The original Mauser was pushing past its fourth decade in service when it was called back from semi-retirement due to the needs of the Fatherland in World War I. As chronicled in detail by Othais and Mae of C&Rsenal as part of their Small Arms of WWI Primer series in the above video, the M1871 began the Mauser brothers’ dynasty.
A single-shot bolt-action rifle chambered to fire a hulking 11mm black powder cartridge, the Gewehr 71 went on to arm most of the armies in the German Empire until it was slowly phased out in favor of the more modern Gew 88 series. However, while a million surplus M71’s were sold to China and even more converted to really weird weapons for Uruguay, as Othais puts it, “Every rifle counted” and the aging smokepole was pressed back into service as the lights went out across Europe.
The vintage M71s were still used for training and in arming home guard style units in Germany during the war– while some were also used by Berlin-supplied Irish rebels in 1916.
Speaking of the UK, if the above puts you in the mood for one of the Mauser’s primary opponents in the Trenches, check out the in-depth tale of the No1, Mk III* Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield .303 below, dropped on the world by the British Muzzleloader channel this week. It focuses primarily on 1914 rifle drill exercises as interpreted by the always-risible Private Mackenzie. Oy!