The Umarex Mauser C.96 (Construction 1896) was the first successful semi-automatic pistol to see serial production. Whilst it might look archaic to modern eyes, features such as a 10-round magazine and mechanical action were considered the future of arms design as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth.
The German Mauser C.96 was never adopted by their forces, but 150,000 were ordered during WW1 to supplement the service P-08 or Luger pistols. Production briefly stopped after the war before the allies allowed Germany to continue making the Mauser C.96 and before long, the pistol became popular with Chinese warlords and Bolshevik revolutionaries.
The Chinese imported the pistol in huge numbers from Mauser, and from Spanish gun makers such as Astra, who made copies of the pistol, some of which were capable of full automatic fire. When Mauser saw they were losing sales to foreign copies, they introduced the ‘Schnellfeur’ (rapid fire) in 1932 and exported around 50% to the Chinese market.
UMAREX MAUSER C.96 REALISTIC COPY
Umarex have made a number of very realistic copies of historical firearms, including the Schnellfeur, which originally came with a 20- or 10-round detachable magazine. Although the standard 10-shot Umarex Mauser C.96 looks better on the eye, the 20-round detachable magazine was chosen because it was the only real option for storing a standard C02 Powerlet.
Early versions of the Umarex Legends Mauser were blow-back, semi-auto pistols, but were made mainly of plastic externally. This resulted in a lighter than natural weight and although realistic from a distance, as soon as you picked up of these pistols, it felt as light as a hollow toy.
Thankfully, current versions of the Umarex Legends pistol are still blow-back, but made of metal and weigh in at 2¼lbs without the magazine. The mag’ weighs an extra 14oz without C02 or ball, bringing the all-up unloaded weight to just over 3lbs.
ABOVE LEFT : The rear sight is adjustable for elevation only, but the pistol shoots high.
ABOVE RIGHT : With the pistol dismantled like this, the rails can be lubricated to make the action run smoothly.
UMAREX MAUSER C.96 COPPER COATED OPTION
Although advertised as a ‘steel BB shooter’, this pistol feeds on copper-coated, lead balls without jamming, and these projectiles flatten against a target so they are less likely to bounce. The copper coating adds a little strength, which helps the balls to cycle through the blow-back action without deforming.
I also tried uncoated lead balls in the Umarex Mauser but these did jam, so stick with the copper-coated lead. Loading balls into the magazine can be a little fiddly and I used a soft toothpick from a Swiss Army knife to help some of the balls enter the stick mag’.
The C02 cylinder also lives in the C.96 magazine, and a large Allen key is required to tighten the cylinder in order to pierce the neck in preparation for firing. Early variants used a fixed key and had a plastic cover.
You cock the C.96 pistol by retracting the ‘ears’ of the bolt just in front of the hammer, and this cocks the hammer for the first shot. Each subsequent shot blows back the bolt to cock the hammer automatically. The returning bolt also feeds a fresh ball into the breech upon its return, and the pistol recoils with a realistic punch.
ABOVE LEFT : The C96 will fit into a holster modeled on those used by Chinese warlords, if the mag’ is removed.
ABOVE RIGHT : Original Mausers were designed to accept a wooden shoulder stock, which also served as a holster. The Umarex even has slots cut for the stock.
UMAREX MAUSER C.96 FULL AUTO
There is a Fire Selector on the left side of the frame, which can be set at single-shot (N) or full auto (R).
This is simply a moving realistic feature on the pistol because we are not allowed full-auto airguns in the UK, but US versions of this pistol can be fired on full auto. Reviews of original Schnellfeur pistols and the full-auto US Umarex Mauser C.96 versions apparently shoot high and waste ammo, but I’d love to try one all the same!
American importer, A.F. Stoeger, sold the 20-shot Scnellfeur as the Model 712 during the 1930s and claimed that the Mauser was the strongest-hitting and furthest-shooting pistol in the world.
The rear sight was graduated up to 1000 yards! The Umarex Mauser model has a tangent rear sight, which is adjustable for elevation only, and shot high on the sight’s lowest setting. A higher foresight would have helped to bring groups down.
The pistol performed well enough on the range though, and initially dropped all of the fairground finger targets on my indoor range as quickly as I could pull the trigger. Moving outdoors, soft-drink cans were mangled in no time at all and skittles fell with a satisfying clunk when I extended the range to 10 yards outdoors.
UMAREX MAUSER C.96 RIGHT FEEL
Despite the front-heavy appearance, I found the Mauser comfortable on aim and the heavy construction made the pistol feel ‘right’ in my hands.
The trigger broke crisply, although it was placed a little closer to the grip than I am used to, which is a feature of the original. The Mauser pistol can be seen in numerous films, including ‘Joe Kidd’ and The Great Silence’, one of the best Spaghetti Westerns made, in my view.
Whenever the Umarex Mauser appears in a film, it is shot very rapidly to accentuate the automatic feature when compared with revolvers, and I counted over 20 shots from a 10-round magazine being fired by Clint Eastwood in one Joe Kidd scene! Nevertheless, the pistol adds class to a film, just as the Umarex adds class to a collection of C02 pistol clones.
Full Auto Fun
BELOW LEFT : The safety can only be set when the hammer has been cocked. An ‘S’ can be seen when the catch is set or an ‘F’ when it is off.
BELOW CENTER : Note the double-stack magazine. The mag’ will take 20, but can jam, so I loaded 17 without any issue.
BELOW RIGHT : Pull back on the ears of the bolt to cock the action. There is no ‘Hold Open’ facility on the Umarex.
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Umarex USA Announces 2012 Sales Awards
Umarex USA, 3 marker leader in the airgun industry, has announced the recipients of three sales awards for 2012. Ferguson Keller, which covers the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, was named Sales Rep Group of the Year.
“We see a true team sales approach with Ferguson Keller,” said Richard Turner, vice president of sales and marketing at Umarex. “No matter who has ultimate responsibility for an account, the Ferguson Keller team is always there to help each other out.” Clay Owens, of Tim Bailey & Associates, was named 2012 Dealer/Distributor Sales Rep of the Year.
“Clay is a tireless worker and really provides outstanding service to his customers,” said Turner. “Clay focuses on building the foundation not only to ‘win’ today but to ‘win’ in the future as well, and his customers really appreciate his work ethic and focus.” Kevin Roberson, of Schooler & Associates, was named Key Account Sales Rep of the Year.
“Kevin’s attention to detail and follow-up has gained the respect not only of Umarex but also his peers throughout the industry. Kevin has proven to be a valuable asset to the Umarex team, bringing with him a great deal of reliability, work ethic, and professionalism, said Umarex sales manager Neil Dickinson, adding: “Kevin is as solid as they come. I’m sure glad he’s on our team.”