In the late twentieth century, Mauser continued to make sporting and hunting rifles. In the 1990s it became a subsidiary of Rheinmetall. Mauser Jagdwaffen GmbH was split off and continues making rifles, while the Rheinmetal subsidiary, called Mauser-Werke Oberndorf Waffensysteme GmbH made other products for a time before being merged into Rheinmetall Waffe Munition Gmbh. The Mauser name has also sometimes been licensed by other companies.
In 1867 Wilhelm and Paul Mauser developed a rifle using an improved rotating bolt system for breechloaders based on the Chassepot (fusil modele 1866), itself a much improved version of an earlier Prussian design, the Dreyse. The Franco-Prussian war had shown their current rifle inferior to the Chassepot, so in 1871 the Mauser Model 1871 became the standard German infantry rifle.
Note that the model names of the following Mauser rifles are split between company designations and German military designations. For example, the Mauser Model 92 was not adopted by Germany, but the Mauser Model 98 was adopted as the Gewehr 98, though some designations also use the Model.
A number of slightly modified versions were widely sold to other countries, with rounds that would today be considered very large, typically 9.5 to 11.5 mm in caliber. Serbia designed an improved version of the Model 71 in 10.15 mm caliber, produced in Germany, called the Mauser-Milovanovic M1878/80. In 1884 an 8-shot tubular magazine was added by Mauser, who offered the Model 71/84. The Turkish Model 1887 rifle was the first of a series of rifles produced for the Turkish Army by Mauser. Its design echoed that of the German Gewehr 71/84 service rifle, being a bolt-action weapon with a tubular magazine beneath the barrel.
The German army introduced the best features of the Lebel in the Gewehr 88, also known as the Model 1888 Commission Rifle (Judenflinte), along with a modified Mauser action and a Mannlicher style box magazine. There was also a Carbine version, the Karabiner 88; both would be updated in the 1900s and see limited use in WWI. Note that the Gewehr 88 was not a Mauser designed and engineered rifle, as wrongly believed by some.
The Gewehr 88 was designed around the new 7.92x57mm I cartridge commonly known today in the USA as the "8 mm Mauser" because it was used for later Mauser rifle models. Note that this was not a Mauser designed and engineered cartridge, as wrongly believed by some. The 7.92x57mm I incorporated the advantages of smokeless powder and higher velocity found in the Lebel. The 7.92x57mm Icartridge was rimless which allowed smoother feeding for both rifles and machine guns. The original bullet had a round head; several redesigns including the adoption of the spitzer bullet with a sharp point and boat-tail brought the cartridge to its current potency. Only later versions of Gewehr 98, or converted Gewehr 88 and Gewehr 98 rifles could fire the improved 7.92x57mm IS cartridges.
In the model 92, the non-rotating Mauser claw extractor was introduced. The Model 92, in several variations, participated in rifle trials for the U.S. Army of that year, wherein the Krag-Jørgensen rifle was chosen instead.
A higher power version of this model in a Spanish cartridge was employed by the Spanish Regulars in Cuba. It gained a reputation for its use during the 1898 Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba where 750 Spanish regulars significantly delayed the advance of 15,000 U.S. troops armed with a mix of .30-40 Krag-Jørgensen and some older Trap-Door Springfield rifles. There was little difference in performance between the Spanish M93 and the Krags at the ranges involved, but, compared to the Springfield, the use of smokeless powder gave a serious advantage to Spanish soldiers. In addition, The M93's stripper clip system allowed the Spanish soldiers to reload far more quickly than was possible with the Krag, the magazine of which had to be loaded one round at a time. All of this likely played a role in the U.S. in licensing the Mauser locking technology for the Krag's replacement, the M1903 Springfield rifle.
As soon as the Ottoman Army learned about the new Spanish Model of 1893, they placed an order for about 200,000 rifles in the same configuration. Their rifles were chambered for the 7.65x53mm Mauser cartridge, and were virtually identical to the Spanish model, except for the addition of a unique magazine cutoff which permitted the feeding of single cartridges, while keeping the magazine full.
On November 3, 1893, the United Kingdom of Norway and Sweden adopted the 6.5x55 mm cartridge. As a result, the Swedes chambered their new service rifle —the Model 96 Mauser— in this round. The Swedish Mauser was manufactured relatively unchanged from 1896 to 1943, and M96 Rifle and M38 Carbine rifles, known by collectors as "Swedish Mausers," are often sought after by military service rifle shooters and hunters.
"Swedish Steel" is a term for the steel used by the Swedish and Mauser manufacturing facilities to make the M96 rifles. The Swedes felt that their steel was far superior to all others, so when Mauser was contracted to make Swedish Mausers in Germany they were required to use Swedish Steel in the manufacturing process.
In 1896 Mauser also branched out into pistol design, producing the C96, commonly known as "Broomhandle," designed by the three brothers Fidel, Friedrich, and Josef Feederle. All versions were made to use detachable shoulder-stock/holsters. Over a million C96's were produced between 1896 and the late 1930s.
In 1897 the Mausers were given control of the factory, forming Waffenfabrik Mauser AG.
Eventually in 1898 the German army also purchased a Mauser design, the Model 98. M98 incorporated improvements of earlier models, and entered German service as the Gew. 98 officially on April 5, 1898. This remains by far the most successful of the Mauser designs, helped of course by the onset of two World Wars that demanded vast numbers of rifles.
Noticeable changes from previous Mauser rifle models included better ruptured case gas venting, better receiver metallurgy and larger receiver ring dimensions for handling the pressures of the 7.92x57 cartridge. Mauser also incorporated a new, third "safety" lug on the bolt body to protect the shooter in the event that one or more of the forward locking lugs failed. In 1905 the "spitzer" round was introduced, in response to the French adoption of a pointed round, which offered better ballistic performance. The bullet diameter was increased from 0.318" to 0.323". This improved round also copied the pointed tip design instead of the previous rounded nose profile, and most existing Model 98's and some Model 88's were rechambered for the round, designated "7.92 x 57IS". Pointed rounds gave the bullet a better ballistic coefficient, improving the effective range of the cartridge by decreasing aerodynamic drag.
Paul Mauser died May 29, 1914 before the start of World War I that August. World War I would see very large spike in demand for the company's rifles, as well as a number of variants of it. This included the several 98 carbines as well as an experimental version with a twenty round, rather than five round, box magazine. The extended magazine was not well received, however.
A number of carbine versions known as Karabiner 98's had been introduced and used in World War I, some of which were even shorter than the later K.98k. These carbines were originally only distributed to cavalry troops but later in the war to the special stormtroop units as well.
Following the collapse of the German Empire in the WW1, many countries that were using Mauser models chose to develop, assemble or modify their own G98-action rifle designs; The most prolific were the Czechoslovakian M1922 CZ 98 and M1924 CZ vz.24 and the Belgian Fabrique Nationale M1924 and M1930, all in 7.92x57 mm.
The Belgians and Czechs produced and exported widely their 'Mausers' in various calibers throughout the 20s and 30s, before their production facilities were absorbed by the conquering Nazi Germany and used to produce parts or whole rifles for the German army. Strictly speaking these are not Mauser rifles, as they were not engineered or produced by the Germans. It is a common misconception that the Czech and Belgian 'Mausers' are copies of the K98k due to their superficial similarity in length, in reality these were developed at least 10 years earlier and as they were peace-time products, they are renowned for their high standards of engineering and manufacture.
Meanwhile in Germany, in order to use the widespread and popular German single-shot target (and light hunting) cartridge 8.15x46R (comparable to the US-American .32-40) also in a military-looking firearm, a modified Gewehr 98 was designed in 8.15x46R and referred to as a "Wehrmannsgewehr", indicating civilian shooters' pre-military training usage. These were made primarily as single shots, though some only had a wood block in the magazine space to accomplish that. These became the 1936 Olympic team rifles for the Germans.
As the restrictions on production were increasingly ignored by the Germans, a new version Mauser was developed in the 1930s from the rifle-length Karabiner 98b, the Karabiner 98 Kurz (carbine, short) was adopted by Nazi Germany as the standard infantry rifle in 1935, and would serve until the end of World War II, (see later paragraph).
The 1910 was a small self-loading pistol chambered for .25 ACP (6.35mm). It was introduced in 1910; an updated model chambered for .32 ACP (7.62mm) came out in 1914. Model 1934 is virtually identical to the 1914 except for the grip, which had a more curved back. Most of these would go on to be used by the Wehrmacht and the German Navy. They were also sold commercially.
The Karabiner 98k "Mauser" (often abbreviated "K98k" or "Kar98k") was adopted in the mid 1930s and would be the most common infantry rifle in service within the German Army during World War II. The design was based on developed from the Karabiner 98b, one of the carbines developed from the Model 1898 mentioned before. The K98k was first adopted by the Wehrmacht in 1935 to be their standard issue rifle, with many older versions being converted and shortened as well as the design itself entering production.
In the name K98k, the first "K" stands for karabiner (carbine) and the second "k" for kurz (short). The "98" is derived from the earlier rifle's year of adoption (1898), though the carbine itself was adopted in 1935. The K98k is often confused as being the earlier Model 98 design; however, there are notable differences between them. The easiest to spot are its shorter length, and bent, rather than straight bolt handle. Less obvious are that it has different, simpler sights. It was intended to be a "universal rifle" for all parts of the Heer rather than having both Carbine and full length versions.
The rifle has a bolt-action and uses 7.92 x 57 mm rounds (referred to as 8 mm Mauser). It has an effective range of about 800 metres, but when fitted with a high-quality rifle scope, its range increases to 1,000 metres. The K98k has a 5 round internal magazine and is loaded from either 5 round stripper clips that are inserted into a slot in front of the opened bolt and pushed into the magazine with the thumb, or, rounds may be loaded one at a time, allowing for topping off a partially empty magazine. A trench magazine was also produced that could be attached to the bottom of the internal magazine by removing the floor plate, increasing capacity to 20 rounds, though it still required loading with 5 round stripper clips. Over 14 million of these rifles were produced by various manufacturers. However, this number includes versions of the rifle other than the K98k, such as the Czech vz-24 which continued to be produced during WWII.
Post war, many of the liberated European countries continued production of rifles similar to the K98k, for example CZ and FN produced both their proprietary models and new K98k rifles, many of which were assembled from leftover German parts or using captured machinery. This production was a brief stop-gap solution and the vast majority of these rifles were soon stored or given for very low prices to various fledging states or rebel movements throughout the developing world. From 1950 to 1965, Yugoslavia also produced a near-copy of the K98k called the Model 1948, which differed only from the German rifle in that it had the shorter bolt-action of the Belgian M1924 series of rifles. In addition, in 1953, the Spanish were manufacturing a slightly modified version, but with a straight bolt handle.
The Mauser HSc was a self-loading handgun introduced in the 1940s. It was offered in .32 ACP. It was a compact double action blowback design. Production ran from 1940 till the end of production in WWII, and for a period in 1960s and early 1970s. The post war models were also available in .380 ACP
With the fall of Germany at the end of the war, Oberndorf came under French control, and the entire factory was dismantled by the occupying forces. All records in the factory were destroyed on orders of the local French Army commander. For a period of years after WWII, Mauser Werke manufactured precision measurement instruments and tools, such as micrometers. Edmund Heckler, Theodor Koch and Alex Seidel, former Mauser engineers, saved what they could and used it to start Heckler & Koch. Heckler & Koch has since taken over the role of Germany's main small-arms manufacturer. Mauser continued to make hunting and sporting rifles. In 1994 it became a subsidiary of Rheinmetall, who manufactured autocannons, such as the Mauser BK-27 and munitions under the name until 2004 when it merged into another unit. In 1999 the civilian manufacture of hunting, defense, and sporting rifles had been split off from Rheinmetall.
Additionally, many surplus military Mausers have entered the civilian market. Many of these rifles were left in their original condition and purchased by collectors or even by ordinary gun owners who continue to use them for casual shooting.
After WWII a considerable number of surplus 98K actions were around, and some were used by Schultz & Larsen in Denmark as the basis for target rifles. Some of these are still in competitive use today, although with the benefit of new barrels.
The strong following enjoyed by surplus military Mausers is not only a testament to their reliability but also to the widespread availability of affordable surplus ammunition for these rifles. Ironically, this ammunition can also pose a significant threat to these rifles since much of the ammunition uses a corrosive primer. Corrosive ammunition will remain useful for decades if it is stored in the right conditions, but care must be taken to thoroughly clean the gun after firing lest it quickly suffer irrevocable damage. Still, if proper care is taken one can use corrosive ammunition with no ill effects, and of course one can always have recourse to non-corrosive commercially loaded ammunition.
In 2000 Mauser Jagdwaffen GmbH and its European sister companies, J.P. Sauer & Sohn, Blaser and Swiss Arms were unified by the German investors Michael Lüke and Thomas Ortmeier under the SIGARMS name.
In 2003 Mauser Jagdwaffen GmbH introduced the M 03 hunting/sporting bolt-action rifle.
In 2004 Mauser-Werke Oberndorf Waffensysteme GmbH was incorporated into Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH, along with several other companies.
The Mauser M2 was offered by SIGARMS, though by 2006 it no longer appeared on their website. SIGARMS purchased the Mauser name for pistol manufacture in 1999. This pistol also is no longer supported by SIGSAUER nor Mauser Jagdwaffen GmbH. It hasn't been imported by SIG in over four years, and the Mauser Oberndorf plant where the M2 was manufactured has been closed.