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Restoring a Yugo 24 Mauser
by Roy Seifert

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Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.

Recently during a 3-gun match my local gun club ran a side match for military bolt-action rifles.  To be truthful bolt-action rifles never appealed to me very much, and in fact I only owned one that I obtained in a trade for a handgun.  At a recent gun show a friend pointed out a Yugoslavian model 24 Mauser that he swore he would purchase if he didnít already have four other Mausers.  The bore looked in pretty good shape, the action was butter-smooth, and the stock had no major faults.  The numbers didnít match on the parts indicating it went through an arsenal rebuild, but based on my friendís recommendation, I purchased it along with some cheap, surplus, corrosive ammo.

Initial Assessment
After purchasing the rifle I completely disassembled it to see just exactly what I had purchased.  The front and rear barrel bands, magazine floor plate and butt plate were somewhat pitted and rusted with virtually no finish left.  The trigger guard, butt-stock, and rear sling swivel mount screws were seriously buggered from someone using a standard hardware store tapered blade screwdriver.  These would have to be cleaned up or replaced.  The trigger guard itself looked almost brand new with very little wear, rust or pitting on the inside, and outside.  On the left side of the barrel just past the step was a deep pit with lots of rust.  Not deep enough to affect the safety of the rifle, but at some point water seeped into the gap between the top of the stock and the hand guard, soaked the stock, and sat against the metal of the barrel.  So far I havenít seen anything that canít be fixed.

Restoration Plan
I wanted to keep the rifle as close to original as possible; in other words not add any accessories or improvements that it didnít originally come with.  A little research on the Internet told me that the Yugoslavian Mausers had a slightly shorter action than the standard 98K Mausers, so I couldnít use many of the receiver after-market accessories anyway.  I really just wanted a good looking shooter in close to original condition.  I had no plan to ďsporterizeĒ this rifle.  My restoration plan included the following:

  • Clean and protect the barrel pit

  • Measure chamber with go/no-go gauges.

  • Slug the barrel.

  • Re-crown the barrel to squeeze a little more accuracy out of it.

  • Re-blue the front and rear barrel bands, butt plate, trigger guard and floor plate.

  • Refinish the stock

Clean and Protect the Barrel Pit
As previously mentioned there was a deep pit on the left side of the barrel just in front of the step, where the stock and hand guard met.  I took a brass brush with gun oil and brushed in and around the pit thoroughly.  I rinsed the barrel with brake parts cleaner to remove excel oil and residue.  I brushed once more with the brass brush and gun oil and rinsed again with brake parts cleaner.  Finally I applied a good coat of Breakfree CLP.   

Chamber Measurements
I purchased a set of 8mm Mauser go/no-go gauges from Midway USA.  The bolt closed easily on the go gauge, but would not close on the no-go gauge.  Ok, this told me the chamber was within minimum specifications.  Live rounds also chambered easily.


Slug the Barrel
I took a .38 caliber pure lead round ball and drove it through the well-oiled barrel.  The slug measured 0.323Ē which is what I expected to see.  Ok, so it will shoot standard 8mm Mauser .323 bullets.


Refinish the Stock
The stock had the original dark, somewhat sticky military finish.  The wood looked like walnut and had a very nice grain.  I wanted to strip off the old military finish and refinish with Tru-Oil to bring out the luster and grain of the wood.  I refinished the stock before I refinished any metal parts because I wanted to sand the stock with those metal parts attached to prevent rounding off any edges that joined metal.

Based on Internet research I used Easy-Off oven cleaner to strip the wood.  First I removed all metal parts except the two barrel band springs.  (I just couldnít remove these no matter what I tried!)  Then I took the wood outside and gave it a liberal coating of oven cleaner.  This stuff worked like magic; the old finish came right off.  After applying and removing 3 coats of oven cleaner I went over the entire stock and hand guard with mineral spirits.  Finally, I took my wifeís hair dryer and applied heat to the top of the stock where the tang of the receiver sits.  This was very dark from years of cleaning fluids and oil.  The hair dryer brought the oil right up out of the wood which I could then wipe away.  There was so much oil that it took hours of heating and wiping. 

I donít know much about wood, but this appears to be a dark walnut.  Itís amazing that this would be found on a military weapon.  Once I got as much oil out of the stock as I could I took a wet T-shirt and laid it on the stock, then applied a hot iron.  This helped to raise any dents, and also raised the grain.  Once the grain was raised I gently sanded with 600 grit paper to get the stock nice and smooth.  I didnít bother to fill any deep gouges since I felt this added character to the stock.

Once prepared I applied 3 coats of Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil following the instructions.  The stock now has a nice soft luster.

Re-Blue Metal Parts
First I had to prepare all the parts I planned to re-blue.  I started by dressing the screw heads.  As the photo at the left shows, most of them had burrs raised by someone using a tapered-blade screwdriver instead of a hollow-ground parallel blade screwdriver.  I took a flat jewelerís file and filed off the burrs.  Then I re-cut the slot using the same file.  I polished the head by chucking the screw in my hand drill and holding the head against some 320 grit wet/dry paper with the drill spinning.

The bluing on much of the original hardware had long worn off.  The parts showed pitting and were an ugly plum brown color.  I took the front and rear barrel bands, magazine floor plate, rear sling swivel mount and butt plate and bead blasted them in my blast cabinet.  This completely cleaned them and gave them a soft matte finish in preparation for bluing.  I decided not to do the bayonet lug or the trigger guard since they looked ok.  (Some purists reading this are probably cringing right now because I removed the aged bluing.  Some would prefer to leave the plum color, but I wanted to re-blue the parts.)

I decided to cold-blue the parts using Vans Liquid Gun Blue.  I thoroughly degreased the bead-blasted parts using a new toothbrush and TCE available from Brownells.  I poured some gun blue liquid into a small aluminum pan, heated each part or screw with a hair dryer, and placed the part in the gun blue liquid.  After about 5 minutes the parts were a deep, dark blue-black color.  I removed them from the solution and doused them with Outers gun oil to fix and seal the bluing.  When you click on the left photo, notice the cleaned up screw head slots.

Test Firing
I took my Mauser to the range to test fire it and discovered that the firing pin was too weak to ignite the military surplus ammo I was using.  Someone probably stored it for a long period of time with the firing pin cocked.  I ordered a 24-pound firing pin spring from Midway USA but found it was too long.  I removed 3 coils from the spring and flattened the end so it would fit on the bolt.  I pulled the bullet and powder from 3 of the military surplus rounds and the rifle ignited the primers reliably.  The bolt is a bit harder to open because of the stronger spring, but Iíd rather have reliability.

At 100 yards I get about a 3-inch group, which is probably more than I can expect from this military rifle, but thatís good enough for a side match.  Overall Iím please with my purchase and I have another rifle for my collection.


   © Copyright 2008 Roy Seifert.