Spanish M43: The Worst Sniper Rifle Ever Made

The standard Spanish infantry rifle from 1943 until the adoption of the CETME was the M43, an 8mm Mauser short rifle made at the La Coruña arsenal. As is fairly common, a sniper rifle variant was made form the standard rifles, with an early version made in the mid 1950s and a later model about a decade later.

The early type is a bit basic, but reasonably well constructed. It uses a Zeiss 4 power scope with La Coruña markings (either scrubbed and remarked or bought from Zeiss without and German markings). The scope mounting system is a bit odd, but again functional.

The late pattern of M43 sniper is truly awful. It uses a cheap Japanese-made 10x “Marine” scope (this being in the days when Japanese optics were very poor, unlike today). The mounts are a conglomeration of spacer blocks crudely welded to the receiver, bits of aluminum Weaver rail, and cheap thumb-screw scope rings. Honestly the worst actual military sniper rifle I have ever seen. And yet, they were formally adopted and used in Spanish military service for many years.


  1. Re heat treat the receiver?

    I wonder whether it actually was. It might be worth doing some testing, if anyone was going to use the rifles.

    I wonder how consistent the height and alignment of the scope axis was above the bore? It would make for an interesting time shooting outside of the range that the combination had been zeroed at

    The Spanish state, short of money? :p

    Spain was increasingly being left behind, right through that post WW2 period. Same with most of the other PIIIGS group of European countries (exceptions are northern Italy and Iceland).

    Fascist / social nationalist / national socialist governments are almost as bad as Marxists for destroying wealth creation

    Come to that, Spain had been declining from the time that the last of the stolen inca gold was spent, and the time that the Dutch began their 80 years war to secede from the Spanish Hapsburg’s empire in the 1560s.

  2. there were commercial m70 win scope mounts available in the 50’s, no doubt would have been a much better idea, even if done by hand tools

    • Lots of different commercial scope mounts for Mauser type rifles avaibale as well. The Suhl type hook mounting for scopes for example has been around since before World War 2 and is still being used on new rifles today. Returns to zero, is relatively lightweight and when you only intend to mount this one scope is perfectly useable for the job. There are others like the EAW mounting that has also been in use for a very long time. Lots of other options were on the market too.

      The first pattern I see as adequate solution for a 1940ies sniper rifle. A bit complicated, but scope mouting was not as common then as it is today and it was not really established what a mounting should look like. I think it is okay. But that second pattern looks like the proverbial “Bubba” has designed it. Probabaly a horror story of politics, redtape and bureaucracy how it came to be as Scott has written above.

      • Mounting scopes on Mauser 98 rifles is much more difficult than one might think.
        The front and rear bridge have different heights. And because they were not meant to be scoped, the outer shape the the 98 receivers was often differed. Plus, the bolt handle and safety could interfere with the scope.
        The shim is probably not a windage adjustment, but is necessary because their welding didn’t give them the same height for front and rear base.
        Open a German optics mounting catalogue (EAW, Recknagel) and you will find a whole bunch of strange adjustable scope mounts that exist due to the 98mounting problems.

  3. “Honestly the worst actual military sniper rifle I have ever seen. And yet, they were formally adopted and used in Spanish military service for many years.” To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, “You go to war with the army you have”. In my quarter century of service, I never once served with a unit at full personnel strength or having its full allotment of weapons and equipment. The US Army has the Table of Organization and Equipment for your unit, the platonic ideal. BUT you are organized and equipped under a Modified Table of Organization and Equipment, which reflects reality and which zeroes out both men and equipment and authorizes substitute (usually older) stuff in place of the ideal. On top of which, there’s always people transferring in and out and you’re never at MTOE strength. I am sure the Spaniards, like soldiers everywhere, sighed, shrugged their shoulders, hummed a few bars of “Que Sera, Sera” and got on with it with the attitude “Any sniper rifle is better than no sniper rifle”

  4. That looks like something I could do in my shop, which is encouraging because I can now claim projects that are “mil-spec sniper grade”. Oh, Spain. You’re better than that.

  5. Well, considering that Japanese manufacturing capabilities had been bombed almost out of existence, I can’t blame the lens maker for not doing a better job of crafting that optical sight.

  6. Y’know… Without some range time, this really doesn’t tell us much at all. Aside from a certain Hispanic insouciance towards cosmetic appearances, that is.

    I’ve got this friend of a friend. This guy… Oh. My. Gawd. He’s done so much “wrong” as a home gunsmith as to make you want to take up donations so he can go off to school. Everything he’s ever showed up on the range with just looks… Wrong.

    But… Everything I’ve ever seen him shoot is immaculately accurate. You look at it, and you’re like “Really? A freakin’ Tasco scope literally bolted onto the action, with electrical tape and hose clamps for rings…?”

    And, then the sumbitch groups five rounds out of five in a quarter-sized circle at 100 yards, and you’re going “How the…” while looking at your own group that’s the size of a damn paper plate.

    Looks and elegance don’t mean jack, really. These Spanish “Sniper Rifles” could actually be reasonably accurate, yet still look like literal dog turds. You’d have to shoot them to find out, I’m afraid.

    Conversely, one of my other friends has a really purdy Weatherby with a very high-end Kahles scope on it. That POS is essentially beyond anyone’s zeroing it, ever. I think the bore is hooked up to some kind of quantum random-number generator, because it hasn’t grouped once in all the years I’ve known the owner. Not consistently, and not on anything smaller than a damn bedsheet.

    He somehow gets his deer and elk, every year. I suspect he’s hired someone else to shoot them for him, however, because I ain’t never seen him actually shoot anything with that rifle. It’s the weapon with no visible means of support. He looks really good with it, though…

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