Pistols of the Schutztruppe and Overseas Forces

Pistols were usually authorised for officers and senior NCOs and some mounted troops and artillery. The regular army in Germany were issued revolver pistols from 1879 and semi automatic Lugers from 1908. The German overseas forces used these and several different types of pistol, from standard issue, private purchase and captured sources.

Due to their weight and bulk pistols were not usually carried on parades and simple peacetime duties. Often in action, officers carried rifles so as not make themselves so conspicuous. Below are shown the standard issue pistols along with some of the most popular private purchase pistols of the era.

Thanks to Chris Wood as always for his help on weaponry pages.

Reichsrevolver C79/83    

1883 Reichsrevolver
used by the East Asian Artillery
Photo © Dow Cross

  The 1879 Reichsrevolver was introduced for officers and mounted troops in the Prussian army from 1879 onwards. In 1883 a modified version was introduced with a shorter barrel. They remained in use up until and during the First World War despite being officially replaced from 1908 onwards by the Luger P08. The 1879 and 1883 revolvers both fired six 10.6mm rounds from a revolving magazine. Both models (in issue and privately purchased versions) were commonly used by the Schutztruppe and other overseas troops from the 1880s onwards.

The photograph on the left shows an 1883 Reichsrevolver with two sets of unit markings. The first is "OA1 MK1" for "Ostasiatisches Field-Artillerie Regiment Batterie 1 Muntionskolonne 1." (East Asian Artillery Regiment, 1st Battery, 1st Munitions Supply Column). The second marking after it is a later issue marking "143R.9.5.." for the 9th Company of the 143rd Lower Alsatian Infantry Regiment ("4. Unter-Elsässisches Infanterie-Regiment. Nr.143") which served on the Western Front during the First World War. For more photos of this pistol see East Asian Reichsrevolver Page.


Luger Parabellum    

Luger Parabellum 08
used by the Imperial Navy
Photo from WikiCommons / Adams Guns


The Parabellum was a semi automatic 9mm pistol designed by Austrian, Georg Luger. Several variants were made over the years. The Imperial navy first adopted the Luger in 1904 as the Pistole 04 with a 15cm barrel. It was used by Marine Infantry in East Africa in 1906 but was found to be unhelpful in that its safety mechanism did not allow for quick use in action, therefore some officers and NCOs preferred to purchase Brownings or other weapons.

In 1908 a modified version with shorter 10cm barrel was adopted by the German army and remained in service through both world wars as the Pistole 08.  

The photograph on the left shows a Pistole 08 made in 1917 and issued to the Imperial Navy as is shown by a crowned M marking on the left chamber. It has been re-issued and rebuilt since then, in 1920 and possibly in East Germany after the Second World War.


Mauser C96    

Mauser C96 and a Bowie Knife
used by a German officer in New Guinea
Photo by Sebastien Grenda at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra

  The Mauser C96 (nicknamed the Broom Handle) was a semi-automatic pistol designed by Fidel, Friedrich, and Josef Feederle and manufactured by Mauser from 1896 onwards.  It was designed to be able to receive a wooden stock attachment if needed, which also doubled as its holster.

It was a popular choice of pistol as a private purchase option for officers in the Imperial German army and navy of the early 20th Century. The C96 was also in use in other armies including those of Italy, Austria, Finland and China. Winston Churchill carried a C96 at the Battle of Omdurman during the Sudan Campaign of 1898. The C96 finally ceased production in 1937.

The pistol in the photo on the left was captured from a German officer by Australian forces in New Guinea, 1914. It is now on display at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

For more photos of the C96, see C96 in South West Africa



used by the Landespolizei of South West Africa
Photo © Alistair Hayes

  The Roth-Sauer Pistol was designed and patented in 1900 by an Austrian and a Hungarian, Georg Roth and Karel Krnka. It was manufactured by JP Sauer & Sohn in Suhl, and Sauer bought the patent in 1910. The pistol itself was a 7.65mm, automatic with a seven round magazine. It had a recoiling barrel and a unique cocking system which also worked as a safety catch. The pistol did not prove popular and it was not widely issued to either the Austro-Hungarian or German armies.

It was however used by the Landespolizei of South West Africa. According to "Unter dem Kreuz des Südens" by S Schepp there were 213 Roth-Sauer pistols in service with the Landespolizei in 1912.

The pistol shown on the left has the Landespolizei marking and weapon number "L.P.92" on the back of the grip. For more photos of this pistol see Landespolizei Pistol Page.


Mauser C10    

Mauser 1910
Photo from WikiCommons /
National World War I Museum, Kansas City
  The Mauser 1910 semi-automatic pistol was a popular privately purchased weapon used by the officers of the Imperial German army before and during the First World War.

It is highly likely that it was also purchased by officers of the Schutztruppe, Pascha Expeditions and other overseas troops.


Browning FN1900    

Browning FN1900
used by a South West African Schutztruppe officer. Here the pistol is displayed with a Colonial Veterans Elephant Order
Photo from WikiCommons / Adams Guns

  In 1896, American John Browning designed a semi-automatic pistol which was produced from 1900 by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal in Belgium. It was the first production handgun to use a slide, later common on semi-automatic pistols.

It became a popular choice of privately purchased pistol by German officers and those of other nationalities. Future US Theodore Roosevelt owned a Browning FN1900, which he regularly kept on his person and in his bedside drawer.

The pistol in the photo on the left was used by Leutnant von Barsewisch of the South West African Schutztruppe during the Herero Rebellion (See Adams Guns for more photos and the full story).


  Period Photographs

Feldwebel of the South West African Schutztruppe, 1894
On his right hip is the long Reichsrevolver 79 in a holster.

Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv


Wilhelm Wassmuss,
German Agent in Persia 1916
The butt of a Mauser C96 is clearly and intentionally showing between his robes.
Photo from Wikimedia

Major Lagiewsky.
South West African Schutztruppe,
He wears a Sam Brown style belt from the left shoulder with a small privately purchased pistol possibly a Browning or a Mauser, in a holster on his hip.
Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv 

Please contact me here if you have more information or photos on this topic. 

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