Our investigation into the Ottoman Mauser 1903 began sometime after C&Rsenal shared an episode of their widely respected documentary series, which examines the small arms of the First World War, focused on the Ottoman rifle. The video explores the development history of the rifle and how the Ottoman Empire came to adopt it as their standard issue arm. It saw extensive use throughout the Italian-Turkish War (1911-12), the Balkan Wars (1912-13), the First World War (1914-18) and the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1924). In the 1930s many were rechambered to 7.92×57mm.
The Ottoman Mauser 1903s chambered the Belgian 7.65×53mm round, with a 5-round internal magazine it, like other Mauser rifles of the period, fed from 5-round stripper clips. The rifles were just under 50 inches long and weighed just over 9lbs. The Model 1903 was one of a series of Mauser rifles purchased by the Ottoman Empire which included the Model 1890 and the 1893. Many of the rifles were later rechambered in 7.92×57mm.
C&Rsenal were unable to directly translate their example rifle’s roll-mark as it is in the now largely unused Ottoman Turkish, which borrows from both Arabic and Persian. However, thanks to Silah Report’s contributors, Omer S. and Marawan, we have been able to translate the markings.
The inscription is as follows:
سنة – ١٣٢١ Year – 1903/4
اوبرندورف – موزر Oberndorf – Mauser
سلاح فابريقى Weapon Factory
Thanks to Omer’s translation we now know that the rifle was produced in 1903/4 (this is due to the alignment of the Hijri and Gregorian calendars – the former is lunar based and the latter is solar-based) and that its serial number is #29388
The Romanized Turkish translation would be:
“Sana – 1321
ʾūberndūrf – mawzer
Omer was also able to identify the Tughra or Ottoman imperial stamp at the top of the roll-mark, identifying that it belongs to sultan ‘Abdul al-Ḥamīd II, the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, who reigned between 1876-1909.
Fig. 1.4. Another example of Sultan Abdul al-Ḥamīd II’s Tughra (Source)
To see more examples of these Ottoman markings, check out the original page here-