here are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.
Aldo Leopold

25 December 2007

GEHA - A Mauser conversion 2-shot shotgun

In the early spring of 2002, when Willis Cosad was packing up the accumulated ephemera of 90 plus years of occupying what would later become Canoga Creek Farms and Conservancy, a decision was made by Willis' son, executor of the Cosad estate, to sell at auction and yard sale all the items not desired by family members. Included in this collection of odds and ends were old farm and shop equipment, including almost one hundred year old stable equipment and tack. Of course there were the expected antique furnishings, and knick knacks, but what caught my eye, especially as I envisioned myself as the new "owner" of the farm and steward of its natural resources and bounty, was an old bolt action shotgun.

I picked up the gun, and Willis' son approached. "That was Dad's goose gun," he said. "It was his favorite." Sold. Though I would have paid significantly more, I acquired the gun for $75.00.

As chance would have it, I had become friends with Nick Tooth, a gunsmith who was responsible for the intricate checkering on the wood for some of the fancy but no longer made Ithaca Classic Doubles (closed their doors in May of 2003--for a brief and incomplete history, click here)
Nick had a look at my prize and quickly pronounced that its future should be as a deer gun. We drilled for some scope mounts, mounted a red dot, and the GEHA has performed well as a big game gun.

Recently, I discovered some research on GEHA published on the web. The article, entitled GEHA, A Little-Known Prime Example of Germany Maintaining its Arms Industry Between the World Wars, sheds additional light on my "deer gun," which I thought would be worth sharing. The following is excerpted from the article: “What on earth is a GEHA?” Simply put, it’s a converted Mauser Gewehr 98 rifle bored out for a 12, 16, or 20 Gauge shotshell, with 1 shell in the magazine plus 1 in the chamber capacity. It is half-stocked, and the wood is usually military grade and was never changed from the Gewehr 98 to the GEHA. It uses a sprung, detachable bolthead that fits over the old Gewehr 98 bolthead, and also utilizes a receiver strengthener/shell deflector that was added because so much metal was removed from the original rifle action. A new trigger assembly and triggerguard were also fitted so as to be more suitable to a shotgun. For one, the triggerguard was quite beefy. For another, the trigger itself was single-stage (as opposed to the two-stage military rifle trigger of the Gewehr 98). These trigger and triggerguard features are shared by the Remo and Hard Hit Heart, the two other Mauser conversion shotguns. Another feature of these guns is that the bolt handles were bent."

"The GEHA was simple. It was cylinder-bored; although a few GEHA’s have been noted with fully-choked bores, they seem to be in a small minority. Frank de Haas notes one of the guns appearing in his book Bolt-Action Rifles co-authored by Dr. Wayne van Zwoll. It retained the military Gewehr 98 stock, and was a no-frills gun without any provisions for a front sling swivel (although it retained the rear swivel mount from the Gewehr 98). The hole for the Gewehr 98’s bolt takedown donut was filled with a medallion reading "GEHA" in script. It was put on the market around 1920 or 1921."

I continue to hunt with this gun today, and am planning to get further information on it, especially specifications I do not have the technology to measure or ascertain, likely with the help of Turnbull restoration, who have done minor work on the gun recently. Those details will be appended to this post. Detailed photos below.

More Geha web resources:


Guns Magazine May 2008 article

Firearms forum research- very thorough and complete


Yeoman said...


I'm trying to discern the stock details. Have you restocked it?

KGT said...

No, the stock is original...perhaps modified when the gun was re-milled (in the 30's).

Happy New Year Yeoman!

Yeoman said...

Thanks for the added pictures. I can see now that the stock is a cut down G98 stock.

Interesting firearm.

Anonymous said...

Great site. I just picked up a 98-styled 12ga today. I was looking for a sporter stock for a 98 rifle, and the guy wouldn't separate it from the 12ga in his lot. $100 later and a cheap scope in trade later, voila! Now I have two mausers. One a Geha it would seem. I really appreciate the black and white with the nice buck...looks like an old sepia toned pic. I was hoping to mount scope bases (just got a jig and drill press)...did the machined groove in front of the breech opening present any problems for the short threaded screws that typically come with bases? What a strange, peculiar little timepiece, and I couldn't be more ecstatic to see someone using it (instead of just hiding it in the closet, "collecting", or nay-saying it's practicality online) Read same article you cited, seemed quite good. Think I need to check out the chamber depth on mine, for safety's sake. Have it mounted in a cheap synth stock, and cut the barrel to around 20. Things are really light/quick. Can't wait to get afield. Coyotes, too! WOO!

dbaxenda said...

I live in Nova Scotia Canada and have a 12ga and 16ga matched set of these shotguns...my grandfather who passed them down called them sisters! These are beautiful guns but the problem is that they are so rare in these parts noone (even the gunsmiths) have ever heard of them. I have a couple of problems with the set and I am looking for anyone's help. Some 25 years ago the bolt in the 16ga separated and can no longer be used, and local gunsmiths could neither repair or replace the bolt. The 12ga still works (after a real good cleaning) but the stock which is not the original is cracked badly and cannot be salvaged. I am hoping that someone reading this blog can help provide information or direct me to where I could get these parts...the 16ga bolt and a stock that will fit...especially a Geha. I would really like to get them back to their original condition and look forward to any information that you may have, you can e-mail me directly. Thank you!

KGT (aka Cagey) said...

I had a gunsmith from the now defunct Ithaca Classic Doubles company drill and mount the scope...but I was there for the procedure and it seemed pretty straight-forward...no major hiccups.

dbaxenda- I have had the extractor claw come of my bolt in the heat of the action (luckily my first and only shot that day connected..there would have been no follow up!). I believe it was said to be due to the brand of shell I was using having an excessive lip. Anyway, I used Turnbull Restoration's gunsmiths. They have a great website at: http://www.turnbullrestoration.com/

Anonymous said...

I was given a 12gaug Geha from my dad. Was looking for any help to try and date this shotgun. Any help would be great.

KGT (aka Cagey) said...

I don't know of anyone with exhaustive serial number data for dating on these-- but the linked article says "Produced from approximately 1919 to the mid-1930s, the Mauser shotgun conversions bore several brand names and were produced by a variety of firms. Three distinct grades of 2-shot Mauser shotguns have been identified. The lowest quality guns bear the name "Geha," a step up from the Geha is the "Hard Hit Heart" and at the top of the list in the "Remo."