The following information on the Model 06-08 Mauser automatic pistol comes from Chapter 32 of Mauser Rifles and Pistols by W. H. B. Smith. Mauser Rifles and Pistols is also available to purchase in print.
At the time of its introduction this pistol was believed by Mauser and his associates to be a tremendous advance in the field of automatic weapons. The simple locking mechanism operating through check valves, permitted pistol manufacture at a much lower cost than had heretofore been possible in the Mauser factory. The original Mauser 96 pistol was an extremely expensive arm to machine.
However, the feature which most impressed Mauser’s associates was, curiously enough, the elementary one of automatic loading by insertion of a loaded magazine when the arm was empty and in recoil position.
Under action of the magazine follower, the ejector was held back by a special catch, and when a loaded magazine was inserted, the catch was automatically disconnected. The breechblock was thereby automatically released and its spring drove it forward to strip the top cartridge from the magazine and to chamber it ready for firing. So important did they consider it, that the Mauser factory at the time of its announcement released the following statement in part: “This is therefore an innovation of utmost importance, completely fulfilling the basic requirement of all self-loading pieces—that after the firing of the last cartridge, the weapon must be ready for reloading, and immediately upon the insertion of a new, full magazine, it must at once be ready for continued firing. Domestic and foreign patent have been applied for to protect this method of the restoration of the readiness for firing in particular. In the meantime we must forego the reproduction and abstract at this place of these and other patents relating to this weapon for various reasons. However, the illustrations reproduced here should be sufficient to give a clear picture of the details of a design of this pistol too.”
In actual practice, this strange weapon was one of the most clumsy and useless designs ever attempted. The arm is bulky, complicated to a high degree, and susceptible to many breakages and jamming causes not found in standard types of automatic pistols.
The one feature of interest in the arm is the valve or claw-type operation of locking and unlocking the breechblock, and even that feature is tremendously complicated in this particular arm.
This pistol was never manufactured in quantity. When it was introduced, the following statement was made about it by the factory: “The breech lock in this novel self-loading pistol is designed essentially on the principle utilized in the self-loading rifle C. 06-08 which we have just discussed. Thus this pistol too, has that extremely simple locking mechanism with the two check-valves, which make this weapon definitely superior to all previous systems, for military purposes in particular.”