WWII Waffen-SS soldiers
WWI Hungarian Air Force Gunner. His aircraft is armed with 10 C96 pistols
Photograph taken in the trenches of WWI. Note the attached shoulder stock.
WWII Waffen-SS soldier shouldering a M712 Schnellfeuer. The M712 was a fully automatic version of the C96 with a detachable magazine.
The grip earned the gun the nickname "Broomhandle" in the English-speaking world because of its round wooden handle. However, in China the C96 was nicknamed the "box cannon" because of its square-shaped internal magazine and the fact it could be holstered in its wooden box-like detachable stock.
Origin: Imperial Germany
Military Service: 1899 – 1961
Wars: WWI, WWII, numerous other conflicts
Cartridge: .30 Mauser / 9mm Luger
Action: Semi-Automatic Blowblack
Magazine: 10 Round Strip Clip, Internal Magazine
Significance: The first widely successful semi-automatic handgun. Used by Winston Churchill during the Second Boer War, also used by Lawrence of Arabia during WWI.
The C96 was introduced in 1896 and was immediately popular, being sold to governments, commercially to civilians and individual military officers within the first year of production.
As a military sidearm, the pistols saw service in various colonial wars, as well as World War I, The Easter Rising, the Estonian War of Independence, the Spanish Civil War, the Chinese Civil War and World War II. The C96 also became a staple of Bolshevik Commissars and various warlords and gang leaders in the Russian Civil War, known simply as "the Mauser."
With its long barrel and high-velocity cartridge, the Mauser C96 had superior range and better penetration than most other pistols of its era. The 7.63×25mm Mauser cartridge was the highest velocity commercially manufactured pistol cartridge until the advent of the .357 Magnum cartridge in 1935.
A distinctive characteristic of the C96 was its wooden shoulder stock which can double as a holster or carrying case and a grip shaped like the handle of a broom.