Mauser C77 Single-Shot Pistol (Video)

The Mauser brothers’ first attempt at a commercial or military handgun was this, the C77 (Construktion 1877) model of single shot pistol. Why a single-shot sidearm in 1877, well into the age of centerfire military revolvers? That is a good question. By the time the design was complete, the Mausers opted (prudently) to not bother submitting it to military trials, as it was clearly already obsolete. However, despite this fact, and a total production of barely a hundred guns, it did apparently develop a small niche reputation as a quite good target pistol.

The C77 is much more complex than a single shot handgun need be, but this complexity did bring some benefits. It was a falling block type of action. With the easy movement of the thumb from a firing grip, the breech could be dropped and an empty case ejected. When a new cartridge was inserted with the other hand, its rim would trip the ejector and automatically close the breech. A manual safety was located conveniently under the firing thumb as well, for those who wanted it. Chambered for the standard Imperial German 10.6mm revolver cartridge, the C77 also had pretty good sights. It’s one flaw as a target gun was a remarkably heavy DAO trigger, akin to the 1879 Reichsrevolver that would be adopted just a few years later.

Despite its less than elegant appearance, the C77 handles quite well, and I can understand it’s appear to a specific group of buyers.


  1. Some more detailed information here;

    As revealed from the sectional drawings; The pistol is a Single Action, “T” shaped one piece striker firing. long radiused rolling block breech feeding, very well designed and made, quick loading single shot example reflecting “Mauser” genius in the merits of such kind a simple and basic handgun. Its parts seem very few, but durable and hard to make. Rich merits of it would rise an opinion about its possible complexity getting along with this, but it looks not. Very well thought and produced pistol for its aimed purpose.

    Thanks Ian for the video of this brilliant Mauser sample.

    • “aimed purpose”
      Might lanyard ring suggest that it was aimed as military weapon? Does civilian German single-shot pistol of that era have such feature?

      • Its long pull single action trigger which should be thought for safety, should reveal that it was made for military purpose. A target pistol with this lenght of trigger release should not be thought. However, it seems that, the cosntruction and merits contained, would enable quick and well aimed shots as good as the revolvers of that era.

        • Given that the original design called for a rugged service pistol, the last thing one would think about was a well-aimed shot at a sitting target. More likely, the trigger was designed for absorbing the hard finger tug from combat-stressed soldiers. And one does not want to hear BANG and then “MEIN GOTT! I just shot Johann in the liver!” during a stressful reloading cycle. On the other hand, had this pistol been modified for a target shooter market with a crisper trigger pull, I imagine that quite a few people would take up the C77 (though one must remember to keep the finger OFF the trigger when depressing the breech block)… Or am I wrong?

      • It should be the, long radiused rotating, nearly linear acting trigger itself. It carries the “L” shaped sear lever as rotatably pinned in a clearance between its side walls at underside with the leaf sear spring, and the sear, would be released by its upper arm being forced against to the forward extention of frame back dust cover at the back. Breech closure seems as an integral part of main spring housing which rotatably pinned at a lug formed at underside of the barrel, and mainspring seems also acting as the return spring of the breech covering bar, or tap, or cap. Drawings show only two springs as used for all the moving parts functioning, but some photos contained a third one at underside of the mainspring housing for the aid of this part’s turning back to its initial location. Very well designed indeed.

        • Though this handgun’s trigger system should not be called as DAO by the cause of having no abilty of “Second Strike Capability” without opening the breech, it should not be called as SAO since carrying the striker from slightly cocked to full cocked position through long trigger pull and compressing the main spring during this movement. Thus, this trigger should be called as the “Forerunner of safe action lockwork” used in Glock pistols of current manufacture.
          “Just pistol for cavaliry”.

          • I will read your dissemination of the parts again, and examine the pictures I haven’t quite grasped them quite as comprehensively as you yet, although I am sure your spot on in what you allude to.

            I am quite interested in it. I started to think about the Liberator pistol again recently, and came to the conclusion a “Bazooka” version may have been more practical. Essentially a 40mm shotgun- RPG type gunpowder charge and a pound of shot. Be something like this pistol scaled up and crossed with a Croat RT20, hypothetical obviously. A recoiless pzm’ish- Grenade one. Scenario: There are multiple Germans stood around at a checkpoint whose weapons you want to equip your fellow resistance fighters with, you have it in your possession courtesy of the USAF dropping it in a French field. Design objective: The Americans made lots of them, because they were cheap and easy. Useage- Pointable claymore mine. “That use was deemed to be more effective than giving you a Liberator pistol so they replaced it, still short range use only”

            Thinking the recoil tube goes over your shoulder, barrel underneath you hold this “pistol” anyway I digress. Oh and your team of freedom fighters are currently armed with knives attached to broom sticks.

          • “Useage- Pointable claymore mine. “That use was deemed to be more effective than giving you a Liberator pistol so they replaced it, still short range use only””
            If you want cheap (and possibly light weapon, if you want to deliver it via air drop), I think Gammon bomb might be effective in this role.

          • Actually I will just expand on my digression, briefly. And this a question to any reader who may care to answer. If such a weapon was constructed after it was judged to be just the thing, would the populace in I.S held areas within Syria and Iraq be empowered to rise up and “liberate” themselves via shredding armed fighters at every available opportunity in order to steal their gear. Or would any coalition forces in range simply be shredded by them on behalf of I.S, via the populace. Any opinions?

          • If you are interesting in simple weapon but with greater range than hand grenade, then see Ручной одноразовый гранатомет “Пенал”
            (Hand one-use grenade-launcher “Pencilcase”)
            it throws ВОГ-25 to distance of 100-300 m, it has built-in counter-mass to soften recoil. Overall length: 200mm, mass (loaded): 700g

          • In regards the design of the hypothetical “bazooka” The shot would be loaded into the front of the recoil tube over a wad and “corked” at the muzzle. The “pistols” barrel would have no muzzle instead a port would lead from what would be the chamber usually, into the middle of the charge tube behind the shots wad. A blank would be loaded backwards into the barrel inside a bit of drilled 40mm dowel as appropriate, against a fixed firing pin. Cardboard tube- Pour in powder, top with a dowel cone that has a flat point. The port leading into the recoil tube would be infront of a counter mass of conkers or such that get squeezed out of a cone at the back. This is equivalent to popping* the cork at the muzzle which is a piece of dowel. The hammer of the pistol falls upon the cones flat point which pushes against the tube so blank “adapter” the charge ignites blowing the cone into a circular bolt face I.e the hammers hole on the falling block acting as a gas seal. Gas enters port expands untill both ends pop** firing the shot#. Overall layout 2 30cm rulers back to back one further one beneath the front ruler the lower one being the pistol, the rear one the cone.
            * = Equilibrium
            ** = As oppose the sides
            # = In theory
            Rudimentary design, as of ten minutes ago but the layout aides compactness and simplicity if it works hypothetically which it may not- This pistols mechanism is a basis, but the trigger is also the hammer- Squeezed against a spring but topical’ish as it is arranged similarly.

          • Actually the cone would need to be in four sections- Resembles a dum dum bullet I.e. Crossed, held together with a forward split ring. That way it could expand outwards at the rear “gas seal” when forced into the hole to the front, by gas. Anyway, I won’t go on and on.

          • “Gas enters port expands untill both ends pop** firing the shot#”
            I’m not sure whatever I understand you correctly but it seems that you want to mix
            Davis recoilless gun, see chapter 3″/24 (7.62 cm) Mark 15 here:
            and Hoch-Niederdruck-System as found in 8-cm-Panzerabwehrwerfer 600.
            Or I am wrong?

          • Yes its essentially that, with conkers as a Panzerfaust3 countermass “popping” element, rudimentary- Modifications required etc. The cone will have to impact into a plug within the breech block for example, a plug the hammer hits into the cone. And the trigger would probably be better drawing a hammer rearwards, and letting it go as oppose a one piece arrangement you let go. Probably other modifications. The basic system may not even be viable, it was just an illustration of a concept: Kinda 4 bore sawn off shotgun type lark, without the recoil 10ft spread at 20yrds etc. Cheap/simple dropped onto occupied terrority for resistance fighters.

          • The author and his pal had difficulty hitting anything with a Liberator pistol, the idea of this is your inexperienced allies step out infront of their/your adversaries who panic seeing such a device pointing at them by which time ideally it’s already gone off and hit them.

            The layout using basically this “pistol” with the above configuration, allows for reloading and is possibly shorter than all components being inside one tube.

          • How does the RPG 29’s grenade burn out it’s rockets motor before leaving the tube?



            The lady on the video mentions what is alluded to in the patent, but if it doesn’t “pop” I.e. The motor is really just a pressure generator- Something to do with the pressure curve perhaps- in an enclosed space, untill the grenade bursts free beacuse there’s say glass that restrains it which breaks at a certain pressure releasing it… I don’t understand. Don’t I understand he he?

          • Because you load it from the rear, I can imagine there might be a rim “a base plate” at the rockets rear which rests against a “chamber” within the tube, and perhaps there’s a spigot attached to this plate which separates from the grenade upon firing- Rocket out the front, spigot out the back. The between the rocket and the base plate is an expansion chamber, that fills with gas upon the motor igniting. And at some point the rocket breaks from the spigot, a glass rod through the spigot, and it’s housing in the grenade perhaps which is designed to crack at maximum pressure, the base plate held the rocket in place and the rocket the base plate without the rod gas expands between them pushing them in opposite directions.

            Must be something similar to that surely.

          • By pressure generator I mean… A charge which burns, like a charge in a normal “bullet” but perhaps in a more timed manner. Both avoid detonation as is my understanding, but essentially it’s not a thrust rocket motor rather a delayed bullet charge burning inside a housing somewhat similar to a 40mm grenade in that it acts as in conjunction with the barrel to provide adequate containment of said pressure.

          • So to round off. In the context of the conkers, from front to back: Plug, shot, felt wad, port, felt wad, conkers, card wad, cone.

            Somebody worked out how many conkers go in that section in relation to how much pressure it takes to dislodge the plug, so the amount of conkers is in relation to them bursting out against the cone and through it, the pressure point of dislodging the plug and bursting the conkers is equal so it happens simultaneously prior to all the powder burning. Probably better ways to do it, but that’s what I meant- The conker blast counter acts the recoil generated by the shot exiting the muzzle.

    • And of course there were some places where having a revolver wasn’t practical. If you recall, until swing frames or hinge frames were invented revolver cylinders took a full minute to load through a gate (assuming rim-fire or center-fire ammo). The Remington revolver was an exception with interchangeable cylinders. Target pistol markets probably would have wanted more C77’s with a crisper trigger pull and besides, there is no back blast or side blast. Revolvers which don’t have sealing actions have side blast and gas leaks. Did I mess up?

      • With Abadie doors (Rast Gasser) you would take about 5 sec top to unload, maybe 15 to load, so not even close to a minute. Even w/o, with shitty non-spring ejector rod (Gasser 1870/74) it should not take as much, maybe 40 seconds.

    • Keep in mind that the German Army didn’t exist in 1877. The various German states didn’t become the Deutsches Reich until a year later.

      And even when they adopted the M1879 and M1883 Reichsrevolvers, they were single-action, solid-frame guns with a lading gate and a separate ejector rod in a sheath attached to the leather holster.

      In Europe at that time, as in the U.S. (other than on the Western frontier), the handgun was considered a secondary cavalry weapon; the saber was still considered the “only proper weapon” for a cavalryman.

      “Proper” cavalry warfare in “conventional” war was considered to be conducted in a formalized manner unchanged from the Napoleonic era. (When Wellington wryly commented that “the purpose of cavalry on the battlefield is to lend tone to what would otherwise be merely an unseemly brawl”.)

      Formalized charge, countercharge, etc. was the way it was supposed to be, with the saber being the only “honorable” weapon. The use of firearms by both sides in the American Civil War was considered an aberration, as was the U.S. army’s experience against the Indian nations.

      As such, single-shot weapons were still considered the “only proper” firearm for cavalrymen.

      Of course, the main reason for cavalry after the advent of the revolver and breechloading rifle, let alone the machine gun, was simple. It allowed upper-class officers to have their hunters, polo ponies, etc., and lay the bill on the government, i.e., the taxpayers.

      Other than a flare gun, a single-shot pistol had no reasonable place on a battlefield after Balaclava. Neither did cavalry, for that matter, at least not the European “flavor”. And certainly not after the Maxim machine gun was introduced in the 1880s.

      It took until 1914 for most European armies to figure out that last bit.



      • The unification of Germany had taken place though, Ze German confederation led by der Prussians via Bismarck was well on the way to becoming the empire of German speakers that collapsed in 1918 then restarted again until it collapsed in 1945.

        • I do believe there’s a role for cavalry in modern warfare, Afghanistan for example.

          The locals thought irregular skirmishers has a role in the 80’s with swords… Of a sort.

          The horse would offer protection against I.E.D’s plus they are rugged as befitting the terrain, and you can eat them. I fully adbocate the reinstating of 1908 pattern sabres for combat use. You can run down some goat herders and skewer them, leaving them transfixed in the dirt to jolly well teach them a lesson tally ho.

          Next you’ll be saying there’s no requirement for bayonets.

          • No, there are just no good bayonet platforms left. Bullpup rifles and M4 carbines are no better as bayonet “pikes” than an SMG, due to lack of “reach”. The few “full-length” rifles left, like the G36, tend to bend in inconvenient ways in bayonet use.

            The only decent bayonet mounting left is the Mossberg 590 MILSPEC pump shotgun. It’s both long enough and sturdy enough for proper “drill”;




            Butt-stroke to the head optional to finish the job.



          • “offer protection against I.E.D’s”
            Depend of size, introduction of some protection will soon lead to enhancement of offensive power to break through said protection. Endless sword-shield race.

          • I like the EM2 for that, in relation to bayonet platforms, it’s a decent length for a bullpup. I like it for other reasons also, but I do like it for that. That and the related narrow stock area behind the magazine that one could grip positively and present steel as they
            do not like it up them, they just do not like it.

      • “As such, single-shot weapons were still considered the “only proper” firearm for cavalrymen.”
        For example according to
        MODELE 1822 T bis Construit Neuf rayé d’origine was produced until ~1866, and if I am not mistaken it was used as late as Franco-Prussian War by French cavalry, it was single-shot flint-to-percussion conversion fire-arm.

        This is quite contrast if you notice that French Navy adopted in 1858 pin-fire revolver (at time when others used percussion revolvers)

      • “M1879 and M1883 Reichsrevolvers, they were single-action, solid-frame guns with a lading gate and a separate ejector rod in a sheath attached to the leather holster.”
        Can you explain muzzle shape of that weapons, i.e. similar to Napoleon-era field guns? In case of muzzle-loaded weapon it might be explained as attempt to minimize effects of barrel crown damage, but isn’t it pointless in fire-arms loaded from rear?

        • The muzzle bulge on the ’79 model (mundungsbremse) was intended to protect the muzzle from being dented by being banged into things, as will happen in the field.

          It was left off the ’83 model because they determined that the barrel was strong enough without it, and it made the revolver a bit cheaper to manufacture.

          The ’83 had a shorter barrel for roughly the same reason; less metal needed, and at normal pistol range (under 50 meters was the standard) it was just as accurate and had about the same muzzle velocity.

          Plus, it was less of a problem to holster. Long barreled-revolvers in holsters tend to whack you on the leg at awkward moments.

          Also, the Reichswehr had learned the same thing from experience that lawmen- and bad men- in the American West knew. A shorter-barrelled revolver cleared the holster a fraction of a second faster when you needed it in a hurry.



  2. For the 19th century European military officer leading a conscript peasant army, a one-shot, heavy-trigger pistol should have functioned just fine for typical battlefield duties such as executing cowards and deserters, spies and conspirators, and even the occasional wounded horse.

    • Ze Prussians ver quite the professional force. “No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength or no plan survives contact with the enemy, and strategy is a system of expedients.” After beating the French they started to believe in, German “superiority” lord and peasant alike.

  3. Per eon’s comment on bayonets, today’s service long arms are hardly good bayonet mounts (too short and not durable enough). I suppose the Dragunov SVD (and for that matter, any assault/battle rifles of the AK family) would be a better spear than the M4 Carbine, but only because the former is longer and heavier. Last time we discussed bayonet attacks, it was found that the wartime Japanese Jukenjutsu (a bayonet fencing martial art later to be revived as Jukendo) was better than the bayonet fighting style taught by the British (whom we know to be historically stab-happy). Most good bayonet fencing focuses on well-placed jabs towards the heart, throat, and center of mass of the intended victim. Butt-strokes only work if the victim is dazed by the initial attack and/or unable to counter (bashing the victim in the back of the head during an ambush will certainly put his lights out).

    Weapon of choice scenario:

    After a week of constantly fighting off horse-riding bandits, most of our guns are in need of repair. There go most of our modern equipment. Given a choice, which would you grab out of the storage sheds if the bandits came back to town?

    1. Trapdoor Springfield
    2. Joslyn rifle
    3. Werder “Lightning”
    4. Gewehr 98
    5. Steyr-Kropatschek
    6. Vetterli-Vitali 70/87
    7. Side-by-side 12-gauge shotgun
    8. Gasser Montenegrin or Lancaster pistol
    9. Remington Model 1858 with spare cylinders and conversion to .45 Colt
    10. 5-barrel Gardner gun in .45-70 (why didn’t we get this out earlier!?)
    11. Hotchkiss Model 1922 with strip-feed in 8×57 IS
    12. Or per the usual, screw the budget and have your favorite toys airdropped on site

    This activity is completely voluntary. You are not required to respond if you do not wish to do so. Please keep any and all criticism of this post humane and free of foul language.

    Thank you,


    • Steyr-Kropatschek, it had a sword bayonet attached and I’m feeling up for some Jukenjutsu HIYAH! “You’ve got that Gardener going right”

    • Are write-ins allowed? How about striking out ‘Werder’ and replacing with ‘Colt’? Facing cavalry charge tactics can demand rapid-fire ability, and it was claimed to be one of the fastest shooters of the black-powder era.

      • Okay, your Choice 12 request has been approved. 4 Colt Lightning rifles and three ammunition crates have been retrieved from a cellar.

    • You’d definitely want the Gardner gun, sited to cover a good section of the street on their axis of approach. Pick a good killing ground, load up, and wait.

      The Gew98 would be the first choice for a rifle, the Vetterli-Vitali a close second, the Kropatschek a close third. The Mauser can be reloaded rapidly with stripper clips, the Vetterli can be “topped off” through the side loading gate like a Winchester lever-action, and the Kropatschek has to be reloaded down through the action like a Lebel.

      If you’re stuck with a single-shot, take the Werder. It was probably the fastest-loading single breechloader around, vying with the Remington Rolling Block for sheer rate of fire.

      You pushed forward on the front “trigger” inside the trigger guard, the breech snapped down under spring pressure, extracting and ejecting the empty, you shoved a live round in, and hauled back the big cocking lever that looked like a hammer to simultaneously close the breech and recock the striker like a Martini-Henry.

      With a single-shot, it doesn’t get much faster than that.

      Finally, that 12-gauge double and the Remington 1858 .45 conversion would be very handy if it got close. So would the big Montenegrin revolver, that fired the same round as the Werndl rifle originally used, the 11.15 x 42Rmm. The rifle was later changed to a more powerful 11.15 x 58rmm round, but in the revolver, the original round delivered muzzle energies in the range of the modern-day .357 Magnum.

      Multiple weapons, multiple response. And remember, the fastest reload on Earth is a second gun that’s already loaded.



    • 1877 bulldog Gatling gun with a Bruce feed please. I’ll keep that sxs handy for if anyone gets a flanking maneuver successfully. Sustained rate of fire for a double isn’t that much worse than a pump once the magazine is expended. A decent pike could probably be fabricated if we have some down time.

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