Siam, now known as Thailand, was one of the few independent south Asian nations around the turn of the 20th century. Looking to modernize its military to protect against colonial imposition, is decided in 1903 to adopt a copy of the Mauser Gewehr 98 rifle. Siam (which changed its name to Thailand in 1938) didn’t have the manufacturing base to produce the necessary quantity of rifles, so it contracted the job out to the Japanese arsenal at Tokyo (Koishikawa). Between 1903 and 1908, about 400,000 of these rifles were manufactured, chambered for an old-style 8x50R cartridge using a round-nosed projectile. This was called the Type 46 rifle, based on the Thai calendar.

About twenty years later the Siamese military was improving its machine gun armament, and revised its cartridge to a slightly longer 8x52R case using a modern spitzer bullet – as basically every nation did at some point in the early 20th century. The existing stock of Type 46 rifles were rechambered for this new cartridge, and it is fairly rare to find an unmodified example today. The conversion is easy to spot, as it also included grinding down the rear sight ramp to fit the flatter trajectory of the new cartridge. Range markings had been stamped on the side of the rear sight, and converted guns have these marks partially removed by the reshaping of the ramp.

As with all rifles made by the Japanese before WWII, the Siamese Mausers are of excellent quality, although many have led rough lives by the time they reach the hands of a collector today and are often in pretty rough condition. While they make an interesting addition to a surplus rifle collection, they have also long been used as the basis for conversion to .45-70 conversions, as the bolt and magazine are already designed for large rimmed cases, unlike most other military Mausers. This has led to them being rather more rare than one would otherwise expect.

Video

3 Comments

  1. I have purchase an identical Mauser as shown in your video, with one exception. The bolt “handle” is 90 Deg and the stock was cut to accommodate this. Is this common, or is this the wrong bolt?

    • This is almost certainly the result of someone “sporterizing” the rifle to make it handier (and unfortunately destroying most of the collector’s value at the same time). Does the serial number on the bolt match the rest of the gun?

  2. My first experience with this rifle was a bubba special that gave me an excellent action to build a really first rate 45-70 rifle that can safely handle loads normally reserved for a No. 1 Ruger. For those like me that love the larger bore cartridges, this is a match made in heaven. While I would never recommend doing such to a good or better original, there are more than enough trashed ones around to lift an action from….which of course also saves cash.

    I was impressed enough with the result that I found an original in VG condition and added it to my military Mauser collection. While this is strictly a roll your own ammo rifle, if you’re into shooting something at the range that nobody there has never handled (much less shot), it is worth it. They were made to a very high standard, but as noted often show the effects of long use in the tropics. From what I’ve seen, while the exteriors might be a tad rough, the bores normally are quite good, reflecting good care and maintenance while in service.

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