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Book Review: Paul Mauser – His Life, Company, and Handgun Development 1838 – 1914

From the Authors:
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The new book on Paul Mauser from Mauro Baudino and Gerben van Vlimmeren is an excellent exploration through the labyrinthine corners of the Mauser Archives. Written with an assumption that the audience will already have a reasonable working knowledge of the main Mauser firearms from Paul Mauser’s lifetime, this 586-page volume is a look behind the curtain of Mauser’s private life.

The Mauser Archives are not a formal archive, so much as simply a massive collection of personal and company documents that have been saved from destruction my a number of interested parties. They include diaries, notes on scrap papers, technical drawings, and corporate ledgers books of various types (and more). The information within this archive is often difficult to discern, as it small notes can be meaningless when seen alone, but quite significant when placed in proper context. This book is the distilled results of years of study of the Archives, and as such it includes a great deal of interesting and previously unknown information. The subjects covered include:

– Paul and Wilhelm’s relationship with each other
– Bergmann’s claims of betrayal
– The cancelled Mexican C96 contract
– C96 safety issues with the German military during WWI
– Mauser’s avoidance of Versailles regulations in the 1920s
– Mauser’s relationship with Luger, Schwarzlose, Borchardt, and others

And much more. The C96 handgun is the single greatest focus of the book, although all of Mauser’s other work is discussed, including the C77, 1878 revolver, all bolt action rifle iterations, the C06/08, the 1909 family of handguns, and a few of the self-loading rifle prototypes. It is the self-loading rifles that are least discussed, as the authors are (by their own explanation) much more knowledgable on the handguns that Mauser produced than the rifles.

The layout of the book does leave something to be desired, as it is quite simplistic. More effort by the editor or publisher to give some style and variety to the pages would have made it a more attractive book, although the text itself I found to be engaging and well written. For those who are interested in learning about Mauser in depth, this is an indispensable work.

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