The following information on repeating rifles comes from Chapter 6 of Mauser Rifles and Pistols by W. H. B. Smith. Mauser Rifles and Pistols is also available to purchase in print.
While the Mauser brothers were starting their work, the Spencer repeating rifle with a tube magazine in the stock had been developed in the United States by 1862 and had done terrible execution in our Civil War in 1865. It was followed shortly by the Henry, which soon was purchased by Winchester and altered to their famous Repeater; this rifle carried the cartridges in a long tube below the barrel.
Thirty thousand Winchester rifles were used by Turkey in their war against Russia in 1877-78 and produced such terrible havoc at the siege of Plevna that all military observers abroad saw the military need for magazine or repeating rifles which would increase infantry firepower.
Little Switzerland acted in 1867 to adopt a magazine rifle though few were delivered before 1869, and her action was promptly followed on a larger scale by Austria-Hungary.
The Austro-Hungarian Fruhwirth 1870 rifle carrying eight cartridges in the tube magazine in the fore-end, stimulated Mauser in the development of a new repeating rifle.
This Fruhwirth system provided a carrier formed like a scoop and mounted below and in front of the bolt. Cartridges fed into the carrier by the spring in the front end of the tube were lifted successively as the bolt was drawn back; and were driven individually into the firing chamber as the bolt was pushed forward.
Paul Mauser did considerable experimental work on this type of magazine and carrier to develop the first Mauser Repeating Rifle. While Mauser and the German Small Arms Commission testing at Spandau realized the desirability of a smaller caliber arm than the standard 11 mm, they concentrated on a repeater to use the then-standard army cartridge because they did not wish to risk the adoption of a new caliber at a time when war seemed imminent on every horizon.