When the German military finally could no longer tolerate the expense of the P.08 Luger in the late 1930s, they held a trial of possible replacements. The three main entrants were BSW with a gas-operated pistol, Walther with what would ultimately be accepted as the P.38, and Mauser with it’s experimental HSv locked-breech design. Mauser had begun development of the pistol as a replacement for the models 1910/14/34, with two stylistically matching designs – once blowback in small calibers and one locked for 9×19 Parabellum. The initial commercial design had a full-length slide, covering a recoil spring located around the barrel.
However, the German military requirements specifically called for an exposed barrel. This forced Mauser to redesign its recoil spring system, and they opted to use a lever system like in Webley automatic pistols. With that change, and having moved the magazine release to the pistol’s heel, they had an entrant for military testing.
It appears that the Mauser HSv in 9×19 was every bit as good of a pistol as the P.38 – and it actually feels better in the hand than the P.38 to me. However, the Mauser was significantly more expensive, which led to the Walther design winning. The Mauser design would follow a pattern much like the 1910 Mauser had – the small scale blowback design would prove very popular (as the HSc, adopted by the Kriegsmarine among others and selling very well commercially), but the locked breech larger design would fail to make any inroads and never enter production.
“The Mauser design would follow a pattern much like the 1910 Mauser had – the small scale blowback design would prove very popular (as the HSc, adopted by the Kriegsmarine among others and selling very well commercially), but the locked breech larger design would fail to make any inroads and never enter production.”
Now I’m wondering what was first: HSv or HSc? If HSv was first AND HSc is derived from HSv then this story is even more similar to Mauser 1910, which was derived from unsuccessful 9mm automatic pistol
this explain why Mauser 1910 is bigger/heavier than other .25 automatic pistol of that era (for example FN Model 1906) – this give it some advantages over competitors – more comfortable grip and bigger magazine capacity (9 rounds in magazine, so it was high-capacity in comparison to most of concurrent .25 automatic pistols)
“replacement for the models 1910/14/34”
I agree that Mauser HSc is replacement for model 1914 and model 1934. However, I find statement about replacing model 1910 arguable – so far I know Mauser HSc was not available in .25 Auto. I consider Mauser WTP II replacement for Mauser model 1910 as both fire .25 Auto.
According to Pistols of the World (Hogg & Weeks, 1992, p. 212), the HS (Hahn Selbspannung or Selbspanner Pistole mit Hahn– “Self-cocking hammer pistol”, either way) was first designed in 1934-35. The HSa came out in 1937 after a long wrangle with Walther and August Menz over infringements of their double-action searage patents. Changes in searage and safety setups led to the HSb in 1938 and the final HSc, which began production in 1939. The lower case “a”, “b”, and “c” simply mean first, second, and third subtypes, nothing more.
The “v” in HSv most likely meant “Versuch”, or “research”, since they were using “a” for the first proposal for the blowback pocket model. “A” in German technical jargon can also stand for “Aggregate”, meaning “prototype” or “experiment”, as in the A-4 aka V-2 liquid-fuel IRBM. In that case, “V” meant Vergeltungswaffe, literally “Retaliation Weapon”, not “Vengeance Weapon” as often mistranslated.
So, if this pistol prototype dates from he same period as the Walther HP (Heeres Pistole, literally “Army pistol”) prototypes, then that would be around 1935-36, or about the same time as the original HSa design. Which would make it a parallel development to the pocket automatic, rather than one being developed from the other.
Great video! Love those rare, experimental automatic pistols. Have seen some of this in Jon Speed’s book ‘PISTOLEN’ (Collector Grade Publications) which is a history of Mauser handguns, but does not cover this material in the depth you have.
you also mention the designer, Alex Seidel, who after WWII was one of the founders of Heckler & Koch. Keep up the great work!
This is where the words end… Back to the future… A handgun of eigthy years old seeming most improved design of 21. Century.
Thanks Ian…If it were not your video, someone in the foregoing years would reinvent it and rewarded as “Most brilliant handgun design of current times”.
I agree. They are beautiful both mechanically and aesthetically. Lucky new owner.
Both those Mauser pistols seem very advanced, and look as if they would fit the hand much better than the Walther. If they went on sale today, no-one would guess they were designed in the 1930s.
I wonder if the requirement for an open barrel had anything to do with shooting through loopholes in a tank turret? That seemed to be something they worried about in the 1930s, though in practice I don’t think it ever happened much.
It depresses me to think that when Germany was coming up with these advanced automatic pistols, the best Britain could come up with was an Enfield .38 revolver with the hammer spur cut off!
“If they went on sale today, no-one would guess they were designed in the 1930s.”
This remind that in 1930s there was Streamline Moderne architecture style (also found in some vehicles):
“I wonder if the requirement for an open barrel had anything to do with shooting through loopholes in a tank turret? That seemed to be something they worried about in the 1930s, though in practice I don’t think it ever happened much.”
There was requirement porthole-compatible for MP38, but I don’t know about P38.
Firstly: automatic pistol or revolver is always on the very very end of we need to modernize it list of any army, as it can NOT wage outcome of battle /maybe excluding some very extreme cases/.
Secondly: Britain moneys (in 1930s) go first to Royal Navy (logical considering 1930s geography)
Examples of streamline in railroad application:
Webley actually made a prototype 9mm self-loader for the British Army in 1946. Designed by M.K. Jurek, it is supposedly “inspired” by the Walther P.38 but in most respects bears a closer resemblance to the “revolver-barrel” Mauser prototype;
In the end of course, the army simply decided to stick with the FN P-35 High Power 9mm, since they were already using it and pretty much everybody liked it.
Sticking gun barrels through loopholes is generally a TERRIBLE idea. The reason I say this is because the hostiles on the other side of the barrier can also stick gun barrels or spears through the same loopholes. Making pistol ports in tank armor proved to be a bad idea because it gave very little defensive viewing and counterattack capabilities and made a very nasty stress point in the armor. A fictional example of pistol-port failure can be found in a chapter from the manga Pumpkin Scissors, where a shotgun breech “infantry deterrent” installed in a tank’s turret wall gets blown to bits by the hero’s impractical 13mm anti-tank PISTOL because the hero shoved the muzzle of his weapon into the port-weapon (while the panicked crewman was frantically loading another buckshot cartridge into the chamber) and then pulled the trigger. You can imagine that the resulting catastrophic detonation massacred the tank crew!
Did I mess up?
There’s a reason they don’t have pistol ports on tank turrets any more. And why while the original Bradley IFV had six special fire ports for the M231 Firing Port Weapon, present day Brads only have the rearmost two still usable;
Mostly, if you have a fire port anywhere, that area cannot be protected by your Super Secret Absolutely Impenetrable Kryptonite Armor (like on the Abrams). Meaning that while you might be able to clear an enemy muj or whatever off that part of your tank, you also might eat an ATGW or APFSDS there, too, which would be guaranteed to ruin your whole day.
Also, infantry attacks these days are more likely going to be with RPGs or off-route mines, rather than trying to climb on the tank and drop a Geballte Ladung on the engine deck. Generally, they’d rather shoot you from a reasonably safe distance, even in MOBUA.
The modern answer to dealing with guys on foot is called TUSK;
ERA plus 32 dischargers loaded with WP smoke and anti-personnel frag grenades beats a dinky fire port any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Among other things, with them, close counts.
Heck, with Willy Pete, upwind scores.
“There’s a reason they don’t have pistol ports on tank turrets any more.”
Also with modern technology it is possible to make remote controlled gun, without needing to have holes in armour allowing sticking barrel outwards (gun might be as whole outside armour)
“Generally, they’d rather shoot you from a reasonably safe distance”
So don’t forget about APERS ammunition
Pistol ports disappeared from new tank designs already during WW2 and some did not have them to begin with. Firing ports made something of a comeback with the development of the Infantry Fighting Vehicle in the 1960s, this time used of course with battle or assault rifles, but they fell out of favor again in the 1980s. The reason was pretty much the same as with pistol ports and tank hull machine guns after WW2: visibility was poor. The end of Cold War also made them less necessary, since the radiation contaminated “nuclear battlefield” became a less likely scenario.
“the best Britain could come up with was an Enfield .38 revolver with the hammer spur cut off!”
And also in defense of British arms-makers, compare prototype-prototype not prototype-serialproduce, see Webley-Jurek automatic pistol
Interesting information on Jurek, I had not come across that before.
The article says Jurek was one of only three gunsmiths in Britain licensed to make guns. I don’t think that can be right, we still have several makers of bespoke rifles and shotguns. Maybe that figure just referred to pistol makers?
Anyway, the conclusion of the article is sadly true: if you wish to experiment with and manufacture innovative pistols, Great Britain is not the place for you. The state would prefer you to curl up and die.
The problem with the British .38/200 revolvers was not that they were revolvers, but the fact that they chose the wrong cartridge (should have been .38 Special, which also had a 200 grain bullet available) and failed to really modernize the revolver in any way. The break-open design was perhaps understandable due to familiarity, but at least they should have increased the capacity to 7 or preferably 8 shots, both of which were well within the material technology of the 1930s with a low pressure cartridge like the .38 Special.
“should have been .38 Special, which also had a 200 grain bullet available”
What was more popular in 1930s: .38 S&W or .38 Special? Also I wonder to what caliber they compared it, before it was accepted as .38/200?
“problem with the British .38/200 revolvers was not that they were revolvers”
Anyway, so far I know, all other armies of significant countries, if adopted new handgun in 1930s it was automatic pistol not revolver.
That’s true. The British were very conservative, but they didn’t have to be super-conservative, which is what the Enfield No. 2 and Webley Mk IV were.
As for popularity of the cartridges: the .38 S&W was probably more popular in the 1920s, but they were adopting a new military cartridge, so popularity in civilian and law enforcement use was not really relevant, and it’s not like the .38 Spl was obscure at the time.
I’ve long had a notion that Remington missed an overseas sales opportunity when the Empire adopted the .380/200 by not chambering their venerable if anemic .41 rimfire over/under derringer in the “new” caliber and marketing it to the Brits for sergeants and the like, whose load didn’t need a full-blown revolver and holster but might want an extreme-emergency option tucked away in a pocket. And then I could have picked one up surplus on the cheap in the 80s to go with my equally useless but fun to shoot .380/200 Enfield, which shot about 7 feet off point of aim at 15 yards with commercial US .38 S&W ammo.
“venerable if anemic .41 rimfire over/under derringer in the “new” caliber”
If you think about Remington Model 95:
This would be harder that it looks, as you noted it is rimfire weapon.
In is designed in way that distance between point-of-impact of firing pin for 2 cartridge is as short as possible – i.e. [assuming user-point-of-view and default holding of weapon] cartridge in upper chamber is hit in lowest point and cartridge in lower chamber is hit in uppermost point – changing .41 rim-fire to .38 S&W would force change to firing mechanism (center-fire due to their design must be hit centrally, thus distance between point-of-impact of firing pin would be notable bigger).
I fear that I don’t say it clearly, if you don’t understand, use link:
(I also fear about angle-of-impact of said firing pin against primer)
is: “(…)against primer)”
should be: “against primer of center-fire cartridge)”
There have been several US companies over the last 30 years or so that have made Remington 95 lookalikes in a host of centerfire calibers up to and including the .45-70, which was apparently designed (like all very powerful, very small and light handguns) for the physics-challenged. I’ve never owned or shot one so I have no idea how accurate to the Remington design they are internally. Did have a High Standard hammerless 2-shot .22 mag for a while, great snake gun for fishing.
There really isn’t that much difference in power between the standard .38 S&W and .38 S&W Special loads of the 1920s/30s/40s.
The standard U.S. “police” load for the .38 Spl. was a 158-gr RNL at 850 F/S for ~ 250 FPE.
The standard British .38 S&W load was a 178-gr RNL or later FMJ at 700 F/S for 195 FPE. The earlier “.38/200” load had a MV of 650 F/S for 187 FPE. It was not used during WW2 due to concerns viz. the Hague Convention.
The point is that a 50 to 70 FPE difference wouldn’t be that noticeable to the recipients. Either one would absolutely penetrate and kill at any reasonable range for a revolver in combat (under 50 yards).
The reason for the adoption of the .38 Special in U.S. police circles was due to the fact that up to that time, most police, if armed at all, generally had .32 S&W or .32 S&W Long caliber revolvers, which not only were not “man-stoppers” but also had very poor penetration on auto coachwork, which became a major concern in the “Roaring Twenties”.
In fact, the .38 Spl. wasn’t much improvement, and for Highway Patrol work was rather quickly superseded by first the “.38/44 Heavy Duty” load (we’d call it a .38 Spl +P today)in the late Twenties, and then when even that wasn’t enough, the .357 Magnum introduced in 1935.
It’s no coincidence that S&W Registered Series .357 #0001 was presented by the company to J.Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI. The .357 was intended from the outset as both a sporting and a defense/law enforcement caliber. It turned out to be somewhat underpowered for game above deer size, but is still one of the best all-around police/self-defense calibers in existence; only the 9 x 19mm is close to it, and that
s mainly because the 9 not only can be easily accommodated in compact or high-capacity self-loaders in addition to revolvers, some of the more emphatic 9 x 19mm loads come very close to .357 ballistics and terminal effect.
Another overlooked factor in the British choice of .38 S&W is that it’s physically shorter front-to-back than .38 Spl. As such, the proportions of the standard Webley break-top revolver design did not have to be changed radically to accommodate it. After all, the MK IV .38 is essentially a scaled-down MK VI .455in.
I agree completely that both .38/200 and .38 Spl were quite lethal in handgun ranges. The latter is about 25% more powerful in muzzle energy, which is not a huge amount by any means. But, if you are going to choose a new cartridge for your army anyway, then why not choose the most powerful one that fits the bill?
The British Army was seeking a lower recoil alternative for the .455 Webley, and they did not believe in high velocity light bullets, so developments of .32 or 8mm cartridges were out of the question. Perhaps something like a modernized .41 Long Colt would have been optimal, which has been suggested by Elmer Keith and others over the years, but that would required developing a new cartridge practically from zero. This leaves the .38 Special as the best choice among the existing revolver cartridges.
I also agree that .38 S&W was a good choice if all you wanted to achieve was a smaller version of the .455 Webley with absolutely minimal development costs. Old cartridge for an old design. Still, they had a good chance to actually make some improvements with the cartridge change, such as increased capacity and perhaps even switching to a swing-out cylinder, but they didn’t. They decided to stick to a 40 year old design, despite swing-out and higher than 6 round capacity cylinders being also quite old and safe tech by the interwar era.
Wait, I think I missed something. So the safety wasn’t a hammer drop. Did this mean you had to manually lower the hammer? Was that possible with the safety on?
Why shouldn’t Mauser use, and get credit for using, the dropping block in this gun? They invented it for the C96 Broomhandle (well, cribbed it a bit from Maxim’s first prototype). Why shouldn’t Walther offer it in the HP/AP/P38? It worked so well in the Mauser (and the rising block worked OK for Bergmann), it wasn’t a vulgar American/Belgian tilting barrel (see “exposed barrel requirement”), and it must have been cheaper than those Austro-Hungarian rotating barrels (see “exposed barrel requirement”). Once you had this exposed barrel requirement, you needed a dropping block or a Webley-style dropping barrel plus breech. There seems to be no other locking action available in the 1930s once you have this exposed barrel requirement.
I wonder if the requirement was an illogical neurotic holdover from Mauser Broomhandle and Luger styling, akin to General Staff’s prejudice against bored gas ports? Though the “shoot out the vehicle port” (or fortress loophole) speculation above seems perfectly reasonable.
The only problem with the fortress loophole thing is that the attacking team can figure out what you’re doing and reply with flamethrowers or if they’re evil, poison gas. Exposed barrels on semiautomatic handguns may give slightly better accuracy, but they’re horrible for close quarters “whack-the-other-guy-over-the-head-with-your-gun” type of battle!
I don’t think anyone has designed fixed fortifications with firing ports specifically for pistols. Pistol ports in tanks were used because of the very limited space available inside a tank turret. Bunkers and casemates usually do not have that problem to a same degree, so any firing ports would usually be big enough for a carbine or SMG. They would also have armored steel doors to protect the occupants when the port is not used.
“I wonder if the requirement was an illogical neurotic holdover from Mauser Broomhandle and Luger styling, akin to General Staff’s prejudice against bored gas ports? Though the “shoot out the vehicle port” (or fortress loophole) speculation above seems perfectly reasonable.”
Now I think was there requirement how long exposed part of barrel should be? Maybe it would be possible to make Korovin ТКБ-160 look-a-like with only small portion exposed, see 3rd photo from top here:
“There seems to be no other locking action available in the 1930s once you have this exposed barrel requirement.”
Or go with delayed-blowback principle as Майн and Крекин, see photo here:
пистолет Майна-Крекина, ЦКБ-2 (Kovrov)
mass: 800 g
cartridge: 7.62×25 (TT)
magazine capacity: 8
muzzle velocity: 425m/s)
““shoot out the vehicle port””
As this was also requirement in Soviet contest for automatic pistol starting 1938, the competitors have free barrels (for me they remind aesthetic-wise Schwarzlose 1898) – see here: http://www.earmi.it/armi/atlas/262.htm
In 1939 Rakov automatic pistol was almost adopted:
It passed trials, but K.E.Voroshilov tested it personally, dislike and delete decision about production – final outcome was that designers should improve their automatic pistols.
It’s interesting to see that lockwork and the care taken with the two tabs on the sear and the “half cock” notch on the hammer
so that the only way that the pistol can fire is with a continuous pull on the trigger
simply striking the trigger, for example by dropping the pistol, would not result in it firing.
Re: exposed barrel on the P38.
I recall reading that an advantage of the Luger P08 exposed barrel in trench warfare was that a barrel plugged with mud could be replaced.
An enclosed barrel would damage the slide.
While I do not recall where I read this, I do recall the author offered no citation, so I assume this to be speculation.