Contextualizing the Mauser M18

Contextualizing the Mauser M18

I recently did a story for work where I used “specs” to compare two pistols. The difference between specs and real world use is that the former are only what gets printed, while the latter includes how well-suited something is to an application. Specs are useful in highlighting differences, but not in making decisions. This review will be closer to the latter than the former because this pistol was never designed to be compared with another pistol – at least not directly …

The German military realized during World War One that they needed a new design of handgun after four years of using revolvers and wondering why their boys were still dying in their trenches. They also wanted something that would shoot 9mm Parabellum (9x19mm), which just happened to be the cartridge that John Browning used when he designed his model Mauser M18.

The German Army contracted for something like fifty thousand of these pistols in 1918, but they were delivered too late to use them in World War One. Still, it was a very successful design and saw continued service through the end of World War Two, though by then it had been replaced with handguns using double-action firing mechanisms. Mauser also made a version of this pistol for their own export market – hence the designation “M18” since there’d already been a designation for the military pistol (P08). This version, shown below, is nearly identical to its military counterpart except it uses single-action. That means that instead of pulling the hammer back and then pulling the trigger, you pull the trigger and let off before engaging the hammer again.

Best of Both Worlds

The reason why this pistol is still in service after almost 100 years is because it’s a great middle ground between “defensive” and “offensive” handguns. Defensive handguns like Glocks and 1911s are one of my favorite things ever since they make shooting fun and give me bragging rights at work (I’m allowed to do that). Mausers aren’t as cool, but they have a more solid frame and feature an 8+1 magazine capacity. They also have a decocker that allows the hammer to be lowered safely without engaging the trigger, which helps prevent negligent discharges that cost officers their jobs or their lives.

Mauser M18 With Magazine

The last thing I’ll mention is how these guns feel in your hands – they’re awesome! This isn’t going to affect accuracy (because it’s all about technique), but it does make follow-up shots easier and gives you an extra edge over anyone who doesn’t handle pistols as well as you do. These handles are very ergonomically designed with palm swells and finger grooves. Anyone who does any kind of martial arts will probably know what this design is supposed to accomplish, but as a novice shooter I still find it intuitive. In my opinion, these guns are the best of both worlds – they have enough stopping power to get the job done and can be used by almost anyone without being too much gun for them.

What’s even better about this pistol is that you don’t have to take my word for it – see if you can buy one on Gunbroker (I’ve never tried it myself). Or, you could enroll in Firearms Training: Handgun II at Front Sight which would give you an opportunity to shoot hundreds of different handguns (including Mausers) and find out what’s right for you. It’s not like we’re trying to push you into the fire, after all.


It’s just that you can get one of these pistols for pretty cheap, especially if you get one of the military surplus models which are probably dirtier than a Glocks would be after firing thousands of rounds through it during Basic Training. And since almost no parts are interchangeable between the 8mm P08 and its 9mm M18 counterpart, they’ll have to take your gun away before they find out what magazines it takes. Then again, Mausers aren’t really “glocky” enough to fall in love with anyway. But if you do drop the cash on one of these guns, don’t forget to practice – shooting is serious business!

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