The Mauser C96 (Construktion 96) is a semi-automatic pistol that was originally produced by German arms manufacturer Mauser from 1896 to 1937. Unlicensed copies of the gun were also manufactured in Spain and China in the first half of the 20th century. The distinctive characteristics of the C96 are the integral box magazine in front of the trigger, the long barrel, the wooden shoulder stock which can double as a holster or carrying case and a grip shaped like the handle of a broom.
The grip earned the gun the nickname “Broomhandle” in the English-speaking world because of its round wooden handle, and in China the C96 was nicknamed the “box cannon” (Chinese: 盒子炮; pinyin: hézipào) because of its square-shaped internal magazine and the fact it could be holstered in its wooden box-like detachable stock.
It was used by the Latvian anarchist Peter Piaktow in 1911 and was therefore known as the ‘Peter the Painter’ gun by the IRA. The Mauser C96, with its shoulder stock, long barrel, and high-velocity cartridge, had superior range and better penetration than most other pistols; the 7.63×25mm Mauser cartridge was the highest velocity commercially manufactured pistol cartridge until the advent of the .357 Magnum cartridge in 1935. Approximately 1 million C96 pistols were manufactured by Mauser,with the number produced in Spain and China being large but unknown due to the loss, non-existence or poor upkeep of production records from those countries.