The 'Broomhandle' Mauser

Published: November 26th, 2017     
Product Image
Book cover
Author: Jonathan Ferguson
Reviewed by: 
Ben Morton, IPMS# 47301
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 978 1 4728 1615 3
Other Publication Information: Illustrated by Peter Dennis, Paperback, 80 pages, e Book- $11.99 USD
Price: $20.00
Product / Stock #: WPN 80

Osprey Publishing has previously released books on two iconic side arms: The Colt 1911 Pistol and The Webley Service Revolver. What has been missing from the history of pistols, until now, was one weapon that was developed and deployed in the late 1890's, namely the Feederle Pistol from Mauser. Otherwise known as the 'Broomhandle' Mauser.

While this pistol was manufactured and sold by Mauser and is often attributed to them, the design and development was actually done by brothers Fidel, Friedrich, and Josef Feederle. The Feederle brothers worked for Paul Mauser and, in his defense, it was somewhat standard operating procedure for a company to take credit for any design/development work done by the namesakes employees. [Fun Fact: Paul Mauser once forbade Fidel Feederle from working on a pistol design.]

What the Feederle brothers came up with was not only one of the first successful, self-loading pistols but arguably one of the most iconic pistols of all time. Revolvers, with their six shots, were the predominant weapon of choice at the time. The Broomhandle stood all that on its head with the introduction of a powerful, self-loading pistol with ten powerful rounds (Mauser 7.63x25mm) in a self-contained magazine.

Jonathan Ferguson's tome (illustrated by Peter Dennis) on The 'Broomhandle' Mauser delves into a thorough, eighty page discussion about the development, design, marketing (military/civilian use), safety concerns, and effectiveness of this weapon in an easy to read, scholarly fashion.

Aside from the thoroughness of the research, what I truly enjoyed about this book from Osprey Publishing is the inclusion of some beautiful artwork. Case in point from The Broomhadle Mauser are the cutaway illustrations of the various marks of the weapon, as well as reproduced photographs of some the ornate engraving done to 'commemorative' pistols during its history. All of which are beautifully printed, many in full color.

There are several full-color prints by Peter Dennis depicting the Broomhandle in-action. One that may be of interest to fans of WWI aircraft illustrates an encounter between a British Avro 504 biplane and German Etrich Taube in 1914. The full-color painting depicts each aircrew in the midst of shooting at each other with hand-held weapons with a German crew member re-loading his Broomhandle during the thick of aerial combat. This real event happened before aircraft were armed with machine guns. (The British won this encounter with a rifle shot.)

Jonathan Ferguson concludes his treatise on the 'Broomhandle' Mauser with the impact of this weapon from both the military and civilian fronts, as well as its impact on other more contemporary weapons (Colt M1911/ Walther P38/ Makarov PM). Mr. Ferguson also explores the dark side of the Broomhadle and its use by criminals and paramilitaries.

To gain some in-roads into the military market, the Mauser C96 Broomhandle was copied by numerous manufacturers over the course of it existence, principally Spanish concerns with the Astra and ETAI models. The Broomhandle Mauser was also embraced by the civilian market and some not so savoy elements of society. Criminal elements (The Foster Gang) and anarchists/paramilitary groups (Bolsheviks/Irish Volunteers) sought out the Broomhandle for not only the mystique and status it imbued, but also as "a practical fighting tool."

The Broomhandle may not have been the first self-loading pistol, but it's innovative design, powerful ammunition, and capacity all help secure this weapon in the historical record. The 'Broomhandle' Mauser is easily one of the most recognizable designs and often, as noted by the author, to be the go-to-reference for people whose knowledge of hand guns may be somewhat limited. When George Lucas was making Star Wars and wanted a futuristic and plausible looking weapon for Han Solo's character, the Broomhandle was chosen as the starting point.

As with all offerings from Osprey Publishing with the high level of expertize and scholarly research by the respective authors, after having read one you become the resident expert of a particular subject. The 'Broomhandle' Mauser by Jonathan Ferguson is no different. The book is well researched and written, and incorporates a through history of the weapon and its worldwide impact, both then and now.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy. Now, go get your very own!

  • Broomhandle aerial combat
    Broomhandle aerial combat
  • Broomhandle small ring model
    Broomhandle small ring model
  • Han Solo's blaster
    Han Solo's blaster
  • Book cover
    Book cover