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M-30
Revised 2007May7

This variant appeared in 1930, and was the first C-96 to have a real model designation. Mauser called it the Modell 1930 (in English, Model 1930; in French, Modèle 1930; I've yet to see it in Chinese), but the common modern name is the M-30. In my terminology, an M-30 is a particular model of C-96, but be aware that some writers consider them exclusive terms.


M-30
serial # 905268








With the M-30, Mauser dropped the Bolo-sized C-96 for good, and reverted to the standard formula which had dominated throughout the prewar and wartime eras - 10 shot magazine, large grip, long barrel, 1000 meter tangent sight, and grooved walnut grip panels. However the barrel length of the M-30 wasn't the full 140 mm of prewar and wartime guns, but, for no obvious reason, only 132 mm (or about 5 3/16 inches). It later increased to 140 mm. But the shorter barrel length isn't widely recognized today; a gun with a 132 mm barrel is very often assumed to have a 140 mm or 5.5 inch barrel simply because at first glance it obviously doesn't have a Bolo-sized barrel.

Transition

As usual in C-96 history, the transition to the M-30 wasn't entirely straightforward.

During late Postwar Bolo production, in the 730000-740000 serial number range, Mauser made some guns with Postwar Bolo markings (such as the smallest of the Mauser banners on the left side of the frame) and mechanical features (such as the New Safety), but with long barrels, large grips, and 12 groove grip panels like those which would become standard with the M-30.

Breathed & Schroeder, page 142, calls this oddball gun the "Model 1930 Transitional", and Erickson & Pate, page 143, calls it the "Transitional Model 1930". I don't call it a Model 1930 at all, because Mauser didn't. In the section describing the safety, an English-language manual informed customers that -
Model 1930 pistols (distinguished by a factory number over 800,000) are fitted with the improved "Universal" safety lock ...
So, since these anomalous pistols all have serial numbers below 800,000, Mauser apparently didn't consider them to be M-30s.

And they're not transitional - they don't mark a transition from the Bolo, with its short barrel and small grip, to the M-30, with long barrel, large grip, and some simplified features, because after making them, Mauser went back to cranking out standard Bolos. Or so it seems from the serial numbers, as the last Bolos had higher serial numbers than these "transitional" specimens.

I think I'll just call them "pre-M30s" - not a great name, but accurate enough.

M-30 Recognition Features

All M-30s had consistent visual features which made them easily distinguishable from full-sized prewar and wartime guns.
  • "Step barrel". Much smaller than the abrupt step seen on the earliest Cone Hammers, but still obvious.


    "step barrel" on early Cone Hammer
      

    "step barrel" on M-30

    The two barrels shown above are separated by 33 years and nearly 800000 serial numbers, and clearly have nothing to do with each other. The only connection is nominal, as both might be called "step barrels".

  • Simplified grip frame. The earlier "step frame" was abandoned. The C-96 backstrap always had to be wide enough to accommodate the stock attachment hardware. Until the M-30, the frontstrap was cut down much thinner, to save weight. This left a distinct step in the grip frame. Each grip panel was carved with a compensating step. On the M-30, the front- and backstraps were the same thickness, and had far more metal in them all around. The new frame pattern involved considerably less machining, but it increased the weight of the gun. It also mandated changes in the grip panels, so M-30 grip panels and earlier ones can't be interchanged.


    step frame on a Prussian Contract gun
     

    non-step frame on an M-30
    The Helpful Hand indicates the "step" for which the Step Frame is named

  • 12 groove grip panels, not numbered to the gun. Earlier guns had grip panels with far more grooves (the only exceptions being early guns with hard rubber grip panels, and a very few with checkered wood), and serial numbers - usually the full 5 or 6 digits, although partial serials are not uncommon - stamped on the inside. Walnut M-30 grip panels invariably had 12 grooves and no markings. It is possible that a few M-30s had checkered hard rubber grips with the old intertwined "WM" monogram - the situation is uncertain. Slightly murky photos of such a specimen are on the Grips page.

  • Universal Safety. This was the last safety variant to appear on the C-96. It involved changes to the design and machining of the frame, hammer, safety lever, sear, and lock frame. The details are covered on the Safety Variants page.

  • Simplified hammer design. The annular grooves around the hole were eliminated. This is an identification feature for the Universal Safety, since most of the functionality of the Mauser safety was machined into the hammer. Universal Safety hammers always had the simplified through hole, and vice versa.


    Postwar Bolo hammer milled for New Safety [left] vs. M-30 hammer milled for the Universal Safety

  • Mauser banner. The banner mark on the left side of the frame was much like the one on most of the Prewar Bolos, but distinctly larger. There were actually two different banners on M-30s, an early and a late style, but both were larger than the banners on Prewar Bolos. The banner was also stamped into the wood of the holster/stock.


    small banner on
    Postwar Bolo

    larger banner on
    relatively early M-30

    largest banner on
    relatively late M-30

    banner on M-30 stock
     

  • Serial numbers. The serial number was no longer stamped on most components. The full serial number was stamped on the barrel only. A partial (4 digit) serial number was stamped on the frame and lock frame, but the gun had to be field-stripped to see them.


    serial # 881837 sans barrel assembly

    The magazine floorplate also had the 4 digit partial serial number.


    serial # 881837 again

    The holster/stock had no serial numbers at all.

  • Lanyard ring. This pivoted from side-to-side, as on Postwar Bolos, though the attachment lug was slightly longer than on the longest of the Bolo variants, as visible in the photo. The lug was also thicker, as it was the full thickness of the grip frame. The Bolo step frame was an eighth of an inch thinner at that point than the M-30 frame.


    Postwar Bolo # 531752
     

    M-30 # 905268

  • Wrist iron. The internal corners of the holster/stock's wrist iron were squared off, rather than rounded.


    pre-M-30 wrist iron
     

    M-30 wrist iron


M-30 Production Changes

There were further changes spread throughout the M-30 production period. These little details did not all change at the same serial number. So there are perhaps five distinct, albeit minor, variations of the M-30. Here are the variable features, and the serials of some of the guns on which they've been seen.

variation serial # of
sample gun
text rails sight barrel small parts serial #
location
banner
first 832515 vertical, early milled Type c   turquoise chamber second
second 848408 vertical, late milled Type c     chamber second
854572 vertical, late milled Type c 132 mm turquoise chamber second
third 881653 slanted, early smooth Type d 140 mm blue chamber  
fourth 881837 slanted, early smooth Type e 140 mm   chamber second
fifth 916102 slanted, late smooth Type e 140 mm blue sight third
918367 slanted, late smooth Type e 140 mm   sight third
920270 slanted, late smooth Type e 140 mm blue sight  
The labels I use in the table above - first through fifth, vertical, early, milled, etc, are just ones I've assigned for the purposes of this site. These variants are not well documented in the books, so I've had to assign my own names.

The given sample serial numbers are just numbers of typical guns in my database which happen to have these particular features. They are not upper or lower limits for the range of all guns which have those particular features.
  • Text. This is the text on the right side of the frame. There were four known variants. The first, lacking the patent notification marking D.R.P.u.A.P., had text and associated frame milling identical to those on Postwar Bolos. The second had the D.R.P.u.A.P. notification appended. The third had identical text but in a slanted typeface. The fourth had a different slanted typeface. Note also the small variations in the shapes of the milled frame cutouts in the vicinity of the text.


    vertical, early - 832515

    vertical, late - 848408

    slanted, early - 881837

    slanted, late - 918367

    Again, the serial numbers noted below the photos are just guns of which I happen to have decent photos and which illustrate the markings - they are not the lowest or highest serial number guns with those markings.

  • Rails. The two horizontal channels milled out of the rails on each side of the barrel extension, an obvious feature of all previous C-96 pistols (even the Flatsides), were deleted part way through M-30 production.

    Serial # 832515, an M-30 with milled rails


    serial # 916102, an M-30 without

  • Sight. The range graduations on the sight leaf eventually became more regular, losing the earlier hand-engraved look. See the details, and photos of the Type c, d, and e sight leaves, on the Sights page.

  • Barrel. The barrel length increased from 132 mm to the familiar 140 mm.
    serial # 854572 with 132 mm barrel


    serial # 920270 with 140 mm barrel
  • Small parts. Finish of some small parts was simplified.

    Earlier C-96s were invariably blued, with some parts left "white" (that is, no other finish on the bare steel), and others finished in a distinctive and rather cheerful bright blue variously called turquoise blue, fire blue, electric blue, heat blue, etc. "Heat blue" is probably the best name, as it is the oxide formed spontaneously when steel is heated in air. This mix of heat blue and white components was a little flourish commonly seen on Mauser military rifles of that era, as well as Mauser pistols.

    Here is a view of a heat blue trigger on a 1910 Mauser pocket pistol (another gun with a bewildering production history, but I'll leave that for another day).  

    During the M-30 production period, the heat blue finish was dropped, and those parts finished in the same blue as the rest of the gun. White parts were still left white.

  • Serial number location. The M-30's only full 6 digit serial number moved from the chamber flat on the left side of the barrel to the top of the barrel extension, where it was almost hidden behind the sight.

    881837

    918367

  • Banner. The MAUSER banner on the left side of the frame was replaced by a slightly larger one. Here are the first, second and third type banners, as found on Postwar Bolos, earlier M-30s, and later M-30s.


    1st banner - Postwar Bolo, serial # 522022

    2nd banner - earlier M-30, serial # 848408

    3rd banner - later M-30, serial # 918367

Miscellaneous Markings

"Made in Germany"

    A considerable number of M-30s, obviously intended for export, were marked with three Chinese characters on the left side of the magazine well. The characters are very small, no more than 1/8 inch high, and can be difficult to read. Here they are in traditional brush-stroke form -

The two characters on the left together mean "Germany". The one at right is "manufacture".

The characters look like factory etching work, rather than a hasty stamp by an importer. The same characters were sometimes put on Schnellfeuers. Although always the same characters, and always on the left side of the magazine, they are not always in the exact same place. Some are down low, close to the floorplate, but some are up much higher, not far below the rails.

   

Based on observations so far, I'd say that the characters are always down low when on an M-30, but up high when on a Schnellfeuer. Just why Mauser would have done it that way remains a mystery.

Chamber address

The barrel flat directly over the chamber of the M-30 always had the Mauser address. However there were at least two very slightly different screens used on M-30 barrels (if Mauser was, as I believe, using a silkscreen and etching process to engrave the address). More common on early M-30s was an address in a serif font -


serial # 848408

Later on, a screen in a sans-serif font seems to have become more common -


serial # 918367

However, there was considerable overlap between screens, and it's not possible to say that one screen was definitely "early" and the other "late."

Other screens with slightly different fonts were used throughout C-96 production, but the two above are the only ones so far identified on M-30 barrels.

The internal surfaces of the C-96 frame always had multiple clearance and lightening cuts, as did the lock frame and a few other parts. These clearance and lightening cuts changed a bit when the M-30 was introduced, sometimes to clear other part changes - such as the frame modifications needed to accommodate the Universal Safety, as shown on the Safety Variants page - or to simplify production slightly. Other simplifications were introduced over the course of M-30 production. Here is an example, a deleted lightening cut on the underside of the cartridge follower -


M-30 serial # 881837 vs. 918367

The followers aren't numbered, but as both 881837 and 918367 are matching guns, the chances are decent that they have their original followers. The cut visible on 881837 was present on earlier guns at least back to Prewar Commercial days, and probably earlier.

Mainly because of the extra metal in the barrel and grip frame, the M-30 was some 2.5 ounces heavier than the earlier full-size guns.


M-30 with later 140 mm barrel vs. Prewar Commercial

It may be imagination, but to me the M-30 does seem to feel heavier and slightly clumsier than, say, the Prewar Commercial. And I miss all the serial numbers which decorated the earlier guns.

Contracts

There were no known contracts for the M-30. All sales were through commercial channels.

There are a very small number of known specimens (two or three) with a mystery marking on the left side of the frame, in place of the MAUSER banner. Just what they were isn't at all clear. They have been called a "Turkish contract" - a poor name, as it doesn't distinguish them from the Turkish contract of the Cone Hammer Days - but there's no real reason to think they have anything to do with Turkey. See more on the Contracts page [under construction].

The End

Despite the blizzard of minor variations documented on this site, the C-96 suffered few major changes in thirty years. Most of the parts can be swapped between guns separated by 800,000 or 900,000 serial numbers, and they will still work. Thirty years is a long time to be making any gun. By the 1930s, I imagine nobody working at Mauser remembered a time when the C-96 wasn't in production (except for those few years right after World War 1 when nobody was making much of anything).

But all good things end. Berger, page 38, offers the interesting hypothesis that the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 cut off access to Mauser's biggest customer, and therefore encouraged Mauser to finally shut down the C-96 production line. Berger further states,
Mauser records show that the last Model 1930 pistols manufactured consisted of 30,000 pistols made in 1937.
Just what records those might be, though, is left unstated. When it comes to the C-96, I don't believe anything until I see it myself. But I do like the theory about the Second Sino-Japanese War. The war started with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in June and July of 1937, and ended with the general defeat and occupation of Japan in 1945.

So, what was the highest serial number C-96 produced? Although a number of considerable interest, as it would fix the number of M-30s made in total, it remains unknown. I own serial number 918367, which must be pretty close to the end. The highest number I've seen is 920270. Breathed & Schroeder, page 146, reports 921075 as the highest serial number noted on an M-30. For now, that will have to do. So since M-30 serial numbers ran from 800000 to at least 921075, we can figure on something over 121,000 made.


Getting close to the end .... serial # 918367






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