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Mauser WW1 Flyer’s Rifle: the Flieger Selbstlader Karabiner 1916

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Paul Mauser dedicated much of his life to the development of a practical semiauto military rifle, and did manage to have a design that was used in combat by Germany in World War One. It began with the model 06/08, a short-recoil, flap-locked design made in both rifle and pistol form. The short recoil idea was disliked by the military for a shoulder rifle, and so Mauser redesigned it to be inertially locked with a fixed barrel. This was sold in small numbers as a sporting rifle, and tested by the military a few years before the war. Once war began, Mauser once again submitted the design for use in an infantry configuration, but the system was too delicate for infantry combat. A second pattern was made for use by fliers, and this was accepted and used in service for that brief period between the introduction of military aviation and the adoption of aerial machine guns.

Designated the FSK-16 (FliegerSelbstladeKarabiner 1916), it was used primarily by balloon and Zeppelin crews. With a large magazine and self-loading action, it was much better for use in aircraft than the typical bolt action infantry rifles – and there was no mud to get into the action while airborne.

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