Israeli SP66: A Modern Mauser Sniper

This rifle is lot #2172 at Morphy’s April 2019 auction.

Around 1980, Israeli purchased a batch of modern Mauser SP66 precision rifles to supplement or replace their stocks of M14 and Mauser K98k sniper rifles. This new rifle was based on the Mauser 66 sporting rifle action, and had been developed by Mauser in the 1970s to meet the new demand for serious snipers’ rifles for the new modern counter-terrorism agencies like GSG-9. It offered features like an adjustable cheek rest, magnificent trigger, and excellent mechanical accuracy. The IDF equipped them with a variety of different optics including Kahles, Nimrod (both 6x and 10x), and Swarovski. They were eventually replaced by newer Mauser SP86 rifles, and surplussed out, to be purchased mostly by Springfield Armory and imported into the US.


  1. The Mauser 66 is a very interesting rifle. I had one (hunting version), and it was very easy to handle and pretty accurate.
    The trigger sits under the magazine, and is built around it. The mechanics are offset to the side. The little blade that Ian presented for cocking is the place where the dear connects.

    Ian, the safety is probably not blocked, but it can only engage with a closed, cocked bolt.

    • What’s even more curious is that the gun has no receiver. The barrel is fixed to the stock which has a metal insert. The bolt sits in its telescoping sleeve and licks directly into the barrel. This system can be found in the Blaser R93, which took many elements from the Mauser 66

      • The Mauser 66 is a very “German” gun – very well made and pretty overengineered. Mind you, the telescoping bolt and the offset trigger mechanism are only there to save about about 4cm in overall length. Mauser, at this period, had the problem to compete against the millions ok 98 Mauser guns from the war, which were reconfigured at low cost to serve as a sporting arm. Hence, they (and other German sporting arms manufacturers) had to come up with something new.

  2. The competitive shooter mentioned, who invented this bolt design, was Walter Gehmann.
    Another feature of the hunting variety of the rifle was that barrels could be changed quite easily by the user.

  3. Two side notes, the Mauser 66 action is very tricky to inlet in a stock, as shown in the three Anvil series videos where Mark Novak is making a custom stock for a Mauser 66 hunting rifle. Also the Israeli love for cheek rests extends to modern service rifles, since almost every FAB Defense AR and AK stock I’ve seen has an available cheek rest. I think they even have cheek rests on shotgun stocks

  4. Inspected Tasmania Police Issue versions of this rifle at their Ballistics Section (they maintain police firearms) during a tour in the early 2000’s. They where issued to the Special Operations Group. Also saw a second hand one (scoped from memory with a Zeiss)at a gun shop in George Street Sydney in the late 70’s early 80’s for sale at 1,500 Australian dollars so they where commercially available at the time.

  5. The cheek rest spring seems like an odd idea. I don’t think I’d want a piece I was trying to adjust to have a mind of its own.

    • Iguess the idea is to loosen the screw on the right side and adjust height by pushing down with your cheek. You normally do not do this too often anyway.

  6. I had a chance to mess with one of these in a gun shop once; it had the most exceptional bolt fit I had ever experienced. Ultra-slick movement with no play whatsoever. Didn’t have the money for it at the time, unfortunately, and like most of the IDF sniper imports, they’ve gone sky-high price-wise. (There’s also some ex-IDF M14s in the country that SA imported with Nimrod scopes IIRC).

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