bullet will produce somewhat more versatile performance (fast killing) across a wider range of body weights than is possible to achieve with the .30 caliber SST bullets. In other words, this bullet should hopefully produce fast killing on both very lean to somewhat larger bodied game weighing up to 150kg (330lb). Time will tell.
The rather recent 195 grain Interlock was designed specifically for the 8x57JS - not the magnums. It’s design allows the hand loader to tune the load to open (military) sight settings to some degree. This is a fast expanding bullet but cannot be expected to produce fast killing due to typically low impact velocities. Killing is nevertheless clean. Although designed as an all-rounder, the heavy Interlock is best suited to larger bodied animals to maximize target resistance and therefore maximize energy transfer. At best, the big Interlock is suitable for large bodied red deer and Elk, doing its best work inside 100 yards with a maximum effective range of around 360 yards, beyond which wounding is marginal.
Hornady’s 196gr HPBT Match bullet has a BC of .525. This is not designed for hunting and therefore needs to be altered accordingly (hollow point opened up) if it is to be used within this role. For some time I have recommended the use of the modified 196 grain bullet to 8x68S users wanting to reach out to long ranges and the 196 grain bullet has proven effective. In the 8x57JS, the modified 196 grain bullet has an effective range of around 450 yards, delivering best performance on larger bodied animals weighing over 90kg (200lb). If working up loads and drop charts, set custom BC at .500 or use the Sierra .30 caliber 175 HPBT to plot trajectories.
Speer bullets include the 150 grain Hotcor, 170 grain semi point Hotcor and the outstanding 200 grain Hotcor. The 150 grain Hotcor deserves special consideration, placed on the go to list along with the 150 grain Interlock and 170 grain SST.  The sole advantage of the Hotcor bullet, is that it can tackle a wider range of body weights than the 150 grain Interlock while keeping bullet weight down and velocities high in order to maximize energy transfer. This is an excellent bullet for those who hunt light through to mid-sized deer species (Red stag / Mule buck) where there is concern that a very soft bullet may fail to achieve desirable results. The Hotcor does its best to stay together on tougher animals and is also extremely useful when hunting wild pigs which range greatly in body weights. The 150 grain Speer is capable of producing hydrostatic shock out to a range of around 110 yards, continuing to produce clean but sometimes slightly delayed killing (depending on shot placement) out to ranges of 270 to 300 yards, tapering off in performance thereafter.
Speer’s 170 grain semi point is another odd duck. Again we see this handicapping of the 8mm BC (in this case only slightly) which has not helped the old German in the popularity stakes, yet this bullet has its strengths. Both the Hotcor design and bullet form allow the bullet to deliver very high trauma while the soldered core helps maintain bullet integrity. The semi point does its best work inside 100 yards with slow killing occurring at ranges beyond 200 yards. This bullet is ideal for larger bodied animals weighing up to 320kg (700lb) at woods ranges.
Of the many heavy bullets that have come and gone over the years, the 200 grain 8mm Speer bullet is a truly excellent design. The 200 grain Speer is to some degree somewhat better suited to the 8mm-06 and magnums, but it can be put to use in the 8x57 with wicked effect if utilized at close ranges. This bullet can be used on mid to large bodied deer with great effect but can also be used on light framed game so long as ranges are kept very short (inside 50 yards). The 200 grain Speer should be driven as fast as safely possible, effective range for disproportionate to caliber wounding is around 200 yards but again, best performance is at very close ranges.
The 200 grain Hotcor is certainly an excellent bullet, but it does have limitations. The Hotcor develops a large frontal area of up to 19mm (.75”), delivering extremely high trauma but its frontal area can limit penetration. When used on large game in the 450kg range this bullet may not penetrate onside shoulder bones, the Hotcor does not blow up at 8x57JS impact velocities but mushrooms back and to a width that deep penetration cannot be expected on heavy game if round bone is struck. In the magnums, this frontal area is shed away - although this of course means a reduction in bullet weight and a loss in SD. In either case, if the 200 grain Hotcor is used on very heavy animals it can be best to utilize ‘meat saver’ shots, tucked very neatly behind the shoulder (within shoulder crease).
Sierra bullets include the 150 grain Prohunter, 175 grain Prohunter, the 200 grain HPBT MatchKing and 220 GameKing BTSP. The 150 grain Prohunter is a modest bullet, it lacks the pizazz of the soft Interlock while lacking the integrity and some of the trauma of the Hotcor, though the differences between the Hotcor and Sierra are subtle. A generally good 300 yard light to medium game bullet but not spectacular in any way. 
The 175 grain Prohunter is much like its .30 caliber 180 grain counterpart, producing slow kills on light framed deer, best suited to deer species weighing between 90 and 320kg (200-700lb) but still tending to produce delayed killing due to the associated impact velocities and absence of hydrostatic shock. Here I will relate a personal story. While experimenting with both the 8x57JS and 8mm-06, I experimented, as I often do, with modifying the 175 grain Prohunter. If the tip is filed off and the projectile hollow pointed, the Sierra becomes an extremely violent and often spectacular killer - a stand alone bullet design. Penetration is dependent on the width of hollow point but should generally be regarded as adequate for medium game.  This is not a deep penetrating bullet after modifications. As a woods to moderate range load, this bullet is forgiving of shot placement in the extreme. As to my personal story, I had thought that I had made the greatest discovery and filed my notes away to one day appear in print (now here). My bubble was burst when I came across old writings of Graham Henry (NZ). Henry had witnessed the same limitations within the 175 grain Prohunter design on deer, had filed off the tip and hollow pointed the bullet, declaring it an excellent load. I had re-invented the wheel.
Discoveries and bubble bursting aside, the hollow pointed Sierra is ideal for snap shooting deer under conditions where there is a risk of poor shot placement, regardless of efforts to do otherwise.
The unmodified 175 grain Prohunter is presumably designed for the much faster 8mm Remington Magnum. BC is .381, a touch above the 170 grain Hotcor at .354.  The Sierra is stout in construction; shots that strike behind the shoulder on game weighing from 40 to 150kg (88-330lb) produce slow kills even though the Sierra produces consistently good expansion. This is due to both bullet construction and 8x57JS velocities.
Although it is stout, the Sierra cannot be relied on for tail on shots at closer ranges. Hollow pointing the Sierra with a 7/64 drill bit produces the most spectacular results but on larger bodied deer, can inhibit penetration. A smaller drill bit enhances penetration while still maintaining good performance. Hollow pointed bullets typically weigh 171 grains with a BC of around .274. This load has been, prior to the SST, the most effective killer of game weighing from 40 to 150kg in the 8x57JS, 8x64s and 8mm06 cartridges.  Incapacitation occurs regardless of hydrostatic shock due to massive internal damage.
The 171 grain HP Sierra has a BC of about .274. Loaded to between 2700 and 2800fps, the 171gr HP is usable to a maximum range of around 250 yards. Hollow pointing the Sierra is however a tedious exercise and after 200 to 300 projectiles, one tends to look at the greater variety of fast expanding projectiles available for other cartridges. Interestingly, hollow pointing the .30 cal 180gr Prohunter does not produce similar results in the .30-06, the modified bullet still producing delayed killing on lighter medium game. The slight decrease in weight and SD appear to produce a unique effect in the 8mm bore. The 171 grain hollow point produces wound channels on game very similar to Norma’s now obsolete 165 grain Vulcan.
The Sierra MatchKing is a stout bullet and Sierra are adamant that the MatchKing design should not be used for hunting due to its tendency to produce pinhole wounding which is quite true. It is however possible to open up the meplat and hollow point the Sierra in a similar fashion as suggested with regard to the Hornady match bullet. The same considerations should be applied here, the modified bullet employed on larger bodied deer, BC around .450, effective range around 400 yards. Use the Sierra .30 caliber 168 grain SMK to develop drop charts.
Sierra’s heavy weight, the 220 grain GameKing is designed for the 8mm Remington Magnum. It is important to understand that that the GameKing design does not feature any means to lock the bullet jacket to the core in order to control expansion. To this end, Sierra utilize heavy copper jackets when creating bullets for the larger magnums / large game loadings. It is of course possible to employ the heavy GameKing in the 8x57JS, loaded to muzzle velocities of around 2300fps. However, such a load cannot be considered a truly heavy (Bovine) game load, the 220 grain GameKing being designed for Elk. The 220 grain Sierra has some merit as a close range Brown bear load but it does not have velocity on its side to induce high trauma. At best, this is a close range Elk or Moose bullet.
Since the introduction of the .325 WSM, Nosler have taken greater notice of the 8mm caliber, now offering 3 bullet designs including the 180 grain Ballistic Tip, the 200 grain Accubond and 200 grain Partition. The BT requires careful consideration. While it is true that the 8mm offers reduced SD’s in comparison to the .30 caliber, the thick jacket of this bullet along with the mild muzzle velocities of the 8x57JS pose somewhat limited performance. The BT gives gives best results (fast killing) when used on sheep and deer weighing 90kg (200lb) through to body weights of around 150kg (330lb) and 200kg (440lb) at a push. Yet this is not the type of bullet to be used for heavily raking shots. In the 8x57JS, the BT does its best work inside 160 yards, but can be used out to 350 yards - providing target resistance is sufficient.
Nosler’s 200 Accubond bullet is not ideal for the 8x57JS. The AB produces fast killing out to a range of around 50 yards. Beyond this range, rear lung shots will allow animals to cover some distance before expiring. By the same token, the Accubond tends to lose too much weight to be truly useful or effective on truly heavy, tough game. It seems that with the Accubond, the increased BC over the former Partition design came at the price of sacrificed killing performance. These comments aside, the Accubond can be relied on to produce relatively deep penetration and adequate wounding on large bodied deer at close ranges.
The 200 grain Nosler Partition is an outstanding bullet. This bullet does not have a very long effective range when used in the 8x57JS but it does deliver excellent performance at close ranges on large bodied game weighing up to 450kg (990lb). The Partition does its best work inside 150 yards but can be used out to ranges of around 330 yards provided shots are directed into the forwards chest cavity rather than rear lungs.
Barnes currently produce a 160 grain Tipped TSX along with 180 grain and 200 grain TSX bullets in 8mm caliber. These bullets are not particularly well suited to the 8x57JS due to potentially narrow wounding at low impact velocities (below 2400fps). Nevertheless, the Barnes bullets can be employed for hunting game weighing 90kg (200lb) and heavier at very close ranges. Shot placement is the key factor, angling to break shoulder bones to maximize trauma.
Woodleigh produce some excellent controlled expanding round nose bullet designs for the 8mm but these are heavy bullets, doing their best work on large bodied game at very close ranges. Both the 196 and 220 grain expand reliably at 8x57JS velocities providing shots are kept inside 250 yards. That said, trauma is much higher at close ranges, the round nose bullet design helping maximize energy transfer. These bullets do their best work on heavy bodied deer, but produce clean killing on lighter framed game. On light framed game, speed of killing is very much dependent on shot placement. As a side note, although the Woodleigh bullets are designed and labeled as being suitable for impact velocities of up to 2700fps, these bullets excel at higher impact velocities, often producing dramatic and spectacular results.  
There are many other projectiles available for the 8x57JS. Both Norma and RWS sell their projectiles as reloading components. Most of these are best used at close ranges as per the information given in the factory ammunition section. Along with the RWS projectiles mentioned, RWS also produce a 181 grain Cone point bullet (KS) which is of a very basic conventional design. This is one of my favorite game killing bullet designs but unfortunately lacks a decent BC, doing its best work at close to moderate ranges. 
Before we close, it is worth mentioning that there are many 8x57JRS rifles in circulation. This is the rimmed version of the 8mm Mauser, designed to be used in break open rifles. Cases capacity and velocity potential is the same as the JS cartridge where brand of brass is the same. It should therefore be obvious that overall cartridge performance is identical.

Closing Comments

The M/88 cartridge which evolved into and became the 8mm Mauser, is the grandfather of modern standard cartridge design. The M98 Mauser rifle was also a basic blueprint for modern rifle design, displaying genius in its technical simplicity. Both the rifle and cartridge have had a very dark history but as wounds have healed, we can now look upon the rifle and cartridge for what it was and what it is, a marvel of technical advancement, a wonderful tool. There are also lessons to be learned here. In recent years, we have seen some extremely sophisticated rifle designs emerge from Europe - overly complex finicky rifle designs, intellectual snobbery, an occasional hint of arrogance. In my view, the M98 infantry rifle and basic sporterized variant was a humble rifle, a reliable and useful tool and as stated, true genius in its simplicity. When we view a given modern complex rifle design, I believe it is important that we ask ourselves - is this really an improvement?
As a medium game hunting cartridge, the 8x57JS can produce either lack luster performance or spectacular results depending on which bullet is utilized and how the cartridge is employed. For a time, it was difficult to fully exploit the potential of the 8mm but as new bullet designs emerge, the 8mm is coming into its own. The 8mm is a generally flexible cartridge and can be put to use on light through to very large bodied game, a powerhouse at woods ranges, a fair performer in open country with a degree of long range potential thanks to new Hornady bullet designs. The 8mm is not a true heavy game cartridge, but with select shot placement, can dispatch pretty much anything that walks, much like the .30-06.  
For those who own 8mm Mauser rifles, it is extremely important that barrels are kept oiled or greased if stored for long periods of time and throats kept polished. It is now becoming harder to find surplus rifles in good condition and it is up to us to preserve these rifles.
On a personal note, the K98 rifle and 8x57JS has been my father’s favorite combination over the years.  My father started with an 8mm (Norma 198gr HPBT ammunition), moved to other rifles, then returned to the 8mm later in life because it (rifle and cartridge) never let him down.

Dad Mauser Urewera sepia

My father, watching over a clearing in the Urewera at dusk with his k98.
Ultimately, the M98 rifle and 8mm Mauser cartridge are a joy to own and use - and something we can continue to learn from.
Suggested loads: 8x57JS Mauser Barrel length: 24”
No ID   Sectional Density Ballistic Coefficient Observed  MV Fps ME
1 FL Norma 196gr Vulkan .268 .345 2450 2612
2 HL 150gr Interlock / Speer .205 .290 2900 2801
3 HL 150gr Interlock / Speer .205 .290 3000 2997
4 HL 170gr SST .233 .445 2700 2751
5 HL 170gr SST* .233 .445 2700 2751
6 HL 170-171gr hollow point .233 .274 2700 2751
7 HL 200gr Partition .274 .350 2500 2775
Suggested sight settings and bullet paths           
1 Yards 100 180 200 250        
  Bt. path +2 0 -.1.3 -6.3        
2 Yards 100 245 283 300 325 350    
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -5 -8 -11.7    
3 Yards 100 255 292 325 350      
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -6.6 -9.9      
4 Yards 100 238 276 300 325 350    
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -5.5 -8.5 -12    
5 Yards 100 217 257 300        
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -7.6        
6 Yards 100 223 257 275 300 325    
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -4.9 -8.2 -12.2    
7 Yards 100 211 247 275 300      
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -6.4 -10      
No At yards 10mphXwind Velocity Ft-lb’s
1 200 7.8 1872 1524
2 300 11 2014 1350
3 300 10.4 2095 1461
4 300 7.5 2127 1708
5 300 7.5 2127 1708
6 300 13.1 1808.5 1241.6
7 300 11 1817 1467
*Load 5 sight height .5”.  Sight height is 1.6”for other loads.
 8x57 8mm Mauser final
8x57JS Imperial Metric 
A .471 11.95
B .470 11.94
C 20 deg  
D .431 10.95
E .357 9.08
F 1.819 46.2
G .425 10.8
H 2.244 57
Max Case 2.244 57
Trim length 2.224 56.7
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We are a small family run business, based out of Taranaki, New Zealand, who specialize in cartridge research and testing ... read more



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We are a small, family run business, based out of Taranaki, New Zealand, who specialize in cartridge research and testing, and rifle accurizing.