By R.K. Campbell
Among the most attractive, distinctive and interesting handguns of World War Two is the Mauser HSc. This pistol has a distinct Art Deco look that is reminiscent of the 1930s; however, the pistol was not produced until 1940. Just the same, the Mauser is every inch a product of the era. Development of the HSc began in 1934 at Mauser Werke Obendorf at Neckar, Germany. At the time, only the Mauser 1914, slightly improved as the 1934, was offered in the pocket pistol line. This handgun was not competitive against the Walther PP and PPK pistols. There was also the prospect of a military contract as small 7.65mm pistols were popular with the German Army.
While civilian personal defense and police needs might be solved by a light pistol - according to the Europeans - the .32 ACP/7.65mm pistol was mainly a badge of office, used to direct troops. The HSc would prove as well suited as any other to this need. While this is primarily speculation on the author’s part, I believe that the Mauser was designed to undercut the Walther in price and to be made more cheaply. The HSc’s price point was less than the Walther and remained so during its service life and during its time in commercial sales. The HSc was designed in a socialist world to take less man hours, making the price less in the socialist guild system.
Our research indicates that no less than twenty-two prototypes were fashioned prior to the adoption of the final design and series production. The Hahn Selbstspanner Pistole (self cocking hammer or double action pistol, c denoting variation) was introduced in 1940. The “c” designation meant third and final design, regardless of the actual number of prototypes and early variations. The first pistols were accepted by the Kreigsmarine and next the Army. Waffen SS and Lufwaffe pistols were delivered from Army stocks. Wartime pistols were produced in 7.65mm (.32 Automatic Colt Pistol) caliber. All wartime pistols had the serial number stamped on the front strap. The last three digits of the serial number were stamped on the bottom of the breech and further etched by hand with an electric pencil under the muzzle. Serial numbers began at 700001 and ran to almost 952000. Best guesses are that a quarter of a million pistols were produced, with the figure 252,000 often quoted. The serial number range began where the Mauser 1914/1934 pistol left off. The original Mauser HSc featured a nice blue finish and nicely turned out walnut grips. A noticeable detail change in the pistol occurred at approximately pistol 701345 when the grip screw position was changed. The first pistols featured grip screws placed proportionately lower on the frame. The newer position is regarded as a better design in order to fully support the grip panels. Interestingly, despite the wartime economy, a number of pistols were released to the civilian market though many of these pistols were actually purchased for private use by military personnel. (For clarification the early grip screw position is approximately 3/4 inch lower than the standard grip screw position.)
Wartime pistols are most often marked with an Eagle/655 inspection stamp on the left rear of the trigger guard extension. The factory acceptance proof is the Eagle over N on the right rear trigger guard. A small Army proof mark is found on the left rear grip tang. Civilian pistols have the factory proof but not the military acceptance proof mark.
During the war there were several cuts in time spent on production of material and the HSc is no exception. The finish suffered and at one time, the finish was a dull, almost green finish. This is a phosphate finish similar to Parkerizing or bunkerizing. Color schemes ranged from gray to nearly green. The collector will sometimes encounter a pistol with a mix of phosphate and blued parts. Despite the first impression that these handguns were mismatched they were delivered in this fashion. After the war, the French occupied the Mauser factory and continued production in the same serial number range. Many of these pistols were sent to French Indochina. This production run was brief.
The Mauser HSc was reintroduced in 1967 and imported by Interarms. A total production run of 63,118 pistols were produced. The pistols were reengineered to accept the .380 ACP cartridge to make it more popular in America, although many were also sold in the original .32 ACP chambering. The production figures follow;
18,868: .32 ACP
39,250: .380 ACP
Handling the Mauser HSc
The HSc pistol handles much the same as the J P Sauer or Walther double action pistols. The double action pistols in competition with the Mauser featured a hammer dropping safety, which the Mauser does not. The hammer must be manually lowered. The double action trigger is more abrupt than the Walther and is heavy in comparison. The estimated trigger pull weight in double action is sixteen pounds. The single action trigger is smooth at about six pounds. When you rack the slide to the rear on an empty magazine, the slide locks. However, even when you remove the magazine you cannot lower the slide. Reinserting the magazine, either an empty or a loaded magazine, lowers the slide. When a loaded magazine is inserted the chamber is loaded and the slide runs forward. The hammer must be manually lowered by capturing the hammer with the thumb and pressing the trigger, lowering the hammer in this manner. The safety may be placed on at this time.
To fire the pistol, place the safety in the off position. The HSc is fired by pressing the trigger. The long double action trigger press works against an internal drawbar that draws the hammer to the rear. When the hammer breaks the sear and falls, the pistol fires. The slide then recoils and cocks the hammer. All subsequent shots after the first are fired single action.
The author’s personal example was test fired with Winchester USA ball ammunition. The pistol loaded smoothly. The HSc is a comfortable pistol to fire. The small sights are snag free but make accuracy problematical. At ten yards, several five shot three-inch groups were printed, which is adequate for the task we must presume. A single five shot group from a careful bench rest at 15 yards was fired with the aid of Hansen Eagle Eyes shooting glasses. The Winchester 95 grain FMJ bullets went into a cluster of four and one half inches. There were several stoppages during the firing test – at least one per magazine. The age of the pistol and the magazine spring seem to be the fault.
The HSc is an interesting pistol with a distinctive silhouette. Quality examples are available at affordable prices and the pistol has a certain pride of ownership that cannot be faulted. The Mauser HSc pistol is well worth your attention.
Caliber: 7.65mm and .380 ACP
Magazine capacity 7.65mm: 8
Magazine capacity .380 ACP: 7
Weight: 24.7 ounces
Barrel: 3.4 inches
Overall length: 6 inches
Total production, commercial and wartime: 334,000
Total wartime production: 252,000
- 23% Commercial
- 54% Army
- 11% Navy
- 12% Police
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