War Dogs – The Classic German Luger and Mauser Part 1

War Dogs – The Classic German Luger and Mauser Part 1 Part 2

The WWII Broomhandle Mauser Model 712 and Luger P.08

By Dennis Adler

Recreating legendary firearms in .177 caliber is a specialty of Umarex, and their Umarex Legends models now have the WWII Edition M712 (right) and Luger P.08. While the P.08 remained very much the same, there were many Broomhandle variations.

If you watch WWII movies, you would think that the only handguns German soldiers ever used were Lugers, Walther P.38s and PPKs, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Germany is home to some of the world’s most legendary armsmakers, and indeed the Georg Luger-designed toggle link action semi-auto was one of Germany’s principal sidearms from 1908 throughout WWII, but the guns at hand were far more extensive than many realize. In addition to the 9mm Walther P.38 semiautomatic pistol, which wasn’t even adopted until after the start of WWII, officers also had the Walther PP, and PPK, the .380 ACP Astra 300, 9mm Largo Astra 400, and .380 ACP Mauser HSc. In addition to Lugers and P.38s, soldiers in the field who were issued sidearms could have carried the 9mm Parabellum Astra 600, 9mm Browning Hi-Power, which were manufactured during the occupation of the FN factory in Belgium. Earlier Browning FN pistols like the 32 ACP Models 1910 and 1922 were also put into service during the war.

Umarex Legends models like the Luger P.08 and Mauser Model 712 in the special weathered WWII edition are limited production models. Note how accurately they are designed compared to the mechanical illustrations of early models.

Guns without borders

There were, however, two long established pistols dating back prior to the First World War that were still in use, the aforementioned Luger Parabellum or P.08, which had been produced since 1908, and the Mauser Broomhandle, whose history dated back to the end of the 19th century. Both designs were still viable and in the military arsenal when WWII began in 1939. What does that tell us about the Luger P.08 and C96 Mauser? Both were so well engineered that they weren’t even close to becoming obsolete. The Broomhandle (and Broomhandle design) was also being used in countries across the globe by the early 20th century, including the United States, Great Britain, Italy, China, and Spain. China began manufacturing their own versions, as did Spain through Astra and Beistegui Hermanos.

Rufino Unceta (the owner of Astra) at far left, watches the ballistic testing of a Model 902 Broomhandle pistol on the beach of Laida, just north of Guernica c. 1928. Astra also developed selective fire Broomhandle models. (Photo courtesy Dr. Leonardo Antaris, from Astra Firearms and Selected Competitors)

Broomhandles were chambered in 7.63mm or 9mm (the 9mm guns are referred to as Red 9 models as the grips had a large red 9 cut into the panels to quickly distinguish them from the 7.63mm pistols). The Chinese also developed another Broomhandle version manufactured by Shansei Province Arsenal and chambered for the American .45 ACP cartridge.

The Mauser Broomhandle Model 712 was unique in that it offered an interchangeable box magazine and a selective fire switch allowing the pistol to shoot full auto, emptying its 20 round magazine in a matter of seconds. The 712 was also known as the Model 1932 and Schnellfeuer (German for fast or rapid fire). The illustration behind the Umarex Model 712 is a pre-WWI Early Transition Large Ring Hammer version with fixed sights. The internal mechanism of the Mauser was an intricate design that fit together without the use of any screws. Prior to the Model 712, all Broomhandles, regardless of magazine capacity, used an integral box magazine as illustrated.

Prior to WWII, Mauser developed a new selective fire C96 Broomhandle with a removable 20-round box magazine. This greatly improved reloading time. All other Broomhandle models used an integral box magazine loaded from a stripper clip inserted into the top of the open breech. The new Broomhandle was designated as the Model 712 or Model of 1932, which, like the Luger Parabellum, was still in use during WWII. It is also noteworthy that all of these pistols (some prewar, others captured) were also in the hands of resistance fighters throughout France and across German occupied regions of Europe. Almost anyone could have been armed with a Luger, Walther, or Mauser, among many other German, European, and American arms.

The Model 712 was still being used by German soldiers during WWII as evidenced by this 1942 photograph from the new book The Broomhandle Mauser by Jonathan Ferguson and Peter Dennis.

The Broomhandle is one of those extraordinary firearms that have become timeless. While some may consider them as merely an old military handgun, these unique, early semiautomatic pistols, whether made by Mauser, Astra, Royal (Beistegui Hermanos), or the Chinese, are all exemplary of a major evolution in handgun design that had it beginnings in the late 1890s. However strange it may sound, the Broomhandle design existed at the same time American lawmen were still packing Colt Single Action revolvers on their hips, Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show was traveling around the world, and motorcars were vastly outnumbered on the road by horse drawn wagons. The C96 Broomhandle Mauser (at right) is a standard civilian 10-shot model with a military-style shoulder holster. Among famous people to carry this very combination was a young Winston Churchill in the early 1900s. The Umarex Model 712, like the original M712, is a variation of the C96 design. Note the correct Waffenfabrik markings on the Umarex model’s frame.

While this fascinating diversity of sidearms used by Germany is historically appealing (and there were still others I’ve not listed), from a military logistics standpoint it had far less appeal because of differing ammunition requirements. American forces relied heavily on only a few different handguns, nearly all of which were chambered in .45 ACP, the round used in the Colt Model 1911 and military issue S&W and Colt Model 1917 revolvers. The only principal exceptions were .38 caliber double action revolvers, most famously the S&W Victory Model, and .32 and .380 ACP Colt Model 1903 and 1908 Hammerless semi-auto pistols issued to General Officers. Conversely, the variety of handguns, calibers and cartridge designs carried by German soldiers and officers greatly complicated supply lines. And there was another issue, they almost all required different holsters. Fortunately, this was something at which German suppliers of military leather excelled.

Designs were modified and improved upon over the years but the fundamentals remained throughout production. The Umarex M712 has the correct style later thumb safety, small ring hammer design and adjustable sights as original Model 712. The weathered WWII finish actually gives the CO2 models a more authentic appearance than the standard production version.

German pistol holsters are some of the finest looking and most rugged designs in history, and like the semi-autos they held, each was uniquely designed. This is what makes collecting military handguns and holsters exciting. Recreating historic pistols like the Mauser Model 712 and Luger P.08 in .177 caliber, however, is only half the challenge; the other is having something in which to carry them! The most difficult thus far has been the very popular Umarex Mauser Model 712. With the release of the latest weathered finish WWII Model 712 there is a period correct leather holster for this historic selective fire pistol that will be available shortly. This is the first look.

This is the first look at the new Model 712 combination belt and shoulder strap model holster that will be offered by Pyramyd Air later this summer. The design is based on actual Broomhandle holsters, like the example at right. These could be worn over the shoulder or on a belt. The shoulder strap and belt will also be offered separately. (Prototype holster by Alan Soellner/Chisholm’s Trail Leather)

Packing Mausers

The Broomhandle Mauser could be carried in several ways. Those issued with wooden shoulder stocks had a leather harness that held the stock, cleaning tools, and the gun was carried inside the hollow stock. The entire rig was then slung over the shoulder on a leather strap. Models that were carried without the shoulder stock had contoured leather military flap holsters that could either be worn on a belt or over the shoulder.

Soellner researched Mauser holsters to find a design that was accurate to the 1932 period when the original Model 712 was introduced. The cutout for the magazine has a partial sewn-in welt for added strength and to support the weight of the gun and magazine. All edges are sanded, rounded, and color burnished.

Stitching for the Model 712 holster is heavy duty 346 nylon thread lock back stitched. The reverse side has a belt loop fitting up to 1-3/4 inch belts and has a spacer to allow a belt to easily fit through. The holster also has two secured “D” rings for use with a shoulder strap. The holster is entirely made in the USA with American 7-8 gauge premium tooling cowhide, colored with oil based stain and completed with a hand rubbed saddle finish. This is a ruggedly built holster designed for the weight and shape of the Model 712.

The Model 712, however, presented a problem since the 20-round magazine stuck out the bottom of the receiver. Wooden stocks for 20 shot models had a cutaway section allowing the magazine to protrude or a larger cheek piece to contain the entire gun; pistol holsters for the 20-shot models, however, were rare. The example shown with the latest Umarex WWII Model 712 is based on one of those rare designs and follows the traditional style used for all Broomhandle models.

In Part 2 it is time to test the Umarex WWII M712 and P.08 pistols.

11 thoughts on “War Dogs – The Classic German Luger and Mauser Part 1

  1. Nice looking ,aged pistols. Picked up one of the P08s from the first run, and it is a nice shooter as well. Umarex should offer those grips as an option for the standard P08,as well as the aged grips. Two historical pistols, that are costly to own as firearms ,but more than affordable as airguns. Umarex should certainly expand the lineup and make these standard , not limited offerings. Naval and Artillery P08s, Mauser Hsc, Colt 03/08 should be offered as well. Nice looking holster for the 712. A welcome addition to essential acoutrements



      • Should not be terribly difficult to put a longer barrel on the Po8. I have a repro shoulder stock for the 712. Would be interesting to have an extended 30-40 round dual co2 mag for the 712 . It just runs out of ammo too fast . A dualco2 mag even in full auto should deliver 90-100 shots .Umarex is a little slow on the draw when they have a winning product and a willing bunch of customers. Where are the 3 1/2?and 4 3/4 barrel Peacemakers?



  2. I don’t really need another Umarex Mauser air pistol, but I just might have to buy this WWII edition with the holster.

    One question I have about WWII era pistols and Umarex replicas concerns the Walther P38. I don’t recall if I have asked that question before here at Airgun Experience. If I have, my apologies. My question is, did the Walther P38 firearm come with different length barrels?

    Umarex made their Walther P38 replica with a removable barrel, but did not come out with other barrel accessories for the air pistol as far as I know. Are different length P38 barrel accessories something we may yet see from Umarex?



    • I don’t know what plans Umarex may have for future P.38 models. There were different barrel lengths for the P.38 but the standard length barrel is the most common and the one Umarex offers. The P.38K was the snub nose version of the P.38. This is a very dramatic looking pistol. You might remember it from the 1960s TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In point of fact, the P.38s modified for the TV show were original standard length models. Walther came out with the P.38K after the TV show! Life imitating fiction. The P.38K is probably the most rare and collectible of all post WWII P.38 models.


      • I picked up a Walther P4 a few years back and it is an interesting variant used by the West German Police. It is basically a post war alloy frame P1 with a 4 inch barrel, improved decocker/ safety, and the pin reinforced frame use on later P1 pistols.



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