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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since the other thread has gone way off topic, I thought I'd reply here.

I suggest you contact Jack Belk and see what he has to say on the subject. Here's a previous post of his on the subject of Santa Barbara commercial 98 Receivers:

"I played a major role in getting a bunch of SB actions retested and many pulled off the shelves. There were more than a hundred action inspected.

There wasn't a soft one in the bunch and I've never run across or heard of a "soft" Santa Barbara.

The problem was with excess hardness of the front receiver ring in a band around the top where the receiver is thinnest. They were brittle enough to fail on firing from tensile stress. Most failures were in the "engraved" actions (they look like a spoon that got caught in the garbage disposal). The deep graver cuts served as stress risers and the action fractured along these cuts.

Many times the bad actions showed a reddish color in the bluing in a band around the front ring. They *can* be re-heat treated at home, but it's not recommended.

The importer claimed that all the actions with excess hardness were found and either destroyed or fixed, but I've seen two bad ones since then. (1976)"

This corroborated by Tom Burgess, who, unfortunately, you cannot contact seeing as he is now in the happy hunting grounds:

"Santa Barbara actions;
Confirmation, Jack, some 20 years or so back and possibly in the Rifleman, feller wrote in explaining how ALL mausers were hardened. He explained having been sent over to Spain to sort of supervise those actions going to his employer/importer. He maintained that the procedure was to blast a gas flame into the lug seat area. When the surface became red the receiver was quenched in water and this was ,well flame hardening , quite sufficient and this was why conventional hardness tests were not revealing on (all) mausers inasmuch as it was rather difficult to get a hardness testing braile into that area. I by that time had long since given up on that action and had not blued any which would have easily shown the results you describe. There were apparently 3 manufactury's of the 98 type in Spain. Oviedo,La Coruna and Santa Barbara. According to the informant all 3 used the same procedure and by extension all others."

Unleash the book.

Silver Bullet member
36,239 Posts
I guess the number of years that have passed and the importer's attempt to take care of the excessively hard ones resulted in the lack of incidents reported on the internet. But for the Spanish military Mausers, the 1943 and FR8 made by those arsenals the only detailed complaints I've heard have been of "excessively soft" receivers with lug seat wear.

Because of the CETME vs NATO vs .308 issue and the "Soft Steel" issue there has been a lot of heated debate in past years but no details on any action failures on 98 type Spanish Mausers. Only one posting out of a hundred plus claimed to have seen any action cracking and many others claiming equal experience contradicted him.

At this point I'd say its likely the arsenals erred on the side of safety in often not hardening the lug surfaces enough on the military Mausers, but the method used certainly could allow an over hardened, brittle receiver to slip through. Why some of the Santa Barbaras are over hardened, not soft, isn't clear. They were made after FR* production ended so perhaps they tried to correct the under hardening problem after it had shown up in use of the FR8.

Besides the hardening issue I'd be very suspicious of a receiver as roughly finished as the reports on the Santa Barbara and given the cost of building a large ring Mauser it would be wise to pass on them, and on an FR8, regardless of the price.
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