Book Review: History of the Mauser Rifle in Chile, by David Nielsen

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David Nielsen’s newly released book on Chilean Mauser rifles is a tremendous piece of academic work – which is both good and bad. It is 192 pages dedicated to the testing and procurement of the Models 1895, 1912, and 1935 Chilean Model Mauser rifles and carbines (although the focus is much more on the 1895 than the other two). As an academic type of work, it is scrupulously detailed and references, with an extensive bibliography of primary sources. It is also relatively dry, unless one is already particularly interested in the subject matter. I cannot help but think of a comparison to Anthony Vanderlinden’s book on FN Mauser rifles, which is about an equally esoteric topic, but does a tremendous job of drawing the reader into its story. Nielsen’s work has more of the academic feel in which being too expressive is somehow vaguely uncouth.

That being said, this does not in any way detract form the book’s value as a reference to the inside story of Chilean Mauser rifles adoption. It covers the state of the Chilean military (and its associated politics) prior to the arrival of the Mauser, and has a quite detailed account of the Chilean rifle and ammunition trials that eventually led to selection of the 1893 Mauser. The primary source basis for the book also allows wonderful insight into the behind-the-scenes machinations and negotiations between FN, Steyr, and DWM over who would win the Chilean contracts.

A few related topics are covered, like the Chilean 1895 Navy rifles, the conversion to 7.62mm NATO, and the Chilean purchase of embargoed Boer rifles/carbines. There are all dealt with quite briefly compared to the main focus of the book, however (which are the main contracts and rifle patterns). Could this book have been improved by much more and better photography? Yes, absolutely. However, the most important core material for historians is there, and was clearly the focus of the author. At $35 retail (and more like $25 on Amazon as of this writing), the book is a bargain for anyone interested in the subject.

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