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The Model 1914 Mauser Pocket Auto.

It seems curious to speak in superlatives when referring to so disdained a gun/cartridge combo as the .32 ACP-chambered blowback pocket auto, but the fact is that the 7.65 mm mini-pistol is indeed "most or best" in a number of ways.

Take sheer volume of production, for example. More pistols have been bored for the clunky old 7.65 mm Browning than have been made for any other cartridge including the 9 mm Luger, and Parabellum-chambered selbstladepistolen are everywhere these days, it seems. Nor is the .32 only the most produced autoloader of all time; it is also the most used, and by used, I mean by police and military services, as well as by civilians seeking a defensive arm.

And finally, many .32 autos rank among the best build pistols in all history, for the heyday of the baby blowback was the first three decades of this century, and while junkers did indeed flourish during that period before enlightened consumerism, so did Old World notions of fit and finish, at least among the major manufacturers.

In order to find a single .32 auto pistol which exmplifies all three superlatives, it is necessary to turn our attentions away from our own country and study, instead, the firearms history of Europe. Though our own Colt and Savage pocket models were indeed built in enourmous quantities, and while all are superbly crafted, neither the 03/08 colt nor the 7/15/17 Savage saw any enormous amount of fighting. Europeans, by contrast, particularly Germans, fielded literally millions of 7.65 mm blow-backs as combat arms in both world wars, and in addition employed the .32 autos as police standard from the turn of the century until the 1970s.

Several German examples come at once to mind when one speaks of a most-produced, most-used, best-built" 32 pistol, and of these among the most fascinating--and "traveled," in terms of military service--is the Mauser pocket auto in its 1914 variant.

The Mauser Model of 1914 was an upcalibered version of an already successful design introduced by the firm in 1910 to capture a portion of what was then a seller's market in pocket pistols. This earliest of Mauser mini-autos, known appropriately enough as the Model of 1910, had been chambered for the .25 ACP cartridge. Now the M-10 was enormous for the .25 (what it really represented was a .25 on a .32 frame, to use popular parlance of the period) but for all that, it has sold well, largely because of the reputation it gained for being a particularly easy-to-shoot .25.

Still, an over-large .25 could not be relied upon forever as a profit-maker; the caliber, for example, prohibited the M-1910 from competing for the police contracts that, due to the sudden ascendancy of the auto pistol, seemed to flood the world in the years preceding the first world war. Mauser-Werke at once busied itself modifying its M-10 to accept the new police-standard .32 ACP round. What resulted was the M-1914--a virtually identical copy of the 1910, albeit with an eight, rather than nine-shot capacity, and with a slightly longer barrel.

Some integral modifications were incorporated also, so that only a few parts interchange. The M-1914 was pretty much a state-of-the-art .32; it was very reliable, far more accurate than any sub-bore blowback had to be, and it was a beautifully fitted and finished (though its design was anything but handsome). Sales were thus encouraging from the outset. Civilians bought the gun en masse, and so did a number of German and Scandinavian police departments. It is, incidentally, a Scandinavian police contract pistol, loaned by collectors' arms dealer Syd Rachwal (3412 Mackin Road, Flint, MI 48504) that constitutes the test piece for this article.

Civilian ad police sales were not what would give the M-1914 its place in history however, military service was. This must have come as quite a surprise to Mauser, who had never, ever intended their little .32 to be a service sidearm. As of 1916 though, a Germany at war on two fronts simultaneously needed every handgun it could lay gloves on, calibers notwithstanding. So, along with a variety of other most unmilitary pocket pistols, the M-1914 found itself drafted into the Imperial Army. It served well, in numbers exceeding 100,000, until war's end.

By no means, however, did the Armistice spell the end of "soldiering" for the Mauser pocket automatic. Numbers continued to serve with the post-war Recihswehr and, in addition, export to a number of foreign countries was undertaken. Indeed, the Japanese, whose officers were allowed to carry the Mauser if they purchased it with their own funds, would use a surprising number of M-1914s throughout World War II. Police service continued also, and surviving M-1914s bear a variety of Wiemar-era police stampings; Arnsburg, Dusseldorf, Munster, Merseburg, and Hamburg markings have all been cataloged. Some less legitimate use has been recorded also; the 1914 was a favorite of Hitler's infant Sturmabteilung (SA).

Came 1934 though, and the M-1914 was modified out of existence. Its successor, which looked identical to the M-1914 save for the more sharply pitched grip, was known as the M-1934 and was, in fact, so similar to the earlier gun that many parts interchange. The 1934 survived on the production lines just long enough to become a Nazi-era standard: Wehrmacht, Kriegsmarine, Luftwaffe, and SS all bought some. But basically, what the 1934 represented was a gaslight-era design struggling desperately to look young in the age of the Blitzkrieg; when the ultra-modern double-action Model HsC materialized in 1939 then, the M-1934 went the way of its predecessors and disappeared from the production lines forever. It was to be the last of the single-action Mauser pocket pistols--a line which had survived through 29 years and some 700,000 production examples.

Popular thought it may have been in Germany, the Mauser pocket automatic--at least as exemplified by the M-1914 test piece--failed completely to impress this writer. To be sure, neither accuracy nor reliability was the problem here. The test piece would, when properly handled, cut 2-1/2 inches all day long from the 25-meter bench utilizing. W-W 71-grain full metal jacket .32 ACP factory loads. Nor was quality of construction the problem--the trial gun, in accord with Mauser tradition, "clicks" together, and finish was mirror-polished carbon-blue that made one positively yearn for the days when guns were not given "practical" finishes. But human engineering was as bad as this writer has ever experienced with any handgun.

Take sights, for example. The rear U-notch was fine, bigger than most. But the front post was a perfect, mirror-polished hemisphere which reflected light to such a degree that, even under optimum range conditions, sight picture was elusive. One has to always hurry one's squeeze in order that sights might be in some semblance of alignment when the trigger breaks.

Take the 1914 butt, too. Only two fingers would fit on it, and even then one felt dreadfully cramped. Furthermore, the lack of any form of recoil shoulder forced the webbing of the hand upward into the travel-path of the slide. I, for one, was never actually bitten, but I was scraped several times, and it should be noted that my hands are anything but beefy. A heavier man would have had more trouble, I fear.

Note also the safety device, a push-down lever to apply, a press-in button to release, all located just aft of the triggerguard on the left side of the pistol in the manner of the Czech CZ-27. Furthermore, the release button is nearly hidden in a small recess in the grip, again as on the CZ-27. And as for handiness and speed of release? Abysmal, just like with the CZ-27.

Check also the heel-clip magazine retainer. It's admittedly of higher profile than many, but handiness is not its problem. The retainer spring, which I quite sincerely estimate to require 30 pounds of force to operate, is. A revolver with a speedloader nearby is far more quickly replenished than a Mauser pocket auto, even by one not especially skilled at speedloading a wheelgun.

Examine too the general configuration of the 1914 Mauser. That muzzle is every bit as light as it looks, and thus both torque and recoil with this pistol are surprisingly stiff, indeed, more like a stout .380's than a factory .32's. This isn't really troubling, of course--.32 ACP recoil never is--but the results do show up on a controllability test, where one finds he cannot do so well as he usually does with .32s. I scored five As, one B; six As; Five As, one B on three tires at the "six shots in three seconds at ten meters on an option silhouette" controllability test, and I can usually do better than that with a Luger service pistol.

Finally, note the trigger which, though pleasantly light as 3-1/4 pounds, broke square in the middle of a rolling movement phase.

Against all the above, tere are shockingly few virtues to cite. Apart from the fine accuracy and reliability and quality, which are, after all, available in far handier German pocket pistols, there's a rather neat cocking indicator which protrudes from the rear of the frame when the Mauser is cocked, and a simple, tool-free fieldstrip which is unique and thus bears repetition here.

To strip the 1914, first extract the magazine and then drawback the slide until it locks open. Check to ensure there is an empty chamber. Now, with a thumbnail, depress the exposed portion of the takedown rod catch, which is located on the underside of the frame near the muzzle; simultaneously rotate the takedown rod 90 degrees and withdraw it from the pistol. Next, lift the barrel straight up out of the frame. Then, with the hands in position so as to retard violent movement of the slide forward off its rails, insert an empty magazine, taking care to depress the trigger as you do so. Allow the slide to ease forward as far as it wants to go--about 1-1/2 inches. now extract the magazine once again and pull the slide forward completely off its rails. This concludes normal stripping; reassembly is the reverse.

It is customary to end treatises on .32 auto pistols like the 1914 by coming up with at least two, preferably more, witticisms regarding the story lack of stopping power displayed by these little guns. I'm going to spare the reader that. It should suffice to say that the .32 ACP is indeed a badly underpowered round that will not stop a determined assailant most of the time. But let us also hasten to add this regarding the 7.65 mm mini-blowback; in addition to those other superlatives annotated in our beginning paragraph, the .32 just may deserve one more accolade, one that few gun people would ever associate with it. The .32 blowback just may be the most effective anti-crime device ever created. Let's face it, it isn't a Wilson .45, or an N-frame Smith & Wesson, or even a double-column DA wonder-nine that has performed security duties in most households for the past 50 years; it's mini-guns like the .32-bored 1914 Mauser, some of them old and in disrepair and unfired for decades. In an emergency, they have indeed occasionally failed to stop the opposition in time to save their owners' lives. But still . . . how many footpads have been kept at bay by the notion of what such little guns could, rather than couldn't, do?
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Title Annotation:evaluation; Classic Test Report
Author:Shimek, Robert T.
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Mar 1, 1984
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