German Mauser Obrez Pistol

From the collection of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, a reader named James found an example of an Obrez pistol made on a Mauser K98 rifle action. This apparently was made by Czech partisans during World War II, using the grip from an MG42 machine gun.

Mauser obrez
Obrez made by Czech partisans with a Mauser rifle and MG42 grip (photo from DHM)

Thanks for the link, James – looks like a fun project for a home gunsmith with a bit too much free time!


  1. Is it in 8mm Mauser?
    It shouldn’t be difficult to rebarrel and chamber to a pistol cartridge, make magazine modifications…

  2. Actually I don’t think it would kick too much. Slow burning rifle powder coupled with that minimal barrel length, in my opinion at least 80% of the powder would exit the bore unburned when this thing gets fired.

  3. A pocket flamethrower? We can laugh at such a contraption, now, but it was the product of brave people in a desperate time. Some resistance fighter needed a compact weapon that could be hidden under a coat or stashed in a small space, and likely took two damaged ones that they managed to capture or steal to build one that functioned. (I find it hard to believe that they would scrap a working MG 42 in that situation.) It would be scary to fire at a paper target, let alone an angry German (or more) who likely had superior firepower, but someone probably did. It is difficult for me to look at something like this and not think about the person who had to use it on what may have been the last day of his or her life. Still, it would be better than rotting away in a concentration camp.

  4. Obrez-type weapons crop up in every partisan/resistance campaign. Truby & Minnery illustrated several in Improvised Modified Firearms, ranging from a 7.7mm Arisaka with the barrel cut off so close to the receiver ring I’m sure the bullet was “in the open air” at the end of the chamber (oddly, the stock was left intact) to an SMLE factory demonstrator cutaway action (only 11″ overall) which was used, and fired, during the 1916 Rising in Ireland.

    Probably the most emphatic such weapon was one they illustrated in the chapter on Vietnam. It was an M79 40mm grenade launcher cut off just behind the action and just ahead of the barrel pivot. Virtually a 17th Century “grenade pistol” brought up to date.

    It was recaptured from the VC and sent back to Fort Bragg for testing, where it was found to be about as effective as the issue version, albeit with less range. Also, the “blooper” had to shoot more-or-less by instinct, due to the lack of sights.

    I’ve sometimes wondered if weapons like these may have at least partly inspired the modern-day bolt-action “silhouette” and “varmint” pistols with barrels up to 14″ in length and telescopic sights. the Remington XP-100, the first of the breed, was developed only a few years after WW2. Did someone at Remington see one of these and start thinking along “sporting” lines?

    Obrez-type weapons may be crude and even a bit dangerous to use, but when you consider their purpose, which was generally to kill an enemy soldier and acquire his weapon for the resistance, they’re a classic example of improvisation in wartime.



      • I’ve never heard that one. I’d expect they’d have used something more “issue”, less outre’, and more easily handled in CQB, like a .455in Webley revolver. The short-barreled MK III introduced in 1897 would seem to me to have been nearly an ideal sidearm for such work. Here’s why.

        In the book The Tunnels of Cu Chi, regarding the tunnel warfare in Cu Chi province during the Vietnam War, the chapter on tunnel rat weapons states that one team used a “chopped” M1 or M2 .30 carbine, cut down much like the 1970s era “Enforcer” pistol version made by Iver Johnson;

        The idea being that it gave them a heavy-hitting weapon with decent firepower in the confined spaces of the tunnels.

        I found their preference for the “cannon”, as they called it, odd. The M-16 rifle was useless due to length and the fact that full-auto fire with it rapidly filled the confined space with powder effluent. (It may be “smokeless”, but you can’t actually breathe it.) The .45 automatic was disliked for its loud report(?) The preferred weapons were .38 Special revolvers, .22 revolvers and autos (which are loud little devils, actually), and when they could be scrounged or promoted 9x19mm automatics, especially the P-35 High Power (often used by MAC-V “advisors”, SEALs, etc.).

        The 9 is a good bit louder than the .45, and the .30 “cannon” would out-shout them all other than the M-16 in the dB department.

        The final development, the specialized “Tunnel Weapon” developed by the JFK Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg, was a S&W M-29 .44 Magnum with the barrel cut back to 2″, butt rounded, and loaded with subsonic 250-grain lead SWC bullets. In effect, a modernized .45 Colt load. Less “bark” than any of the others, and with about 500 FPE at the muzzle, it made a considerable impression at the receiving end.

        Except for the greater ME and slightly shorter barrel, it was essentially the same concept as a Webley MK III, circa 1897.

        IMHO, if you ever find yourself going down a tunnel after a two-legged “rat”, you could do a lot worse in the firearm department than a .44 or .45 double-action revolver throwing a 240+ grain bullet at 1000 FPS or so. Not too loud, not too easy for the other guy to grab, and at close range it will stop a moose, let alone anybody you’re likely to meet in a tunnel.




  5. During my time in Viet Nam I encountered something similar to this, which was shown to me by US MP’s. It was a cut-down M16, barrel was about 3 inches long, and the entire butt-stock assembly was removed up to the rear end of the receiver. So it looked a little like a Mauser C96. Obviously it was no longer automatic, and was loaded etc using the existing cocking handle, as a manually loaded magazine pistol. It showed a bit of damage to the receiver, but I don’t know how this had occurred. I fired it – the noise, flash and muzzle blast back on my face was incredible. Once was enough!

    • I once fired one of those “AR-15 pistol” gadgets, with about a 10″ barrel. Even through plugs and muffs, the report was actually painful. I thought my old Mini-14 was loud, but compared to that monster it was like an air gun.

      In the Philippines, the “Paltik” smiths used to make 4-shot DA revolvers on S&W lines chambered for 5.56 x 45mm, using a specially-stamped put “full moon” clip. With their usual 4″ barrel, I can only imagine how painful firing one of those was, for the shooter behind it. Power-wise, I’d expect .22 Hornet ballistics at best.

      Hardly seems worth the effort, but then they made revolvers with 5″ barrels in .30 Carbine, too. Those might have filled a real need, as per the Ruger Single-Six in .30 Carbine, which approximates the capabilities of the old .32-20 Winchester in a Colt SAA or S&W Hand Ejector.

      (For some reason I’ve always wanted one or more of those last three.)



      • My Father-in-law has one of the .30 carbine Ruger Blackhawks. Shot it yesterday with some IMI JSPs. Loud and flashy, but a potent and accurate revolver that’s does “coyote dispatch duty” on the farm. I’m trying to convince him that he needs something else and that I am willing to take it off his hands for a fair(ly low)price. 🙂

  6. There are numerous Mauser obrez in Russian (and other regional) museums. IIRC partisan museum in Minsk has nice collection, including Mosin-Nagant, Mauser, Hungarian 35M and Carcano.
    I have also seen pics of Winchester 1895 and Arisakas obrez, even Gras, dating from WW1/RCW.

    Locally in Serbia, I have seen Mannlicher 1895 cut-down (stock was present but shortened, barrel was cut to about 10″). Another one (also 1895) had a folding stock from MP-40… Another popular for cutting down was Werndl, both in original form and shotgun conversion – after WW1 shotgun conversions of those (and some other obsolete rifles, like remaining single-shot Mauser) were offered as cheep guns, and some of those were cut down during WW2.

    • The Royal Military Museum in Brussels also has a nice collection of these things, in the range of 8-10 pieces. Of particular interest to me were the two Arisakas they have, one of them with an intact chrysanthemum on the receiver :).

  7. Have you tested short barrel G3/91 or belt-fed version?
    I find it a bit awkward…
    And I wonder if ammo with less powder would do a better result, like less recoil for same ballistics

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