Husqvarna Sporter Mausers: Yesterdays Workhorse, Tomorrows Heirloom

The affordability and utility of today’s modern deer rifles are unmatched. Whether it’s a Ruger American or a Savage Axis on the lower end or a Bergara or Tikka on the slightly higher end, the modern American hunter has a great deal of options at his disposal for a decent price.

However since I am an old soul (read: contrarian) I don’t want any of those practicalities. I want old world, walnut stocked, iron sighted, blue-steeled rifles that weigh a ton and look cool.  In my search among piles of Remington 700’s and post 64 Winchester 70’s, I found a previously unknown to me series of rifles that really caught my attention. 

Enter Husqvarna Sporter Mausers. Like many old, established, European manufacturing firms, Husqvarna produces a number of different product lines all under the same name. If you are more familiar with them for their chainsaws or motorcycles than you are with their firearms, I’m not sure I could blame you too much.

The Husqvarna 64/640/1640 series are to Sweden what the Remington 700 is to us in America. It is THE national hunting rifle. Simpson LTD ( is a large firearms importer known for their milsurps, especially Lugers. My guess is they must have some sort of special agreement with an arms exporter in Sweden as the vast majority of these Mauser sporters found on the US market seem to come from Simpson. I spent a few months of last year browsing their large online catalog, immersing myself along the way in the history and design of these rifles while also trying to find a suitable example to pick up and try out.

History and Design

Sweden, as some of you milsurp geeks that I know frequent this site know, was a very early adopter of the Mauser bolt action design. So early in fact, that while Germany and the rest of the world standardized on the large ring model 98, Sweden continued using a modified version of the model 93 with their proprietary national service cartridge, the 6.5×55 and would continue using these in service through the 1940s.

After WWII, when civilian rifle production restarted, Sweden as well as many European countries (as well as the United States) purchased a good deal of commercial Mauser 98 actions made by FN and finished them into complete rifles themselves. Husqvarna used this method in their models 146 and 246 in the large game 9.3×57 and 9.3×62 rounds as well as models 640, 648, and 649 which were standard calibers like 6.5 Swede, 8mm Mauser, 220 Swift, 270 Win, and 30-06. These FN98 rifles would be produced by Husqvarna from 1945 to 1956.

No words on my part are needed to expound on the rugged and reliable Mauser 98 action and the fact that is was seen as the de facto standard by which all bolt actions were judged post WWII is universally understood. Even still, Husqvarna preferred to not have to rely on foreign manufactures to produce the main component of their sporting rifles (especially when this manufacturer was also their competitor on the export market) and an in house design was soon created.

The outcome was a rifle action that took in Husqvarna’s opinion the best aspects of the 98 Mauser and combined them with the best aspects of their m/96 Swedish Mauser service rifle.

The action was small ring like a m/96 and had the same breeching system, but had the distinctive large extractor claw, third locking lug, and cock on close of a M98. The safety rather than being the 3 position wing of a military M98 was instead moved to a side “push forward, pull back” style safety button you are used to seeing on modern hunting rifles. The bolt release also was a small push down button on the left side of the action as opposed to the large hinged arm release found on military Mausers.

Since the 1640 was made of a more modern steel and was better vented than the m/94 and m/96, it was able to be chambered in all the previously stated calibers but also higher pressure calibers like 7mm Rem Mag and 358 Norma Mag.

Husqvarna made the 1640 made from 1953 until 1967 when they released a replacement action, but it didn’t last long. In 1970, all of Husqvarna’s rifle production was sold to FFV Carl Gustaf.

My Example

Whenever I decide to write an article, along with my usual considerations like making sure the topic hasn’t been done to death and that I have something meaningful to say, my inspiration will usually manifest in a small throwaway thought. In this case, I just thought it was really cool that the Swedes made essentially a product improved Mauser 98 and used inspiration from an EARLIER Mauser design to do so. It also launched a fun “what if” thought experiment where something very similar to the Husqvarna 1640 might have seen military service had WWII not happened and the switch to self loading rifles was delayed just a little bit.

So between this thought in my head and the fact that 640’s also tend to have weaker stock wrists at the tang of the receiver and examples were frequently posted with cracks there helped sway me towards the 1640 to buy. Simpson has a great many of these Husqvarna rifles which can be found if you simply type in “640” or “1640” in the search bar. Prices can be as low as $425 for some rougher examples with the majority usually falling in the $500-$600 range for a decent condition rifle.

That being said, I ended up waiting a few months on a couple upload batches to find one that met my personal criteria. Common quirks I encountered were:

-Missing sights (rear most commonly to accommodate scopes)

-Missing sling swivels

-Drilled and tapped receivers (virtually all of them were at least drilled. Most had weaver bases installed and a few also had rings and scopes)

-Recoil pads added

-Scratched bottom metal/trigger guards

-Holes drilled in the receiver for peep sights

-glued on cheek risers (or residue on the stock where one was)

-weird brass “game tacks” in the wood stock. Some were tastefully done on the buttstock and others were all over the damn place.

To me, it was important that I had front and rear sights, swivels, no holes in the receiver, and a decent looking stock with no cracks or weird residue anywhere. I preferred not to have a recoil pad either but eventually compromised on one I found that had one but also had all the other features I wanted for $550.


When I picked the Husqvarna up and took it home for my customary new gun deep cleaning, I noticed several other details on it. It was a standard model which meant a 24~ inch barrel, a Schnabel forend, and checkering only on the grip. Doing some forum searching, I also determined my example was made in 1962 and given the serial number had an “A” in it, that called it out for having an alloy bottom metal instead of a steel one. Even so, this was still a pretty hefty rifle, but one that balanced pretty well.

Having owned several Mausers in my life, disassembly was nothing new except one small unique detail. When disassembling the bolt, there was a tiny pinhole that needed something inserted into it to maintain spring pressure before disassembly. If it wasn’t for this helpful 1 minute video on Youtube, I would have been stumped.

I soon found two of the aforementioned criteria left a bad taste in my mouth. One of them being the sling swivels I had specifically wanted to make sure my rifle had were an odd European size and I could not thread a common 1″ sling through it.

The other was the recoil pad which I had not wanted mostly for aesthetic reasons, but I soon also realized that I do not have long, lanky Scandinavian arms and that the LOP was really quite long for me, especially when shooting offhand. The pad was also very old and did not offer much give in the rubber due to its age.

A tip learned from the forums (Gunboards in particular had a few users with a wealth of knowledge on these rifles and this article is largely in debt to them) was that the front of the extractor is ground very thin. This means if you try loading this like a push feed rifle by simply placing a cartridge on top of the follower and not clicking it into the magazine, the extractor could break. A M98 extractor could probably be modified to work if you know a good gunsmith, but better to not risk it at all.

I had enough time after I bought the rifle to mount a scope (cheap simple 3-9×40 Vortex Crossfire II), get a good 100 yard zero, and then take it out to a relatives property in the Ozarks to try my hand at harvesting a deer for the year.

Field Test

I’ve only been hunting twice in my life as my dad was not interested nor did I have any uncles nearby to take me so it wasn’t until I knew friends in college with land that I managed to get out in the woods. Those two times I went, I used a spare rifle of my friends the first time (iron sighted Eddystone 1917) and then the second time thinking I was cool I brought an M1 Garand which I soon regretted as we spend much of our time stalking on that hunt.

This time I was in a blind so aside from the cold, dark, walk at 4am, I was stationary. When I got set up and allowed my nerves to calm and to really tune myself into the noise of the woods, I thought about the shooting features of the Husqvarna I had learned when I zeroed it in earlier in the week. The safety was quiet to flip on and off thanks to some grease that I think made its way underneath it. The trigger was heavy and single stage so not at all my preference, but I was able to hit a clay pigeon with a cold bore shot at 60~ yards so I was confident if I did my part, and the opportunity presented itself, I’d have a good chance.

When the season officially opened 30 minutes before sunrise, the quiet Missouri morning was all of a sudden filled with distant pops all across the countryside. I hoped one of those shots would be the one to push some deer my way. Annoyingly, the land I was on was also overrun with turkeys so many times I thought I heard a deer coming up through the brush, they would just be turks. I quietly resolved that if no deer came by my way before the big deer camp breakfast, one of my 150 grain Norma softpoints would “accidently” find one of these loud, fat birds.

About 20 minutes after my bladder could no longer hold its coffee anymore and I was back from a quick pee break, my overactive ears again heard some leaves crunching about 100 yards out to my 10:30 and I looked that way. Bingo. Small doe by herself coming from the 10:30 to 4 oclock. I saw her go behind a tree and when she did, I brought the rifle up and rested it on the side of the blind as smooth and quiet as I could. I thought I did ok, but when I found her at 3x, she was already looking at me. It was a quartering shot at about 70-80 yards and I did my best to stay calm and put the center crosshair carefully to the sweet spot. My finger rested on the trigger and I pulled through the heaviness until the gun jolted back into my shoulder.

The recoil caused me to lose the deer momentarily and when I regained my sight picture, she was bounding off the way she came, full tilt. I was sure I had missed. Unlike the mistake I made the first time I went hunting, I stayed where I was, ejected the case, and sat there for a while calming my nerves from the buck fever. I thankfully hadn’t gotten it near as bad as I did on my first trip where I took two shots and a doe then chased her immediately. Must have missed that part of the hunters ed course the first time. After about 15 minutes of silence, I got up and headed towards the area I was sure I hit her. No blood. A little discouraged, I went back to the blind and waited another half hour or so before people were going to be heading back for breakfast and decided to go take a walk in the direction the deer went just to be sure. About 120 yards from my blind, the woods thinned to the fence line. From there I could see across the fence, another 50 or so yards away, was my deer in an open field.

I got the permission from the neighbor to go over and collect him (he was a spike buck the whole time, I was so focused on the body shot, I never looked really hard at his head) and from there, my father in law and wifes uncle walked me through getting him cleaned, and later, processed. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around 11 days later, this sucker was partially in the freezer and partially in my chili pot.


So obviously, as far as the rifles performance is concerned, there’s not much negative I can say in light of that last section. The gun was want I wanted at the start of this: an old world, high quality, wood and steel rifle that’s also simple, tough, and utilitarian. Of course, you can’t always buy a gun and expect it to be perfect for you based on the “on paper” specs and this was one of those cases for me. The Husqvarna was a little too heavy, a little too long in the barrel, too long in the stock, and heavy recoiling for my taste. I’ve since moved on to a (admittedly much more expensive) vintage Sako Forester which is lighter, shorter with a 22″ barrel, has a perfect LOP for me, and it’s a short action 308. So hopefully will solve most of my issues while still having a similar form factor.

That being said, if you come across a real gem of a 1640 on Simpson (especially one in 6.5×55, those always sell fast), you can be sure you’ll be getting a high quality, heirloom firearm that you don’t have to feel bad about getting out there and using. And, you’ll still probably come out just as well price wise as you had if you bought a soulless new production Remington 700 synthetic.

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