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Test & Evaluation of MAS-49/56 Scope Bases

by

J. B. Hohlfeld


As part of an ongoing T&E project, which involves the French MAS-49/56Self-Loading Rifle (SLR), 7.62 x 51mm (.308NATO), our friend Aaron Zelmanalso sent us three different types of scope base mounting systems for aseparate T&E.

Though this particular T&E will cover scope bases only, for those who maynot be familiar with the MAS-49/56 SLR, I should mention the following.All of the MAS-49/56 SLR's that I have seen, or have read about, have anintegral male dovetail machined into the outer surface of the left receiverwall. Ergo, I assume that this was an early factory design feature, whichwill be found on all models of the MAS-49/56 SLR. Obviously, the Frenchdesign team envisioned this SLR being used with some type of scope system,ergo, the male dovetail (approx. 3 1/2 in by .340 in) being machined intothe receiver. What this means to the owner of a Mas-49/56, is that they do nothave to buy an after market dovetail, pay to have it mounted to theirrifle, and then find out that it will not hold it's mounting point 100% of thetime. Bottom line, the male dovetail, which is milled into the rifle'sreceiver wall will not move on you!

With regard to the scope bases we tested, our first candidate is made bythe J. D. MOUNTS Company, P O Box 10611, Peoria, IL 61612. In essence, theMas-49/56 J. D. Mount is similar to the old M1 Garand "off-set" design,where the scope indexes low to the rifle's bore and off to the left side ofthe rifle's receiver. Structurally, the scope base assembly consists ofthree components: (1) an -L- shaped piece of aluminum, which is approx. 61/4 in long, by 1in high, by 1/8in thick. (2) A -U- shaped, double-walledpiece of steel channel, which is approx. 3-3/8in long, by .640in high, by.098in thick. This piece of steel channel acts as the female dovetail, andis attached to the aluminum base via two large slot-head screws. (3) Thefinal component is an aluminum "Weaver" type scope ring rail, which isapprox. 4 1/2 long, and has four slots cut into it, ie; one scope ring slotat the rear and three mounting slots in the front end. The finish on thisscope base appears to be black spray paint, with the overall strength ofthe system being quite good. Mounting the scope base to the rifle is verystraight forward but does require the use of a rubber, or leather mallet.As J. D. points out in their instruction sheet, driving the scope mount onand off of the rifle's male dovetail a few times, will allow free movementbetween the scope base and the rifle. Once the scope base is mounted tothe rifle, you tighten the slot-head screw in the center of the scope base,which acts as a tensioning screw against the rifle's male dovetail.Determining the exact amount of tension required to "jam" the male andfemale dovetails against each other is not an exact science, ergo, it isvery unlikely that you will obtain the same amount of pressure after eachdismount/mount of the scope base to the rifle. Does this mean that thevariance in tensioning can create a change in the point of zero on thescope? Possibly, but during our testing, it never became noticeable on ourtest targets.

If you decide to go with the J. D. Mounts scope base, here are a few thingsto keep in mind: (1) Since this base sits next to the rifle, you mustremember to mount your scope ring thumb screws/locking screws, toward theoutward side of the scope base, or you will not be able to check/retightenthem without dismounting the scope base. (2) Due to the 1 1/2in leftoff-set in relation to the bore axis, you will give up a great deal ofwindage adjustment just to achieve scope/barrel coincidence at only 100yards. Beyond 100 yards, the problem will get worse, before "inversion" ofthe scope to bore axis relationship occurs. (3) Again, due to the leftoff-set, you may find sighting much easier if you use your left eye for thescope and your right eye for the iron sights. (4) If you must use yourright eye for sighting through the scope, you will have to buy an M1 Garandtype cheek rest, or something similar. (5) Be very careful about "slingcarrying" a side mounted scoped rifle.

In a nutshell, here were our findings. On the upside, you can still useammo stripper clips for loading your MAS-49/56, and fired cases cannot hityour scope. On the downside, most shooters find an offset scope base systemvery confusing to work with and must look "over" the scope to find thetarget before they can look "through" the scope at the target. For us, thebiggest problem was the lack of eye relief adjustment range, due to thelimited length of the Weaver type scope ring rail and the limited number ofmounting cuts/grooves in the rail for scope ring adjustment. For now, wegive the J. D. Mounts MAS-49/56 scope base a THUMB SIDEWAYS.

The second scope base we tested for the MAS-49/56 is made by the RANSOMcompany, 123 W. Irving Blvd., Irving TX 75060. This scope base is alsosimilar in concept to the old M1 Garand offset design with the exceptionthat the amount of left offset is not as extreme as the J. D. Mount scopebase. Structurally, the Ransom scope base is composed of three primarycomponents: (1) A large -L- shaped piece of steel, which is approx. 6inlong, by 1-7/8in high, by 1/8in thick. (2) -U- shaped, single walled pieceof steel channel, which is approx. 3 1/2 in. long, by .510 in. high, by .063in. thick. (3) The final component is an aluminum Weaver type scope ringrail, which is approx. 5 1/2 in. long, and has two mounting slots cut intoit, ie; one scope ring mounting slot in the rear and one scope ring mountingslot in the front. The finish on the scope base appears to be black spraypaint, with the overall strength of the system being quite good. Mountingthe Ransom scope base is easy, however, instead of locking the scope baseonto the male dovetail of the receiver by tightening some type of "jamscrew", the Ransom scope base has two allen-head screws which draw the topand bottom edges of the female dovetail together, thereby locking it ontothe rifle's dovetail. Many of the comments I have given about the J. D.Mount system, will also apply to the Ransom scope base, so I'll movedirectly to our findings.

On the upside, the Ransom scope base is only offset to the left by approx. 1in. from the center bore line, therefore, your potential loss of windageadjustment is much less that with the J. D. Mount system. Also on theupside, is the fact that fired cases will not hit your scope during theejection process. Now for the downside factors of the Ransom scope base.If it is important for you to be able to use ammo stripper clips in yourMAS-49/56 rifle, the Ransom scope base is not for you. Due to the height ofthe scope base over the bore, it is not possible to use your left eye forsighting through the scope, unless you move your head a bit sideways on therifle's wooden buttstock. For those shooters who must use their right eyefor scope sighting, you will have to buy some type of cheek rest. Like theJ. D. Mount scope base, our biggest problem with the Ransom scope base wasthe lack of eye relief adjustment available. Because the Weaver type scopering mounting rail only has two mounting slots/points we never could get ourscope properly adjusted for eye relief distance. Personally, I find thesetypes of design flaws mind boggling. How much can it cost to mill extramounting slots/points into a piece of aluminum? Bottom line, we give theRansom MAS-49/56 scope base a THUMBS DOWN.

Our final candidate is produced by the K-VAR Corp. of Las Vegas, NV, phone818-954-0560. The K-VAR, model KV-49/56 scope base is your classic "highover center of bore" type scope base, with a very slight 1/8 in. offset tothe left of the rifle. Structurally, the KV-49/56 scope consist of threeprimary components: (1) A large, skeletonized, -L- shaped piece ofaluminum, which is approx. 4 1/2 in. high, by 1/4 in. thick. (2) A steelNATO/STANAG type locking lever assembly. (3) An aluminum Weaver type scopering mounting rail, which is approx. 5 1/4 in. long, and has eight scopering mounting slots/points cut into it. The finish on the assembly appearsto be a pretty hard aluminum anodizing, in a moderately flat black color.The overall strength of this system is quite good. Mounting the K-VAR scopebase to the rifle is very straightforward process, but I strongly suggestthat you read over the instruction manual before you begin the mountingprocess. No, this scope mount is not difficult to mount to the rifle, butthe locking lever may require "tuning" of the internal/adjustable lockingblock assembly. Once you have "tuned" the adjustable locking block for themale dovetail on your rifle, the actual mounting process is a breeze, ie;flip the locking lever toward the rear of the rifle, slip the scope baseonto the rifle's dovetail, and then flip the locking lever forward into thefully locked position. To dismount the scope base, just reverse the aboveprocess.

So, what were our findings on the KV-49/56 scope mount? As usual, it was amixed review. Since the KV-49/56 is a high over the center of the bore typescope base, the use of ammo stripper clips is not possible. Again, if thisis a critical factor for you, this scope base is not for you. Obviously,since the scope base sits high over the receiver, you will need some type ofcheek rest for your rifle. All-in-all, the KV-49/56 scope base would havebeen our top choice of the three different scope bases we tested, however,it has a major problem, which the shooter must be the judge of if they optfor this system. Your fired/ejected cases will hit your scope duringejection. To be specific, the fired cases will hit the rear of your scope'sObjective Lens Bell. If you decide to go with this scope base, you must"pad" the area of your cope which will be hit by the fired cases. If you donot "pad" your scope, it will eventually suffer internal damage, ie; break.For now, the KV-49/56 scope base gets a "qualified" THUMBS UP.

One final comment. Of the three scope bases we tested, only the KV-46/56would still fire to zero after dismounting/remounting. The J. D. Mountscope base came in a very close second during this phase of our testing,while the Ransom scope base did poorly maintaining it's zero afterdismounting and remounting too our test rifle.


Mr. Hohlfeld is the firearms instructor for Ranger Outreach Center. If youhave comments you may write to:

R*O*C
PO Box 1164
Pecos, NM 87552

Fax 505.757.8456

E-mail shohl@roadrunner.com


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