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The Mauser HSc - An Appreciation

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by wlewisiii, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Well-Known Member

    Back in the late 1930's, the police pistol market in German was owned by Walther between the PP & the PPK. Mauser wanted in on the market but to do so would require a pistol that was better than the Walther. In my opinion, they succeeded and, but for WWII, would have made a far bigger dent in Walther's sales.

    This particular example illustrates something that most American's don't really understand. In April 1942 the Germans had been at war for just over 2 1/2 years but were not yet on a full war economy. This pistol, produced that month by it's serial number, was not made for the military or even the police - the only proof mark it bears is the standard civilian proof mark. In the middle of WWII, this was made for civilian purchase. At the end of the war it ended up in some GI's pocket and was brought back to the US by him - there are no importer's marks either - and at some point, probably in the 1950's it was badly nickel plated destroying the original Mauser bluing. I ponder getting it refinished when I can afford to send it off I'd like to have the nickel stripped and have it parkerized. I'll not have it blued again in case someone thinks the blue is the original finish somewhere down the road.


    The holster in this image was originally made for a S&W 642 by www.woodenleather.com and is, naturally, of his usual exquisite quality. If you know how big a J-Frame is, that should give you a good idea of the size of the pistol. While it is smaller than, say, a CZ-50 or PP, it is still a relatively large pistol for .32 ACP.


    The grips are modern reproductions in plastic as the wood originals were almost ready to fall apart and have been put away in my gun safe. I also replaced all springs with a Wolfe kit before I started shooting the pistol. The old recoil spring was noticeably weaker and setback.

    There are, to the new user, some peculiarities.

    The European style slide mounted safety is "backwards" to most American shooters who expect a 1911 style down=off. The butt mounted magazine release is also something disliked by many Americans but was the expected standard for a European pistol of its day.

    The DA trigger pull is long and heavy, though smooth after 70 years of use. The SA pull is as crisp and clean as one could hope for.

    There is no slide release. You have to put in a mag for it go forward. Then, if the safety is on, the hammer automatically drops. Now that is safe because the safety physically moves the rear end of the firing pin to where it can not be hit by the hammer.

    If the safety is off, the hammer stays cocked and you can either begin shooting or put the safety on and lower the hammer.

    In addition, there is a magazine safety - you can't pull the trigger if there isn't a magazine in the weapon. In addition, in order to strip the weapon, you have to clear it then insert an empty magazine in to let the slide forward. Then you can put it on safe, take out the magazine and strip it by the button inside the trigger guard.

    It's a nice pistol, reliable & more accurate than I am. It has fired every type of ammo I've thrown at it with only one choke that I attribute to a poor hold at the end of a fast fired string. It points naturally for me. The sights are tiny but more visible to me than many of the others in this category. It was designed for police use and the reality is that it is capable of excellent accuracy for a pocket pistol.

    Let's take a little closer look at the HSc.

    First, this page has a good parts view: http://www.stevespages.com/ipb-mauser-hsc.html


    To begin stripping the pistol, clear it.


    Then remove the ammuntion from the magazine. As you can see, this is an 8+1 pistol.


    Double check the chamber!
    Now insert the empty magazine into the pistol to cause the slide to go forward.


    Notice the hammer? It's mostly enclosed in the slide but it does have a small protrusion with which to cock or decock the pistol. I have never gotten hammer or slide bite from this pistol (knock on wood, baby) because of how well this pistol is designed. The hammer is cocked which is how we want it.


    At the front top of the trigger guard you can just make out the take down button.


    Remove the magazine and put the pistol on safe.


    Holding the button down, the slide will slip a little foward and come off the pistol.


    Here we run into the limit of my len's close focus ability :( however you can still make out the bar across the top of the magazine well? It hooks into the transfer bar and without a magazine in the pistol to lift it a little, the trigger can not be pulled. The slide stop is also part of it.


    As you can see, the barrel is not attached to the frame. This probably sacrifices some absolute accuracy but I've shot better groups with this than with any PPK or CZ I've shot. Mauser's folks, I found, usually knew what they were doing... ;) Now push the breech of the barrel forward and then pull it down (I usually push through the ejection port) to remove the barrel. That is one heavy ass spring for such a supposedly wimpy cartridge.


    Here we are, fully field stripped. No more is necessary unless you're a gun smith.

    As you can see on all these pictures, the nickle is rotten and peeling. I really don't think a good job was done back when and that's why I'd like to have the money to get the pistol stripped and parkerized. Alas, I doubt Kickstarter would allow me to fundraise for that project :lol:

    The pistol is almost as small as some of the modern pocket pistols - 4" tall, 6" long - about the same as a J frame. I like the .32 Auto for a daily carry pistol as the majority of bad guys don't want to get shot by anything and the other real threat up here is dogs/coyotes & like sized rabid mammals, it is more than powerful enough for that. Buffalo Bore makes an excellent +P hard cast round in this cartridge that I heartily recommend. https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=132 Wish I had the money for a few boxes of it. I may have to breakdown and buy .32 ACP dies to duplicate the load. I usually buy Winchester White Box or Prvi Partizan for practice & plinking. Yes, it's delightful plinker too.

    In the end, this is the finest pocket pistol I've ever had the pleasure of shooting. I owe a thank you to that long ago vet who destroyed it's collectors value with that bad nickel job - I probably could never have afforded it otherwise!

    It is, however, a .32 ACP and having been made in April 1942 it's getting long in tooth. I should probably find a newer pocket rocket - I have been looking at the Kel Tec P32 as a result - but there's just something about it even in it's post war badly done nickel that appeals to me more than the new ones and it remains my EDC.

    Any questions? :cool:
  2. Dframe

    Dframe Well-Known Member

    Excellent treatise on the HS/c. From my experiance they are wonderfully made little jewels. Some though are finicky about ammunition. Glad yours is not. The DA trigger on those I've fired was awful, requiring the help of two linebackers and a gorilla to pull it. With all of the pistols otherwise far advanced features I always thought Mauser could have done better with it's trigger. Oh Well! The beautiful machining and blueing on those I've examined and fired were classic examples of old world craftsmanship
  3. kellmark

    kellmark Well-Known Member

    I had one of the Interarms imported HSc pistols in 380 caliber I bought new in the 1960s. I kept it for a number of years and liked the styling of it. But I finally sold it. The trigger pull was pretty bad on it, and it was a bit large for some pockets.

    Oddly enough, I now have a Walther PPK. Have had it for years. It is smaller than the HSc and more useful to me.

    They are both excellent representatives of their day from the 1930s. Some days I wish that I had kept it, as I did love the styling.
  4. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    As I am sure you are aware, the plating is not original and the pistol was heavily buffer before it was applied. The grips appear to be American, possibly Franzite. The absence of the military acceptance stamp could be the result of it having been buffed off; non-military pre-and wartime HSc's are pretty uncommon.

    One disadvantage of the slide stop system (aside from its complexity) is that to close the slide the user must insert a magazine. The intent was that when the slide locked back, the shooter would insert a loaded magazine, the slide would automatically close and firing could be resumed without the need to manipulate a slide stop or retract and release the slide. But the drawback for disassembly is that A magazine MUST be inserted. ANY magazine, loaded or empty. So if a loaded magazine is inadvertently inserted, an accident might have found a place to happen.

  5. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Well-Known Member

    Yep. The grips are new reproductions. The originals are in my gun safe.

    While there was some buffing, it was not as bad as some - the rest of the markings are quite clear beneath the plating including the proofs that are there which is what leads me to believe it was one of the late civilian production pistols.

    Regarding the slide release issues, I only insert a magazine with the safety on. In this pistol the safety moves the firing pin up so that the hammer can not impact as well as locks it in place. That aspect was better thought out than some others.
  6. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

    What a great thread. I've always wanted one of those.
  7. bannockburn

    bannockburn Well-Known Member


    Very nice write-up along with some helpful photos highlighting your narrative. My brother had an Interarms Mauser HSc in .380. A beautifully made (though relatively heavy), gun it was often subject to frequent feeding problems, even with FMJ ammo. Different magazines and polishing the feed ramp did nothing to alleviate the problem.
  8. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    I've always liked the look of these, especially since having an Interarms catalog as a kid in the mid 70's.
  9. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Well-Known Member

    Bannonckburn, I've often felt that the .380 was too powerful for this design and that it works best as a .32 ACP.
  10. ^^^I have heard the same. I do like the HSc. It has often been regarded as an art deco gun, due to the distinctive slope of the frame in front of the trigger guard. Sets it apart from all other pocket autos; the apparent cousin to the Remington 1873 revolver.
  11. Storm

    Storm Well-Known Member

    23% of HSc production, just short of 60,000 guns were commercial. Only 40 or so were pre-war and were pre-production. Production began in 1940. After the war some were made by the French, possibly 19,000 IIRC. Production continued in 1968 with the InterArms gun.

    As to the OPs gun, I own the same gun, but a 1943, sans plating, and mine like his (assuming his have not been buffed off) only has the eagle/N stamps and is commercial production. Despite not having been military issued many made it into battle as privately owned sidearms. They were a popular bring back.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  12. legumeofterror

    legumeofterror Active Member

    I the later evolution of that design, the HK4. This particular handgun is one of roughly 500 marked as made in France by MAS to circumvent import restriction in place in Berlin at the time. They could not arm Berlin police with German made weapons, so these were marked as French made and imported to Berlin through France. This one appears to be unfired, and came with the original boxes with both the .32 ACP and .22 LR components.




  13. sub-moa

    sub-moa Well-Known Member

    A couple of first cousins:
    '70 .380 HSc & '70 .380 HK4...there are other cousins hiding in the safes as well ;):D
  14. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    I am digging those orange baseplates. Very smart.

    Was that standard?
  15. legumeofterror

    legumeofterror Active Member

    There are .22 mags with both orange and black baseplates. From what I have seen the police issue sets always have orange baseplates, but I am not certain of this. This set came as shown.
  16. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Well-Known Member

    Love the pictures of the HK4. Thank you!

    I need to fit some finger rests to my magazines. I wonder if the ones Kel Tec sells for their P32 could be trimmed & epoxied into place... :scrutiny:

    Someday I'd love to do a comparison of the Walther PP/PPK, the Sauer 38H, the Mauser HSc, and the HSc's decendant, the HK4. Could also be a fun and informative to compare them against the modern generation of small .32's like the Kel Tec P32 & similar. :cool:
  17. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Well-Known Member

    Though I liked the concept and appreciated the workmanship and finish of an HSc (1 of 5000) that I bought new, I could never get it to function reliably, even with ball ammunition. After several years, I reluctantly parted with it and, with only an occasional, wistful peek over my shoulder, have never looked back.
  18. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    AFAIK, there were no pre-WWII or wartime HSc's in any caliber other than .32 (7.65 Browning). Again AFAIK, all HSc's of that era went to the German military and the 9mm Kurz (.380) was not in the German military/police supply system.

    Most of the later HSc's in .380 were intended for export to the U.S., where the .32 was not considered an effective defense caliber. After GCA '68, of course, only the .380 could accumulate enough "points" for importation.

  19. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Well-Known Member

    That is correct, only 7.65 prior to the reintroduction. As I've said above, I think the .380 was a mistake and that if you want a good HSc, you get a .32, change all the springs and accept it for what it is.

    It is not a "boomstick"; it is a small pistol firing a moderately powered but still lethal cartridge. It is sufficient for my needs in a EDC; it may or may not be for yours. When I need more power (hunting, forex) I have a very fine 625 in .45 Colt but that is a very different type of weapon from the HSc. Accept it for what it is and don't, as Mauser tried for the American market, to force it to be what it is not.
  20. Storm

    Storm Well-Known Member


    That link will give you an idea as to Mauser production went. I also agree that the 1968 reintroduction was a mistake in 380 although a smaller number were done in 7.65. As with the PPK 380 really pushes the platform.

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