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Musgrave BRNO Bolt-Action Repeater Rifle in 7x64 Brenneke

The custom-made BRNO bolt-action repeater rifles, in 7x64 Brenneke, are few and far between, but they are, without doubt, exceptional hunting tools.

Musgrave BRNO Bolt-Action Repeater Rifle in 7x64 Brenneke

Musgrave, a premium South African barrelmaker/rifle builder, used several different actions on which to build rifles, and this one is built on the hard-working BRNO. This rifle has had an estimated 5,000 rounds through it, and it’s still going strong.

Best known today as the workingman’s rifle of Africa, BRNO had its start prior to World War I as a military arms producer. Regulated out of the fighting-gun business by the Treaty of Versailles, BRNO shifted gears and began making Mauser-based sporting firearms. A BRNO in 9.3x62 became the quintessential “big game” (dangerous game) rifle for the Germanic populations farming in Africa.

Production restrictions eventually loosened, and BRNO designed the VZ-24 action, producing some 800,000. Sporting rifles continued to be a staple of its business.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, a man named Benjamin Musgrave was earning notable status as a competitive shooter. He sent his son Trevor to the U.K. to learn the art of barrelmaking from W.D. Lain. Returning to Bloemfontein, South Africa, with a rifling machine in 1953, Trevor began making fine rifle barrels in his father’s shop.

Musgrave stamp on the BRNO barrel

Not quite 20 years later, the Musgraves began building rifles, using sourced actions. The rifle shown here was built by the Musgraves and features a BRNO Model 1908 action, their own barrel, and a good, dense, straight-grain walnut stock.

The original Musgrave company placed serious emphasis on quality control. They performed rigorous tests and evaluations on each rifle for chamber quality, firing pin protrusion, headspacing, and other factors that influenced precision and consistency. The QC showed, as Musgrave-built rifles began winning national championships and shattering national records.

By the late 1980s, Musgrave employed more than 200 people and turned out around 6,000 rifles per year. Unfortunately, the Bloemfontein manufactory was closed in the mid-’90s, and although various Musgrave-marked rifles have been produced since by one company or another that’s obtained rights to the name, they are not the same.

This particular Musgrave hunting rifle is built on a BRNO action and chambered in 7x64mm “Brenneke,” a dedicated sporting cartridge designed by Wilhelm Brenneke in 1917. A major commercial success among European hunters, the cartridge is ideal for a broad spectrum of game.

Mechanicals

Fundamentally a fine Mauser-type sporting rifle, the Musgrave-built BRNO has the legendary full-length claw extractor, a fixed mechanical ejector, and dual opposing locking lugs on the bolt. The bolt handle is bent and curved beautifully to be compatible with a scope. However, the wing-type Mauser safety on the bolt shroud is not scope-compatible and is prevented from functioning on this particular rifle by the scope.

A Mauser-type box magazine contains cartridges. The bottom metal is classic Mauser as well, but the trigger is an upgraded version made by Musgrave.




Musgrave BRNO Accuracy and Velocity Results Chart

Provenance

Professional Hunter Danie Strauss, who later served as the president of NAPHA (Namibia Professional Hunting Association), purchased this rifle early in his career, around 1989, and used it for decades as his go-to hunting tool. Dr. Lukas Potgieter, a well-known shooting writer and rifle specialist, once instructed Strauss

in the art of choosing the ideal hunting rifle: Choose a cartridge, visit a well-stocked rifle dealer, and ask them to lay out every so-chambered rifle in stock. Shoulder and handle each rifle and choose the one that feels like home.

Danie told me he knew the moment he shouldered the Musgrave-built BRNO that this was his rifle. Over the next several decades, it took several thousand head of plains game as well as dozens of leopards. Danie’s son Jacques, himself a well-known dangerous-game PH, used it to hunt problem leopards on some 400,000 acres of ranching country.

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I had the chance to handle and photograph it during a recent hunting trip to South Africa. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the range before flying home, so Jacques shot groups with it for this report. No chronograph was available, so he couldn’t measure the velocity.

Built by Musgrave, using one of Trevor Musgrave’s exceptional barrels, this rifle most likely had the action trued, the locking lugs lapped, and match-grade tolerances in the chamber. Musgrave-built rifles are few and far between in the states (values range from $600 to $2,000), so should you be fortunate enough to find one you like for sale, don’t hesitate. They are finely built sporting arms with a unique and fascinating history.

MUSGRAVE BRNO SPECIFICATIONS

  • MANUFACTURER: Musgrave, built using a Mauser-type BRNO action
  • TYPE: Bolt-action repeater
  • CALIBER: 7x64 Brenneke
  • MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 5 rounds
  • BARREL: 24 in.
  • OVERALL LENGTH: 44 in.
  • WEIGHT, EMPTY: 8.25 lbs. (with scope)
  • STOCK: Walnut
  • LENGTH OF PULL: 13.75 in.
  • FINISH: Blued barrel and action, oil-finished stock
  • SIGHTS: Ramp rear, bead front (missing)
  • SAFETY: Wing type on cocking piece

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