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Mini Mauser: classic rabbit shooting on a budget

Bruce Potts on a classic mini Mauser that’s been reimagined as a truly unique bunny gun that’s sure to raise a smile from any rabbit shooter

man with rifle

Mini Mauser: classic rabbit shooting on a budget

Manufacturer: Mauser

It always makes me chuckle when shooters say that a particular type of rifle is not suitable for a certain quarry species, or camouflage clothing is non PC. Well, guess what? The game don’t give a damn. They will try to avoid you with a tactical-looking rifle as much as a custom engraved one.

I like to test a variety of rifles, and not being a military buff there’s always been one rifle that has caught my eye, and that’s the Mauser K98. This rifle’s design and all its incarnations have spawned more modern rifles than any other and I just like the look.

Sure, the original 7.92mm x 57mm or 8mm Mauser round is old and only suitable for deer-sized game, but wouldn’t it be nice  to have a scaled down version in .22 LR for a spot of historic rabbiting? A rimfire version would be a fraction of the cost with the same low running costs. Enter the Norinco Mini Mauser 33/40 bolt action rifle from Henry Krank. This Chinese made rifle is a very faithful copy of the famous Mauser K98 but scaled down to .22 LR and costing only £429.

The basic design is a copy of the CZ 452, which harks back to the BRNO Model 1 action beneath its K98 military lookalike stock, complete with original style open sights, bayonet fitment and bolt opener in the stock. So essentially you have a rimfire rifle action that probably all of us have shot at one time in our lives and are familiar with, that uses cheap CZ rimfire magazines and has the benefit that a scope can be added via the twin dovetail rails on the action.

Mauser rifles

You can instantly see the similarities between the WW2 K98 sniper rifle above and the .22LR version below


The action is a bit more agricultural than the CZ452 it was copied from, but soon smooths out after a few boxes of ammo remove any burrs on the bolt head. The finish is a matt non-polished bluing, which is actually very in keeping with the military heritage, and being non-reflective is hunter friendly.

The action takes the form of the triedand- tested petite Mauser design and bolt assembly. Its tubular all-steel receiver has integral dovetails for scope mounting, with plenty of length to accommodate most scopes on the market today. Far easier than real K98 snipers, which require gunsmith scope fitment. The bolt is well proportioned, with a short angled rearward profile and small bolt knob. The short throw and travel is very fast to operate and when the action is cocked there is a small protrusion from the bolt shroud indicating the cocked status.

The bolt has the familiar twin extractor claw arrangement, with a fixed-blade ejector that is simple yet works very well and is suitably robust. The five-shot magazine is all steel and is released by a small lever, CZ mags fit, so you can up the capacity to 10 shots for little money as mags are cheap.

Open sights on this Norinco are just like the original K98, with a thick tapered post for the foresight protected by a removable blued steel cover. The rear sight is soldered to the barrel and is the same sliding graduated style used on the original K98 but marked from 25m to 200m in 25m graduations. Windage is achieved by the wedge-type foresight, which is tad tricky to adjust but I guess most people will be using a scope anyway.

The safety catch is a traditional horizontal wing-type lever straddled on top of the bolt at the rear. Perpendicular is off; fully forward is safe and blocks the bolt travel. It is quite tough to operate but frequent use soon makes it easier. The trigger is practical rather than match worthy, but that’s fine as you soon get use to the small amount of initial creep and then the sear breaks at a weighty 4.85lb. That said, it’s very useable and a decent gunsmith could smooth things out if you desire.


I like the stock as it really does make the Norinco stand out as a faithful reproduction of the original. It’s made from beech or a Chinese equivalent with a very dark stain that is quite thick in places. It’s certainly weather resistant, but scratches do show the lighter wood beneath. As expected, the length of pull is short at 13.25″ but still comfortable. Another standard K98 feature is the steel butt pad, and the rear stock has the original bolt opening, pressed-in metal insets and orifice. One thing that seems a little out of proportion is the pistol grip, which is fat even for my great pads, although the length to the trigger blade was spot on for me.

Up front you have that very characteristic K98 top hand shield with forend sling loop to the left. The lower wood section is held in place by the steel bracket, which also holds the bayonet fitment. Rabbits must be tough in China! You even get a cleaning rod, so all the bases are covered.

Rifle stock

Faithful reproduction of the K98 stock with a very thick, dark lacquer finish

Field tests

I fitted a period Pecar 3x scope, which was in keeping with the classic vibe, and its lightweight construction was perfect. The muzzle is not screw-cut, obviously, but I dare say you could if you want. For the odd rabbits I shot during the test the muzzle report with the subsonics was very muted anyway.

Sighted in at 30yd, which is good for my type of ambush rabbit shooting, I had no problems loading or feeding the Norinco with the wide variety and lengths of .22 fodder tested. The shorter CB Longs did stack pole occasionally but other than that all was good. I stuck to the subs as the two HV types I tried, although they shot well, were a bit loud. Overall I was pleased with the lightweight nature of the Norinco, which handled well despite the massive pistol grip.

Using a rifle like this with a low powered period scope is rather like learning to shoot again, concentrating your skills on field craft to get in closer and perfecting that stiff trigger pull. Every rabbit shot was well earned and we had a six within an hour, shooting off knees and sticks and resting on any available branch to hand.

Best accuracy went to the Norma 40gr subsonics. They are made by RWS and are cheap and always very consistent. I like them. The Norinco shot five shots into 0.55″ at 987fps for 87ft-lb. Not far behind were the SK Long Range 40gr loads at 1092fps for 106ft-lb and 0.65″. Not strictly a subsonic and a non-hollow-point design, the SK are superb longer-range ammunition. Most of the other subs hovered around the 0.70″ to 0.95″ mark, which to be honest is pretty impressive for this type of rifle.

I really like the ultra-quiet reduced loads, which I use a lot for close-range feral pigeons, rats, etc, but at 30yd the CB Longs, CCI Quiets and RWS Z Langs are all way over 1″ at 30yd. Reduce the range to 15yd and bingo. Best HV load went to the RWS 40gr at 1222fps for 133ft-lb and a 0.85″ group. Noisy but with very fine accuracy, they were my favourite HV load with the Federal 31gr ammo not far behind.

rifle and targets

All the ammunition tested shot rabbit-head sized groups at 30yd, and in the real world that’s all you need


It’s an unusual rabbit gun but my son and I had real fun shooting it. It is admittedly a bit rough around the edges, but it’s rabbit accurate. If you fancy something a bit different, have a military bent or just like a historic looking rimfire, then this Norinco K98 lookalike will definitely fit the bill.

Tech specs

  • Norinco Mini Mauser 33/40 K98 .22 LR
  • Manufacturer Norinco
  • Model Mini Mauser 33/40 (K98 copy)
  • Type Bolt action
  • Overall length 38″
  • Barrel length 20.25″
  • Calibre .22 LR
  • Finish Blued steel
  • Weight 7.6lb
  • Magazine Detachable five shot
  • Stock Beech military K98 copy
  • Trigger Single stage
  • Safety Wing type
  • Sights Adjustable open sights, 11mm dovetails for scope mount
  • Importers Henry Krank, 01132 569163
  • Price £429.00