The 1890's can rightly be called the beginning of the automatic pistol era. During these years, gun designers such as Borchardt, Mannlicher, Schwarzlosc. Browning, and Mauser focused their mechanical ingenuity on self-loading pistols. Probably the most remarkable of these early designs was Paul Mauser's Model 1896 Military Pistol. Few handguns can match its remarkable success and world-wide distribution. This unique design contains no pins and only one screw, the grip screw. All internal parts that require a pin or pivot are machined from solid stock so the pin is integral with the part.
During the half century that the gun was in production, several models were offered. These range from the odd 6-shot pistol to the selective-fire Model 712. Although never officially adopted by the German Army. Mauser pistols were widely carried by German officers during World War I, and to a limited degree in World War II. The World War I pistol is the most common; it has a 5Vi" barrel and is chambered for the 7.63 mm. Mauser cartridge. To simplify wartime ammuni-
tion problems, these guns were also chambered for the 9 mm. Luger cartridge. These can be recognized by the big red "9" carved into the grips.
In 1930 Mauser made a change in the safety catch operation. On previous pistols it was necessary to pull back the hammer with one hand and engage the safety with the other. The new universal safety of 1930 made it possible to apply the safety with the gun hand only. The only other major change came when Mauser dropped the rifle-style magazine and changed to a removable sheet-metal magazine which can be loaded in the gun from a stripper clip like a military rifle, or outside the gun like any normal pistol magazine. The sear mechanism was changed to incorporate a selector switch that allowed optional semi- or full-automatic fire. Manufacture was eventually stopped because the gun became too expensive to produce. It was subsequently replaced by cheaper and more modern designs.
Mauser military pistols were widely copied in Spain and China. Some are excellent copies and operate reliably. Others reflect only the distinctive Mauser outline with lock mechanism differing from the original.
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