Mauser Rifles and Pistols Author’s Note

The following information comes from Mauser Rifles and Pistols by W. H. B. Smith. Mauser Rifles and Pistols is also available to purchase in print.


This book about Mauser rifles and pistols has been prepared directly from the records of the Waffenfabrik Mauser, from reports and publications by directors of the Mauser Werke A.-G., (Firearms Factory), from the Mauser memorial and records of R. H. Korn, who was Paul Mauser’s personal patent attorney, from the records of Ludwig Loewe and Co. of Berlin who were Mauser partners for many years, and from accounts of the Württembergische Vereinsbank of Stuttgart, financial partners and bankers for Mauser.

All photographs and drawings and all specifications except as noted are from the original drawings, photographs and specifications prepared by the Mauser organization for their official reports or for their international sales organizations.

Wherever possible direct translations from the pertinent German records have been retained in their essence, being expanded, edited and elaborated only where necessary to amplify the original text.


This book, while essentially an historical hand book for gun enthusiasts and for the millions of soldiers who possess European Mauser rifles as trophies, also has a secondary purpose. That secondary purpose is to present a detailed study of the advance of German small arms development through the years, so politicians and economists and statesman will have available an integrated study of one facet of militaristic evolution which has never before been presented.

This book is confined entirely to the facts of the Mauser history and of the arms Mauser developed; but its implications in world affairs are there for any analysts who are in a position to use them.

As a history of the rise and development of the Mauser line of weapons, this work is intended to satisfy all except the ultra-technical.


Very few people in civil life have any realization of the tremendous part the Mauser organization played in world affairs from the date of its inception in 1871 to the close of World War II.

As a result of a planned German military policy, a policy which began with the very founding in 1864 of Germany as the Nation we knew in the Twentieth Century, the Mauser organization was used internationally to disseminate German ideas and German ideologies.

Germany infiltrated the entire South American continent and much of China by recognizing the elementary fact that whoever armed the police and military organizations of those countries, automatically exercised considerable control over their politics and policies. In world areas where police and military groups dominate, those who are in a position to provide arms and equipment and new military techniques have always been able to achieve a measure of power entirely out of relation to either the number of agents employed or the extent of the business they have done with those countries.


As this book is written, the Mauser factories in Germany (in U.S. and British areas!) for the second time in less than half a century have been compelled to stop manufacture of weapons. But—again for the second time in that period—their manufacturing potential has not been seriously impaired. Meanwhile, in Russian areas they are reported in full operation!

Very early in the history of the Mauser organization, contacts and affiliations were made with the great Austrian Steyr Armory for the manufacture of German designed weapons in Austria. At a slightly later date similar arrangements were made with arms companies in Belgium, notably at Lüttich.

At the close of World War I, when the Mauser factories were in Allied hands, the great Fabrique Nationale at Herstal, near Liege, Belgium, undertook to manufacture German Mauser rifles to meet the legitimate police and military requirements of Central and South America and of much of the Orient.

It is noteworthy indeed that all these Mauser rifles took the general pattern of the official German Gewehr 98! The differences in manufacture and in manufacturing methods were so slight that a very high degree of interchangeability of parts has always existed among Mauser rifles, wherever made, and in whatever caliber made, throughout the world. Not only were the receivers (the central forging which is the heart of any rifle and which houses the operating mechanism, and into which the barrel is screwed) of the same design and general length and weight, but all the military cartridges designed for the weapon were similar enough in overall dimensions that comparatively few changes were necessary in machinery and manufacturing to convert the Central and South American calibers to those of the German standards. This condition still exists.

When arms factories were set up for the manufacture of rifles at Brno in Czechoslovakia, again not only were German measurements and requirements instituted, but the actual German military cartridge caliber was retained! These Mauser rifles of Czech manufacture are among the finest known. They vary from the German only in very slight details. These factories also entered world commerce to provide military and police arms wherever required; and their products will be found throughout Central and South America and the Orient.

When arms factories for Mauser rifle manufacture were established at Warsaw and at Radom in Poland, again the arm manufactured was in all essentials the standard German army rifle using the standard German rifle cartridge!

It must be remembered that with the sole exceptions of the United States, which uses the Garand M1 semi-automatic rifle and the American Springfield (which is an improved Mauser rifle); Great Britain which uses generally the Lee-Enfield rear lug system (together with huge numbers of Mauser type American made Model 1917 rifles); France which adopted a modified Mauser pattern in 1935; and Russia which uses its own Tokarev semi-automatic rifle and its Nagant bolt action rifle, practically every country in the world today is armed officially with weapons of German Mauser or Austrian Mannlicher design. Italy, which employed at the beginning of World War II rifles with the Mannlicher magazine, also used a modified Mauser bolt.

In this day of atom bombs and rockets and flame throwers, it is easy to overlook the political implications of a world system which permits a militaristic nation to provide arms to the police and military authorities of smaller nations. Where those arms and their replacement parts and ammunition go, there too go instructors, commercial agents, and exponents of the political and military ideologies of the country providing those weapons.

Regardless of the implications of the mass-destruction weapons now available in the world, they are likely to be used only under the direst of circumstances. Military, police and sporting arms however, will continue to be, as they have in the past, of supreme importance to the individuals directly concerned. Thus any organization selling and distributing weapons and techniques to the police or the military in any small nation is much more likely to dominate that nation’s policies and thought than is one which depends entirely on standard commercial, economic or cultural contacts.

As this is written, most of the great German, Austrian, Polish and Czech arms plant capable of manufacturing Mauser rifles or replacement parts for them are under direct or indirect Russian control or influence. Russian trade missions are abroad in every Central and South American country. At this juncture only Russia and Belgium are in a position to supply or maintain the police and military equipment of our Central and South American neighbors. And Belgium can’t begin to undertake to fill the legitimate demand.

A move is currently on foot to assist our neighbors by re-arming them with standardized United States equipment. This move is meeting political opposition. If we fail to take full advantage of this opportunity at this time, those nations have no recourse but to turn to Russia for adequate essential small arms requirements.

The effective spread of German militaristic ideas anywhere the Mauser organization went is the best evidence of what can happen in the event Russia is able to follow in the footsteps of Germany on an international scale.

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Countries using Mauser rifles Author's Note

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