Mauser had been at the forefront of military self-loading pistol design with its C96 pistol, but by the 1930s it had lost major market share to Sauer and Walther in police and commercial guns. The Mauser 1910/1914/1934 line of compact pistols was getting a bit old, and the Sauer 38H and Walther PP/PPK were very popular. Mauser want to produce a new offering, and they tasked a very young (25 at the beginning of the project) engineer named Alex Seidel with it. Seidel would go on to be one of the founding partners of Heckler & Koch, and his work on the HSc would heavily influence the HK4 pistol several decades later.
The HSc was carefully designed to avoid infringing on other patents, particularly Walther’s. It was a double action, blowback system chambered for .32 ACP (and later .380). The initial guns were ready in 1938, but it took until 1940 to secure government permission to put them into production. Once available, they were sold to the German Army, Navy, various police forces, and on the commercial market – with a total of about 272,000 made by the end of the war (including about 15,000 made under French occupation of the Mauser factory complex).
Today, we will be looking at a preproduction prototype, early low-screw model, standard early and late war production (to exhibit the decline in finish quality as the war progressed), and a 1942 stamped slide experimental version that would inform later Volkspistole designs.