Daniel Fraser's M/S 6.5x54 Take Down

A rare 1910 6.5x54 Mannlicher Schoenauer take down rifle by Daniel Fraser.

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Guns & Gunmakers|April 2023

Daniel Fraser, the Scottish rifle maker, is once again building their 'Velox' model stalking rifle on a classic Mannlicher-Schoenauer action, to order. 

In the pre-Great War years, the Mannlicher Schoenauer vied with the Mauser for the attention of the British sportsman in need of a reliable and well-made magazine rifle.

Today, while the Mauser remains a production model for many modern firms building new rifles; Rigby and Westley Richards, to name just two, the Mannlicher bolt action with its Schoenauer rotary magazine is no longer in favour, even with Steyr, the originators of the model, who now produce a modified action with a box magazine.

Given the interest today in classic looking rifles, which are again being made by our best rifle makers, it is natural that a corresponding interest has grown in the vintage rifles themselves. Here, we have a 1910 Daniel Fraser Mannlicher Schoenauer in 6.5x54 Mannlicher. It is a take-down model and it remains in largely original and little-used condition.

The build quality and attention to detail is striking. To re-create it today would cost upwards of forty thousand pounds. The style is restrained and tasteful but little details indicate the uncompromising nature of the construction.

The 25 3/4"barrel is nitro proof tested in London and engraved 'Daniel Fraser & Co. Ltd, London & Edinburgh'. It carries open sights: a block mounted rear folding leaf sight arrangement and a front ramp and bead, with pop-up moon sight. The white metal inlay on the leaves shows regulation for 100, 200 and 300 yards.

This is the second rifle I have sen engraved on the floor plate with 'Fitted with Daniel Fraser's patent trigger action'. The other is a Mannlicher Schoenauer stutzen that I own. That has set triggers, while this has but one. Quite what Fraser's 'patent action trigger' was, I am not sure.

Engraving on this rifle is subtle but nice quaity and it lifts it into a higher realm. The take-down catch has been made to the pattern of a Deeley & Edge catch, as seen on countless double shotguns and rifles for removal of the forend.This is nicely engraved with scrolls and rope borders.

Lifting away the forend allows the barrel to be un-screwed, thereby halving the length of the rifle for transportation purposes. The steel plate where the barrel detaches is rope border engraved, as are the sides of the trigger.

The bolt has the rounded knob of earlier Mannlicher rifles, rather than the butter-knife style usually employed in models from 1903 onwards. Perhaps it was a Fraser styling detail or a special order.

The rifle weighs 7lbs 60z and has a length of pull of 14 3/4" on the cheek-piece equipped, pistol-grip stock. Chequer remains fine and unworn to both hand and forend. Apart from the dullness to the finish imparted by decades of storage, the rifle remains as it was made in 1910.

When it sold in March at Holt's auctioneers it made £5,900, once all fees were paid, which is a remarkable sum but in perspective it makes sense. It is very unlikely that any of us will again encounter a rifle quite like this in the same condition.

The 6.5x54 Mannlicher Schoenauer remains in the legal realm of modern calibres, while many similar age cartridges have been placed on the Section 58 Obsolete Calibre List by the Home Office. Generally, obsolete status results in a rise in prices, as ownership them becomes licence free in the UK.

Obtaining 6.5x54 ammunition is increasingly difficult. I currently know of no stocks of newly-made cartridges of this calibre in the UK.

Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on

Guns & Gunmakers|April 2023

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