Object Title

Mauser C96 pistol

Mauser C96 pistol


The Mauser Modell 96 or 'Mauser C96' as it is also known, was patented in 1895, and was one of the earliest self-loading pistols to enter military service. Much of the designed had been done by the Feederle brothers who worked for Mauser, however it was Peter Paul Mauser (1838-1914) who patented it and produced it as his arms factory at Oberndorf. Mauser began his career as a gunsmith in the Royal Württem Arms Factory, and with the help of his brother Wilhelm they designed the Model 1871 breech-loading rifle which after improvements was accepted into German military service as the Modell 1871.

The C96 was originally offered to the German military but was refused, however it was a great success on the civilian market, mostly with hunters due to its ability to transform into a type of carbine. This was achieved by adding the iconic walnut stock to the rear of the grip, this stock is multi-purpose as it also acts as the carrying device for the weapon. A carbine version of the C96 with a 240 mm (9.4 in) barrel was also developed.

The calibre of the early C96 pistols was predominantly 7.63x25mm. The Feederle brothers adapted and used the Borchardt cartridge in their design for this pistol. The 7.63x25mm Mauser cartridge used the same design and dimensions as the Borchardt however it was loaded with a stronger powder charge and a slightly heavier bullet. Variations of this weapon were produced with different magazine capacities. All loaded via the breech with aid of a stripper clip, a six shot, a ten shot and a 20 shot magazine were all produced in 7.63mm. A ten shot magazine for the 6 mm version was also developed. Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, Mauser began to produce C96 pistols in 9mm Parabellum for export. These were widely available on the Chinese market.

Use and effect

Although the C96 was widely available on the commercial market, by 1908 around 70,000 had been produced. Most notably the Italian Navy had ordered around 6,000 pistols for naval use and the Sultan of Constantinople's body guards were equipped with this pistol. Its first true taste of military action was during the second South African War, where it was very popular amongst British officers. Due to a lack of Luger pistols during the First World War, the C96 in 9mm was adopted by the German army in 1917. These pistols were clearly marked with an engraved '9' usually in red paint on the grip to avoid confusion with the 7.63mm calibre.

With its stripper clip loading system, the C96 was not as quick to load as many other self-loading pistols of the trenches, for example the Colt Model 1911 or the Luger. It was also a bulky pistol. However, the range which could be achieved with a stocked C96 was considerable compared to any other pistol of this conflict. It continued to be developed during the 1920s most famously the 'Bolo' version of the pistol had a shorter barrel and was exported to Russia. It also continued to feature in warfare throughout the Second World War.

Affectionately referred to as 'Broomhandle' due to the grip, the strange form of the C96, made it the perfect candidate for Hollywood. Featured in the original Star Wars trilogy a C96 modified with external props was used by Han Solo and on occasion by Luke Skywalker. The DL-44 blaster pistol has become almost iconic as the original C96.


Action / Operating system Recoil
Barrel length 14 cm (5.5 in)
Calibre / Bore 7.63x25mm (.30 in)
Calibre / Bore 9x19mm Parabellum (.36 in)
Calibre / Bore 9x25mm Mauser (.36 in)
Capacity (rounds) 6, 10 or 20
Country of manufacture Germany
Date entered service 1896
Effective range 150-200 m (164-218 yd)
Feed Internal magazine
Manufacturer Mauser
Muzzle velocity 425 m/s (1394 fps)
Other operators Britain
Other operators Italian Navy
Other operators Sultan of Constantinople's body guards
Overall length 31 cm (12.3 in)
Primary operator Germany
Weight 1.13 kg (2 lb 8 oz)


Lisa Traynor