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Mauser C96

 

Mauser C96 with combination holster/shoulder stock

 

Type Semi-automatic Pistol
Weight 1.25kg
Length 39.5cm
Barrel Length 13.97cm
Magazine Capacity 10 rounds
Muzzle Velocity 455 meters/second
Effective Range 60 meters
Caliber 7.63mm Mauser
Country of Origin Germany

The Mauser Model 1896 or C96 was the first successful military semi-automatic pistol. Known as the 'Broomhandle' for its unique grip shape, the C96 was designed with interlocking parts, eliminating the needs for screws and pins.

Introduced in 1896, the C96 Mauser pistol (Mauser-Selbstladepistole-Construction 96) was chambered for a round that was a slight modification of the 7.65mm Borchardt. The bottle-necked 7.63 Mauser cartridge was, until the advent of the .357 Magnum, the world's highest velocity pistol cartridge.

For its time, the Mauser C96 was a superlative military pistol. The mechanism is strong, although complex. The workmanship is without equal, and the gun is accurate out to several hundred yards using a combination holster/shoulder stock. The main reason the Mauser did not become Germany's primary service pistol can be summed in one word: Luger. Georg Luger's improvement on the Borchardt semi-automatic pistol design was far more compact and had better balance than the Mauser. When Luger developed the 9mm Parabellum in 1901, the road to government acceptance was clear.

Even without initial German government sales, the Mauser C96 was a commercial success. The Italian, Turkish, Russian and Chinese military bought thousands of Broomhandles. Many military officers bought the Broomhandle out of their own funds.

Although the Mauser C96 is typically seen with a 10-round stripper feed magazine and a 13.97cm (5.5") barrel, there are many variations (several shown at right). There are configurations with 6- and 20-round magazines. The so-called 'Bolo' model has a 10.16cm (4") barrel and an abbreviated grip, and the Model 712 Schnellfeuerpistole has a detachable 20-round magazine and a full-auto cyclic rate of 1200 rounds/minute!

Did You Know?
One of the most ardent fans of the Mauser C96 was Kaiser Wilhem II. His withered arm made a conventional rifle impractical. Lawrence of Arabia carried and used a Broomhandle. Winston Churchill—then a Lieutenant in the 21st Lancers—used his C96 to great effect in the battle of Omdurman in 1898.