Broomhandle Mauser Help


January 4, 2013, 09:12 PM
My friend sent me a message earlier today regarding a C96 Broomhandle Mauser made in Germany in 1931. It is chambered in 9x19 and everything I have found says that this should be a "Red 9". The only problem is that it doesn't have a Red 9 anywhere on the grips (or anywhere else) and all Red 9s were supposed to have been made 1916-1918. All the numbers match on the pistol so I'm fairly confident it wasn't converted. Any input that can shed some light on this would be appreciated. It is being sold cheap and I intend to grab it if everything pans out.

EDITED TO ADD: Serial number is 610793

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January 4, 2013, 09:18 PM
I don't know much about them.
And there is a lot to know!

This might help if you have a serial number.


January 4, 2013, 11:22 PM
Most of them made that late are "Bolo" models with a smaller grip and shorter barrel. Not many Bolos had red 9 grips.

January 4, 2013, 11:47 PM
Were ANY of the Bolos made in 9mm? I can't find any that were.

January 5, 2013, 12:12 PM
Mine is 9mm however it is a Mauser conversion remarked with a new barrel and Nazi proofs.

January 5, 2013, 02:03 PM
I have since discovered that 9mm rounds will chamber in 7.63 guns. Without slugging the barrel I have no reliable way to tell what caliber this weapon is. I will have to pass on it.

4v50 Gary
January 5, 2013, 07:36 PM
Measure the bore diameter with a caliper.

During the War many 7.62 Mauser caliber Broomhandles were rifled out to 9 mm and the grips marked with the red "9". However, this does not apply to post-war Broomhandles. Charles Pate's book, The Broomhandle Pistol, 1896-1936 confirms this with illustrations.

The serial number 610793 falls within the Late Postwar Bolo. According to Brethed and Schroder's book, System Mauser, it should have the following characteristics:

BBL: 3.9" (Note: some post-war Mausers that are within the Bolo serial # range were made with longer 5.5" barrels)
Sights: Late adjustable, marked either 50-500 meters or 50-1000 meters. Note: Pate states that all bolo framed pistols in the 29,000-40,000 serial number range have the 50-1000 meter adjustable sights (p124)
Grips: Walnut with 22 groves
Safety: late second type or universal
Firing pin: late, two lug
trigger: late
Extractor: late
Serial # range: 515091-793350. It should be found on the vertical flat, left side of chamber and on top of the rear grip strap. Note: Pate states that all bolo framed pistols in the 29,000-40,000 serial number range have the 50-1000 meter adjustable sights.
Other markings: Standard chamber marking, repeated in the right center of rear frame panel; Mauser banner in the center of left rear frame barrel.

January 5, 2013, 08:51 PM
Gary I appreciate all the information! Unfortunately I am 1,500 miles away from the C96 in question. I was relying on my friend who was there handling the gun. Since the gun is in 7.63 Mauser it is unlikely I will purchase it. I have far too many calibers on hand as it is.

Jim K
January 5, 2013, 09:21 PM
Hi, Gary,

I wonder about your source that pistols in 7.63 caliber were converted to 9mm and marked with the Red 9 "during the war" (WWI or WWII?). The Red 9's as far as I know were made by Mauser in 9mm Parabellum, not converted, and have sights calilbrated accordingly. I can't say that no 7.63 Mauser pistols were converted to 9mm P, but the only ones I know of done in any quantity were those Chinese imports a dozen or so years ago that were converted in the U.S. and supplied with fake Red 9 grips.


January 5, 2013, 09:32 PM
Tell the seller to put a projectile of .308 diameter in the muzzle. If it fits snug it's a 7.63, if it's very loose and rattles it's a 9mm. Simple.

January 5, 2013, 09:33 PM
It's my understanding that the "Red 9" Broomhandles were from a Prussian contract and were numbered in their own series. (And with unique rear sights as mentioned by Jim K) Any other 9 P's are later aftermarket conversions. There were some early commercial '96's chambered in a 9mm Mauser but that was something more like a 38 Super.

January 5, 2013, 09:37 PM
Tell the seller to put a projectile of .308 diameter in the muzzle. If it fits snug it's a 7.63, if it's very loose and rattles it's a 9mm. Simple.
This was done but with a 9mm round - from what I am told finding .308 caliber is quite hard. The 9mm did not fit as it was too big, proving that it was a 7.63.

4v50 Gary
January 9, 2013, 05:12 PM
Jim K - my bad and I stand corrected. You are right. Thank you. I checked and found this on page 117 of Belford & Dunlap's, The Mauser Self-Loading Pistol:

[T]he 9mm Parabellum Military pistol was marked with a Red "9" cut into the grip pieces. This Red "9" has been encountered in various sizes and positions on the grip pieces, even as small as about 3/16 inch in the smooth portion at the top of the grip piece. The production of this variation continued throughout WW-1. Approximately 150,000 of this variation were manufactured.

Pate on page 90 of The Broomhandle Pistol: 1896-1936 writes:

Until late 1917 these 9mm. military pistols were issued with standard wooden grips, but with the large number of 7.62 commercial pistols in use confusion soon resulted. The pistols were frequently loaded with the wrong round, with obvious results. In December 1917 the factory began supplying the military pistols with a distinctive 9 engraved in the grips and emphasized with red paint. At the same time orders went out to all army and navy armorers issued 9 mm. C96 pistols to burn a 9 into the wooden grips, and to paint them red. it is these field armory modifications which exhibit the crude 9s of various sizes, occasionally colored black rather than the specified red.

Jim K
January 9, 2013, 10:16 PM
"Red Nine" German contract pistols were numbered in their own range, 1-150000, so 610xxx is certainly not a genuine Red Nine.

As to "variations" in the grip mark being explained by it being dome by unit armorers, all I can say is that every genuine Red Nine I have seen had the same style, color, and size "9" and it was put on at the factory. Position did vary slightly, indicating that the grips mignt have been hand held rather than put in a fixture. They also had 50-1000 meter sight leaves and appropriate markings and serial numbers. Also, they are rough, not nearly as nicely polished and blued as we would normally expect from Mauser.

But after the Chinese "invasion" when tens of thousands of Mausers were imported, many with terrible barrels, some importers bored out the barrels to 9mm or replaced them by cutting off the barrels, boring out the stubs and then soldering in 9mm barrels. Some put on fake Red Nine grips, most of which looked nothing like the originals. So the "armorers did the marking" story appeared to explain how those "genuine" Red Nines looked nothing like the ones in the books.


Two Old Dogs
January 13, 2013, 02:08 PM
Let us not forget the 9mm Parabellum 1920 Reworks and the 1920 Luger Barreled Reworks which were products of the provisons of the Treaty of Versailles (i.e. barrels less than 4" and fixed sights). These pistols did not necessarily have the "Red" Nine grips.

There are also some 9mm Parabellum variants of the Model 1930 that have been reported which did not have "Red" Nine grips (System Mauser by Breathed and Schroeder).

Jim K
January 13, 2013, 09:59 PM
AFAIK, the 9mm Red Nine 1920 reworks were part of the original 150,000 Mausers made in 9mm Parabellum, cut down because, as you say, the C96 was specifically banned by the Allied control commission. (I have no idea why they considered what was even then an obsolescent pistol such a danger, but I guess it was a bit like the current "assault weapon" nonsense!) The two I have seen still had the original Red Nine grips.

The book shows one with the Red Nine grips then says that 7.63mm guns were reworked. But the German army never issued the C96 in other than 9mm, though some may have been purchased by officers or individual soldiers. The Austrian army might have bought some, also.

AFAIK, the "Luger barrel" pistol was never a factory or official product. I have never seen one outside that book and pictures copied from it. I think it was probably a "one-off" or at least a "very few off" job, maybe even a gunsmith job.

As to Pate's comments on the reason for the Red Nine, I have to wonder about his assertion that there were a "large number" of C96 pistols in 7.63mm caliber in the German armed forces. That is almost certainly not correct; the Germans never adopted the C96 in 7.63 caliber, and no 7.63mm ammunition was issued. There might have been confusion if officers and soldiers knew of the Mauser and assumed any "broomhandle" was in 7.63mm, but even if they did, they would not have access to 7.63mm ammunition unless they were able to find a local gun store and buy it.

Nor do I know what "results" would occur from firing 7.63 ammo in a 9mm Parabellum pistol, except that the gun wouldn't work and accuracy would have been somewhat lacking.

Until I see some C96 pistols in 9mm with the proper sight, markings, and serial number range with the correct original grips and a "local armorer" Red Nine, I will continue to believe that those grips were marked at the factory, not crudely burned in by unit armorers or made from standard grips in someone's basement.


January 14, 2013, 04:22 AM
Mountains of 'substitute standard' handguns made it into WW1 armories, this could be one source of the story of 30 cal Mausers needing to be relined/bored and having the armorers alter the grips, clearly marked with an 'Arabesque' red 9.

Two Old Dogs
January 14, 2013, 11:38 AM
Jim K: I have been watching 9mm Broomhandles on the various web auction and sale sites for about 2+ years and have seen at least 3 Luger barreled rework models offered that were not Chinese imports (i.e. no import marks).

Jim K
January 14, 2013, 03:55 PM
Any indication of the source? A pistol rebarrelled like that in Germany and sold on the market would have to have commercial proof marks. If it were taken into military service it should have military markings of some kind.

Of course, any rare gun is subject to fakery; if a ratty Mauser ($200) and a Luger barrel ($49) can be made to add up to a $2000 "rare pistol", I guarantee that someone will do the math and the macnine work.


Two Old Dogs
January 15, 2013, 03:18 PM
No source information. I was looking for a Red Nine with stock and didn't pay too much attention except to note the Luger front sight on them and check my references to see what they were. The sellers did not advertise them a Luger Barreled Reworks.

4v50 Gary
January 15, 2013, 04:53 PM
Jim K - regarding the 7.62 mm Mauser, could they be privately owned firearms carried by officers?

Jim K
January 15, 2013, 06:09 PM
Of course. German officers were authorized (IIRC at one time required) to purchase their own sidearms. But, at least in WWII, there were only two calibers of pistol ammunition issued, 7.65mm Browning (.32 ACP) and 9mm '08 (9mm Luger). 6.35mm, 9mm Kurz and 7.63 Mauser ammo were not issued, so an officer would have had to buy his own, with no assurances of resupply. That would not have mattered much for a "badge of office" .25 or .32 pistol, but I think a C96 would have been meant as a combat pistol, so an ammo supply would be important.

The mystique of the Red Nine is so great and there are so many fakes that it is darned hard to say any more what is "correct". I have one, which experts have assured me is genuine. I paid $35 for it in (of all places) Washington, D.C., in 1957. The dealer wanted to know if I wanted "a load of wood" for another $15; he wouldn't sell it to me then, but I went back the next day and got the "load of wood" and the leather. I violated the law for 11 years, registered the gun in the 1968 amnesty, then two years ago had it removed from the NFRTR as a C&R.

Two things are interesting. One is the poor quality of the machining and finish compared with commercial pistols; the other is that the red paint is fairly dark and not the bright red seen on some of the fakes. I thought the darkness was just dirt, but examination of other genuine guns makes me believe the original color was a medium red.


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