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By Eric Nestor via

Invented in 1895, this pistol was way ahead of its time. The Mauser C96 is affectionately called “the broomhandle” due to its wooden handle. It’s a fast semi-automatic shooter that uses stripper clips to load. It fires the 7.63×25 bottleneck cartridge, a very fascinating design. The wooden holster transforms into a buttstock to attach to the pistol . . .

A short carbine is then made. In this modern age, anti-gun forces would definitely ban this one if they could. It loads and shoots eight rounds rather quickly. The Mauser C96 was ahead of its time and can still be found world-wide at gun shows.

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    • Not just the model – they used actual C96 pistols to make the prop guns. In fact, if you look carefully at certain scenes from “The Empire Strikes Back”, you can see empty blank cartridge cases flying out and even littering the floor (they needed the smoke and flash from the blanks to synchronize the “laser blasts” during the special-effects editing).

    • Yeah… so, if any of you mugs were thinking about making a C96 your competition or EDC pistol, this guy says to think again, I guess.

      • Dang it! And I just finished making a Kydex ankle holster to carry one as a BUG. Back to the drawing board, I guess.

        • While we’re at it, how about the lousy fuel economy, terrible steering and rough-shifting transmission on the Ford Model T? Save your money, folks; it’s the worst commuter vehicle I can think of!

      • I was thinking abut getting a leather shoulder holster made for mine to use as my CCW for the Dickens on the Strand Victorian costume parade next year.

    • Sounds like you have experience with Chinese knockoff. They made huge quantities for about a hundred years.

  1. I always thought the c96 was a 10 shooter? It’s been decades since I used one but I recall it as a 10 shot.

    • They made 6-shot versions with abbreviated magazines (mainly “bolo” models with 4″ barrels, possibly in an effort to to make a more concealable gun ) before WWI, and even a semi-auto version of the Schnellfeuer machine pistol that had detachable 10 and 20 round magazines (there were also earlier experiments before WWI with detachable mags, but it didn’t go anywhere at that time).

  2. In this modern age, anti-gun forces would definitely ban this one if they could.

    Isn’t it already banned unless you go through all the NFA crap? It’s a short barreled rifle. Because this 110 year old antique is definitely more dangerous than any common rifle sold on the market today. With all the push for open carry, campus carry, concealed carry, etc throughout the US – I would have thought the most retarded laws would have been addressed first.

    • A while back the ATF recognized the popularity of old pistols that could accept a stock in the collector circles (Lugers, Hi-Powers, etc.) and ruled a whole bunch of them NFA exempt by name. But there’s a catch. If I go buy a C96 tomorrow and it comes with a stock as part of the sale, I can fire it any way I choose. But if I buy one and then purchase a stock separately, that’s a no no.

    • Interesting. Isn’t there some point at which a gun becomes an “antique” and not a “firearm” at all for ATF purposes?

      • An “antique” under the NFA and GCA is any firearm (other than true machine-guns like the Maxim, I am guessing) that was either (a) made before January of 1899, or (b) does not fire fixed ammunition (i.e., a cap-and-ball revolver or other black-powder gun that does not fire fully self-contained ammunition), whether made before January of 1899 or not (a replica black-powder revolver is considered an “antique” under federal law, though state laws vary on that subject). As an example of state laws differing from federal law, in Michigan a firearm made before January of 1899 that fires fixed ammunition is NOT classified as an antique if it fires ammunition that is still being manufactured and is therefore readily available through commercial channels (so a .22 “suicide special” would not be an antique under Michigan law even if it was made in 1887, for example, since .22 rimfire ammunition that can be fired from the gun is still being made). Never mind the Socialist Republic of New Jersey, where Revolutionary War reenactors can’t even use the FLINTLOCK pistols our founding fathers would have been familiar with, no matter when or where they were made… >:( )

        • OK, thanks. I thought it was something like that, seems like a C96 that was made in 1897 or 1898 would qualify then.

          • The only C96 pistols that would qualify as antiques under federal law would be the ones known to collectors as the “cone-hammer” models (the hammers, instead of having a “ring” like a 1911 “Commander” hammer, have a series of steps milled in each side that form a cone shape). All “cone-hammer” Mausers were made before 1899, including (I believe) the Persian contract models.

      • No, but Canadian laws are just as retarded in their own way – no snub-nosed pistols/revolvers allowed (minimum barrel length required); a black powder revolver, even an original from the 1860’s, is treated the same as a modern firearm; in fact, ANY caplock muzzle-loader, no matter how old, is treated as “modern” (flintlock long guns are unrestricted, from what i have been told). Just as bad as the Socialist Republic of New Jersey, in other words.

  3. Just curious, is this an NFA item with stock attached, or is there some kind of antique exemption to that law?

      • Sometimes. Maybe. The ATF has reversed itself a half dozen times on this over the years (on whether both original or reproduction or both stocks are exempt)

    • The situation way back when I was Class 1 was that in order to attach a holster stock to the C96 it had to be an original holster stock, not a modern reproduction. Same thing went for the slotted tangent Canadian Hi-Power.

      There were lots of repro stocks for Broomhandles, Hi-Powers, and even one for the 1911 called a “Lebanese board stock”. They all made an un-registered SBR unless you had a 16″ barrel (which looked really awkward on the 1911 :-).

  4. It is classified as a “curio and relic” IF you have an ORIGINAL shoulder stock of the type that was meant to go with the gun (a Bolo stock with a Bolo pistol, full-length stock with a full-length pistol, in other words). From what I understand, if you have a Chinese (or other) replica stock with the gun, I believe you have to either (a) discard the stock’s attaching iron and only use it as a holster, or (b) register it as an NFA weapon (not sure if it would be AOW or SBR, though). Stupid, because what sort of criminal is likely to use a Mauser C96 to do his or her dirty work? But nobody said the NFA ever made any sense. I’d love to get an original stock for my 1921-manufactured Bolo, but those stocks are rare and expensive. Oh, well. It’s fun to shoot as-is! 🙂

  5. Well, I guess my inner nerd will show, but I still call it the DL-44 on occasion and the Sterling SMG is of course the E-11 blaster. I watched a really neat video of Adam Savage from mythbusters modding one of the super detailed metal models into the movie prop.

    Definitely on my bucket list of things to shoot.

  6. I’ve got a milling machine, an old broom, and a chunk of iron, do you suppose I could make one of those “bad ass” looking Mauser’s?

    • Why not – the Chinese and Khyber Pass “gunsmiths” did it on a regular basis for years, though some were better than others…

  7. Was lucky enough recently to pick up a 1930’s vintage C96 in 7.63x25mm, in VG condition. Very pleasant and enjoyable to shoot, not too bad on accuracy. Finding ammo is a bit of a trick, though, but very glad to get one of my “bucket list” guns!

    • I got Prvi Partizan ammo from AIM Surplus, but I think they are currently out of stock on those. Save your empties, buy some reloading equipment, and make some hard-cast lead bullets!

      By the by, the 7.63 x 25 was the high-velocity king of handgun cartridges until the .357 magnum came out in 1936. The Soviet Union copied the cartridge (the Bolsheviks loved the “compact” version of the C96, which is where that version earned the “Bolo” sobriquet) with minor changes and called it the 7.62 x 25 Tokarev. Later, the Tokarev specs were upped, so DO NOT fire Tokarev ammo in a Mauser! You can, however, reload Tokarev brass to Mauser specs and use it in a Mauser, and fire Mauser ammo in a Tokarev pistol.

      • AND if you want to see one in action for a whole movie catch “Black Caesar” starring Fred “the Hammer” Williamson. I caught this blaxploitation gem the other day and couldn’t believe my eyes-he did seem to shoot way more than 7 or 8…Very odd choice for 1972 or3…then again most everyone had a low-capacity 38.

        • Clint Eastwood also uses one to good effect in “Joe Kidd”, after taking it from one of the bad guys.

        • Back in the 70s I saw an episode of the short-lived TV cop series “Toma”, Toma and a bad guy were facing off, each one standing behind his car, both pretending to be just regular guys. Toma had a .38 snubbie , the BG had one of those Mausers, guess the producers felt like it looked like an especially powerful and evil weapon.

      • Back in the iron curtain days I had a Tokarev. Finding the actual russian ammo was mostly impossible. This was pre internet days and I just got lucky and stumbled on a gun shop guy that knew you could use the mauser ammo in it.

        Mauser ammo was 3x what .38 ammo was but I could at least shoot the pistol.

  8. The ultimate Victorian era pistol. Winston Churchill carried one and put down a bunch of Fuzzy-Wuzzies when he served with the 21st Lancers. That was back in the day when officers were expected to show up to fight at their own expense. I had the pleasure of shooting WW2 bring back some years ago. Lots of moving parts, not much recoil, and an overwhelming sense of history. The Broomhandle is high on my list of “win the lottery” guns just because of its elegant steampunk look.

  9. I spent a lot of time with the Mauser in Resident Evil 4. That’s about as good as I can do. I know nobody that owns one.

  10. I’ve just finished photographing 600 weapons for an auction event taking place near my home here in Switzerland this coming Saturday (30 April 2016).

    Despite some of the negative comments left here, I’m going to bid on one of the many broomhandles they have on offer. I just find it to be a beautiful piece of fine engineering.

    If anyone’s interested, an auction catalogue can be had here:

    They told me that customers from the US will also be able to bid.

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