Chinese C96 “Wauser” Broomhandle

The C96 Mauser was a very popular handgun in China in the 1920s and 30s, which naturally led to a substantial number of domestically-produced copies of it. These ran the full range of quality, from dangerous to excellent. This particular example falls into the middle, appearing to be a pretty fair mechanical copy of the C96 action . However, it does exhibit classic Chinese misspelled markings – the workers who made these guns often did nor actually read English (or German), and made best-guess attempts at copying the markings on authentic firearms. The result was sometimes something like the Wauser.


  1. Note that the “S” in the word “WAUSER” is reversed. This leads me to suspect either hand-engraving or a stamp made by someone not entirely familiar with the Roman alphabet.

    The machining is actually quite good. Note the “engine-turning” marks in the frame recesses. Either somebody painstakingly did them by hand to duplicate an original as closely as possible, or an actual end-mill in a high-speed electric drill press was used.

    In ,em>Improvised Modified Firearms by Truby and Minnery, two Chinese Broomhandle copies are shown. One is a Shansei Arsenal selective-fire copy in .45 ACP, with the distinctive magazine housing extending a half-inch below the bottom of the trigger guard to accommodate ten rounds of .45.

    The other is a genuinely crude single-shot tipdown pistol with a stirrup lock made to look like a Mauser tangent rear sight. No idea of its actual dimensions, but to judge from the grip I’d say it was about the size of a .32 Iver Johnson revolver overall.

    I’d be perfectly OK with taking the Shansei .45 to the range. The tipdown, not a chance.



    • “Note that the “S” in the word “WAUSER” is reversed.”
      Notice that failed markings on weapons has long history Ulfberht sword
      but as literacy of users was low this was big problem (letters are letters)
      can be found with mistyped inscription, from more modern examples derringer as name for pocket pistol is in fact mistyped name of inventor (Henry Deringer) which was used to dodge lawsuit.
      Жук (Стрелковое оружие) has separate category (number 61) for unknown automatic pistols, which he titled Pistols of unknown companies, some have no inscriptions at all some have errors in spelling,

    • “Wauser”reminds me of the Inspector Gadget cartoon I watched as a kid. I think I’ll start calling my IMI Chinese C96 semi schellfire import “Wauser” from now on. It’s a interesting hodge podge of parts, a Shansei lower and a 9mm para upper with a chrome lined barrel. It had a large ring hammer on it when I got it that broke at the 75rd mark and came close to hitting me in the head. It was sent back to IMI and replaced with a small ring hammer. I tested it again after the repair and the safety decided to bite the dust. Also the 20rd mag was sticky and could only load 18rds. (10rd mag worked ok and then even better after I did some fitting to the follower.) Left it loaded for three months and took it to test fire and it stove piped and broke the extractor. I’m happy to say it runs now after waiting a long time to find parts for it. ( Thanks Sarco!) Now just need to fit the inside of the stock and deburr the inside of the 20rd mag and it’ll be done.

      • “Also the 20rd mag was sticky and could only load 18rds. (10rd mag worked ok and then even better after I did some fitting to the follower.)”
        Problems with higher-capacity magazines of machine and self-loading weapons, seems to appear frequently. For example STEN sub-machine gun has in theory capacity 32 rounds, but in reality it was often loaded with 28 or so rounds.

  2. An ancient trick used to this very day — an intentional slight mis-spelling to evade copyright, trademark, and fraud laws while hoping to fool the careless buyer. It’s interesting that the ATF does not label these guns as “Wauser” or anything else, only noting that they are “Chinese mfd. copies of the Mauser model 1896” — perhaps suggesting that some may be stamped with the correctly-spelled name or even something else entirely.

    If the markings on these counterfeit guns are fake, then how are we supposed to tell the difference between an authentic handmade Chinese counterfeit Mauser and a counterfeit counterfeit?

    Silly question perhaps, until we see that some counerfeits get official ATF NFA exemption while other counterfeits do not, which can mean the difference between perfectly legal and ten years in prison if the owner possesses a stock.

  3. This particular gun tickles me. Ian is right: most people couldn’t do even this good with primitive tools. Hell, I work in a machine shop, and in this age of CNC machinery, most of out machinists couldn’t do so well with hand tools.

    I think I’m bidding on this bad boy.

    Do you think the forward “proof mark” is supposed to be a “U crown”?

    • You’d be surprised what showed up in Warlord Era China. By the way, the flag depicted is that of the original Republic of China. Sadly, the Nationalists got a bit full of themselves and were backstabbed by the Communists (boy, the Communists were the worst roommates) after World War II. My paternal grandfather was a Nationalist soldier (he’s now retired) and he still acts like some nasty drill sergeant. He is also illiterate, just like most Chinese of the Warlord Era… Or am I wrong?

  4. Copying word MAUSER with flop is minor transgression considering level of awareness of western languages in China at the time. Even these days you may hear word ENGRICH as a name for language of international communication and LOVEROU for affection. (But all of them know BMW and Porsche quite well.)

    But then, how much I know Mandarin? Two-three words, maybe.

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