Mauser-Norris Prototype: Origins of the Mauser Legacy

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Today we are looking at one of the rarest and earliest rifles built by Paul and Wilhelm Mauser, a design which would set in motion all the events that led to the Mauser company becoming one of the great world leaders in small arms. The Mauser brothers were born in Oberndorf am Necker in the Kingdom of Württemberg, sons of a gunsmith. They would take up their father’s trade and were creative and intelligent boys, but opportunities were limited in the small, rural town of Oberndorf. In 1865 they presented a rifle to the Austrian Army in Vienna for trials, where it was rejected. However, it was noticed by an American sales rep for the Remington Company, a man named Samuel Norris. Norris saw the potential in the Mauser brothers’ design to convert needlefire rifles to metallic cartridges, and he signed a deal with the brothers to further develop the system.

The Mauser’s moved to Liege Belgium to do their work, and within just a few years they were making rifles for Norris. This example is based on a Chassepot, as Norris hoped to sell the conversion system to the French Army. That deal was rejected, however (the French were happy sticking with paper cartridges as of 1868), and Norris’ plans began to unravel when the Remington company discovered that he was making dealings in his own name instead of for them. The Mauser brothers ended up walking away from the deal with ownership of the patents they had filed with Norris, and when they submitted the design to the Prussians a process began which would result in the Mauser Model 1871 being adopted. From there, their talents would lead to the whole line of Mauser repeating rifles culminating in the Model 1898, arguably the pinnacle of the bolt action military rifle.

Thanks to the Liege Arms Museum for access to film this for you! If you are in Belgium, definitely plan to stop into the museum, part of the Grand Curtius. They have a very good selection of interesting and unusual arms on display. Further thanks to the Paul Mauser Archive for helping to arrange this filming!

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