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Mauser C98: The System That Cost Paul Mauser an Eye

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One of Paul Mauser’s lifelong projects was the design of a semiautomatic rifle for the German military. He would go through a multitude of different designs searching for something that would be sufficiently reliable, durable, and simple – and ultimately he would never fulfill the goal. But his efforts left us a trail of very interesting prototypes!

In 1898 he conceived this sort of flapper-locked system, on a short recoil action. It is actually a pretty clever system mechanically, but apparently lacked sufficient protection against an out of battery detonation. In 1901, one of the C98 rifles of this pattern (but not this specific gun) suffered an out of battery detonation while Mauser was firing it, and the explosion broke his finger and took his left eye. After this experience, Mauser would not give up on his search for a military selfloader, but his subsequent designs (like the long-recoil C02 pattern) would have a much greater emphasis on mechanical safety.

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