Mystery Rifle

I received a batch of photos from a European reader asking if I could identify the gun in them, and I have found myself stumped. The reader thought this might be a G41, but it is not. My first thought, based on its bolt handle, was the Russian Federov, but it is also definitely not that. I suspect it is German based on things like the font of the rear sight markings and other subtle details, but I can’t even be sure of that. Note that the safety selector markings are “S” and “F”, which provides a clue to the language its designers or target market would have used.

Does anyone recognize this weapon?


  1. Any idea about what cartridge might have been used or at least, wich ones cannot be used? That might narrow it down somewhat.

  2. Following on from the idea that it is a german riffle the sighting system looks like a scaled up version of the sighting system on the mauser C96 pistol. The hinge on the front of the rifles sight looks exactly the same and the lay out of the numbers is similar as is the way that the notch is cut in to the sight. So the designed has defiantly could have had that influence which would also give a broad clue to its era, being in the earlier half of 20th century where fine machining like that was the only way to make things as none of the parts apear to be stamped, this could also mean its a prototype if its been manufactured in this labor intensive way.

  3. Mauser built a series of semi-automatic guns before WWI, none of which reached large production numbers as they needed oiled ammunition. He basically tried every known locking mechanism. Have to dig through some old DWJ articles to find a match.

  4. Not a clue.
    But I see “The Firearm Blog” put up your video of the Schwarzlose without attribution. Comments are closed, but they got called on it by everyone who did comment.
    A very tacky thing to do IMO.

  5. Hard to tell if it is a straight pull rifle or a semi-auto prototype. This is from the spring within the receiver. The 011 suggest that it is one of a series of test bed. I would ask for a picture or two of the rear of the action and one with the rear top cover removed.

  6. I can you get an over all pic. Seems like the finish is better than normally found on experimentals 1st run. I would like a rough even schematic of the gas system..

  7. The helical screw locking lugs suggest that it is a Thompson [Auto Ordnance] ‘Autorifle’ prototype action incorporating the Blish principal friction/hesitation locking system. A fair number of these rifles were made in the 1920’s for government trials both within the USA and Europe.

    • I thought of the Thompson, too, but the bolt handle is the wrong shape and in the wrong place.

      It’s also not a Bang, which was my first thought.Its bolt assembly resembles the Mauser 1902 prototype, but that was recoil operated, and from Ian’s mention of the Fyodorov I conclude this beast is (was?)probably intended for gas operation.

      It doesn’t closely resemble any of the Mannlicher prototypes, as the bolt handle and magazine are wrong. (I’m looking at three different W.H.B. Smith books as I type this, BTW.)

      The “S” and “F” markings indicate English- or French-language origin (German would be “G” and “S”).

      Other than that, I got nothin’.



      • “The “S” and “F” markings indicate English- or French-language origin (German would be “G” and “S”).”
        This can be also German with “S” for “Sicher” and “F” for “Feuer”

          • Seems to have two sears, well it might anyway.

            Whatever they are, the thing that releases the bolt.

            There’s a thing towards the front and back…

            Open bolt full, closed’ish semi.

    • Do you mean this John,


      First used on the Mannlicher retarded blowback rifle of 1893, the bolt in screw-delayed blowback was slowed by the need to rotate steeply pitched interrupted threads on the bolt and receiver. John T. Thompson designed a rifle that operated on a similar principle around 1920 and submitted it for trials with the US Army. This rifle, submitted multiple times, competed unsuccessfully against the Pedersen rifle and Garand primer-actuated rifle in early testing to replace the M1903 Springfield rifle.[24] Mikhail Kalashnikov later developed a prototype submachine gun in 1942 that operated by a screw-delayed blowback principle,[25] which is also found on the Fox Wasp carbine. A pair of telescoping screws delayed rearward movement of the operating parts during the firing cycle. This weapon was ultimately not selected for production.[26]


      • It never “screws” like a screw, all the way back does it.

        Round, and round like under gas pressure…

        Is that what they do?

        He he, never.

        • By the time it had screwed itself into say the bolt carrier, what would push it back… The bolt face is inline with about the 8 on the sight.

  8. The safety is also characteristic of the Thompson Autorifle. Only the rear sight is different from the Autorifles submitted to Springfield Armory in the early 1920’s. Possibly a Swiss submission or the Model 1929 in .276 Pederson cartridge submitted to Royal Ordnance?

  9. The Mauser Selbstlader, has a similar trigger guard and sight, and the trigger looks like a Mauser 98’s…

    It’s a similar layout, externally sort of.

  10. To me it looks like a short recoil rotating bolt receiver. There are no threads for a barrel as it would be in a gas operating system, the front of the receiver has a ring shape to set a large spring against, and the bolt has the threads to turn against the handle during recoil to unlock. The clip guide and thumb cut look Mauser style, only the safety position is odd, but it’s odd for any gun I can think off.

    • There’s two holes either side of the lower barrel mounting bit, for guide rods or something.

      The bolt face appears to have a lug, an extractor, a gap for a ejector… There’s a something sticking out of the left hand side of the receiver which looks like it goes through a cut through it, around the position were the bolt would be if it was open.

      Then there’s all that gear under the receiver which sort of resembles some sort of tilting, toggle, lark, with the half moon safety switch thing… Which sort of looks attached like a indicator rather than a moveable lever.

      • Can’t be a rotating and say a tilting mechanism though, said “gear” must be part of the trigger mechanism a sear, hold open etc, which seems bulky because it’s primitive but not suggesting it’s from an age of experimenting with automatic weapons.

    • I’m not sure a barrel would fit through that hole in the receiver, in relation to the size of the bolt which has a lug on it seemingly.

      • A barrel with locking breech lugs in front of the chamber, would never fit through that hole in the front of receiver, look at the size of the bolt face and lug.

  11. Whatever it is, it is definitely German or at least built with German parts. The rear sight is identical to a Mauser K98, except a K98 sight goes out to 2000 meters and this one only goes to 1000.

    • I noticed that, and 1000 is quite conservative… Compared to various other versions of weapon sights which seem optimistic 2000 etc.

      • Apart from, the bolts locking lug being in the receiver “if it is” that’s the only other thing which would make me thing “last ditch” they weren’t in the mood for exaggeration by then.

        Alternatively, WW1 was very unpleasant, some designers must only be concerned with winning…

  12. This indeed looks to me like mechanism is based on Blish type lock, so no gas nor recoil are necessary; further, the cartridge was not as powerful considering sighting to 1km(?).
    I presume the sender has just pictures, not real piece (say in museum, armory or so on) and the fact it das have common English mode abbreviation…. this all gives indication of American origin perhaps for a metric customer.

    I’d suggest to go back to sender and ask his source.

      • You described it in your July 30th, 12:41 memo – screw groove delay. However I step back little bit in consideration of what Mu says. He does not see indication of barrel thread and that may point to moving barrel, or combination of both.
        It is also conceivable, that this idea as much brilliants as it might have been, was not materialized and project was simply abandoned. It would not be first, neither last with that destiny.

        • Well you learn something everyday “screw delayed” ha! Who’d have thought it, I wouldn’t have 🙂

        • It’s not “screw” delayed, it’s what I alluded to, and I alluded to it, because unlike like you I had never heard of screw delay… Which enables me to think outside the box, being somewhat gun retarded he he.

  13. I think the bolt goes more forward, and would actually sit inside the hole in the receiver. A barrel would then rest on the hole, the lug is in the receiver. The bolt carrier is contacted by two rods which fit through the holes in the receivers front, these rods have springs around them, and are attached to a sleeve around the barrel “bang” system at the muzzle lark, the bolt carrier has a lug on it’s underside which runs in the bolts spiral, rotating it free of the lug. The bolt and carrier move back together, the piston sleeve moves forward. When the bolt carrier is fully forward the bolt is locked behind the lug again, perhaps.

    A WW1 sort of G41 idea.

    • It had a tendency to go skew whiff inside the receiver though, because of the long bolt – tilt, as it has done i.e. It’s not inline with were the chamber would be, and jam accordingly, as it appears to have been jammed fast for a very long time that’s why the bolt isn’t fully forward.

      • If you look at the bolt face it’s near the end of the receiver, not were it usually would be i.e. the barrel would usually be were the receiver is wouldn’t it i.e. near the magazine.

        • The lug, the bolts locking lug locks against is in the receiver, it sits behind the bolts one, rather than it being in the barrel i.e. a breech lug.

          Do you follow me?

    • The top of the receiver prevents the bolt carrier from going any further back than that position, and the carrier has a mark on its rear indicative of it going under this point by a bit. The front of the carrier is marked similarly suggesting it passes inside the receiver/front unusual part… The carrier would basically be in the correct position when it’s back, bolt the bolt must go through it, to reach the same point i.e. to pick up a round in the magazine.

      Not sure about the purpose of the two holes I suggested were for rods/bang system, mystery… Mysterious.

      • The bolt carriers handle can’t go any further back there’s no cut out in the receiver.


        This is stranger than that other strange one, with the rising brass block thing which was at the wrong angle and I’ve only been on this site for two minutes.

        Mind you before computer aided design I bet there was loads of this, quill job on the back of a painting on the wall then try to make models, with them going d’oh! D’oh! Frequently.

        • I’m sticking with what I said, with the caveat… The “screw” threads, only go forward about another 1″ max beyond what is visible, and the bolt carrier isn’t fully forward, so the carrier turns the bolt “actuated by, say a bang gas lark” the lug is in the receiver behind the bolts lug, then the bolt… The lug in the bolt carrier engaging the screw threads, is at it’s front… Unlocks, bolt flies back into the carrier, carrier moves back. Forward… Bolt is pushed through carrier by spring, picks round up, carrier follows, the chamber is forward of the receiver ie the in the barrel.

          Flaw – tilt during long travel to chamber, jammed in about 1915 way past WD40 oils capabilities.

          • Why…

            They didn’t want to make breech locking lugs in the barrel, cost or something.

  14. I’ve been wracking my brain over this all morning (preventing me from getting much actual work done), and I am still puzzled. If I had to lay odds, the Mauser like features, such as the rear sight, stripper clip relief, trigger, captive screws on floorplate, and generally solidly machined look of the components like the trunion suggest German origin, and the apparent quality of manufacture in the lack of stampings and bad welds doesn’t seem like hallmarks of a Volksgewehr type weapon. My money would be on a prototype Mauser self-loader from the pre-WW1 experiments. Now, this is the best I have with the available pictures. As to how it worked, well, I don’t think I have enough to hazard a guess, but it obviously didn’t work too well. Fun stuff, and quite fascinating. I wonder if there is a complete one lying around somewhere, or if the parts were cannibalized for other things. By the numbers, there might have been at least 10 more at one point, assuming this was the last one.

  15. Are Czech, Hungarian, and Polish not possibilities? The Czechs especially did a lot of prototype rifles.

  16. What a strange mixture of work! The sight shows excellent workmanship and shaded-font numerals with a lot of time in the machine shop. The rest of it looks like something I would make on a ShopSmith with a bunch of left-overs from many weapons. I’m going to opine that it’s a home built hodgepodge.

    • I disagree Sir, I think it was factory made by folk frothing at the mouth for some impossible ill perceived victory worth nothing.

    • That rear sight is the stumper. As others have said, it has that definite Mauser look. But Mauser rifle rear sights (98, 98b, k98, etc.) were normally graduated to 2000 meters. The c/96 pistol rear sight looks only slightly like this one;

      The M1916 9 x 19mm “Red 9” version’s rear sight was only graduated to 500 meters.

      It looks like the sight was made specifically for this weapon, not “borrowed” from somewhere else. the 1000 meter range would tend to indicate a relatively short-ranged cartridge. Not necessarily an “intermediate” military round, as there were several sporting rounds used in Germany and elsewhere before WW 2, for hunting smaller game such as musk deer. (The 7.9 x 33 Kurz round had its beginnings with the ballistics of such a round made by DWM for commercial sale.)

      If I had to make a SWAG about the most likely military cartridge for this arm, I’d say either 7 x 57 Mauser or one of the 6.5mm family (Mauser, Mannlicher, etc.). Even then, most of their users and manufacturers agreed that 1000 meters was about the outer limit for those rounds.

      But as I said, that’s just a SWAG.



      • Maybe it had a short barrel, if you look at how long the receiver already is. So a reduced range, perhaps.

  17. the system looks almost like the tilting lock bolts that Mauser/Walther experimented with (culminating to the MP-5 and G-3) may-hap it is an experimental rifle to make an auto-loader pre-WW1/2 like the Russian Federov.

  18. I had the same reaction to the rear sight as Aj, knew I’d seen it / couldn’t remember where. Then the light bulb went on. Went to the gun safe and fished out the Czech G33-40 mountain carbine. Mine is 1944 production with Nazi markings. The rear sight appears to be identical, at least as close as I can tell from the pictures. I hope this advances the cause.

    • Should have read further down before I posted.


      If it’s a G33/40 rear sight or anything like it, the rifle itself could very well be of Czech or other Eastern European origin. Maybe one worked up at Brno before the war as a commercial sale possibility, or intended for the Czech (or other) army?



  19. There is a large gap between breechbolt cover and receiver and it may be a clue for a fixed barrel recoil operated rifle which having prototyped members made by P.Mauser and A.W.Schwarzlose. On these guns, breechbolt cover or carrier keeps its location on the recoiling firearm through inertia and unlocks the breechbolt and receiver connection. Construction looks rather simple for a Mauser work and this rifle may be a part of Schwarzlose experiments covered by a US patent with SN 1026609 published at May, 04, 1912, which having a special unlocking spring instead of mechanical cam work.

  20. BY analysing the way the Model is Built, we can come to a very close assumption as to “Who Made it”.

    Firstly, Receiver King screws: 1/4″ x22 tpi ( Typical Mauser Gewehr)
    Small Locking screw in TG…also typical Post-1898 Mauser Gewehr.

    Trigger Guard shape: Mauser Commercial Form ( no block for QD Parade attachment)…shape also used on 1907 Kar98a)

    Magazine well in TG…originally milled for a Five-round internal Magazine (plunger and opening for normal Gewehr Floorplate still present)…but TG then milled to allow positioning of 5Rd. Box Mag. ( Proto-type in progress ?).

    Bolt Knob profile…M1903/1904 Commercial…”tear-drop” or “Pear-shape” ( not spherical as in Military G98s).

    Rear sight: M1902/08 Type, probably based on C96 Pistol sight; with the 1000 metre sight, could this rifle be based on a cartridge OTHER than the 7,9mm or other Mauser “Rifle”(Military) cartridges??? ( say a straight walled “Pistol” type case? or a short “Hunting” Cartridge?? ( as in 8×51-M88 Kurz Mauser, 6,5×54 Kurz Mauser, etc ) Or was the design meant for a shorter “Carbine” type rifle, with an intermediate cartridge? Similar Rear “Carbine” sights are used on M1908 Brazilian, M1909 Argy, and M1905/08 Turkish “Carbines” ( Musketoons).

    Fast Thread pattern Locking Lugs…could this be an antecedent of the Post WW I Thompson/Blish experimentals? Steyr-Hahn Pistols have Spiral locking lugs for recoil operation on barrel, and many other experimental actions pre-WWI used similar systems. Maybe the interrupted Lugs and Fast “unlocking” are for Mechanical advantage, rather than ” closure” ( Like the Browning 1906 Mod.8 Long-recoil Rifle ( which FN made also in “9mm FN” ( aka .35 Remington (Auto)….Remember, FN was wholly owned by DWM in the 1900s to 1918 Period, so Interaction between FN and Oberndorf Design Offices was a given.

    Since we have no indication of whether the gun is Gas actuated or Gas and Recoil actuated ( No Barrel etc)…BUT there are two cylindrical opening on either side of the Lower Front receiver Block (Trunnion) where the Barrel ?screws? in….Could be Two actuating rods ( Like the US M1 Carbine spring) connected to either a Gas Piston , Gas ring, or a Bang Patent Gas shield ( like the early Gas-trap Garands), and “impinging” on the Bolt carrier/sleeve ( Cei-Rigotti System, also Scotti SA rifle, and eventually, M1 Carbine short-stroke Piston system…. Everything Old is New again!!?!!

    Whilst the Photos are very good, some measurements would have been helpful.

    Final conclusions ( My own:) A Waffenfabrik Mauser Toolroom Prototype Semi-Auto Carbine, Probably for “Commercial” Use, but with Military Possibilities…depending on Cartridge Used. One of at least 11 (eleven) Built….???

    Doc AV

  21. Why are there no photos with the bolt open?

    Because it’s jammed perhaps.

    And I’m not surprised if it is, the bolt face complete would be the same diameter as the circular cut out in the front of the receiver and this would align the firing pin up with the centre of the chamber.

    Were as now if you look at it, the firing pin hole is not in the middle of the cut out in the receiver were the barrel would be, therefore the bolt is not aligned so it’s likely jammed.

    Furthermore the bolt face is about half an inch from the front of what usually would be a trunnion for the barrel, but in this case is the receiver. Which puts the magazine behind it by about the length of a cartridge, there is a gap between the bolt carrier with the cocking handle on it and the front of the “trunnion” receiver, of about half an inch.

    If the carrier was forward as a consequence of the gun not being jammed, the firing pin would be central as the bolt would be aligned with the circular cut out in order for it to be aligned with the chamber.

    So we need to know if the owner of this piece can’t cock it, otherwise can we have more pictures with the bolt open.

  22. Ian, I told you that rifle rings a bell, when you first wrote, but I was cut off from my bookshelf temporarily, touring the Balkans. Now I’m back. Most definitely it is a Mauser rifle, and seems very similar to the G-35 prototype model. The only differences are the trigger guard with no carrying strap attachment device hole in it and the lacking magazine bottom (the G-35 was 8-shot with a pronounced magazine bottom hanging below the wooden handguard) and receiver cap. It featured the short sight, and the rest seems identical. No way to post photos here, but I would scan the book and send Ian the pics. For those of you with extensive libraries – check up WTS Koblenz catalog titled ‘Die Selbstlade- und automatischen Handfeuerwaffen’, page 346.
    Now I have to leave and would scan that picture within several hours time, then maybe Ian would choose to put it on the blog.

    • That really is a forgotten weapon I can’t find anything else about it via Google at least, found a Vollmer M35 but that isn’t the same thing.

    • After the Selbstlader… The idea had caught on, and the Germans never stopped experimenting with SLRs. The first of Mauser’s postwar SLRs was the G35, designed as a result of the success of the Czech ZH-29 SLR (designed by Vladimir Holek; hundreds were sold, including at least 500 to Manchuria). The G35 was a short-barrel recoil weapon and was out of favor compared with the gas-operated systems appearing elsewhere, which were more conventional in barrel length.

      Well spotted Leszek the Mauser G35.

      I think this is a prototype G35, experimental version.

    • Self-loading rifle G-35

      Manufacturer: Military Mauser AG, Oberndorf

      Hertel Lung Year: 1935

      Self-propelled by gas pressure, short recoil operated, locked breech using rotary bolt head.

      Caliber: 7.92 mm, 4 trains, right hand twist
      Pipe length: 610 mm
      V0: 745 m / s
      Magazine capacity: 8 rounds
      Mass: 5040 g

      Developed by the Konstrukeuren Altenburger un Schweikle at Mauser Selbsladegewhr is-together with the two prototypes of the A-115 and A-35 Mauser manufactured by Vollmer – subjected to extensive troop testing. With regard to reliability, durability and shooting accuracy fulfilled it – as well as the two competing models – not the required conditions and in 1938 finally rejected.

      • 610mm same length as a K98 barrel, not that short…

        “Self-propelled by gas pressure, short recoil operated, locked breech using rotary bolt head.”

        Which one is it then?

          • I think it looks to big to be the barrel i.e. the chamber, yet to small to hold a barrel with a chamber of that calibre and breech locking lugs inside.

          • The top of the “chamber” which the carrier meets, or goes into is at least a quarter of a inch higher than the carrier, now we know there’s a bolt inside the carrier because of the photographs on this thread, well there was on this prototype at least. So there would be very limited room for a breech locking chamber barrel to fit around the bolt, inside the “chamber” visible on the Czech photo. A similar situation exists with the photos on this thread, a locking breech chambered barrel is not going to fit through the circular cut out in the bolt face photograph. The barrel on the Czech photo of the G35 doesn’t look like it moves as per a Fedorov, it might, but the barrel would have to be quite slim around the chamber to fit through the “trunnion” on all the photographs found so far.

          • The chamber of the G35 I’m saying is under the wood in front of the “trunnion” that’s why it had a short barrel.

          • And if the barrel doesn’t move, it can’t be short recoil operated. Rather it is recoil operated, locked via a rotating bolt lug actuated by the carrier.

  23. Well it’s a Mauser G35 prototype anyway, and there’s at least one complete G35 in existence to have a look at it’s wherever that photograph of it is from, the Czech republic possibly.

  24. Pdb, would you please read carefully the original post, where the link comes from? The rifle is exhibited at WTS (Military Technology Study Collection) in Koblenz, Germany.

    McThag, Gee, what a God-awful mess of a translation… Google’s at it’s usual best 🙂
    Actually, the tag reads like that:

    “G-35 Selfloading Rifle
    Manufacturer: Waffenfabrik Mauser AG, Oberndorf, Germany
    Year of production: 1935
    Short recoil-operated, locked by rotating bolthead
    Caliber: 7,92 mm, 4 grooves / RH twist
    Bbl lenght: 610 mm
    Muzzle velocity: 745 mps
    Magazine capacity: 8
    weight: 5040 g

    This SLR was designed by Altenburger and Schwenckle from Mauser Co. and sent along the Walther’s A-115 and Vollmer’s A-35 entries for the comprehensive troop testing. As it fell short of the expected reliability, service life and accuracy targets – not unlike the competitors – the program was aborted in 1938.”

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