Mauser Model 1889

The Mauser Model 1889 was a bolt-action rifle of Belgian origin. It became known as the 1889 Belgian Mauser, 1891 Argentine Mauser, and 1890 Turkish Mauser.

Mauser Model 1889
Class Manportable
Type Rifles
Manufacturer Fabrique Nationale
Origin Germany
Country Name Origin Year
Belgium 1889
Germany 1889
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Belgium 1889 1940 View
Germany 1889 1940 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Fabrique Nationale View
Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken View
Ludwig Loewe View

After the Mauser brothers finished work on the Model 71/84 in 1887, the design team set out to create a small caliber repeater that used smokeless powder. Because of setbacks brought on by Wilhelm Mauser's death, they failed to have the design completed by 1882, and the German Rifle Test Commission (Gewehr-Prüfungskommission) was formed. The commission preferred to create their own design. Paul Mauser created two different variations of the same rifle, one with a stock strengthened with a barrel shroud and a traditional design following the layout of the 71 series in hope he might be able to overturn the commission's decision, or at least sell his design to the Kingdom of Bavaria, which adopted its own arms. The two rifles became known as the 89 Belgian (with a barrel shroud) and the 91 Argentine (with a 71 layout) Mausers, identical in their function and feed system. The main features were the ability to use stripper clips to feed the magazine (a revolution in rate of fire), and its rimless cartridge (7.65 Argentine), advanced for the time.

When the modernizing Belgian Army required a new service rifle all their own, they turned to the existing and proven German designs, bypassing any lengthy, and untimely costly, indigenous initiative in the process. The German design served as the basic framework for the Belgian offering which was slightly modified to suit Belgian military requirements. It was this rifle that turned out to be the very first successful firearm to be produced in number by Fabrique Nationale.

The system proved impressive at the 1884 Bavarian Arms Trials. Both firearms were a success, but decision-makers were not convinced that the stripper feed was superior to the en-block system employed by Mannlicher. In response, Mauser started small-scale production of the design in an effort to interest foreign nations, but failed to convince any of the European major powers. The Belgian attache, however, urged his government to contact Mauser, hoping the design might give them a chance to found a domestic arms industry. The heavy-barreled Mauser with the barrel shroud was deemed superior to the competing Belgian designs, and resulted in the founding of arms manufacturer Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre, now known as FN Herstal. FN's factory was overrun during World War I, so they outsourced production to a facility in Birmingham, England originally set up by the well known gunmaking firm, W. W. Greener and subsequently handed over to the Belgian Government later in the war, and Hopkins & Allen in the United States.

The Belgians talks with Mauser prompted the Ottoman Empire, whose contract for Model 1887 rifles included an "escape clause" allowing them to alter their order to account for any new advancements the Mauser brothers made, to consider the design. In the end they ordered their own simpler variation of the 91 Argentine Mauser known as the 90 Turkish. While this was taking place, the Argentine Small Arms Commission contacted Mauser in 1886 to replace their Model 71s; since they wished to keep retraining of their armed forces to a minimum, they went for the Mauser 91. As with other early Mausers, most such arms were made by the Ludwig Loewe company, who in 1896 joined with other manufactures to form Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken.

One of the principle defining features of the Belgian Mauser was its thin sheet steel jacket surrounding the barrel—a rather unique element not common to any other Mauser mark of note. The jacket was instituted as a feature intended to maintain the effectiveness of the barrel and the solid wooden body over time, otherwise lengthening its service life and long-term accuracy when exposed to excessive firing and battlefield abuse. In spite of this approach, the jacketed barrel proved susceptible to moisture build-up and, therefore, introduced the problem of rust forming on the barrel itself–unbeknown to the user. In addition, the jacket was not perforated in any such way as to relieve the barrel of any heat build-up and consequently proved prone to denting. As such, barrel quality was affected over time regardless of the protective measure. Furthermore, another design flaw of the jacket was its extra steel content. Not only was it expensive but it was also needed in huge quantities to provide for tens of thousands of soldiers. By many accounts, the barrel jacket was not appreciated by its operators who depended on a perfect rifle in conflict. Another defining characteristic, unlike most Mausers, was a spring-loaded cock on closing bolt action resembling the British Lee-Enfield, which wouldn't be designed until later. This development allowed for faster firing and was well-received.

The Model 1889, as mentioned, featured a single-piece solid wooden body running the entire weapon, ending just aft of the muzzle. It contained two bands and iron sights were fitted at the middle of the receiver top and at the muzzle like virtually all other rifles of the time. Overall length of the rifle was just over 50 inches (1270 millimeters) with the barrel contributing to approximately 30 inches (762 millimeters) of this length. Of course, a fixed bayonet was issued and added another 10 inches (254 millimeters) to the design as doctrine of the period still relied heavily on the bayonet charge for the defensive victory.

All variations used the same 7.65mm round-nosed cartridge. Many parts were interchangeable, with the exception of the bayonets of the 89 and 90/91; the barrel shroud made the bayonet ring too wide. The 1889 Mauser rejected by Germany in 1884 entered service in 1940 with the second-line units of Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium. A non-rotating Mauser claw extractor was introduced in the Model 92. Several variations of this model participated in rifle trials for the United States Army of that year; the Norwegian Krag-Jørgensen rifle was ultimately chosen.

Type Rifle
Place of origin German Empire
Belgium
Service history
In service 1889–1940s
Used by Argentina
Belgium
Bolivia
Philippines
Spain
Ottoman Empire
Wars Philippine Revolution,
Spanish–American War,
Philippine–American War,
Belgian colonial conflicts,
World War I,
Greco-Turkish War,
Turkish War of Independence,
World War II
Production history
Designer Mauser
Designed 1889
Manufacturer Fabrique Nationale,
Loewe Berlin,
Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken
Number built ~275,000
Variants Belgian Mauser rifle M1889, Turkish Mauser rifle M1890, Argentinean Mauser rifle M1891, Belgian Mauser cavalry carbine M1889, Belgian Mauser Engineer carbine M1889, Argentinean Mauser cavalry carbine M1891, Argentinean Mauser Engineer carbine M1891,
Specifications
Weight Mauser Model 1889: 4 kg (8.82 lb)
Cavalry Carbine: 3.3 kg (7.3 lb)
Engineer Carbine: 3.3 kg (7.3 lb)
Length Mauser Model 1889: 1,295 mm (51.0 in)
Cavalry Carbine: 940 mm (37 in)
Engineer Carbine: 940 mm (37 in)
Barrel length Mauser Model 1889: 780 mm (31 in)
Cavalry Carbine: 447 mm (17.6 in)
Engineer Carbine: 447 mm (17.6 in)
Cartridge 7.65×53mm Argentine
Caliber 7.65mm
Action Bolt action
Muzzle velocity 2,100 ft/s (640.1 m/s)
Feed system 5 round box magazine
Sights Iron sights adjustable to 1,900 m (2,078 yd)

End notes