Fairfax, Virginia - Rifles, pistols and shotguns from across the centuries can be found throughout the halls of the National Firearms Museum. Colonial muskets, six-shooters from the Old West, and now, thanks to a recent donation, a World War II era Mauser Training Rifle.
"The gentleman who donated this wonderful Mauser tells us that his combat engineer group found two of these stowed in cosmoline," said Doug Wicklund, Senior Curator for the NRA National Firearms Museum. "It's interesting in that the German commercial proofs suggest it was probably from around 1935."
For those unfamiliar with the term, cosmoline is a rust preventing grease-like fluid used to pack away firearms, tools and marine equipment.
Configured very similar to the German 98K carbine (the standard German military issue of the day), the mauser trainer is set up to shoot .22 ammunition. This particular example even comes with a bayonet mount on the end.
"You would shoot it at a reduced range," explained Wicklund. "In fact, its set up for 25 yards all the way out to 200 yards."
But the feature that caught my attention was the round metal disc embedded in the stock.
"That's to dismount the bolt."
Wicklund went on to explain that when needed, a solider could preform a bit field maintenance if he runs into trouble. After taking out the bolt, you could dismount the firing pin by placing the bolt in the disc and giving it a twist. Simple and easy.
"Odds are, when he got it, that the rifle had never been fired. And the sling looks amazingly new.
"The donor left us a note claiming that twice a year, on the 4th of July and Christmas, he would take it out and clean it. Should that be true, I'm willing to believe that its almost in brand new condition. It's very nice."