The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Mauser M12 Max: everything about this rifle is impressive

Everything about this rifle is impressive, with it ambidextrous design, bombproof finish and superb handling, says Bruce Potts

deer stalking

Mauser M12 Max

Overall Rating: 93%

Manufacturer: Mauser

Price as reviewed: £2,952

The Mauser M12 range of bolt-action rifles is a perfect example of a company moving with the times in terms of new innovations and technology, while insisting on old-world build quality. Mauser has always been a trusted and respected brand and this new Mauser M12 Max thumbhole laminate-stocked rifle wants for nothing, combining great accuracy, handling and ruggedness for a very practical stalking firearm. (Read which rifle stock is best – wood, laminate or plastic)

Retailing at £2,952, it offers a good choice of calibres, from .243 Win, .270 Win, .308 Win (on test), .30-06 Spring, 6,5×55 SE, 7×57, 7×64, 8×57 IS, 9,3×62, 7mm Rem Mag to .300 Win Mag. Better still is an enviable ultra-smooth and reliable low bolt-lift operating mechanism so you can concentrate on the stalking rather than worrying about the rifle.

Mauser M12 Max

The manual cocking piece on the bolt shroud that makes the Max safe to use under any conditions

The safety system incorporates a cock and de-cock mechanism for utmost safety and the trigger is one of the best adjustable units on a production rifle. Best of all is that thumbhole stock that balances the Mauser M12 Max perfectly. Its ambidextrous design allows shots to be taken with confidence from either shoulder, with the added advantage of an elevating cheekpiece. Overall, it is a very impressive stalking rifle.

Mauser M12 Max

  • Manufacturer Mauser
  • Model M12 Max
  • Type Bolt action
  • Calibre .308 Win on test, M15x1 threaded
  • Length 39.75in
  • Weight 7lb 15oz
  • Barrel 22in, 17mm profile
  • Finish Black burnished
  • Stock Thumbhole laminate
  • LOP 14in
  • Trigger Single stage adjustable
  • Safety Manual cocking system
  • Magazine Detachable five-shot
  • Price £2,952

At 7lb 15oz and with a length of pull of 14in, the M12 Max plants itself naturally in the shoulder, which is largely due to the well-designed thumbhole stock. I love this design as it allows a universal grip and relaxed shooting position.


Three lug locking systems achieve a low bolt lift to operate and easily clear even a big scope.

This version has a deliberately ambidextrous profile with generous cut-out for the thumb and twin palm swells in the pistol grip. Further grip consists of two chequered panels each side to the fore-end with a long chequered panel extending from the pistol grip to under the bolt handle. The whole stock is also sealed against moisture and, with the rigidity that comes from its beechwood laminate construction, it is completely bombproof. The laminate has a very nice grain that looks more wood-like than most stocks of this type, a nice feature.

You also have the now customary elevating cheekpiece for correct scope alignment, but it does need an Allen key to raise it to a top height of 1in. This achieves a rock-solid 5.5in cheekpiece on twin pillars.

Mauser M12 Max

Mauser M12 Max


The hammer-forged medium profile (17mm) barrel, as with the action, has a tough practical finish, burnished black. On standard calibres the barrel is 22in long with a M15x1 thread and muzzle cap. Free floated, it resists heat build-up, climatic deviations and vibrational changes that may affect accuracy.

Mauser’s reputation for excellent actions continues and, despite being a quite large and heavy bolt, it glides perfectly, utilising those two sets of three-bolt lug arrangements, three large 0.277in long forward lugs with three smaller 0.2in for safety. This allows that low bolt lift of 60 degrees. Particularly good is the positive, extraction and ejection via a large claw and twin plunger ejectors for total reliability.

You have an easy-to-remove, push-button release, polymer magazine with double stack loading. This means additional rounds can be loaded through the receiver in the field if necessary, which is very handy. Safety-wise, the M12 Max uses a cock/de-cock system on the bolt shroud so when on safe the firing pin is completely incapacitated. A halfway position is still safe but a bolt lift to remove cartridges is achieved nicely and quietly. It complements the excellent adjustable trigger, which broke crisply at 2lb 2oz on test. This really does help with consistent accuracy, so leave it alone is my advice.

Finally, a 20 MOA 6.25in Picatinny rail allows a universal and solid fitment of any scope type for any given scenario.

Mauser M12 Max

The polymer five-shot magazine pops out neatly, is easily cleaned and fed flawlessly


Mauser have got it right with this rifle.Throughout the tests in Scotland it performed flawlessly, exhibited great handling and accuracy and brought home venison. The £2,952 price buys you a lifetime of stalking pleasure.

  • Accuracy 18/20 Consistent accuracy from factory or reloads
  • Handling 19/20 Balances and handles superbly
  • Trigger 18/20 Great aid to accuracy and adjustable
  • Stock 19/20 Rugged, weatherproof and with great handling
  • Value 19/20 Great performance for the price
  • Overall Score 93/100 Accurate and great to handle — all you need in a rifle
shot roe doe

A single shot from the Mauser M12 Max provides the perfect end to the roe doe season

Field test

Fitted with a Blaser B2 scope and Barton Gunworks Accurate Hunter moderator, the M12 Max shot some very nice groups.

Most accurate were the Sako 150-gr Gameheads, with all shots touching at 100 yards at 2,625fps for 2,295ft/lb. The Hornady Custom Lite small species load, 125-gr SST, travelled at 2,230fps for 1,657ft/lb, again with all shots touching. The old Remington 150-gr AccuTips put in a solid performance at less than an inch, with 2,645fps and 2,321ft/lb.

Lead-free Norma Ecostrike shot 1in groups at 2,810fps velocity for 2,631ft/lb with its 150-gr bullet. Best reload went to the Nosler 125-gr Ballistic Tips loaded with 42 grains of RL 10x powder for sub-1in groups and 2,970fps and 2,476ft/lb.

The  Mauser M12 Max really shines in the game field, and in Scotland it was the end of the roe doe season. That thumbhole laminate stock scores high for comfort, stability and weather resistance. The bolt is super slick. Usually, I am not keen on bolt mounted safeties but this Mauser was so easy to use I might have to reconsider.

We picked up a doe across a large field using the new Liemke Keiler-1 thermal imager then stalked into 120 yards. Being laminate, scratches on the stock were no issue and the black burnished metal surfaces all shed the morning dew with ease. Off sticks, the Mauser was rock steady in the aim, almost like shooting off a bipod. A single shot finished off our doe cull this year.


A lifetime of stalking pleasure