By the Fall of 1869, Norris failing to meet his obligations and provide financial support to the Mauser brothers, the two were compelled to return to their family home at Oberndorf where they set up to manufacture rifles in a small workshop in the home of Peter Paul's father-in-law.
Before leaving Liittich they had insisted that Norris submit their rifle to the Royal Prussian School of Riflemanship. The results of the test there were so impressive that Wilhelm was invited to the Arsenal at Spandau. The Institute at Spandaü later produced the Royal Rifle Testing Commission, a body to which Paul Mauser submitted all his rifle designs from that period on. Throughout the course of his life he was always proud, in the way that only a German militarist could be, of his connection through the years with the top rifle authorities of Prussia. What part Peter Paul himself played in later years in the planned system of distribution of his arms as instruments for spreading German thought and military policy throughout the world, it is difficult indeed to say. But the record does show that all his efforts and all his abilities were harnessed to the one idea of developing standardized equipment and munitions.
The scond of December 1871 was a red letter day in the lives of the brothers Mauser. It was on that day that their rifle was adopted as the first official
German service metallic cartridge rifle, even though the Testing Commission required a number of changes in the basic design, particularly in the safety device.
Peter Paul, enthralled at the prospect of the honor of having his rifle adopted, worked day and night to perfect a new safety lock; and on the 14th day of February 1872 submitted two systems to Spandau for their selection. Like practically every other mechanical development of Peter Paul Mauser, this safety was so fundamentally correct that it was never possible to do more than refine it. Even today it is a characteristic feature of the finest Mauser rifles.
While the genesis of the turning-bolt action lock is usually credited to Dreyse, and the overall form of that first Mauser rifle is often thought to resemble closely that of the French Chasscpot, the truly revolutionary features in the design are stricdy those of Peter Paul Mauser.
Out of that elementary house door-bolt he produced a unit which was self-cocking, had a distinctive bolt head, utilized an elastic extractor, incorporated an effective ejector, and embodied the famous cam operation for giving "primary extraction" to loosen swollen cartridge cases, without which a truly successful military rifle could not function.
Thus this first rifle, officially listed as the "Model 71", was really not produced until 1872.
The Prussian Army promptly supplied a substantial order and the brothers Mauser set up a temporary workshop in a little building in Oberndorf. That first plant employed 50 people on its opening, utilized several special machines developed by Paul Mauser, and was powered by two movable steam engines. Soon the plant grew to utilize the energies of 100 workers.
By now the brothers knew that success was within their grasp and they unhesitatingly committed themselves to the erection of a new plant of their own on the height of Oberndorf, the plant later known as the "Oberes Work". In the summer of 1872 they laid the foundation stone of this new plant, and day by day in proud anticipation they watched it grow.
Again an ill wind blew, the kind of wind that blows down and destroys weaker men than the brothers Mauser. Hardly had the building been completed on the heights then a great fire occurred; and on the 20th of August 1873, the building was badly gutted by fire.
With truly indomitable will and courage, they passed off the severe blow and turned their energies to refitting the factory. Just eight weeks from the day of the fire the plant was able to resume operations.
By now the High Command of the Württemberg army was convinced not only of the quality of the rifle but also of the ability and stamina of the Mauser brothers. They therefore offered a contract for approximately 100 thousand rifles and carbines of the Model 71 to outfit their army. By this time the pattern of German military thought with its long term view of ultimate world power was taking form. The new German Confederation was shaping and the Germany of Kaiser Wilhelm and later of Adolph Hitler was beginning the climb to the military heights which was to produce two generations of World chaos. The Württemberg Government offered the Mauser brothers the Government Firearms Factory for a price of 200 thousand florins. Financing this project, a gigantic one from the standpoint of the Mauser brothers, was simplified by the government-arranged participation of a banking concern which could offer the necessary financial guarantees to the government.
And thus, from a small struggling business, the destinies of the two Mauser brothers transformed their organization overnight into a great industrial concern. The newly organized Württembergische Vereinsbank of Stuttgart set up the Mauser Brothers and Company as a corporation and entered as a partner with an investment of 800 thousand marks. On the 20th of February 1874 the Chamber of Deputies officially signed the contract which became legal two weeks later transferring the Government Firearms Factory to the apparently non-military Mauser Brothers and Cqmpany Incorporated. An interesting sidelight on this development is that Paul Mauser himself had set up and was operating his arms factory in the ancient Augustine Cloister by the middle of December, 1873, and had established his home nearby—a good three months before the matter officially came up before the Chamber of Deputies. Wilhelm, meanwhile, had moved to the height where he supervised the Oberes Work.
In spite of the fact that the machinery at the former Government Firearms Factory was obsolete and had to be replaced with completely new equipment, the driving efforts of the two brothers resulted in completion of the Württemberg Government order in 1876, nearly six months ahead of schedule. Minor improvements were made in the Model 71 and Wilhelm obtained an order from the Chinese Government for 26 thousand rifles which was promptly filled.
For the next few years only the cooperation of the German military acting through their financial backers, kept the Mauser brothers in business. Wilhelm in particular, haunted the chancelleries of Europe looking for new business. Finally, in 1881 after intense competition both from the standpoint of quality of the arms and of the politics and economics always involved in military deals on an international basis, the Mausers succeeded in having the Serbian government adopt their arm. They were given an order for 100 thousand infantry rifles of caliber 10.15mm with an improved version of the famous Mauser lock. This order was the swan song of brother Wilhelm. Long ill and in intense suffering, he lived only long enough to see the Serbian order underway. On his death on the 13th day of January in 1882 the burden of support of Wilhelm's family was taken over by Peter Paul. On his head and broad shoulders too fell complete charge of the operation of the plant which had contracted to complete the Serbian government order by the Spring of 1884. With all his duties and all his responsibilities, Peter Paul Mauser still found time to work steadily on new inventions, working with an indescribable energy which left him no time for social life.
He developed a breech loading pistol and a revolver which were patented in most of the great nations of the day. The introduction of the inferior Models 73 and 79 Service revolvers met with very little success in Germany, and one-hand weapons as such fell into military disrepute until the later development by
Paul Mauser of the semi-automatic pistol. The failure of the Government revolvers as efficient weapons served to impede the military sale of the Mauser pistol and revolvers, although his arms were of superior design.
Was this article helpful?