After posting my video of the oddball Chinese pistol in the recent RIA auction, I received a number of emails from folks with similar sorts of guns. One was from a fellow named Leonardo, who ended up with an interesting Chinese creation courtesy of Fed Ord. About 20 years ago, they were selling really junky C96 Mauser pistols imported from China – they were so beaten up that Fed Ord was selling them in bags of 5, sight unseen and as-is for very little. Well, Leonardo decided to try his luck with two bags, figuring he could probably at least assemble one working gun from each bag.

After several days soaking the guns in Marvel Mystery Oil to remove all the caked-on gunk, he found that he had 9 typical abused Broomhandles and one that was different.

Mauser C96 with Chinese replacement frame, right side
Mauser C96 with Chinese replacement frame, right side (click to enlarge)

It seems that this particular pistol was originally made in Germany and shipped to China (as were so many) – but at some point the frame was rendered unusable. Maybe it broke, maybe it was hit by a bullet, maybe it rusted away, who knows. So, its Chinese owner had a new frame made for it, by hand.

Mauser C96 with Chinese replacement frame, left side
Mauser C96 with Chinese replacement frame, left side (click to enlarge)
Markings and workmanship closeup
Markings and workmanship closeup (click to enlarge)

As Leonardo told me,

The frame on this pistol was made BY HAND. You can tell because of the tooling marks and the fact that the frame cut outs are all done by hand. Close inspection will show you that they are not straight and are not consistent. Also, several of the internal parts show the same type of material and work as well. The dead give away is the markings, total gibberish and nonsense. The metal is also a give away as the metal on the fabricated parts is slightly different and the patina on it is slightly different when you look closely at the pieces. Inside the frame the tooling marks are even cruder and easier to see that this was fabricated by hand and not machined much, if any.

I have kept it even though many of my friends have told me that it is a piece of junk. Although I haven’t shot it, it is incredibly tight and all the parts seat on it just fine. The barrel, rear sight, bolt, extractor, magazine follower, trigger, and most of the internal pieces are original and they still retain the proof marks and original serial numbers. Interesting enough, the craftsman that made the frame and other pieces went out of his way to copy the frame exactly – down to the stock connection (which works but is super tight) and the serial numbers. One of my sons nicknamed the pistol “Micky Mauser” which I think is quite accurate.

I continue to find these sorts of things coming out of inter-war China fascinating…

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