Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Santa Fe Trailmaster Revew Golden State Arms

The best way to describe these guns is  that they were assembled miss-mixed parts though others may find some need to criticize the whole gun, I had the chance to see one that belonged to a man who lived around the corner and have spent some time with the gun.   Being assembled parts is not always a bad thing. During the 1950's and 60's kids would take big block dump truck motors with 4 bolt mains on the crank and put in the biggest carburetor available and a radical cam and buy an adapter kit for a high torque transmission and put it in an old car chassis. These were called sleepers! On the weekends kids would line up on some abandoned strip of paved road and race. After loosing a few races he would offer to race car title for car title and go home with some kids Mustang or Corvette.
 Looking at this gun I think it is a sleeper it has a Mouser receiver which is most desired among bolt action hunters and bench rest target shooters and the gun has an adapted variation Mouser bolt which appears to be a high grade Nickle chromium steel with two locking lugs at the front and a long lug that includes the bolt handle that rests against the rear of the receiver when in battery. Very safe looking construction design! Being a military receiver it takes a stripper clip and this places it in a class of its own and I see it as a real plus and the US 308 or 30/06 stripper clips work reasonably well (not perfectly) "But" the Swedish Mouser stripper clips work perfectly and should be on your list of things to get. The gun parts fit to the stock is also very good. The stock finish is also very good and has a very pronounced pistol grip (it feels good to hold). The barrel is very good and flush mount steel constructed magazine is better than the plastic trigger guard magazine holder on the Mohawk 600 which easily brakes as the plastic was under designed for the gun so the Trail-master is one solid piece of work. The one down side is the rear sight which was a dumpy light screw on sight that would be more fitting on a 22 rifle.  If this gun had a side mount scope so the stripper clips would work I think the gun would be equivalent to the U.S. M24 sniper rifle currently in use today.
Military 308 ammo has about 20,000 less PSI (pounds per square inch) than civilian ammo and should be first choice in this gun. People do not know that and mess up many fine guns. This is part of the on going disarmament plan as the U.S. agency for setting safety standards for ammo has chosen that pressure as a industry standard. In a war many fine sporting rifles would be toast in day to day use. Civilian ammo used in captured military guns and machine guns would leave them with broken parts and inoperative in a short time. It does not mater what make of 308 rifle you have in bolt action like the Winchester, Remington, etc or a semi auto M14 you are better off with military surplus or reloaded 308 ammo.  
   In conclusion, not typical is the fact that some Golden State guns were assembled in Japan Europe or even Spain and Spanish guns normally should be avoided like the plague because of poor metallurgy. This appears to have made little difference as the parts were made elsewhere and shipped in for assembly. I have found no information on the internet on gun failure concerning Golden State Arms (but if there is it will be in relation to high powered civilian ammo). To your advantage is the low critical evaluation of the guns by its critics and the low asking prices I think it is an excellent deal especially for a man on a low budget.  The one thing for sure is the fact that the gun will not dint your pocket book, it loads like a military rifle with stripper clips which could be important in the future, and it looks like a nice sporting rifle. Look at over all gun condition and  start at $100 and try to stay under $225 if the gun is in excellent condition. Point out to the seller that the gun is not valued by some gun value books. Richard W. Norman author of "American Handbook on Guns Ammo and Freedom"   


  1. MR. Norman, I recently purchased one of these "TRAILMASTER" R-157 .308 WIN. Someone had dissambled the bolt and left it this way. On closer inspection the bolt dosn't have the safety in it .Do you know where I might find a safety? thanks Joe Harrison

  2. How in the heck do you put the bolt back together and in the weapon...

  3. Sorry.. didnt hit the notify me/ I have an R-157 which i just acquired. the bolt reassembly is kicking my butt.
    Any advice would be appreciated