Mauser C96 (9mm)
Possibly one of the most popular handguns of the first quarter of the 20th century, widely copied and much coveted. Fed from a 10-round stripper clip or detachable magazine the large magazine capacity and effectiveness of the 7.63mm and later 9x19mm Parabellum rounds made it a highly sought after by soldiers, adventurers and travellers.
Developed in 1896 by the three Feederle brothers it utilises a short recoil system in which the bolt is pushed back to load another round, the pistol had first to be cocked by pulling back the slide assembly (see above) which loaded the first round and cocked the pistol for firing. Once cocked the pistol could be fired as fast as the user could pull the trigger. It’s instantly recognisable wooden holster/stock along with the pistol’s ranged flick-up sights and its excellent balance made the pistol very accurate at ranges up to 200 metres.
While the C-96 was not chosen for military service by the German empire until half way through WWI it did see widespread private purchase by officers from many nations, British officers were especially fond of the weapon and many saw service on campaign in Africa and Northern India.
Carried by Lawrence of Arabia during his time with the Arab Nations and famously wielded by Winston Churchill during the cavalry charge at the Battle of Omdurman with the 21st Lancers. Their popularity waned slightly as patriotic fervor gripped the country with the outbreak of the First World War. They could be found all around the world; with colonial officers in India, rebels and Federales in Mexico, Spaniards during the Civil War and Boers in South Africa.
The above example is a 1916 Mauser 9mm, the red ‘9’ cut into the pistol grip identifies it as one of the 150,000 pistols built for the Imperial German Army when the supply of Luger’s P08 could not meet the demand. They were extremely popular with troops engaged in trench clearing operations because of the high rate of fire and it’s handiness in close quarters, even with the stock/holster attached. It was especially favoured by German shock troops, the Sturmtruppen, during the early 1918 offensives
Fun fact: The C-98 was the pistol used for the basis of Han Solo’s blaster in Star Wars.
Military Small Arms, G Smith, (1994)
Jane’s Guns Recognition Guide, I Hogg, (2002)