While combing through an abandoned German bunker in Normandy on D-Day 75 years ago, a Navy officer found a rare Mauser machine pistol worthy of a space smuggler. The officer was Lt. John Millard Weeks of the destroyer USS Ellyson, a warship that had spent the morning of June 6, 1944, pounding German positions ashore in support of U.S. Army Rangers tasked with seizing the key strategic cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, overlooking Omaha Beach. The gun he came across, now in the collection of the Naval History and Heritage Command, is a Mauser R-713.
The gun, which looks outwardly like the more common semi-auto Mauser C96 “Broomhandle” pistol, was the German company’s answer to unlicenced Spanish clones that were being made in the 1920s that had a select-fire capability. Dubbed the Schnellfeuer (rapid fire) the value-added Mauser had a detachable 20-round box magazine and a rip-roaring rate of fire that would empty it before you could say gesundheit.
Popular with Chinese warlords and feuding government entities in Beijing, almost 100,000 of these guns were made in the 1930s and the majority ended up being shipped there.
After the Nazis became friendly with Japan, which invaded China in 1937, exports of the Schnellfeuer dropped to nil but during World War II the German military came calling and bought up all of the spare room brooms Mauser could make, dubbing the gun the Reihenfeuer (series fire) 713. The gun went on to be used in small quantities by the German navy and as a weapon to equip specialists such as motorcycle messengers who had limited spare room.
German-issued R-713s are rare in the States, as most of their breed that are floating around are former Chinese guns. However, should you have a hankering for a sweet semi-auto interwar vintage Broomhandle, we happen to have a nice one in the Guns.com Vault that is up for grabs— and you don’t have to clear a bunker with a destroyer to get it.
Of course, Broomhandles and their descendants like the Schnellfeuer later proved the basis for the fictional BlasTech DL-44 used in the Star Wars movies by Han Solo and others, but that is a story for a Galaxy Far, Far, Away.