|Many of the Spanish Model 1916's are totally devoid of manufacturers' markings. I believe that these are Model 1893 and 1916 rifles that have been completely "scrubbed" (crest and other markings removed) and reserialed and rebarrelled in most cases, thumb cut added where needed. My logic is as follows:
1) Some of them have faint markings on the receiver bridge and left receiver rails indicating that they were original Oviedo or German production. In some cases, there are even grinding marks that can be seen.
2) I have a photocopy of an instruction manual for the 308 Winchester conversions. It states that these rifles were converted from both M1916 and M1893 rifles. This implies that the conversion process for both models was well established by the time the manual was publishjed (1965).
3) Total production of the unmarked 1916's (roughly 350,000 rifles) is consistent with having been converted from rifles and carbines previously manufactured at Oviedo (about 950,000 ) and imported (about 325,000). That is to say, there would have been plenty of older rifles available for conversion.
4) The serial number pattern of the unmarked Model 1916's is not consistent with the Model 1893 long rifles, Model 1895 carbines, or Model 1916 rifles. This indicates that these rifles were reserialed when they were "scrubbed", rather than retaining the origianl serial numbers.
I cannot positively state that none of the unmarked 1916's are new production. Features of the unmarked Model 1916's are as follows:
1) No markings at all or the Guardia Civil crest (see below). The Guardia Civil is the national police force of Spain, more like the National Guard than police.
2) Barrel length of about 22". Many were converted from 7mm Mauser to 308 Winchester. I really don't know much about the safety of the 308 conversion, but see the comments below.
3) Thumb cutout in the left side of the receiver rail to facilitiate cartridge charging.
4) Tangent leaf "rollercoaster" type rear sight.
5) Gas escape hole in the left side of the receiver.
6) Original bolts have curved handles (see picture below).
|J. Andrew Parris Photo - used with permission|
|J. Andrew Parris Photo - used with permission|
|J. Andrew Parris Photo - used with permission|
|Serial Numbers and Production: There are three serial numbers series that I have observed to date. There is no way to correlate their serial numbers with production dates, since none of them have the year of production stamped on them.
1) The "regular" series, all of which have a letter from A to Z followed by four numbers. I have never seen any serial numbers in the "2" series (2A, 2B, 2C, etc.). One has been reported to have four numbers without a prefix, which presumably precedes the "A" series. Most are in 7mm Mauser, but I seen examples in 308 Winchester. As stated above, I believe these were converted from original Oviedo or foreign Model 1893's, Model 1895's, and Model 1916's. Estimated prduction of 255,000 rifles.
2) The "Guardia Civil" series with the Guardia Civil crest on the receiver. All the ones I have seen to date are in 308 Winchester and the serial numbers on the left side of the receiver have a Z, 2Z, or 3Z prefix, followed by four numbers. There is also a plain five-digit serial number on the right hand side of the receiver where they were presumably reserialed when converted to 308 Winchester. All of these serial numbers are under 30,000. Estimated production is 30,000 or less. This seems very low considering the number of rifles that are being imported right now, but that's what the serial numbers indicate. As stated above, the copy of an operationg manual that I have states that these were converted from Model 1893 and Model 1916 rifles.
3) The "OT" series, all of which have an OT prefix followed by five numbers. All the ones I have heard of are in 308 Winchester. Estimated production is 60,000.
4) A small quantity (less than 50,000) were made by the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939) at the "Industrias de Guerra de Cataluna" (War Industries of Catalonia). Some are marked, some are not. For details, see the Spanish Arsenals page. I don't know if this was a central factory or several small shops.
5) Some odd examples have surfaced that seem to be late production. While they have 1916 actions, they have 29" barrels with folding leaf sights (see the serial numbers page for details). Some have an "RFO" prefix to the serial number, while another has what appears to a recess for a third lug located in the receiver bridge. Javier Sanchez has discovered an order dated 1933 calling for a third lug. For pictures, see the Odds and Ends page
|The Guardia Civil Crest. Photo
courtesy of Samco Global Arms
|Many of the "unmarked" 1916 Spanish Mausers have been converted so they can use 7.62 Cetme, 7.62 NATO, or 308 Winchester ammo. Most of the rifles currently being imported are these. There is lots of debate with strong opinions on both sides about whether or not these are safe to shoot. Just start a thread on one of the online firearms forums asking what type of ammo to use in your Model 1916 conversion, and experts from all over will jump in with informed opinions. Some people claim that they have shot thousands of rounds of high pressure ammo through theirs with no problems. Others have reported increased headspace due to lug setback after just a few rounds, which would indicate soft steel in the receiver, bolt, or possibly both. If most or even some of these reports are accurate, the quality of steel in these guns seems to be inconsistent. I have never heard of one of these converted rifles actually blowing up using any type of 308 ammo, however.
According to a Spanish Army training manual that I have a copy of that was published in 1965, Model 1893 and 1916 rifles were converted in the mid-1960's to use 7.62 CETME or 7.62 NATO. The manual also gives the pressures of the 7.62 CETME and 7.62 NATO cartridges, which I have converted to English units and compared to SAAMI maximums for 7mm and 308 Winchester. I assume the numbers given in the manual were measeured using the copper crusher (CUP) method available at the time.
46,000 psi CUP - 7mm Mauser (SAAMI maximum)
46,800 psi CUP - 7.62 CETME (from the manual)
49,700 psi CUP - 7.62 NATO (from the manual)
52,000 psi CUP - 308 Winchester (SAAMI maximum)
The 308 Winchester cartridge can develop more pressure than the 7mm Mauser cartridge that these rifles were originally chambered for. On the other hand, any firearm is (or should be) designed with a generous safety factor. An article on that appeared in Guns & Ammo talked about the results of tests run on some of these rifles, and can be accessed here. If you are concerned about the safety of your rifle, I suggest that you handload to lower pressures and check headspace periodically to check for lug setback. I personally have two of these rifles. I have only used relatively mild handloads in them, mostly because I don't care to beat up my shoulder with the steel buttplate if all I am shooting is targets. I have probably put less than 250 rounds through each, so I doubt I will ever get any definitive safety data from my rifles. I really can't say for sure whether they are safe for long term use with 308 Winchester ammo.
The pictures below shown an FR-7 that has (obviously) been blown up. These pictures were circulating around the internet a few years back, but I have no idea how this happened. I can tell you that it is quite possible to blow up a gun with a too-hot handload.
|Sketch of a Model 1893 Mauser barrel stub from Bolt Action Rifles, by Frank DeHaas, Revised (second) Edition, page 425 Modified by "Parashooter" to show the new flange, possibly pressed on|
|Note the gap between the stock and the front sight and barrel flange, indicating that the barrel has been set back. Also note the marks on the new flange (collar), which shows that it may have been pressed into place. Photo courtesy of "Parashooter".|
|The 7.62 Conversions|
|An interesting detail concerns the barrels. As far as I and others have been able to tell, these are 7mm Mauser barrels that have been rechambered, bored out, and re-rifled for the new cartridge. We have discovered or calculated the following:
1) The 308 barrels are a little shorter than the 7mm barrels.
2) The 7mm Mauser cartridge is 0.172" longer than the 308 Winchester cartridge at the furthest point out. If you convert a 7mm barrel to 308, you would need to remove at least this much from the chamber end in order to rechamber for the 308. The shoulder diameter of the 308 cartridge is so much wider than that of the 7mm Mauser that a 308 round will not fit in a 7mm chamber, even though it is shorter.
3) All of the converted rifles show gaps between the front of the rear sight and the front of the stock sight cutout, indicating that the new barrel has been set back (see photo below).
4) The barrels on all of these are held in place on the receiver by a raised flange at the chamber end of the barrel, directly in front of the barrel threads. See the sketch below. The flange on unaltered Model 1916's is 0.200" thick. There is simply not enough metal on the existing flange to set the barrel back by 0.172". On my two converted rifles, the flange is about 0.100" thick at the top. At least one individual (Parashooter) has reported that he can see lines on the barrel of his converted rifle indicating that a new flange was pressed on, which is the only way that a 7mm barrel could be used. See his two excellent quality pictures below. I really can't tell from my two examples, but the barrels were probably refinished after attaching the new flanges, so this is hardly surprising.