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.

Historic Photos

  • 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.

  • The C96 is fed via a 10 round strip clip much like the bolt action rifles of the time.  The rear sight also closely resembles that of a Mauser rifle.

  • Small parts such as the trigger were "fire blued," a special process that leaves the components light blue vice black.

  • ​During World War I, the Imperial German Army ordered for 150,000 C96 pistols chambered in 9mm to offset the slow production of the standard-issue Luger P08 pistol. This variant of the C96 was named the "Red 9'" after a large number "9" burned and painted in red into the grip panels, to warn the pistols' users not to incorrectly load them with 7.63 mm ammunition. Because the army delegated the branding to unit armourers, not all 9mm pistols carry the nine. 

Interesting Facts

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.

C96 Broomhandle Mauser