Khyber Market Finds: The Mauser M1916 – A WWI Rarity (Part 1)

Updated: 1 day ago

On our many travels to the gun markets and arms manufacturing hubs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, we’ve encountered many interesting firearms, some of which are the envy of collectors the world over. The latest example of one of these finds is one of the rarer and more valuable firearms we have come across. Several examples of World War One-vintage Mauser M1916 Selbstladekarabiner (self-loading carbine) have been found.

Going back to early 2019 in around March, we came across an exquisite example of a Mauser M1916, a 7.92×57mm carbine. It is thought that only around one thousand of these firearms were produced. This limited run and its historical value make this firearm very sought-after and, in some ways, priceless. This was the German, WWI era-rifle, the Mauser M1916 Flieger-Karabiner (aviator carbine) variant of the Selbstladekarabiner (self-loading carbine). It was located at the infamous arms market of Darra Adamkhel in the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Although it was missing its accompanying box magazines, all-in-all, it was a very clean example and in original condition – minus some small areas of oxidisation in places. This was initially found hanging in the back of an acquaintances arms dealership who told us that this was found in Afghanistan in an interesting twist, it was also surprising that he actually knew what he had in his possession, boasting of its rarity on a number of occasions.

Fig.1.1. Mauser 1916: right face (Source: Khyber Armoury)

Fig.1.2. Mauser 1916: left face & markings (Source: Khyber Armoury)

At that time, we didn’t think much of it wrongly assuming that the rifle was maybe a remarked local build or a modified rifle of similar appearance, wasn’t as valuable as it was suggested to be and/or wasn’t what he stated he had, therefore only a couple of images were taken of the example we handled. It was only much later in early 2020 that we realised the gem we had laid our hands on was indeed as stated and did our damndest to relocate and document it. Unfortunately, we were unable to do so due to the Covid-19 pandemic but recently we have been able to have images and a short video sent to us from another colleague on-the-ground in Darra, to share with you.

To truly understand the value of this firearm, historical and otherwise, a summary of its background on this is needed. The Mauser 1916 was produced in both a full-stocked carbine variant – the Mauser Selbstladekarabiner and the Flieger-Karabiner variant seen here. The firearm is gas operated and uses a flapper delayed blowback action. The M1916 feeds from a detachable 20 or 25 round box magazine which is similar looking to that of an MG13, in fact the MG13 magazines does insert and lock into the rifle. They were produced and introduced in 1916, were only made in a very small quantity, reportedly around 1,000 in total, split between the two variations. The complex machining needed to allow the weapon to function meant that it was expensive to manufacture. The recoil impulse and somewhat finicky mechanism were also seen as disadvantages in the face of cheaper and more reliable machine guns and submachine guns.

Fig.1.3. Mauser 1916: magazine-well, birds-eye plus serials and charging handle views (Source: Khyber Armoury)

Fig.1.4. Mauser 1916: Mauser marking stamped into the side of buttstock & German acceptance marking (Source: Khyber Armoury)

During our research, not only did we find this example, we have found a second which we will endeavour to share with you soon. We also hope to get to the bottom of how these rifles reached Darra. Alas, even though we have found one accessible specimen, this example is priced way out of the layman’s budget and we are currently unable to fire it and look at it in detail so we can’t bring that to you at this time. It’s definitely a surprise to find something so out-of-the-ordinary and so ‘unobtainable’ within the markets of Darra but a welcome one all the same.