Mauser C96 was the first successful autoloading pistol. Barrel of a C96 recoils a short distance to unlock a pivoting block. That block should be checked for cracks before any old example is fired. C96 used an integral ten-round magazine which had to be replentished with stripper clips. Later versions, as well as Astra-produced clones, had deteachable 10- or 20-round magazines and some could fire bursts.
7.63 Mauser cartridge, although less potent than the Tokarev round based on it, provided higher velocity than any other common handgun round of the time. Many Mauser pistols were provided with wooden holsters which doubled as shoulder stocks, for improved accuracy at longer range. Even so, the sight markings up to 1,000 meters were wildly optimistic. In 1934, these pistols had to be registered as "short-barreled rifles" to be legally used with shoulder stocks in the US. Likewise, select-fire versions had to be registered and subject to horrendously high taxes, $200. In 1934, that was far in excess of the cost of the gun itself.
Steyr-Hahn used a 9mm cartriges, also loaded from a stripper clip. The barrel rotates on recoil to unlock, a design still used by several modern handguns. Select-fire versions were also produced, and were as difficult to control as the automatic C96 variants. Many were exported outside of Austria and some were re-chambered to fire 9mm Luger ammunition. Some of the Mausers were, likewise, converted to fire 9mm Luger. China even produced a .45ACP variant.
Stripper clip loading had gone out of style over eighty years ago. However, the law which prohibits manufacture of deteachable magazines with capacity over ten rounds made clips popular again. It is especially true in California, Massachussets and other territories where even buying pre-1994 magazines is prohibited. Ironically, the 1896 Mauser has been classified as an "assault weapon" in California, due to its magazine being located in front of the trigger guard.
Randy Rick has a page abour Steyr-Hahn pistol. Mauser C96, a far more popular design both in real life and in the popular imagination, has a number of sites devoted to it. 1896 "Broomhandle" site is available in English and German. Graeme Caselton provides more detailed information
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