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Mauser Shoulder Stock / Holster
Revised 2006Dec24

All contemporary dealer's catalogs [under construction] I've seen list the C-96 complete with a stock. I'd say about 40 percent of the guns on the collector market are still accompanied by their original stocks (though undoubtedly some fraction of those "originals" are fakes). It seems that the strange curved grips of the "Officer's Model" [under construction], an early experiment with smaller grips, were missing the milled slot to attach a stock, as were a few one-offs, trials guns, and experimentals. All other guns had grip frames slotted for holster/stocks.


1916 Prussian Contract # 9111 with some "custom" holes in the stock

Mauser stocks were always hollow shoulder stock/holster combinations. In those days, a somewhat more common design was the board stock with attached leather holster, of the type supplied with the 1894 Borchardt and the Prussian Navy Lugers, the 1914 "Artillery" Lugers, an occasional Finnish or Swedish Lahti, and some FN-made High Powers.


Borchardt "carbine-pistol" circa 1894

None of that for Mauser, though - wraparound blocks of wood only. The only other gun I've seen with a similar stock was the copy of the High Power which John Inglis made for China in the early 1940s.

With very few exceptions, Mauser stocks were all of a muchness throughout the entire production period - there was only detail variation. Here is a quick guide to most of the changes -


  1 Stock/holsters for the 1899 Italian Contract guns didn't fit this pattern - they had serial numbers from 1 to 5000 or so.
  2 Similarly, stock/holsters for the first 99 guns of the 1916 Prussian contract didn't have 3 digit serials.
  3 A question mark "?" means that an assertion in the books has not yet been verified by observation - in other words, it's a
     matter of continuing research.

And now for the details.

WOOD

Stock wood was always walnut with what appears to be an oil finish, much like any decent rifle stock of the period. However the woodwork on the C-96 stock was nothing to get excited about - definitely not up to the standard of the early 20th century's better work. The inletting around the hinge was always slapdash -


M-30

- and the interior wasn't finished at all.


Large Ring Hammer Flatside # 24118

On the other hand, original Mauser wood is a pretty decent fit around the grip of a holstered gun -


Cone Hammer # 4696

Overall size & shape

The basic stock for a gun with a ten shot magazine just about always looked much like this -



Large Ring Hammer # 30883

Stocks for Cone Hammers with 20 shot magazines were much taller, to accommodate the longer magazine. (Sorry, no photo, as I've never seen a holster/stock for a 20 shot gun).

However, stocks for 6 shot guns were not any smaller than those for 10 shot guns.

I've seen only one 6 shot Cone Hammer with her correct stock, and here she is -


6 shot Cone Hammer # 14370

Although, like nearly all 6 shot Cone Hammers, this gun has a shorter (4.75 inch) barrel, the stock is of standard length (the same length as stocks for 5.5 inch barrel guns). All Cone Hammers, of whatever barrel length, had standard-length stocks. The only C-96 variants with shorter stocks were Prewar Bolos, and those were all either Large Ring Hammers or Small Ring Hammers.

Bolo stocks

Some Bolos had short stocks, while others had full-size, standard-length stocks.

Prewar Bolos, either Large Ring Hammers or Small Ring Hammers, had short stocks. Postwar Bolos had standard-length stocks. Although of standard outside length, Postwar Bolo stocks had different internal milling, to fit the shorter (3.9 inch) Bolo barrels, and to fit around the smaller Bolo grips. A Bolo stock can be used as a stock for a full-size gun (as the grip slot and wrist iron are the same), but it can't be used as a holster for a full-size gun, as neither the internal cuts in the body or the lid of the Bolo holster are big enough.

This is sensible from a historical perspective, as prewar Bolos were experiments by Mauser to see if more compact versions of the C-96 might be better sellers, and there's little point to putting a small gun in a big holster. But the factory made postwar Bolos because the Allied commissioners forced it to. The commissioners apparently had little to say about holsters.


Prewar Bolo # 40543


Postwar Bolo # 430773


Lid evolution

The inside of the lid was routed to clear the back of the frame and lock frame, the grip, the hammer, and the end of the safety lever. So it changed for Bolos (because of the smaller grip), Larger Ring Hammers (because of the larger hammer size), and safety - the First type safety, the Second type and New Safeties, and the Universal Safety each required changes in the woodwork of the lid. In all incarnations, Mauser always arranged things so that the lid could be closed on a gun no matter which position the safety was in.

The lid of Cone Hammer stocks had a wide relief to clear the lever of the First type safety when it was in either the "on" (down - safety engaged) or "off" (up - safety released or disengaged) positions.


Cone Hammer # 46963

The Large Ring Hammer had the same safety mechanism as the Cone Hammer, so the wide notch for the safety lever was the same. But a clearance cut was added for the much larger hammer.


Large Ring Hammer # 24118

The "on" and "off" positions of the First type safety were quite close together, and could be accommodated by one large notch. Those positions were much further apart on the Second type safety and New Safety, and Mauser cut two separate clearance notches for them. Since all guns with these two safeties had Small Ring Hammers, which were much shorter than Large Ring Hammers, the extra clearance cut for the hammer was deleted.


Prewar Commercial # 105431

Note that one clearance notch for the safety lever was cut much deeper than the other -


This deeper cut was needed because the lever of the Second type and New Safety stuck out much further than the lever of the First type safety when in the down (or "on") position. Here at left is a Cone Hammer with its First type safety down (or "on") and, at right, a Second type safety on a Small Ring Hammer in the down (or "off") position.

   

Customers must have had occasional difficulty closing the lid - clearances were doubtless inadequate, as the gun was not located very precisely in the holster (and a good thing too, or it would be too tight to pull out without a strain). Mauser soon modified the deeper of the two notches, making it noticeably wider.


And sometime after that, Mauser realized that the wider notch left a fragile piece of wood in between the two cutouts, which contributed nothing to the strength of the stock. So it was deleted by combining the two clearance notches into a single wide relief cut. This was much wider than the single relief cut first seen on Cone Hammer and Large Ring Hammer lids. Since the safety lever still needed extra clearance when down or "off", a separate relief was added where the previous deeper notch had been.


The safety lever of the Universal Safety didn't extend so far from the back of the gun. Here, the lever of a Second type safety on a Prewar Commercial, which is exactly the same size as the lever of the New Safety, is shown (at left) in comparison with a Universal Safety on an M-30.

   

So when Mauser switched production to the M-30, the extra-depth relief cut wasn't needed.



As with anything made of wood, some are naturally fancier than others. Here's perhaps the most garish C-96 stock I've seen to date; nice grain with a bit of fiddleback or tiger stripe. This was on a Postwar Bolo which was heavily engraved, and it is possible that the stock isn't an original unaltered factory piece.


Postwar Bolo # 603015

Some C-96 stocks appear to a casual glance to be made of mahogany, birch or beech, or even oak, and they are sometimes described as such by overheated sellers on the auction sites. If I ever examine an original Mauser stock which turns out to be anything but walnut, I'll  eat my hat  switch to Lugers.
 
HARDWARE

All metal hardware was blued.

Hinges were always attached with pan-head bolts. Pan heads (that's their American name) aren't as dome-like as round heads. The inside ends were screwed into round nut plates in the body of the stock -


Cone Hammer # 1182

- as well as into the lid.


Large Ring Hammer # 24118

That prominent flat loop was always present on the hinges, the only exception being the 1916 Prussian contract.
Erickson & Pate, page 97, claims that "all wartime stocks, whether for a 7.63mm or 9mm, have no attaching loops on the lid hinge plate." My own database doesn't really confirm that yet, so it's another object for further research. The obvious problem is that Wartime, as in "Wartime Commercial", doesn't coincide with wartime, as in, August 1914 to November 1918. So was the omission of the loop a "wartime expedient" - perhaps the government seized all German stocks of heavy wire on the outbreak of the war, as a speculative example - or was it a change confined to "Wartime" guns, the Wartime Commercial and the Prussian Contract?
   
               Cone Hammer # 1182                                                                1916 Prussian Contract # unknown

The latch was a simple device. This one is a Chinese repro, a bit too long overall but it's the right idea -


The latch was always attached with a plain screw through a hole counterbored into the wood. The pushbutton hole was countersunk to leave room for a fingertip. The countersink profile was hemispherical, rather than conical. The checkering pattern on the button was always aligned as shown.


Prewar Commercial # 105431

Sometimes the checkering pattern appears at an angle. This is a clue indicating a modern replacement latch or stock. The attaching screw on repros tends to be incorrect, too - it's either an oversized flathead, as here, or an undersized round head (and doubtless others I have yet to see).


modern reproduction

Later M-30 and Schnellfeuer stocks deleted the checkering on the button, substituting this target-like pattern -


The lid latchplate was another simple part. Later examples had more rounded corners, obviously to avoid menacing the gun with sharp edges.


1916 Prussian Contract

The lid always had a steel leaf spring. This kept the gun from rattling around, and popped the lid partially open when the latch was released. The spring was always squarish on the end, recurved upward a bit so that it wouldn't dig into the wood. The lid had a shallow slot routed into the wood under the free end of the spring, to keep the spring aligned. Very late stocks may be missing this slot - the situation is at present obscure.


Large Ring Hammer # 24118

The spring was attached to the lid with a round head screw.


Cone Hammer # 1182

The wrist iron was screwed onto the end of the stock. It fit the slot in the grip frame, but didn't make for a terribly secure joint - there's always a bit of wobble there.

There were no design changes to the wrist iron until the M-30. Here are some closeups of Cone Hammer number 4696.

   
typical slotted grip frame                                                     together, at long last                      


top view of the business end


bottom view


slightly different view of the latch

One end of the latch formed a cantilever spring which was attached (probably welded, but I haven't taken one apart yet to see) to the end of the iron. The tip is visible here, circled in the photo of the stock for a Prussian Contract gun -


The inside corners (where the wood joins) lost those nice rounded curves with the introduction of the M-30. Here are some M-30 wrist irons. Note the greatly decreased radii near the arrows.





MARKINGS

Until 1930, stocks were numbered to their guns. The early stocks had their full serial numbers stamped on their hinges.


Cone Hammer # 1685

Somewhere around gun #2000, the stock serial number moved to the top of the wrist iron.


Cone Hammer # 2133

When gun serials reached five digits, all five were stamped on the wrist iron.


6 shot Cone Hammer # 14370

5 digit serials on the wrist iron persisted through large ring hammer production. At the start of the Stable Production Period, Mauser began stamping the wrist irons with 3 digit serials, rather than the full 5 (or, later, 6) digits.

   
Prewar Commercial # 52297                Prewar Commercial # 105431

This practice persisted until the introduction of the M-30, at which point all serial numbers on stocks were dropped.

All M-30 stocks were stamped with a "MAUSER" banner. This stamp was invariably in the wood on the hinge side of the stock, and showed right-side up when the stock was attached to the gun and held in firing position.
Erickson & Pate, page 122, claims that a MAUSER banner was added to the stock at the same time that the banner was added to the gun (the Postwar Bolo) at somewhere around serial number 510000. I have not been able to confirm this with my own observations - not enough Postwar Bolo stocks in the database yet.

M-30 # 920270


closeup of another M-30 stock

Some stocks meant for export to the USA were stamped MADE IN GERMANY. Here is a postwar Bolo, serial number 430773, with this stamp on the lid of the stock. The right-hand grip panel was also stamped. This particular gun has some other strange features (possibly parts taken from other guns), and may be very atypical.





The only other factory markings commonly seen on stocks are cryptic pencil scrawls on the inside of the lid. These have no known significance.

COPIES OF MAUSER STOCKS

Stocks for the C-96 have come out of various factories in Germany, Italy, Spain, China, and doubtless others. They were basically copies of the original Mauser design, and were faithful to a greater or lesser degree. Japanese stocks have been appearing lately, but they are for replica and AirSoft guns.

The only copies I've examined are Chinese. Here are comparison views of one of a large batch of Chinese stocks which came into the US around 1990. As a repro, well, it's the right idea, but there are numerous errors. For one thing, the Chinese have an annoying habit of slobbering heavy coats of varnish all over their wood. I've removed the varnish from this particular specimen.


Wartime Commercial # 367444


M-30 in Chinese repro stock

The Chinese wood is too squarish - the corners should be much more rounded. The interior routing isn't quite right, though it's fairly close. In the lid, the clearance notch for the safety knob is in the wrong place, and there should be two of them, not one. The spring is in the wrong place and is attached with a flat head screw, rather than the correct round head. The latchplate looks pretty good, though.


Prewar Commercial

modern Chinese
The exact point at which original Mauser stocks widen out varies a bit - however, the curve of the transition is always more abrupt than the curve on this Chinese stock. The finger tab for the Chinese stock iron latch is in the wrong position.


M-30

modern Chinese
The hinge is too small and the wrong shape. The screws are flat heads, rather then the correct round heads. The edges of what would be the buttplate (if these stock had buttplates) are too rounded-off in the Chinese version.


Cone Hammer

modern Chinese
Yes, those edges on the "buttplate" of the lid are 'way too rounded. Looking at the hole for the butt of the pistol, on the Mauser original the stock and the lid look like they're supposed to go together; not so on the Chinese one.


1916 Prussian Contract

modern Chinese
The Chinese wrist iron is crudely finished. The wood inletting is poor. The screw attaching it to the wood is the wrong size. The wood is too thick and clunky. (However the shape isn't all that bad, though it looks more like the wrist iron on the M-30 stock - someday I'll get some photos.)


unknown

modern Chinese
On the other side of the stock iron, the wood is still too thick and clunky, the inletting is poor, and the screw head is wrong.






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