I grew up with pump shotguns and bolt action rifles, with a smattering of lever guns mixed in. The only semi-auto we ever had was a Marlin Model 60. As I grew, I rebelled. I got into semi-auto firearms and kind of ignored bolt guns…until recently.
I’ve discovered I have got a soft spot for intermediate-caliber bolt action rifles. Maybe I’m cheap, and .223 is cheap, but what’s cheaper? How about 7.62×39? When I stumbled across the Interarms Mark X in 7.62x39mm I thought I’d found one of the old Zastava M85 Mini Mausers. I mean, that’s how it was marked when I purchased it.
Upon arrival and inspection, I realized I had something a little different. I always wanted a Zastava Mini Mauser. The Interarms Mark X is a Zastava Mini Mauser. The action and barrel are made by Zastava but then shipped to England. There they fit the stocks, and Interarms imported them into the 1990s. Remington also imported these Mini Mausers and called them the Remington 799s.
Remington used the Remington extractor, and Mark X used an actual Mauser extractor. The Mark X features a beautiful wood stock with checkering on the forend and grip. It’s absolutely beautiful. It pairs well with the rich, blued finish of the barrel and action. The Mark X is almost excessively blued.
A Mark X – A Real Mauser?
I admittedly don’t know much about the Mauser action. I’m not a bolt gun guy. What I know amounts to its good, and the Americans paid royalties to the Germans for the Springfield M1903 until World War 1 broke out. I’ve learned it’s a beloved action and the controlled feed mechanism. Winchester cloned it to make the Model 70.
It seems that the Mini Mauser variants of the Mark X series are not true Mauser actions. They are push-feed designs. It’s Mauser-Lite, but luckily I’m not enough of a bolt gun guy to think it’s blasphemy.
This specific model is the sporting action. That means it can’t be loaded via stripper clips and has a hinged floorplate. The Mark X series also features a safety mounted to the right of the bolt, not on the bolt itself like a Mauser 98. The action is quite smooth and slides rearward and forward in a tactile way that I adore. It’s admittedly a manly fidget spinner-type toy in my hands at times.
The rifle features a 20-inch barrel and a five-round magazine. A button in front of the trigger releases the hinged magazine floorplate. The bolt handle is small, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing as far as I’ve experienced. The receiver is tapped for an optic mount, and I ordered a Picatinny rail mount from EGW and mounted a Primary Arms 1-6X optic.
At the Range
I don’t need this type of rifle beyond the fact I want it, and I have a butt load of 7.62x39mm ammunition. I got a great deal and moved on it years ago even though I don’t shoot much 7.62x39mm. This created an interesting dynamic for a bolt-action gun. Most bolt action rifles are designed around providing superb accuracy in a lightweight, relatively simple system.
The most common 7.62x39mm ammunition is cheap, dirty, and the steel-cased stuff from Tula and Wolf. This ammunition isn’t exactly known for its accuracy. Even so, I figured I better use some of it to test the Mark X alongside the handful of brass-cased ammo I had lying around.
A quick zero with the new optic, and I was on my way to see just how accurate this Serbian-made Mark X could be. I zeroed at fifty and did an accuracy test at 100 yards. I zeroed into the ten ring, climbed into a supported position, and tried my hardest. I felt pretty confident. Sadly I didn’t bring a ruler, but I had a penny to show the size of my best group at 100 yards with that crappy steel-cased ammo.
The brass-cased stuff proved to be the better option and shrunk the groups to just under an inch. I imagine true marksmen would be able to shrink the group even more, especially with some of that fancy Hornady hunting ammo.
The Mark X has an outstanding trigger. It’s super light with a nice crisp feel to it. I love it, the feeling is absolutely wonderful, and the trigger just feels consistent and outstanding. The action is smooth until you start firing steel-cased ammunition. Admittedly it’s a bit of a chug to pull that round out of the chamber, at least compared to brass-cased ammunition. With brass cased, it remains that smooth, buttery action I toy with in my office. I can get passed that for the low price of the ammo.
Recoil isn’t bad, but it surprised me. Most of my 7.62×39 experience is with long-stroke gas piston guns, so the recoil from a bolt gun was a little jarring. It’s not rough, though, and I shot two hundred rounds without complaint. You just feel it more than you expect if you’re used to shooting AKs.
Ultimately I think the Mark X is a really cool gun. It’s beautiful, smooth, and accurate, with great ergonomics and a smooth action. Reliability wasn’t a concern and boy oh boy, does it throw those ejected cases quite far. It’s likely going to be a gun I shoot quite a bit for fun, and heck, I might take a deer with it this fall.