Mauser M1915 Flieger-Karabiner

Thanks to reader Jacob, we have some fantastic photos of a Mauser M1915 Flieger-Karabiner. This was an early (although not the earliest) Mauser self-loading rifle design, and was used for a short time by German aviators (balloon and fixed-wing) during the First World War. Only about a thousand were made, and this one is in gorgeous condition. So without further ado, let’s take a look through Jacob’s photos…(and you can click on any of them for enlargement)

Mauser M1915 self-loading carbine
For more of the developmental history of the Mauser M1915, see the Mauser Selbstlader article
Mauser M1915 magazine change
The magazine change is a complicated process. First the magazine release, located in the front of the trigger guard is depressed and the trigger guard is pulled down. The magazine is then pulled free of the weapon. Two tabs on the sides of the receiver, visible above the trigger guard, are pushed forward. The bolt is drawn to the rear, where it is held open. A new magazine is inserted, and the trigger guard is pushed upwards, which locks the magazine in place and releases the bolt.
Mauser M1915 magazine change
Closer view of a magazine change operation
Mauser M1915 trigger guard and release
Close up of the trigger guard showing the trigger and magazine release.
Mauser M1915 top view (bolt closed)
Top view of the receiver deck and bolt, showing the wing shaped cocking handle and stripper clip guide.
Mauser M1915 rear sight
Leaf rear sight, graduated from 200 to 2,000 Meters.
Mauser M1915 receiver markings
Left side of receiver, showing company name, address, and date of manufacture.
Mauser M1915 proof and bore measurement
German acceptance mark and 7,90 caliber marking.
Mauser M1915 trigger guard and release
Close up of the trigger guard showing the trigger and magazine release.
Mauser M1915 actuating parts
Underside of the receiver deck (cover) showing the complicated nature of this design. The steel plate with two grooves acts on a stud on two flaps that lock the bolt in place. The recoil pushes this plate back, which unlocks the flaps, delaying the bolt stroke until pressures are safe.
Mauser M1915 top cover, camming plate, and locking flaps
Underside of the receiver deck with locking flaps, showing where the small studs on top of the flaps fit into the deck.
Mauser M1915 locking flaps
Both sides of the locking flaps.
Mauser M1915 top cover
Top of the receiver deck removed from the rifle.
Mauser M1915 action with bolt closed
Receiver with deck removed, showing flaps that delay the opening of the bolt. If the top deck were in place, its camming plate would have pulled the front of both flaps towards each other, bracing them behind the bolt and locking it.
Mauser M1915 action with bolt fully open
Receiver with deck removed, showing the flaps unlocked and the bolt at the rear of its travel.
Mauser M1915 charging handle
Detail of the cocking handle, extractor, and serial number
Mauser M1915 front end
The carbine featured a half-stock to reduce weight and to make the rifle quicker to point and track targets.
Mauser M1915 stock and handguard
The distinctive forward hand guard. The handguard is lined with asbestos where it meets the barrel, so that rapid firing does not ignite the handguard or stock.
Mauser M1915 front sight adjustment
The front sight is windage adjustable via a screw. This design is a decedent of the Mauser c06/08 rifle, which was a sporting arm, and retains the finely adjustable sights of its predecessor.
Mauser M1915 front sight ramp
Detail of the front sight, showing the windage adjustment screw.

Thanks for the pictures, Jacob!



  1. A very fiddly reloading process in an already complicated weapon make for an aviator’s nightmare. Hefty recoil from the delayed blow-back design makes this even worse. I don’t suppose the reloading process is fiddly because some dipstick believed that the magazine would get jolted loose in action…

    In the air, losing the magazine would be the least of one’s problems (unless the magazine hit someone on the way down, which would be detrimental to the victim’s health). If I were in an observation balloon and this carbine was all I had, I’d start praying if a SPAD or Sopwith were to come my way. Okay, maybe I could shoot through the windshield, but attempting to head-shoot a fighter pilot when he’s trying to kill me with machine guns is a bad idea.

  2. “8mm Mauser” and “autoloading carbine” are not words I’ve previously associated.

    I bet that’d be a hoot to shoot*, even if it’s variously impractical.

    (* If punishing, given the “reduced weight” and how bad 8mm can be out of a 12 pound full rifle…)

  3. A very nice rifle! The magazine removal is irrelevant as the rifle is designed to be reloaded from stripper clips. The clip guides are clearly visible in the photo of the bolt cover (deck). The survival rate of these rifles must be very low as you hardly ever see pictures of them.

  4. Love that charging handle and the top of the receiver. Again, it’s just a level of attention to detail and finish that you won’t find much at all today.

  5. Woodsy, youre right about the survival rate. I have been tracking down as many of these rifles as I can, and I’ve only found 7 carbines and 2 infantry rifles in Europe and the U.S. As for laoding, yes they can be loaded with stripper clips, but each carbine was issued with 5 magazines, and I’d rather switch magazines than mess with stripper clips while in an airplane.

    • If you were in a balloon, stripper clips would not be that bad. The problem is having spent brass all over the floor or raining down on support troops. If you were in an observation balloon at least 500 meters above ground, spent cartridge casings from this rifle falling out of the basket would be most detrimental to any unlucky individuals intersecting the gravity-induced trajectories of the casings.

  6. Got my callander today and to say I’m pleased would be a gross understatement! If Ian has anymore do yourself a favor and order one.

  7. That is an absolutely beautiful example of the rifle, and in amazing condition in spite of its age and rarity. Many thanks to Jacob and Ian for sharing this.

  8. Folks here would definitely know. I’ve heard rumors for years that allied fliers in WW I used the Remington 8 before machine guns became more available. Anyone have any details on this?

    • I don’t know about the Remington Model 8, but I do know that the French bought a number of Winchester Model 1907’s in .351 for use by air crews in 1915. They also manufactured 10 round magazines. These will be marked “ET is Dupeyron”. I have seen one 1907 marked RAF, but as the RAF was formed April of 1918, I am suspicious of its authenticity.

      • Russians also ordered a lot og 1907 and 1910, once when MGs appeared on planes those were used by assault troops.
        French also used 1907 in same role and also passed some to Serbia in 1917. Serbians used it among assault troops, but as there were few of them available sometimes it was used to supplement squad firepower.

        Russians DID use Remington Model 8 in combat and there are pictures of such use (one on Caucasian front with soldier in the shallow trench firing it), but those were commercially acquired guns (Remington Model 8 and almost identical FN Model 1900 in .35 Remington were quite popular in Europe for boar hunting), not military order.

      • French start buy trought commercial chanel Winchester Model 1907′s in .351SL, Winchester Model 1910’s in .401SL & Remigton 8 in .35 Remington. After Army (Air force) order more Winchester Model 1907′s in .351SL

        In French make the devolopement of the Ribeyrolles Carbine (Selctive Fire weapon, Blowback) for intermediate cartridge 8mm Ribeyrolles or 8×32 mm SR (neck down winchester 351 SL brass for 8 mm D lebel bullet)

  9. Interesting fixed barrel recoil operated firearm. Inertia block with twin cam
    slots over the breechbolt retains its location through inertia during recoil
    and unlocks the locking flaps at sides. US Patent No. 943949 dated, Dec.21,1909.

  10. I like how the cocking handles look like wings. At one time, not long ago, aesthetics were still held in important regard.

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