Mauser Model 71—German Infantry Weapon

The following information on the Mauser Model 71 comes from Chapter 4 of Mauser Rifles and Pistols by W. H. B. Smith. Mauser Rifles and Pistols is also available to purchase in print.

As already pointed out in the Historical Foreword, this arm while officially adopted in 1871 was actually issued in February 1872, with the improved safety demanded by the Testing Commission.

This arm was a single shot breech loader utilizing the bolt principle of the Dreyse and resembling it in many exterior details. However it employed a new cartridge whose case was drawn brass. This cartridge measured 3.07 inches over all and weighed 660.5 grains. The bullet was lead; its length was 1.0827 inches, its diameter (less patch) was 11 mm, (.433 inch), and its weight was 386 grains. The initial charge was approximately 77.16 grains of black powder which developed a muzzle velocity of about 1425 feet per second and gave a maximum range of about 3200 yards.

Mauser Model 71 German Infantry Rifle

Mauser Model 71 German Infantry Rifle: Right side view with action closed showing original Mauser single shot metallic cartridge rifle adopted by the German Army in 1871 and actually introduced into service in the following year. This model used the removable bolt head and split bridge receiver later used on turn-bolt Mannlicher rifles. The German Gew. 1888 bolt and receiver were evolved from the Model 71, not from Mannlicher designs. Model 71 rifles, both original and converted types, were used in the Balkans even in World War II.

The rifle itself weighed 10 pounds 4 ounces (1 pound 8 ounces more with bayonet). The overall length was 4 feet, 4.75 inches (6 feet .5-inch with bayonet). The barrel was 33.46 inches long and was rifled with 4-grooves of .0157 inch depth. The rifling made one turn in 21.65 inches (50 calibers) to the right. The sight adjustment ran from 300 meters (328 yards) to 1600 meters (1750 yards). The bore diameter was nominally 11 mm (.433).

This rifle was such a revolutionary development in the art of war that a fairly complete description of it is warranted here. Furthermore, millions of these rifles were distributed throughout the world, very large numbers having been sold in the U.S., particularly by the firm of Bannerman of N.Y.C. Moreover, they appeared in some quantity in use even in World War II in Europe. Ammunition for them was generally manufactured in Europe as late as 1937. Large numbers of them were adapted first in the late ’90’s and later in the early ’20’s to handling shot gun shells. These arms therefore may be encountered in the U.S. in general use as well as in arms collections.

Mauser Model 71 Reciever Right Side

Mauser Model 71. Right Side View Of Receiver Section Action Closed: This design differs radically from the current Mauser. The bolt is of entirely different construction but incorporates the basic cocking features found in all later Mauser rifles. This specimen was manufactured in 1872 at the Spandau Arsenal. While called the 1871 Model because of its original adoption in that year, actual specimens were not delivered for field use until 1872, after changes had been made in the safety. The safety system is essentially the same as that in use today.

The illustrations here used to show the functioning of this weapon are taken from contemporary drawings officially made by Mauser.

The bolt is fitted into the receiver of the rifle to permit it to travel backward and forward as the bolt handle is raised or lowered and the bolt drawn back or pushed forward.

The bolt cylinder is perforated and has the striker surrounded by its spring mounted within it. Raising the bolt lever permits the bolt to be drawn back. A guide block on the upper surface of the bolt cylinder works between two lips in the receiver bridge to prevent rotation of the cylinder until the guide is clear of the lips.

Mauser Model 71 Bolt Open

Model 71. Right Side View With Bolt Up and Turned Back To Open Action: Construction of cocking-piece differs from the earlier Mauser-Norris. This rifle is usually encountered stamped with the year of manufacture. It is the really direct parent in cocking, extraction and operation of all later bolt action Mausers.

The striker is not removable and is attached by a nut and screw to the cocking piece. The cocking piece can move backward and forward only. It cannot rotate, as the striker is elliptical in section. The movable bolt head is separate from the cylinder; and rotating the cylinder when opening with the lever or when closing does not affect the position of the bolt head or of the striker and its spring. The bolt cylinder works by cam action on the cocking-piece to cock the striker as the bolt handle is manipulated.

The extractor works in a groove in the left side of the bolt cylinder, and is of spring steel. The ejector is mounted in the trigger spring and works through the bolt cylinder and the receiver. A safety lock fitted to the cocking-piece works upon a spring. When applied it drops into a notch in the breechblock (or bolt) and prevents the striker from reaching the cartridge.

Mauser Model 71 Operation

The bolt handle is raised and the bolt is drawn back as far as it will go. A cartridge is inserted in the firing chamber. The breech block is pushed forward until its guide is clear of the receiver bridge slot. It is then turned down to the right to close and seal the breech; and since the nose of the cocking-piece bears against the cylinder cam, it also completes compression of the striker spring ready for firing. Pressure on the trigger is transmitted to release the striker. The striker spring drives the striker forward to fire the cartridge.

When the bolt lever is turned up to open the breech, the head of the bolt and the cocking piece remain in the same relative positions as already indicated. The cam face of the bolt cylinder forces back the cam on the cocking-piece, thereby drawing the striker back into the bolt.

Mauser Model 71 Top View

Model 71. Top View Of Receiver Section With Action Closed: Note type of bolt safety which very closely resembles that of the latest type Mauser. This system of safety has never been substantially improved upon.

As the bolt is pulled back, the extractor in the face of the bolt draws the empty cartridge case out of the firing chamber with it and strikes it violently against the claw of the ejector causing it to pivot and be hurled out the stop of the breech. This front claw of the ejector projects only when the bolt is drawn all the way back.

Minor modifications of this rifle were made and a short carbine model with wooden forestock extending to the muzzle was also issued.

Mauser Model 71 Phantom View side

Model 71. Right Side Phantom View Showing Rifle Cocked And Loaded Ready For Firing: The simplicity of this first design has never been surpassed. The bolt cylinder is pierced to receive the striker pin and spring. The bolt handle or lever is part of the cylinder. The guide block on the upper surface of the cylinder working between the lips cut into the receiver, prevents rotation of the cylinder until the guide is clear of the slot. The striker in this design is permanently attached by a nut and screw to the cocking-piece. The cocking-piece can move only backward and forward and cannot rotate. This is provided for by having the striker elliptical in section, its shape changing at different sections of its length. The bolt head is removable and can be readily detached from the bolt cylinder. However, since it rotates with the cylinder when the action is opened or closed, the position of the striker and spring are not affected. (This two-piece bolt is cheaper to manufacture than the stronger one-piece type found in all Mausers of modern design). The cam slot in the rear section of the bolt cylinder acts on the cocking-piece as the bolt handle is lifted to withdraw the striker pin within the cylinder of the breech bolt. The extractor works in a groove in the left side of the receiver and in the movable head of the breechblock (or bolt head). The ejector is mounted in the trigger spring and works through the receiver bottom. The safety catch on the cocking-piece works upon a spring. When applied it drops into a notch provided for in the bolt and prevents the striker from reaching the cartridge. When the bolt handle is turned up to the left as far as it will go, the head of the breechblock and the cocking-piece remain in the same relative position. The cam at the rear of the cylinder forces back the cam of the cocking-piece to partly cock the striker. The bolt is then drawn back to extract and eject the cartridge or empty case in the firing chamber. The ejector moves in a groove in the underside of the bolt cylinder, hence its forward claw projects only when the bolt is in full rear position

Mauser Model 71 Development

The German government thought so highly of this new development that they arranged banking assistance and turned the great Oberndorf plant over to the Mauser brothers for manufacture of their rifle and for further development.

Shortly thereafter the Mausers were given additional financial help to produce the rifle in quantity for foreign sale. Thus started the concerted efforts of the German High Command to distribute German arms, and with them German methods, ideology and military thought throughout the world.

Mauser Model 71 Phanton Open Action

Model 71. Right Side Phantom View With Action Open Ready For Insertion Of Cartridge: Knob of bolt handle is not shown in drawing. Note details of cocking cam surface outlined in the cocking-piece. Unlike modern Mausers, these early types had a removable bolt head. It will be observed that the striker pin is back inside the bolt cylinder but is not yet held at full cock.

Except for comparatively short periods during World Wars I and II, Germany as a matter of military policy from that day on used every means and every effort to infiltrate and eventually direct the equipment and military policies of small Nations throughout the world. The Mauser arms, together with those of Krupp, were the prime products for the world spread of German military thought. By producing only the finest arms and by providing instructors, technicians and tacticians the Germans were able to develop military commissions which blanketed Europe, Asia and South America, where even today German arms and ideologies are paramount.

Mauser Model 71 Phantom Top

Model 71. Top Phantom View Showing Details Of Rifle With Cartridge In Chamber And Weapon Ready To Fire: Knob of bolt handle is not shown. After insertion of a cartridge in the feed way, the bolt handle was pushed forward to chamber the cartridge and permit the extractor to snap over the rim of the case. The bolt handle was then turned down to the right. Since the nose of the cocking-piece was bearing against the bolt cylinder, turning down the bolt handle completed cocking the arm and compressing the striker spring by direct rearward thrust through its cam action. Note that the shock of discharge is taken principally by the rear locking surface behind the bolt handle. The bolt handle locks down in front of a rear section of the receiver. This form of locking is used today only in rifles of small caliber and low power because of the great distance between the head of the cartridge and the locking point.

Brother Wilhelm, not being very strong physically, undertook the position of traveling salesman for the organization while Paul supervised the plant. In 1876 they sold 26,000 of these model 71’s to China. In 1881 they sold 120,000 to Serbia as indicated in the records of the Mauser company published in the official plant history issued in 1936.

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Mauser Model 71 - German Infantry Weapon

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