For me at least, researching a new military surplus rifle is almost as much fun as shooting it. As such, I am always looking for reference books that allow me to determine where my rifles were manufactured and who used them.
Robert W.D. Ball's book, Mauser Military Rifles of the World, is organized by country and gives a history of the country and then devotes a paragraph to each type of rifle used by that country. Also included are production schedules and explanations of receiver markings. Finally, there is a large “Mauser Curiosa” section which gives much information on Mauser experimental rifles as well as support equipment that was used with the rifles. Mr. Ball is to be commended for his detailed information given on the early model Mausers and their immediate predecessors going back to the Chassepot Mauser conversions and the Dreyse Needle Gun.
The 4th Edition is an improvement over earlier editions in that the pictures of the rifles are now in color. The many color pictures allow the reader to identify what his rifle is and how it should be finished. There is also a great deal of data included in the book to help the reader identify the manufacturer of his rifle.
There are, however, a few items that could have been improved upon. First, the data dealing with production markings and numbers is presented in different formats for different countries. Some contain the information in charts within the countries entry. The data for others is listed in a similar chart in an appendix at the end of the book, while still others have the information within the text, not in chart form at all. Also, Mr. Ball gives a fairly detailed history for each country listed. In the case of Turkey, this goes back to the Mongolian invasion of the 13th Century. This space would have been put to better use talking about the country's firearms in greater detail.
To summarize, Mr. Ball’s book is a valuable reference guide from which much can be learned. It is presented in an attractive format with many good color illustrations. It is definitely worth the cost to have it in your library. (Jan 2010)
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