Object Title

Mauser Model 1903 rifle

Mauser Model 1903 rifle


The Ottoman Empire maintained a keen interest in rifle technology. In 1890, they opted to break from their original contract with Mauser for the now obsolete 9.5mm Model 1887 with its tube magazine and black powder cartridge. Instead, they purchased a slightly modified version of the new small calibre Mauser adopted by the Belgians in 1889. This had a modern vertical-feed box magazine and chambered a small calibre smokeless cartridge. The Turkish Model 1890 did away with the sheet steel barrel shroud of the Belgian version but was otherwise identical. When another improved version was produced by Mauser, the Turks placed an order for that as well. This was the Model 1893 rifle, designed for the Spanish military with improved bolt and a new, short magazine. Both of these models were still in use when war broke out in 1914. However, at this time Turkey was again re-equipping with the improved Model 1903. This was closely based on Germany's own military rifle, the definitive Mauser Gewehr 98. Model 1905 carbines were also purchased to equip the Turkish cavalry, which had fallen behind the infantry in rifle equipment.

Use and effect

The Model 1903 was closer than the original M1889 to the German Model 1898. It was chambered for a lower powered cartridge with a round-nosed bullet. This would have affected power and accuracy at range. Otherwise it differed only in detail, having a different nose-cap designed to accommodate existing Turkish bayonet fittings. Proportions were slightly different, and the barrel was of the older, slimmer profile. The short, integral box magazine was protected from damage, though like the German rifle, gave away five rounds in capacity to the British Lee rifles. Ironically, Turkish Mausers were chambered in the 7.65x53mm cartridge of their Belgian enemy, rather than the 7.92x57mm of their German allies. This would have made sharing of ammunition between the allies difficult. However, much of Turkey's ammunition supply had been made by German firm DWM prior to the war, so resupply was not a problem. After the Central Powers were defeated in 1918, some Turks experimented with Mauser parts and captured British Enfield rifles, producing a bizarre hybrid of the two former adversaries.


Action / Operating system bolt
Barrel length 74 cm (29.1 in)
Calibre / Bore 7.65x53mm (.30 in)
Capacity (rounds) 5
Country of manufacture Germany
Date entered service 1903
Effective range 500 m (547 yd)
Feed Internal magazine
Manufacturer Mauser
Muzzle velocity 640 m/s (2100 fps)
Overall length 1.24 m (49 in)
Primary operator Ottoman Empire
Rate of fire (rounds per minute) about 15
Weight 4.17 kg (9 lb 3 oz)


Jonathan Ferguson