Tsingtao Ironworks C96 Carbine – A Fancy Carbine for a Wealthy Client

Today we are looking at a high-end C96 Mauser pattern sporting carbine made by the Tsingtao Ironworks. Only a few dozen of these were made, and this one survives in excellent condition. It is a good example of how some guns in Warlord China were made by skilled craftsmen with excellent tools and with a lot of pride of workmanship. This is a copy of the Mauser pre-war commercial carbine pattern, right down to details like the full-profile slide rails and grooved rear sight.

Interested in Warlord-Era Chinese handguns? I have a whole book on them!



  1. Kaiser Whilhelm II fired a similar (albeit Mauser-made) C96 carbine on formal hunts. The Kaiser could only fire the carbine single-handed because of his withered left arm which was injured during birth. Some historians attribute Whilhelm’s erratic behaviour to insecurity that originated with his withered left arm.

    • RE: Kaiser Wilhelm.

      The deal with his “withered arm” being responsible for his lousy performance as hereditary leader of the German Empire has always struck me as being in the same class as the excuses I constantly hear from people excusing the bad behavior of others: “Oh, he had a bad childhood…”

      How about a more accurate and less enabling construction: “Kaiser Wilhelm was an inadequate asshole that didn’t cope with the minimal adversity of a birth defect very well”?

      I’ve known men who had far more “adversity” to deal with in their lives than a damaged arm. They coped with it, and rose above their problems much better than Kaiser Wilhelm ever did, simply because they were better men in all regards. The sad fact is, if there was anyone who was positioned to be able to deal with that “withered arm” issue, it was the man who was at the head of a European empire, with all the resources available to him.

      He was a shitty, inadequate human being who allowed himself to be bullied by his idiot subordinates, who he’d mostly picked, into a war that killed millions. That had nothing to do with the “adversity” he faced due to that arm, and that “adversity” excuses nothing.

      • I’ve read several books on the events leading up to WW I, and the one common thread that I found was that Kaiser Wilhelm II believed that he had been selected by God to be Kaiser, that God doesn’t make mistakes, and therefore he did not have to think about any of his actions because God would not let him make a mistake.

        I have exactly the opposite opinion of Bismarck, that he crafted all his actions very carefully, studied his opponents, and was successful because of it. Exhibit No. 1 is how he tricked Napoleon III into declaring war on Prussia to start the 1870 war which provided the impetus into uniting the myriad German kingdoms into the German empire.

        And Kaiser Willy threw it all away because he didn’t need to think or plan because God would not let him make a mistake.

        Bismarck was human and got old and died. But I always wondered how he would have handled events if he had still been alive and in office and in charge without Kaiser Wilhelm II messing things up.

        • Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas II both exemplify the reasons why hereditary leadership is a bad idea; the clowns and poltroons who were running France in 1914 exemplify why elective leadership is often just as bad, and the f*ckwits in charge of Great Britain show why whatever it is they have going doesn’t work, either.

          I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Humanity doesn’t do organization very well, at all. These huge reef structures of hierarchical authority that we throw up almost always prove to be utterly inadequate in the face of time and any sort of external challenge.

          At some point, we’re gonna grow out of the stupid. Or, exterminate ourselves in a fit of idiocy.

    • Everyone in the comments are arguing about Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II, while I’m just impressed that a beer company made a rifle. 😉

  2. Hello Ian! I have seen one piece of evidence which indicates, a few of these “Mauser C96 type carbines”. Were indeed, used in a military application in China. Please see the following clip, from the documentary: The Story of Eric Liddell – inspiration for the film “Chariots of Fire”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GntEddUzkgc&t=2440s This clip illustrates, a nearly identical carbine as to the one your are presenting. I have been fascinated by this clip, ever since I first viewed it many years ago. Great to see of one these carbines in existence. I hope this helps in your quest to document the firearms of Warlord China.

  3. If you want to know if someone knows anything about firearms (beyond being a collector), find someone who carries a stocked pistol. If you want a carbine, buy a carbine!

  4. Hello Ian!

    I have seen one piece of evidence, which indicates that at least one of these “Mauser C96 type carbines”. Were indeed, used in a military application in China. Please see the following clip, from the documentary: The Story of Eric Liddell – inspiration for the film “Chariots of Fire”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GntEddUzkgc&t=2440s This clip illustrates, a nearly identical carbine as to the one you are presenting.

  5. Reference the German Kaiser. Everyone needs to realize that WWI was primarily a war of imperialistic empires. Blaming it all on the Kaiser ignores the rest of the idiots.

    • Oh, it was an interlocking series of idiots. And not all of them were hereditary monarchs, either.

      Nicholas II got the worst of it, and he was the worst of them, leaving his imperial intelligence organizations unsupervised and able to make mischief in the Balkans. There are still Serbs out there who remember the way that they were used as patsies for Sarajevo, and how the Black Hand was an instrument of the Tsar, in the final analysis. Those memories may or may not be accurate, but they’re still there. At this remove, it’s rather hard to tell what really happened, and just how much “encouragement” was offered up to the Serbian nationalist idiots that somehow thought that they’d improve their lot by killing that nasty old Crown Prince… You know, the one who wanted to devolve power and authority within the Austro-Hungarian Empire to all the ethnic minorities, like the Serbs?

      Same thing went on with the nihilistic thugs that assassinated the lone reformist Tsar in Imperial Russia, a few decades earlier. Idiots, all of them.

  6. somewhere, all of the politico’s mentioned in the comments must gather and discuss “the good ole days,” and they must uniformly mutter into their tea, “well, they seemed like splendid ideas at the time.” like most, they simply did not have much fore sight, and absolutely lacked any ability of hind sight. they were extremely fallible, and had dangerous toys whose capacity they did not fully understand. and, they were a bit ignorant of our modern ideas. the kaiser is reputed to have said to a reluctant trooper on maneuvers on the eve of war, as he rode up on his horse, “what’s the matter, idiot, do you want to live forever?” fairly emblematic of the attitude of most rulers of the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.