Why I liked the Mauser Model 712
I’m a creature of habit
By Dennis Adler
It doesn’t matter how many new select-fire CO2 pistols come out, no matter how modern or advanced in design and operation, when I get to the end of all comparisons I will always pick the Umarex Mauser Model 712. Yes, I’m biased and not to be swayed because I like old guns, and when it comes to old full auto pistols you can’t find a more famous, nor more valued pistol than the Mauser Model 712. To be fair, Spanish armsmaker Astra also built a select-fire Broomhandle model, the 903, and of course, though a semi-auto only, there is the rare 20-round model C96 Cone Hammer Broomhandle. A real model 712 will bring upwards of $25,000 today (you can add another 20 grand for a mint condition 20-round C96), so that makes the Umarex Mauser Model 712 quite the bargain for military airgun enthusiasts at a mere $150 (MSRP). For Mauser collectors it is also something of a must, as there isn’t anything quite like it in the airgun world, either. I would have to say that of all the WWII era pistols (the Model 712 was introduced in 1932 but saw use during the Second World War), the select-fire Broomhandle Mauser carries a far greater allure to collectors than the majority of wartime handguns. It also has an almost mythical status, as do all Mauser and Astra Broomhandle pistols, that has been created over almost a century of film making, whether in the hands of the villains or the heroes.
A History of its own
By the early 1900s, a slow but continual shift from traditional revolvers to new semiautomatic handguns was beginning to occur. In the U.S. it began in Ogden, Utah, where firearms designer John Moses Browning, who had designed some of Winchester’s most famous rifles and shotguns in the 1880s and early 1890s, patented a semi-auto pistol built in Belgium by Fabrique Nationale (FN). This ingenious self loading pistol design became the 7.65mm (.32 ACP) Model 1899-FN. It was followed a year later by the improved Model 1900-FN, along with a reworked design for the Colt’s Patent Firearms Mfg. Co., which introduced its first semi-auto in 1900. By 1911 Browning and Colt would introduce the Model 1911. However, Browning wasn’t the first arms designer with a semi-auto, three years before Browning’s Model 1899 and half a world away in Germany, Paul Mauser and his designers were introducing one of the most historic and uniquely-designed semiautomatic pistols of all time.
Between 1896 and the turn of the century, the Broomhandle Mauser had already made such an impact in America that in 1899 the U.S. Army Board of Officers (Ordnance Department) began considering the adoption of self-loaders as a military issue sidearm. Tests were conducted through December and into February of 1900, which compared the 7.63mm Mauser Broomhandle, along with a 7.63mm Mannlicher self-loader (and a Model 1900 Borchardt-Luger tested in 1902-1903), all of which eventually lost out in trials to the new American made and John M. Browning-designed .38 Rimless Smokeless Colt’s Model 1900. Hundreds of the new Colt semi-auto models were purchased by the U.S. government for field trials (Model 1900 and improved Model 1902) but in the end the U.S. Army Board of Officers stayed with revolvers as a standard issue sidearm until the .45 ACP Colt Model 1911 was introduced. Nevertheless, the Broomhandle Mauser left a lasting impression on America. By the very early 1900s the Broomhandle was being imported and sold in the U.S. through New York City retailer Von Lengerke & Detmold, which brought in 1,922 Broomhandle Mauser pistols between 1897 and 1905. Von Lengerke & Detmold continued to import various Mauser models (there were at least six early variations) until around 1910 and Mauser Broomhandles were also being distributed during this period by none other than Browning Brothers in Ogden, Utah, as well as Iver Johnson, and through various retail sports and hunting goods stores in the U.S., like Abercrombie & Fitch. (Yes, back in the late 19th and early 20th century in addition to clothing, A&F sold high end sporting goods, fishing gear and fine guns, including the Broomhandle Mauser. In 1928 A&F purchased New York City sporting goods retailer Von Lengerke & Detmold).
The Umarex Legends Mauser Broomhandle Model 712 is based on perhaps the most remarkable of all original Broomhandle designs. Among the handgun’s many unprecedented features which are accurately recreated on the Umarex CO2 model, is a manual safety on the left rear of the frame actuated by pushing the lever upward into a notch, which either locked the hammer so that it could not be cocked, or if cocked, blocked the hammer’s forward movement. This is the original “cocked and locked” pistol. There was also a wooden shoulder stock with a steel yoke that mounted into a channel cut into the gripstrap turning the Mauser into a carbine pistol. The hollow shoulder stock could also double as a holster that was carried in a leather shoulder harness. The Umarex is so accurate in dimensions that it will fit original and reproduction stocks (most but not all reproductions) with the magazine removed. Stocks and holsters were also developed for the M712 to fit with the extended magazine attached.
The Model 712, also known as the Schnellfeuer, was the first select-fire Mauser to employ a removable box magazine (the first had been the Model 1930 semi-auto with a detachable box magazine). Umarex has faithfully reproduced all the fine details of the Model 712 right down to the N R selective fire control switch on the left side of the frame, elevation adjustable rear sight, blowback bolt action and thumb safety operation.
The original Broomhandle Mauser was a well-balanced gun with its center of gravity forward of the trigger to reduce muzzle jump. Recoil was more linear with the mass of the bolt slamming back over the hammer, and delivering its energy into the grip. As with all Broomhandle models the sharp recoil also drove the edges of the metal frame between the grips into the web of the shooter’s hand, which fortunately is not a problem with the Umarex airgun. Recoil from the CO2 driven bolt is brisk (especially on full auto) but not like the centerfire models.
The Umarex Mauser 712 version, while lacking the lustrous blued finish of an original, has hit all of the key operating features, particularly for the Model 712. As to the gun’s markings, it bears proper the WAFFENFABRIK name on the right side of the frame, and the correctly milled out side panel, just behind the magazine well, which is used for the airgun’s warning information. The Model 712 airguns also have serial numbers on the left side of the magazine well.
Loading and Firing
The Umarex Model 712 is no lightweight at 51 ounces including the box magazine, which weighs 15 ounces on its own. The magazine is loaded by removing the seating screw, inserting the CO2 cartridge, and threading the screw back into place with the supplied hex-head wrench until you hear the CO2 cartridge being pierced. The self-contained CO2 and BB magazine truly completes the authentic look of the Mauser 712. Loading BBs is just as efficient, using a follower that locks at the bottom allowing the BBs to be inserted through the loading port. You really need to have at least two or three of the magazines because you’ll burn through 18 shots with this airgun pretty fast and you can go though a CO2 cartridge in about three reloads. The magazine release button located on the right side of the frame is easy to activate with the trigger finger, and the drop free magazines are quick to change out.
Before firing the first round, you pull the bolt to the rear, just like a real 7.63mm (or 9mm) Mauser Broomhandle; this also cocks the hammer, which can then be set to safe. The operation of the selector switch is also identical to the original; press the button in and rotate the lever from N to R, to switch from semi-auto to full auto, or back again to return to semi-auto. Trigger pull on my test gun averaged 4 pounds, 11 ounces with quick take up and a clean break from shot to shot. In full auto you have to feather the trigger to get burst fire or you will empty the magazine in 1.5 seconds! Just like the real one!
Is this Umarex Mauser Broomhandle the perfect CO2 air pistol? If you are a Mauser enthusiast the answer is always going to be yes. All we want is a better finish, but even that won’t make it any better. Like I said, I’m biased and not to be swayed.