Finnish Military Handguns - Mauser "Broomhandle" and More

Discussion in 'Sako Pre-WW2 rifles military & other' started by icebear, Jun 4, 2021.

  1. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

    Messages:
    1,854
    Likes Received:
    995
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Arizona
    This is a bit off the usual topic of Sako sporting rifles, but I think at least a few of us will be interested. The latest addition to my Finnish collection is not a Sako and not even made in Finland, but relevant nonetheless. It's a C96 "Broomhandle" Mauser pistol marked with the SA property stamp of the Finnish Army (Suomen Armeija).

    When Finland gained independence from the Russian Empire in 1917, it needed to organize an army. The first weapons were model 91 Mosin-Nagant rifles left behind in Russian arsenals in Finland. Handguns were whatever could be found. Some came from Russian arsenals; others were the personal property of Finns who had been officers in the Russian army. These officers included C.G E. Mannerheim, who as a Russian officer had led an exploring expedition to Central Asia. Although independence was attained with relatively little fighting, Finland was almost immediately plunged into a civil war between Finnish nationalist forces, mainly the White Guard, and Communists supplied and encouraged by the Bolsheviks in Russia. The White forces captured a lot of weapons during the war, including a number of C96 Mausers. My gun was built in 1905; I believe it was most likely captured during the civil war. It could also have come from Russian stocks in 1917, or been the personal property of a Finnish officer, or it could also have been acquired in one of the many small-lot arms deals made by Finland in the 1920's.

    Finnish marked C96 pistols are quite rare. According to the most comprehensive published source, fewer than 400 remained in Finnish Army inventory when the older weapons were sold for export in the 1980's.

    My gun is in very good condition and looks and feels like it is ready to shoot. Springs are so stiff that you have to cock the hammer before you pull back the slide. It has been refinished. I give about 60/40 odds that it was refinished in a Finnish military arsenal The markings remain crisp and sharp, and it looks like only enough buffing was done to get rid of surface rust. Some light pitting remains, and there are some wheel marks that haven't been buffed out, suggesting that the refinish was more for protection than appearance.

    Finland procured two major types of handguns as regular issue between independence and the 1960's. These were the m/23 Luger in 7.65mm Parabellum (many of which were later rebarreled in 9mm) and the L-35 Lahti 9mm. There was also a batch of 9mm FN GP-35 (Browning Hi-Power) pistols with shoulder stocks, many of which went to the Air Force. Shortages were made up with small lots purchased from manufacturers such as Beretta, plus recycled and refurbished guns captured from the Russians. The Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) did its own procurement and had a wide assortment of pistols, basically whatever they could get their hands on. An Sk.Y marked handgun would definitely be a Holy Grail


    The C96 is an interesting beast. When it was first sold at the end of the 19th century, it was one of the most powerful handguns in the world with its high-velocity 7.63mm bottleneck cartridge. It was also accurate and reliable. The "Broomhandle" was immediately popular, earning endorsements from such luminaries as Winston Churchill. Its 10-round internal magazine is loaded from a stripper clip. It looks big and heavy and clumsy, but it is surprisingly comfortable and well-balanced in the hand. Despite its appearance, it's noticeably lighter than a Lahti. With the optional holster-stock, it becomes a handy carbine; raise it to your face and the sights line up naturally. It is actually a lot of fun to shoot. I'll be taking mine to the range as soon as I clean and lube it.

    The C96 is famous (or notorious) for its jigsaw-puzzle design. It is incredibly complex; I've had my other one completely apart and I'm still not sure exactly how it works. Brownells has an excellent video showing how to take it apart and put it back together. I almost never need a video to figure out a gun, but this was an exception!

    The 7.63mm Mauser cartridge is identical in dimensions to the Soviet Tokarev pistol cartridge, but ammo for the Tokarev should not be fired in a C96 because some loads for the Tokarev are quite a bit hotter than the Mauser is designed for. Proper ammo is easy to get and not expensive. PPU loads it, among others.

    This gun is kind of a Holy Grail for me, as it fills a hole in my collection of Finnish military handguns. In addition to the Mauser, I have three Lugers (two in 7.65 and one with a 9mm Tikka barrel), two Lahtis (one military, one commercial), a Browning Hi-Power with shoulder stock and a shoulder holster used by Finnish Air Force pilots, a Beretta M1934 .380, and a captured Russian Nagant revolver. The Lugers and the Lahtis are the only ones I've ever fired, but I have ammo for all and one of these days I'll get around to shooting them all!

    Here's a photo of my SA marked C96. SA marks are on the frame just above the grip and on the upper just ahead of the ejection port.
    Finn Mauser 1.JPG

    Since the Finn marked gun doesn't have a holster-stock, here's my other C96, a commercial "Flatside" model made around 1900, with its stock. I've fired this one and it's tons of fun.
    C96-1.JPG
     
    alpine hunter likes this.

  2. icebear

    icebear Sako-addicted

    Messages:
    1,854
    Likes Received:
    995
    Country Flag:
    USA
    State/Region:
    US Arizona
    Range update. I test fired the Finn marked C96 today. Functioning was flawless with PPU ammo and with some original German ammo from the 1930's (I think - it's packaged in a cardboard box with two 10-round stripper clips. Here's a photo of the ammo and box.

    DWM Ammo & Box.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2021
    alpine hunter likes this.

Share This Page