The First World War

Handguns between 1905 – 1908

It is a justified assumption that the first firearm carried in the Corps, from 1905 onwards, was the Reichsrevolver M/79. We know that a handgun was prescribed as part of the uniform when the Corps was established. That the Parabellum 08 (Luger pistol) was introduced to the German troops first in 1908 does not disprove that beforehand the stipulated revolver for the forces was also used by the Corps.

Photo courtesy by Bob Adams,

The Army revolver M/79 was the first military multiple loading short handgun weapon introduced in Germany . Before this percussion-pistols were used.

The so-called Reichsrevolver was of single-action character, it resembled the so-called Zick-Zack revolver M/78 which had been developed by Mauser. It was manufactured by Sauer & Son, Schilling and Hanael from Suhl , amongst others. A later-introduced model, the M/83 Revolver, was shorter but otherwise of similar construction.

The barrel took six 10,55 mm calibre cartridges. It is curious to note that the safety-catch is below the hammer, to secure the weapon it had to be pressed down – a facility that cannot be found in American or British revolvers of that time.

Mauser C96 pistol
This pistol was presented to Kaiser Wilhelm II in August 1896, and afterwards it went into serial production.

The C96 became one of the most popular carried weapons of the forces, despite by today´s standards it´s lack of charm as a pistol. It was never an elegant pistol, so it is questionable wheter this pistol was carried by the officers of the Corps. Even after the introduction of the 08 pistol, it was still widely used. Especially in the first World War it was handed out to nearly all the troops, alongside the P 08. In 1916 a large number were converted to the more efficient 9mm calibre. These weapons were distinguished by a large red ‘9’ on the handle, in order to avoid any confusion.

Photo courtesy by Bob Adams,

Photo of an early Mauser C96. Rare serial number ‘197’ from the small group of test pistols bought by Germany in about 1899 or 1900.

The Mauser C-96 was used in many countries, and often copied. This inglorious weapon was supposedly used when the Russian Tsar family was murdered.


The German Imperial Automobile Corps and its daggers - By Vic Diehl and H.Hampe