This was a period of change in Europe, a period of uncertainty in military circles, a period when technical developments in the field of explosives in particular, was so encompassed in rumor and experiment that each nation hesitated to change its weapons for fear of a giant technical stride which would at once invalidate their investments.
Mauser himself conducted long series of tests to determine the most efficient caliber using the black powder with which he was familiar. He finally established that a 9.5mm caliber gave the best ballistics with the powder then available; and during this time he also doubled the size of the locking lugs on his bolts as a protection against stepped-up breech pressures.
Meanwhile the French had put into use the development of the new smokeless powder satisfactorily produced by their chemist Vielle. This new powder permitted reduction of caliber to 8mm with improved ballistic performance to a degree which startled and worried all the other armies of Europe.
Mauser, receiving no encouragement from his own government at this period, went to England with his new rifle, and again received a very cold reception. His next stop was Constantinople and in 1886, when the Turkish army was still equipped with American Remington and with Martini-Henry Single Shot Rifles and a sprinkling of American Winchesters, his new development received the attention to which militarily it was entitled.
After a series of tests and the customary amount of juggling inherent in government arms deals at that period, the competitive contract was finally granted to Mauser. Just what part the great Berlin firm of Ludwig Loewe & Co. played in obtaining this order is difficult to assess; but when Mauser received his order for 500,000 rifles and 50,000 carbines, it developed that Loewe was a 50-50 partner in the order. They took over all the stocks of the Mauser Firearms Factory and also undertook a huge order (425,000 rifles) for the newly adopted German Model 1888 Rifle most of which were manufactured at the Loewe plant in Berlin. This left the facilities of the Mauser factory itself open for the production of Turkish weapons.
Paul Mauser was extremely bitter at the adoption by the German Rifle Testing Commission of the Model 1888 Rifle. This arm, which used a modification of the Mauser bolt, utilized the Mannlicher type of packet loading in which the loaded clip is inserted into the rifle as an integral part of the magazine. It was officially listed as the "Infantry Rifle Model 88" and popularly known as the "Mauser and Commission." Mauser forecast accurately the difficulties which would be encountered with this type of magazine loading, and time and military experience led to the eventual adoption of Mauser's own system of clip loading (in which the cartridges are stripped off the clip into the magazine), a loading system which is still the most common in world use.
The Turkish Government contract called for delivery of a total of 500 weapons per working day. As the rated capacity of the Oberndorf plant had never been higher than 250 rifles per day, this order called for more industrial genius, courage and organization on the part of the director. The lower works, ithe "Äusseres Werk," equipped with 100 horsepower steam engines in 1885, was enlarged and outfitted with new machinery in very short order.
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