Mauser “Schnellfeuer”, or Model 712 Machine Pistol

The Schnellfeuer, or Model 712, was Mauser’s answer to the Spanish production of selective fire C96 lookalikes. Just over 100,000 of these pistols were made by Mauser in the 1930s, mostly going to China (although some did see use in other countries, and also with the SS). They use 10- and 20-round detachable magazines, and are almost all chambered for the 7.63mm Mauser cartridge. Rate of fire is about 900-1000 rounds per minute.

One of the urban legends that has grown up around these guns is that Chinese soldiers would hold them sideways, and use the recoil to fire in a horizontal arc. This does work, but is a pretty crude way to use the gun. Without the attached shoulder stock, it is much better left on semiauto. With the stock, it makes a surprisingly effective and controllable submachine gun.

Thanks to TFBTV for the opportunity to shoot and film this very cool gun!


  1. Ian, I’m surprised you’re repeating the “Model 712” myth. Mauser never called this anything else but the Schnellfeuer-Pistole (which, just for future reference, is pronounced SHNEL-foy-er-piss-TO-la). It apparently was called the “Modell 712” (with the semi version being the “Model 711”) in the GECO distributor catalogues of the time, but that was not a designation, but an ordering handle. Interestingly, the US importer AF Stoeger mixed the terms up and called it the “Model 711,” with the “Model 712” being reserved for the semi version …

  2. Mauser Schnellfeuer is example of machine pistol – basically full-auto version of existing automatic pistol, but I wonder why was first to have this idea.
    I am aware of Austria-Hungarian Steyr 1912/16
    it was selective-fire version of Steyr-Hahn automatic pistol, produced during First World War, but maybe someone else have such idea (reworking automatic pistol to machine pistol)?

    • Technical specs of Steyr M12 P16 machine pistol from
      (parts which I understand, correct if I am wrong)
      Created for Austrio-Hungarian aviators)
      Cartridge: 9mm Steyr
      Total length: 22cm
      Barrel (length): 12,5cm
      Magazine capacity: 16
      Rate of fire: 1200 rpm

      (not sure whatever rate of fire is for single or pair of pistols, however first option look more probable to me)

      Also one stock for two pistol does me wonder: have user single trigger for both weapons? have user single fire-mode-selector for both weapon? or that weapons remained totally independent? were that weapons identical xor they were mirror versions?

    • is: “(…)have such idea (reworking automatic pistol to machine pistol)(…)”
      should be “(…)have such idea (reworking automatic pistol to machine pistol) earlier(…)”

    • The Basque makers were the specialists at selective fire pistols

      Ian has mentioned the Astra Broomhandle look-alikes

      Star, and IIRC Llama produced selective fire Browning Colt 1911 derivatives, including some with rate reducers hidden under the grip panels.

      Those were the higher quality Basque makers, I don’t know what the small shops made in the way of selective fire pistols.

    • There was an experimental selective-fire version of the P.08 developed at DWM before WW1; the Trommelmagazin 08 was originally intended for use with it. There was a sliding button up on the sear bar that, when slid forward, prevented the spring-rod from disengaging from the sear lever in the detachable sideplate, in effect disabling the disconnector, to achieve full-auto fire. Naturally, it was based on the 8-inch “Artillery Model” with tangent rear sight, and was intended to be used only with the shoulder stock attached. RoF was in the neighborhood of 1,200 R/M, and DWM decided it wasn’t worth it.

      In the 1930s, the Swiss WF:Bern built a couple of selective-fire M29 Parabellums in 7.65 x 21mm, with extended (16-shot) magazines and special wooden shoulder stock/holsters that housed the long magzines in the comb of the stock. The searage setup was different, with the regular thumb safety also functioning as the selector. Again, RoF was so hellaciously high that they decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

      The Spanish Astra Model F Broomhandle selective-fire clone dealt with the RoF issue by housing a flywheel system in its trademark “blackjack” pistol grip that dragged on the underside of the bolt in recoil, reducing bolt velocity and thus RoF. An analogous system, still housed in the pistol grip, later showed up on the Czech “Skorpion” machine pistols in 7.65 x 17mm Browning, 9 x 18mm Makarov, and 9 x 19mm Parabellum. All of the above fired at about 700 R/M on full-auto; fast, but not uncontrollable.

      The magazine-capacity champion of the day was the French “Union” autopistol in 7.65 x 17mm. A straight-blowback “Eibar” type Browning 1903 clone, it could be had with a horseshoe-shaped magazine that actually curved up under the front of the frame and had a special “cradle” attached at hat end to rest around the frame for steadiness. It held 35 rounds. And yes, that version was selective-fire. Ian did a video on it a long while back, but as usual Mozilla claims FW is “improperly security configured” and will not let me link to it.

      The selective-fire Mauser copies were still not as terrifying as the Star Model M, a selective-fire 1911 clone in .45 ACP. It was noted for emptying its seven-round magazine before you could collect your wits enough to let up on the trigger; RoF somewhere around 1,800 R/M.

      As for the “holding it sideways” trick, yes, it’s crude, but first of all the Chinese soldiers did it with the stock attached and the butt tucked in to the elbow, which reduced the tendency for it to simply go out of control.

      And second, remember you are talking about the soldiers of the armies of Chinese warlords for the most part. They were not well-educated or intensively-trained. For the most part, their training consisted of close-order drill, standing at attention, proper cleaning of weapon and uniform, and most important of all Rendering Honors To The Warlord Whenever He Walked By. Failure to do so usually resulting in being executed on the spot.

      Trivia note; The Eastern custom of bowing is a remnant of Imperial days. It is actually a ceremonial way of offering your head to be lopped off if it pleases your lord to do so. Warlords expected bowing along with everything else.

      With all that, the adoption of the “horizontal hold” was probably a field expedient adopted by troops who were issued selective-fire Spanish “Broomhandle” clones, with either manuals they could not read or no manuals at all, and only cursory instructions from an officer. (Warlord armies, in fact most armies in the SE Asia area, lacked a serious NCO structure.)

      It was most likely a case of Ayoob’s Law in action;

      If you did something stupid, and it worked, then by definition it wasn’t stupid.



      • “The selective-fire Mauser copies were still not as terrifying as the Star Model M, a selective-fire 1911 clone in .45 ACP. It was noted for emptying its seven-round magazine before you could collect your wits enough to let up on the trigger; RoF somewhere around 1,800 R/M.”
        And this is why machine-pistol which were converted from automatic pistol never become popular, to get effective weapon you need bigger (clumsier) magazine, rate of fire reduced and/or some form of stock, considering that designing small sub-machine gun from scratch is better way.

        • Reloading such kind of pistol with side lever in full-auto position is not recommanded : apparently, as soon as the magazine is in place, the slide will get back and slamfire starts.

        • On the Star 1911 type selective fires, the flywheel rate reducer under the grip was activated by the slide, but did not retard the slide, the flywheel tripped the disconnector after it had rotated back and forth.

          With an ordinary 1911, an unexpected burst of full auto can all too easily result in the firer getting the third round up his nose.

  3. Good show and good to see some other famous people like Patrick and sometimes Alex. It looks you all cooperate well.

    I keep being mesmerised with this gun since I’ve seen it first at age of about ten. This is the perfect SDW.

    Use of slow motion camera is of exemplary importance; I wish it was the case as much as possible.

  4. The ease that one can snap on a butt stock, and remove it for storage is a plus. Don’t know of any full auto pistols that are effective in combat, unless the enemies are all on the same ladder…

    • What is relation between SDW and PDW?
      Is SDW subset of PDW, PDW subeset of SDW, PDW mutually exclusive with SDW, PDW equal to SDW?

      • SDW (Self Defense Weapon) was an early term for PDW (Personal Defense Weapon), dating to the early 1970s. It was initially applied to the Colt SCAMP (Small Caliber Automatic Machine Pistol) firing the special .22 SCAMP round (basically a .30 USC case shortened to about 30mm length and necked down to .221 caliber).

        It was also applied to the early Gwinn “Arm Gun”, forerunner of the Bushmaster series, in .221 Remington Fireball.

        Both were intended primarily as aircrew survival weapons to be issued to USAF B-52 bomber crews. The idea being to give them better options to resist capture or fight off attacks than an AR-7 .22LR takedown rifle, or an over/under .22 Hornet + .410 gauge.

        It apparently fell out of favor in the Carter administration, as “self defense” was a term rather intensely disliked by said administration for domestic policy reasons.



      • PDWs are sometimes used “impersonally” too. 🙂

        I guess I am in joking mood today; nothing personal.

        • I guess that if we’re thinking about Murmar Khadaffi – it would bring us back to broomhandles.

  5. I have always found Mauser Broom handle pistols fascinating and they certainly are fun to shoot. I have a C96 in 7.63 Mauser that despite it coming from china is not totally destroyed, it just has character. It always amuses me to watch slow-motion video of them (or similar) being fired as everything wobbles, not just the short recoil as it should the sights wobble the rear sight jumps around is just fun to watch.

  6. Limited ability to hit anything on full auto?
    Maybe one should research the concept of “suppressive fire.”
    There are more ways than one to “clear the room.” A hand grenade works pretty well for that, but if one happens to be in the same room at the same time, something even slightly more selective might be somewhat desirable.
    Think it through and imagine yourself;
    -All-the-sudden faced with an enemy squad with fixed bayonets.
    -You’re David and he’s Goliath and he already has a fixed bayonet, and he’s “right- here-right-now.
    -Your name is “Marianne” and you look up from the the HQ typewriter that you’re armed with and Goliath (with his fixed bayonet) is kicking the door down. He’s got a big smile on his face and looking at you…
    Funny thing. Somehow, a Mauser 714 makes a lot more sense.
    There’s really no “new” ideas.
    Maybe research “PDW.”

    • Funny, that sounds exactly like how some people of the Roaring Twenties had booby-trapped their own persons with tear-gas dispensers. Bank-tellers of the time sometimes got a control-pedal for releasing the conveniently placed trapdoor right in front of the counter. Before the TASER, there was the good-old shock-glove, capable of unleashing 1200 volts of pain upon any would-be kidnapper or rioter…

      As for the Schnellfeuer, it’s pretty obvious that it should likely be restricted to burst-fire mode or semi-automatic if one wants to make it into a commercial personal-defense weapon. I would also recommend using a more massive barrel (preferably shrouded or finned) to prevent cook-off accidents (the Chinese Type 80 machine pistol fails in heat control).

  7. This weapon has “Hold Open” device not found in standard C96, but has not “Firing Rate Reducers” used in Spanish counterparts.

    The few second of slow motion with a glance at tiny “Bolt Stop” retaining its place during recoil through inertia, worths hours of scintific education about why the recoil springs are useless to delay the opening of breechbolt at instant when the highest pressure within the chamber occurs.

  8. Ian, I had a 712 for years (like 20) overseas before I had to sell it when I returned to the USA. I fired it at least 10,000 rounds and found the best way to shoot it with a shoulder stock is the way the Waffen SS was taught to shoot it. If they were right handed, then the right hand would hold the gun like you noted in the video with the thumb next to the frame and the left hand would be placed palm down on the comb of the stock just in front of where the stock rises. The right cheek would be on the stock. They strongly recommended not holding the gun with the non-firing hand at the front of the receiver to keep from having the magazine jam. With the off hand on the stock the 712 is as you discovered in your video a very easy weapon to shoot and it does not take a lot of practice to get 3 to 5 round bursts. My gun was sold via Holt’s Fine Guns and Firearms to some high ranking Russian Official who also purchased several of my other weapons that I sold at that time. Harry

  9. So Ian, How does the 1980s era Glock 18 compare? Any experience with one of those? I am genuinely curious.

  10. Any idea why the M712 didn’t evolve further (with maybe a telescoping wire stock and longer receiver at the front of the trigger guard for the thumb of the support hand like the Beretta 93R) and become a MP38 competitor/ closer MP5K ancestor?

    • Mainly the advent of full-grown SMGS like the MP-28, Erma EMP, Bergmann, Beretta Model 38, and finally the Erma MP38/40.

      All of them were much sturdier than the Schnellfeuer (most obviously around the shoulder stock), were easier to hold on to in autofire, simpler mechanically (blowback advanced primer ignition fixed firing pin), had a lower, more controllable RoF due to their heavier bolts, and were much cheaper to build and easier to maintain.

      In spite of the “bolt lurch” when you squeezed the trigger, they were generally more accurate, too.

      It’s been said that a shoulder stock turns a reasonable pistol into an indifferent carbine. In terms of combat utility, a machine pistol, no matter how sophisticated, is really not as practical as a properly-designed SMG.

      Machine pistols require fairly intensive training for effective use in anything but “spray and pray” tactics. Which were characteristic of the Chinese warlord armies; Throw A Lot Of Lead In A Hurry.

      Modern MPs, like the Glock 18, are mainly intended for plainclothes VIP protective details, where carrying a full-on SMG is almost impossible under a suit jacket.

      Such protective officers need, and should receive, very careful training in the use of such arms in an AoP (Assault on Principal) situation, as they can be serious “collateral damage generators” without it.

      As for other applications in CTW etc., they make nice “status symbols” for undercover ops to impress tangos, drug dealers, etc. with.

      But in terms of actual tactical use, a small SMG like the MP-5K, or a short -barreled folding stock rifle-caliber arm like the AKS-74R 5.45mm, or the older Ruger AC-556K, makes a lot better sense.



  11. Anybody noticed top of hammer snag on underside on the bolt in the forward travel?
    I wonder if it has any impact on reducing the rate of fire even slightly.

    If this gun was made with rate reducer like vz61 skorpion, it would be used and sold at least 40 years after 1930s, maybe even today.

  12. i have had the mod 712 mauser in 30 mauser and the mac10 in 45 cal in close combat situations ,both are room-brooms, and the mac has much better protection rate than the 30 cal. the 45 hi-vels with the funnel nose really stop what you hit. with good fire control they are very efficient the kids do not like them because they are on the heavy side.

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