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French Gendarmerie C96: A German Pistol for the Occupation

This is lot #579 in the upcoming RIA Premier Auction. It was scheduled for April, but has been postponed – check their web site for upcoming Online Only auctions every month, though!

In the immediate aftermath of World War One, it appears that the French government purchased 2,000 Mauser C96 pistols for use by occupation forces who were to be stationed in Germany. While the direct link to the French military is missing, a sale of 2,000 C96 pistols through German dealer Albrecht Kind is documented, and we know that French Gendarmerie did use the C96 in the occupation.

The guns that are identified as making up this purchase are in the 430,000-434,000 serial number range, produced right at the end of the war or just after. They are 7.63mm guns with 100mm (3.9 inch) barrels, and distinctive hard rubber grips with an intertwined “WM” logo. Many have a commercial export “Germany” stamp on the receiver, as the purchase was taken from existing stocks and not made to order for the French. The rear sights are 500m sights left over from Prussian Red 9 production, and the shoulder stocks were similarly leftovers – oak stock made for full-length barrels, without lanyard rings.

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