Considering China did not have ability to design cartridge by themselves, Mauser/DWM would be the best company to design a 6.8 m/m caliber rifle cartridge pre the requirements of China. I did not find any documents showing communication between China government and Mauser company about design work of 6.8 cartridge.
Several Mauser/DWM drawings provide a little information. DWM drawing Number 2188 dated Sep 26th 1906 is the earliest drawing showing Chinese cartridge in 7m/m. DWM or Mauser company designed four variants of Chinese cartridge as shown below.
DWM Case Number
|DWN Projectile Number|
|6.8×57 m/m pointed||DWM511A||DWM253K（9.1g）|
|6.8×60 m/m pointed||DWM511B||DWM253K（9.1g）|
|6.8×60 m/m rounded||DWM511C|
|Wood practice ammo||DWM511D/E|
Chinese 6.8 m/m cartridge case was based on 7.9 Mauser which has same base dimension as 6.8 m/m. 60 m/m case has longer neck than 57 m/m case, but I have no idea what’s the purpose of it, probably for a better support of bullet seat or higher tolerance? From above chart, I do not know if there’s a 57 m/m case fitted with round bullet. Chinese bought round bullet cartridges for Mod.07 rifle and pointed bullet cartridge for Maxim machine gun in 1909 contract. Besides, both round projectile and pointed projectile cartridges were produced by Chinese Arsenals. Mauser must provided all specimen to Chinese because in 1910 Hanyang Arsenal consulted War Department that “Which one should we produce as the 6.8 cartridge has different patterns?”. From some Chinese archives of ammunition data and cartridges samples, I think China adopted 6.8×57 m/m as standard cartridge which also shown on a special Mauser booklet.
Besides China and DWM, FN and Austria George Roth Company also produced 6.8 Chinese cartridges.
Chinese 6.8 caliber rifle contract was an open competition. In my knowledge, I surmise that it was likely Chinese Minister in Germany contacted some companies and received several responses from the potential contenders that were interested in it. In the final Mauser, Haenel and Steyr submitted their own sample.
Haenel’s submission is a modified commercial Gew 88 rifle. G88(H) changed from Mannlicher magazine to Mauser double stack internal magazine. Adding a slot on the bridge in order to use stripper clip. A gas shield was added to cocking piece. The bolt was modified to have a guide rib under the position of bolt handle which also acts as safety lug. Receiver wall marked with MOD 07 6.8m/m. In some resources, 200 Haenel G88(H) was produced and most of them were ended up providing to German Army during the Great War. Today we still can find some samples exist.
I do not have enough information of Mannlicher submission. Somebody told me there’s one sample in Aberdeen Proving Ground museum. The receiver wall marked “Modell 1906”.
Mauser provided Modell 1904 commercial rifle. China bought a small quantity of Mod.1904 before adopting Mod.07. Chinese tested Mod.1903 in 1903 which placed in the second. They were familiar with its design and clearly known that “all Mauser rifles made before 1910 are variants of Mauser Mod.98.”
Chinese rifle designated by Mauser Company as Modell 1907 which bases on Mod.1904 but some details are close to Turkish Mod.1903. It has a long cocking piece just like Turkish Mod.03 which is 5mm longer than ordinary Mod.98 cocking piece. A full length hand guard. Mauser 1902 patent flat tangent sight. Tear drop shape bolt handle. T type short bayonet lug.
On top of the mass production rifles marked with:
Some samples have year date under the bottom line. Such as the undelivered 1913 contract.
Markings on the left wall from ring to bridge are:
crowned B&U commercial proof marks, serial number, Mod.1907
No other unique markings on the rifle differentiate from other Mod.04 commercial rifles.
There are two barrel length exist. One is longer 782 m/m barrel as request of Chinese Government, another one is more common 740 m/m barrel. Chinese received both samples and dislike the longer one so dropped it in mass production. I believe not much information from Mauser archives can tell us details about the longer barrel. Jon Speed did not know about it and a Chinese collector I personally know provided him with Chinese resources telling the origin of this longer barrel. I will discuss details of barrel length in the fourth part domestic production.
Between 1907 and 1913 Chinese ordered in total 24600 rifles and 1500 cavalry carbines along with a very small number of reference samples.
Because of the awkward situation of Qing Government, these rifles were purchased by local Governors-General instead of a central government department.
- Mauser sold 3300 Mod.07 rifle in Cal 7m/m to China in 1907
- Mauser sold 3000 rifles, 3300 rifles and 450 cavalry carbines in Cal 6.8m/m in 1908 to China
These rifles and carbines were purchased by Governors-General of Yun’Gui, XiLiang, in 1908 to arm his newly formed Army 19th Division. He firstly ordered 3000 rifles and 450 carbines along with 3.45 million round bullet in 6.8 m/m Cal. Then singed another contract to purchase 3300 rifles with 3.3 million round bullet cartridges and 12 Maxim guns in 6.8 m/m Cal with 1 million pointed bullet cartridges. I am still working on reading archives now so I will supplement more details of this contract later.
- Mauser sold 1050 Mod.1907 cavalry carbines to China in 1909
- Mauser sold 3000 Mod.1907 rifles to China in 1910
Based on the information I have, I believe this contract also purchase by XiLiang, but as Governors-General of DongSanSheng in 1910. XiLiang singed a contract with Carlowitz&Co to purchased 3000 rifles in 6.8 Cal made by Loewe. (Chinese often use Loewe to indicate DWM). This contract was believed delivered because right after the revolution broke out in 1911, he reported DongSansheng had 3000 German made 6.8 cal rifles in deposit. Until 1931 Japanese occupation Mukden Asrenal had 286 6.8 Cal Mauser rifles and 1.3 million cartridges. Unfortunately, XiLiang’s telegram to Ministry of War was not dated. I need more time to discover details.
- Mauser sold 12000 Mod.1907 rifles to China in 1913
This contract was singed in June 1913 and never been delivered because of the Great war declared. This contract singed by Carlowitz&Co, but no idea who ordered these rifles. The original copy of contract still exists today. Mauser archives show these rifles were rechambered to 7.9 m/m and issued to German Army in 1914. These are the most common Chinese contract Mod.07 rifle we can have in America today. Some Chinese said why the rifles not delivered because of Qing Government cannot pay for it. Well, these people have no idea when the contract was singed. Qing’s regime collapsed in Feb 1912.
I do have another document shows Guangdong purchased 4000 Mod.07 rifles in 1910 but I cannot tell its Authenticity, I mean if the contract was signed or it’s just a plan.