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Original German Mauser Model 1871/84 Rifle by Spandau Refurbished for "The Last Samurai" Movie - dated 1888

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very interesting example of the Mauser Model 1871/84 rifle, the first Magazine rifle widely used by the German Empire. It shows quite a bit of wear on the metal components, while the stock looks to be brand new, and even has proof markings. However, these markings were replicated, and this rifle almost certainly is one used in the 2004 Tom Cruise Movie THE LAST SAMURAI, which was set during the Satsuma Rebellion or Seinan War (Japanese: 西南戦争 Hepburn: Seinan Sensō, lit. "Southwestern War"). This was the internal Japanese War about the end of the samurai class.

The conflict, which took part in 1877, followed the Meiji restoration, which had ended the Tokugawa Shogunate, and re-opened Japan to the world. This allowed them to acquire firearms, and the German Mauser model 1871 was one that they purchased in some quantities. They were used during the Satsuma rebellion, and later saw service in the First Sino-Japanese War, of 1894-1895. As the movie was set during the rebellion, they would need Model 1871 rifles to be fully authentic.

However, Mauser model 1871s are unfortunately quite scarce on the market, and any large stocks were long gone. However, a large cache of Mauser Model 1871/84 rifles was present in Ecuador, and these were being imported and subsequently used to supply the movie. These were imported by the Gibbs Rifle Company, Inc., which supplied approximately 300 original Mauser 1871/84 rifles for the film through the Motion Picture Weapons company.

As the imported rifles were in worn condition, they were all refurbished by having the barrel reblued, and the original stocks were replaced with brand new replicas with German proof marks. Many had been deactivated, so they were all reactivated to fire in at least single shot for use with blanks. The magazine was not required to function, so any deficiencies there were not addressed. Most we have seen had gold painted trigger guards, but this one was not painted, or simply had it removed later.

The receiver is dated 1888. on the right and marked I. G. Mod. 71/84. on the opposite side in "Black Letter" typeface. The serial number 1954 is present on the barrel and receiver, while the other components are all non-matching, or no longer bear any markings. The butt plate tang bears a partial regimental marking of B. 7. R. 5., for the 7th Royal Bavarian Infantry "Prince Leopold" Regiment, based in Bayreuth.

The top of the chamber is marked Crown over SPANDAU, for the Prussian (and later Imperial) Spandau arsenal in Berlin, a storied production plant that would produce weapons up until 1919, including the famous MG08 Maxim. Below this is the Crown over FW proof for Kaiser Wilhelm I, who used this cypher during his reign 1861-1888.

Unlike a lot of the Gibbs Rifle company refurbished Mausers, this rifle is still complete with all major parts intact and functional. It cycles correctly, with a strong dry fire, and the magazine feed mechanism and cutoff work correctly. However, the magazine feeding mechanism is quite stiff from age and oxidation, so it does not move easily. We checked the bore, and it is in good condition, with strong lands and grooves and a dull finish. There is definitely some fouling and oxidation, probably from not having been cleaned after used in the movie.

The stock is in good shape, though it does have a crack near the receiver tang. The metalwork shows a lot of past oxidation, cleaned away later during the refurbishing, though definitely still apparent.

This is a chance to add a really interesting Mauser rifle to your collection. Ready to display!


Years of Manufacture: 1884-1888
Caliber: 11x60mmR Mauser
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 32 inches
Overall Length: 51 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: 8 Round Tubular Magazine

Originally adopted as the Gewehr 71 or Infanterie-Gewehr 71, or "Infantry Rifle 71 ("I.G.Mod.71" was stamped on the rifles themselves) this was the first rifle model in a distinguished line designed and manufactured by Paul Mauser and Wilhelm Mauser of the Mauser company, and later mass-produced at Spandau arsenal.

Paul Mauser developed his bolt-action rifle from 1866 to 1871. During 1870-71 trials with many different rifles took place, with the "M1869 Bavarian Werder" being the Mausers' chief competitor. The Mauser was provisionally adopted on 2 December 1871, pending the development of an appropriate safety. With support from the government's Spandau arsenal, the improvements to the safety mechanism were completed and the rifle was formally accepted on 14 February 1872 as Infantry Rifle Model 1871 by the German Empire excluding Bavaria. The action was not based on its predecessor, the Dreyse needle gun which had seen service during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, and which was found to have a number of weaknesses.

The now well known Mauser "wing" type safety lever was developed for the Gewehr 71. The Gewehr 71 is a conventional looking bolt action chambered in 11mm using black powder cartridges. The action included only a bolt guide rib as its single locking lug, locking forward of the receiving bridge. The original design was a single-shot. The design was updated in 1884 with an 8-round tubular magazine designed by Alfred von Kropatschek, making this Germany's first repeating rifle. This version was designated the Gewehr 1871/84. A version of this repeater was adopted by the Ottoman Empire. Designated the M1887, it differentiated from the M71/84 in that it had a side mounted cleaning rod, a second locking lug on the rear of the bolt, and it was in caliber 9.5×60mmR, which Paul Mauser touted as the most efficient (black powder) cartridge. In the early 20th century a few were converted to 7.65×53mm smokeless by the arsenal in Ankara.

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