Mauser Oberndorf’s Turkish Rifle Contracts and Their Markings

Recently Jon Speed brought up a subject that both interesting and mysterious, the question of how Mauser Oberndorf handled the Turkish rifle contracts. The actual documents relate to the Model 1903 Mauser made for the Turks, but Jon Speed states that the markings were used on earlier contracts, the Model 1887, Model 1890 and Model 1893 made for the Turks.

It is important information for Gewehr98 rifle collectors also, as the marking also have relevance for the rifles Mauser Oberndorf made for Turkey during World War I. The rest is in the words of Jon Speed, who is intimately familiar with Mauser Oberndorf and the German documents he possesses:

Paul, many folks on Gunboards have questioned over the years what various markings mean on Turkish rifles made by the Mauser firm. I have a complete set of photocopied blueprints of the well known Turkish Model 1903 rifle, of which over 200,000 were made over a 5 year period. In this set of drawings are a group of images that Show all the Revision (Inspection) markings found on this model. The Most important is for the barrel which has a set of 6 markings. We will explain these marks as listed under the barrel image:

  1. Chart of Revision marks for the Turkish Model 1903 rifle. Note Turkish terms on top of receiver ring which honor the existing King
  2. Closer image of the main parts
  3. Close up of Barrel to show the 6 marks with explanation chart under this. These same markings were used on Turkish Model 1887 rifle and carbines, Turk Model 90 and Model 93 rifles. The marks are not always found in this order.

Chart from top to bottom:

  • Inspection after barrel is Bored
  • Proof after Barrel Pressure test
  • After Rifling and Chamber completed
  • After Front and rear sights mounted
  • After System with Barrel Proof
  • Final inspection

I hope this will help those interested in the Turkish Mauser’s. The Model 1903 system was the first use by Mauser of what we call the Intermediate system. Receiver ring is 4-5mm longer than on Standard action, Bolt is slightly shorter than Standard bolt.

          Chart of Revision marks for the Turkish Model 1903 rifle. Note Turkish terms on top of receiver ring which honor the existing King         Closer image of the main parts   Close up of Barrel to show the 6 marks with explanation chart under this. These same markings were used on Turkish Model 1887 rifle and carbines, Turk Model 90 and Model 93 rifles. The marks are not always found in this order.

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Model 1903 Rifle with Stock Carved and Metal Engraved for King of Turkey (Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)

More information on the Model 1903 Turkish contract from Jon Speed:

To add to the Turkish Model 1903 story:

1. Chart that shows the Month, Number, Total numbers of test Round, Average Rounds per rifle. 5728 wood cases with 25 rifle /case.  Total delivered in the period indicated 143,200 Rifles. Contract went to slightly over 200,000 units. Total Rounds need 1,001,693

2. Photo from Glass plate shows a Model 1903 rifle with Stock Carved and Metal Engraved for King of Turkey (Sultan of the Ottoman Empire).

3. Close up to show carving and engraving.

4. Right view Butt Stock with large Turkish Crest inlaid

Similar Model 1903 rifles in other calibers were offered on Commercial market.

Chart

 

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General Freiherr von Lyncker, Paul Mauser and the Gewehr98

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Recently Jon Speed decided to share one of his most prized documents from his collection, this one a personal letter from Paul Mauser to General Freiherr von Lyncker, Chief of the Military Cabinet, a personal aide to Kaiser Wilhelm II since 1908. By all accounts a man of impeccable character, from a family with a long and distinguished military tradition. The story of the General is a story unto itself; he was intimately involved with the path to war in 1914, entirely loyal to the German Army and Kaiser. Although like most German Generals of this period, he shied away from politics, he was one of the leading proponents of war, especially with France and Russia, the thinking being that it was an eventuality and best to get it done and over with, – that and it would relieve some of the domestic pressures (strength among the “liberal” political elements in Germany – typical of leaders then and today, they often look to war as a distraction for the public). He was a realist though, his loyalty was to the Kaiser and the Army above all and he had no political ambitions. Once the war began, his “hawkish” nature was extinguished with the death of his two sons, one in September 1914 and the second in February 1917 (a collision with a French aircraft in battle, killing both pilots), the consequence being that he began to side with the civilians in government (Bethmann and Lyncker’s Naval counterpart Georg von Müller) against OHL (Army Supreme Command, – Hindenburg and Ludendorff), seeking a more moderate course with peace in mind. He was never active in this pursuit though, the deaths of his two sons broke his spirit and he largely left official matters to others.

A prewar picture of the Kaiser’s entourage, Lyncker is number 6; Georg von Müller is number 13. Georg von Müller was an important figure during the war, possibly one of the most rational men around the Kaiser at the time, though apparently not well liked.

The letter itself is quite interesting, very courteous as you would expect from a man of Paul Mauser’s character and upbringing, but we lack the earlier correspondence from Lyncker that precipitated this letter. It discusses the delivery of the G98a, that the delivery date could be met after all, due to the material supply improving over previous months. I am uncertain what Paul Mauser means by the G98a, but he refers to parts for the rifles, which is probably the clue to meaning.

The research I have conducted dealing with pre-war rifle (Gewehr98) production suggests that Mauser was making very few rifles for the German Army by 1908. By 1911 the numbers seem to be trivial, and the only meaningful production being done by the Prussian Arsenal at Spandau, all the other Arsenals were engaged with Kar.98a production, and DWM was entirely off line making rifles for the German military. As far as can be determined, only Spandau and Mauser were making Gewehr98’s in 1911, and Mauser’s production was meager. So my interpretation of the letter is referring to component production, probably delivered to Spandau, or possibly the ordnance system.

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The only question that remains is why would this situation demand the attention of such important men? It seems like a rather insignificant problem for such a high ranking General to be involved in, and one can only imagine Paul Mauser’s reply was only due to such an important inquirer.

Note the quality of the paper, Paul’s name embossed at the top, the signature using a quill pen, which Jon said was typical of Paul Mauser’s correspondence, but I am sure the importance of the recipient is also a factor.

Mauser Oberndorf Sg98/05 Bayonet Production During World War I

The Mauser Oberndorf Sg98/05 Bayonet

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Mauser Oberndorf is a well-known manufacturer of the German “butcher” bayonet, which resembles a butchers knife, but few realize that Mauser Oberndorf was not the actual manufacturer of the bayonets. Some years ago Jon Speed revealed the facts behind the production of the bayonets, in his Collector Grade book titled “Mauser: Original Oberndorf Sporting Rifles” page 50; however he left out much of the details of the relationship.

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Today, Jon Speed tells us the rest of the story!

Jon Speed recently provided the documents from his archives that show the relationship in detail. During April 1915 Mauser Oberndorf contracted with “Unionwerk Mea G.m.b.H. Elektrotechnishe Fabrik Eisenwerk” at Feuerbach (northwestern suburb of Stuttgart) for the manufacture of 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 bayonets between July 1915 and July 1920, these bayonets were to be made at Mauser’s expense, who would cover operating costs and 1 Mark per bayonet. The contract also allows for a cancellation if the government doesn’t authorize the expenditure.

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Although Mauser contracted for such a large number of bayonets, a million and half or more, the bayonets are not especially common, – though not scarce either. Many have been recorded and several studies list it in the “common” category of the manufacturers, however my own research suggests they are one of the “less common” amongst the commonly encountered makers. Known bayonets cover the range 1915-1918, the 1915 dated probably the most difficult to find, probably because production did not begin before July 1915, and 1917-1918 dated the most common date encountered.. Sawback blades are only known dated 1916 and 1917, my research showing 1917 more common than 1916 dated.

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The bayonets can also be found with Mauser Oberndorf made scabbards, which are a little less common and in my experience command a small premium over unmarked scabbards. How many bayonets were actually delivered is unknown, or Jon Speed did not say (**), but I suspect many were sent to Turkey, and that probably explains why the Mauser made bayonets are less common than you would expect. I have seen many cut down bayonets that have signs of Turkish service, and it is likely many ended up there. P1020158

Here are some pictures of the actual contract between the two firms, with the signatures of Mauser directors Schmid and Doll.

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** Update, Jon Speed was able to determine approximately how many bayonets were made:

Paul , checked in my Mauser records and can say that app. 1,105,900 Bayonets were made by /for Mauser during WWI. I am sure the figure could be a bit higher as the Bayonet data for 1914-15 is not clear. I have a 1916 Bayonet with metal sheath with WFM name on it in small letters. Regards, Jon

Vatikan Paepstliche Schweizergarde Gewehr98’s

As the Gewehr98.com’s first blog post, I thought we would start with a very interesting, and little known piece of Mauser history shared with me by Jon Speed, who found the story within the Hans Lockhoven files.

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Sometime between 1908 and 1911 the Vatican contracted with Mauser Oberndorf, through an intermediate in Düsseldorf, for the purchase of 200 Gewehr98 rifles. These were commercial production rifles, but have the appearance of your typical Gewehr98. In 1989 the commander of the Paepstliche Schweizergarde (Swiss Guard) wrote a letter to Hans Lockhoven and included pictures of one of these 200 rifles, in this case a Mauser Oberndorf / 1908 serial number 77357. Note the condition and the commercial trade marks of Mauser envon the stock, the wrist marking (WM) and trademark on the buttstock are commonly found on commercial rifles of this period. The rifles do not seem to be specially marked, or even used to any appreciable extent.

 

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Jon Speed also discovered the recording of this sale in his bound books, dated July 1911, so the delivery was probably sometime after that but certainly during 1911. One can only wonder what purpose these rifles were intended to serve, but the Gewehr98 was the standard service rifle of the period, the Gewehr98 in its prime, so it makes sense the Vatican might want to have the most modern arms possible for their small armed guard.

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