Texas Ranger Wonder Gun: Broomhandle Mauser C96

Among aficionados of Previous West firearms the handgun that first pops to thoughts is the .45-caliber Colt Single Motion Military (aka “Peacemaker”), or maybe the Colt 1851 Navy, adopted by a bunch of percussion and cartridge revolvers from a rating of American producers. By the flip of the Twentieth century, nonetheless, foreign-made revolvers had additionally made their mark within the states and territories west of the Missouri. Notable amongst them have been Britain’s double- and single-action Webleys and ubiquitous Belgian-made copies of the double-action British Bulldog. For a time such handguns gave their pricier, heavier counterparts — the Colts, Smith & Wessons, Merwin & Hulberts, and so on. — a run for his or her cash.

One other contender of notice usually goes neglected, maybe as a result of it wasn’t launched till 1896 and didn’t hit the U.S. market till 1901. However the self-loading, semiautomatic Mauser C96 pistol charges as considered one of historical past’s really iconic firearms.


Brothers Fidel, Friedrich and Josef Feederle designed the C96 (Construktion 96) for his or her employer, Mauser, of Oberndorf am Neckar, Germany, although founder Peter Paul Mauser patented the pistol in his identify solely. Via 1937 the corporate turned out greater than 1 million C96s.

The self-loading, semiautomatic Mauser C96 pistol’s distinctive wood grips impressed its “Broomhandle” nickname. Its wood holster doubled as a removable shoulder inventory. Debuting in Germany in 1896, the C96 hit the curious U.S. market 5 years later. (Jude Steele)

Chambered for the high-velocity 7.63×25 mm (.30-caliber) Mauser cartridge, the 10-shot pistol options an inner field journal simply ahead of an integral set off guard. The cartridges slot in 10-round stripper clips one inserts from the highest of the journal, enabling virtually instantaneous loading. The distinctive design of its fluted wood grips earned the C96 the nickname “Broomhandle.”

MUst-Have in Europe

Famous for its lengthy vary and deep penetration, the C96 grew to become a must have weapon for a lot of European officers, together with a younger Winston Churchill. He used a Broomhandle to telling impact in opposition to the Dervish “Fuzzy-Wuzzies” in Sudan in 1898, then in opposition to the Boers in South Africa the next yr. Most Spanish officers (and a handful of Individuals) carried the C96 in the course of the 1898 Spanish-American Warfare. In the end, officers within the army forces of three continents carried these pistols into Twentieth-century conflicts. Later variations have been chambered in 9 mm Luger and .45 ACP, and copies have been produced underneath license in addition to pirated within the latter caliber in China and different international locations.

Turn of the century print ad for the Broomhandle Mauser C96
The New York–based mostly German-American agency Von Lengerke & Detmold was among the many main importers of the Broomhandle.

By 1901 Mauser was exporting the C96 to a prepared, albeit curious, buyer base in america. One of many main importers was the German-American agency Von Lengerke & Detmold of New York Metropolis. Among the many earliest adverts for the pistol appeared within the January 1902 challenge of Capturing and Fishing. Geared to the searching, self-defense and common sporting crowd, the C96 was by no means a reasonable arm, nor have been its equipment and ammunition. Whereas Colt quickly made a splash with its M1902 and M1903 semiautomatic pistols, the Mauser and its fellow German entrant the Luger (produced till 1943) made dents within the American market.

WINNINg Over the West

Out there with a removable wood shoulder inventory that doubled as a holster, the rapid-firing C96 quickly caught the eye of Western lawmen. An optionally available set of straps allowed the pistol to be carried as a shoulder rig, which appealed to officers on horseback, who didn’t like having a pistol flapping about on their waist when within the saddle. A number of Texas Rangers purchased the brand new foreign-made surprise gun. A photograph taken round 1902 in Brownsville, Texas, reveals Captain J. Abijah Brooks of Firm A posing along with his Mauser C96, full with shoulder inventory, beside seven of his Rangers, all of whom carry Colt Single Motion Military revolvers and Winchester rifles. One other interval picture captures the sheriff and three deputies of Anadarko County, Oklahoma Territory. Displayed prominently atop the deputies’ stacked rifles and six-shooters is the proud sheriff’s Broomhandle Mauser.

By these sundown years of the Previous West, lawmen, outlaws and most people had growing entry to extra refined arms designs. The Mauser stood out, not just for its design but additionally for its effectivity. Actually, many regarded them as the best factor to come back alongside since denim denims. There have been these, nonetheless, who thought of them costly novelties.


A formidable weapon, the Mauser C96 almost definitely made an look in post-1900 gunfights in the actual West. Its intimidating appears additionally garnered the Broomhandle roles within the “reel West.” One of many German variations chewed up the surroundings (and a number of other unhealthy guys) within the 1972 movie “Joe Kidd.” In that Western Clint Eastwood’s title character carries a Single Motion Military as his main weapon, whereas the Mauser belongs to New Mexican mercenary Lamarr Simms (portrayed by Don Stroud). Later within the movie, as he evades a posse, Kidd will get maintain of the C96 and fires some 30 rounds from its 10-round journal earlier than it locks empty. (No common Joe, certainly.) In 2015 the prop Mauser from that movie, inventory included, fetched simply north of $1,800 on eBay. Within the 1963 James Bond spy thriller “From Russia With Love,” the murderer performed by Robert Shaw makes use of a C96.

In fact, because the Mauser got here in so late within the recreation, it was by no means a contender for the title “The Gun That Received the West.” Had it been round within the 1870s and ’80s, one may argue the West might have been “gained” a lot sooner. WW