Rifle Model 1890 (Turkish Mauser)
Bolt-Action Military Service Rifle
The Turkish Model 1890 service rifle was nothing more than the German Mauser Model 1887 by way of the Belgian Mauser Model 1889.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
In 1890, Turkish authorities ordered stocks of Mauser-based bolt-action rifles as the "Rifle Model 1890" ("Turkish Mauser") which eventually numbered some 280,000 in all. These were based on the popular German Mauser Model of 1887 which, for Europe, had run its course due to the arrival of smokeless powder ammunition. Nevertheless, the Ottoman Empire required a serviceable rifle and the Model 1887 fit the bill through its proven nature and sheer availability. The Turks adopted the rifle in a 7.65x53mm Turkish Mauser cartridge chambering.
Despite their Mauser Model 1887 origins, these rifles were, in fact, more closely associated with the Belgian Mauser Model of 1889 sans the rather damaging barrel jacket (a heavier barrel was used on the Turkish guns instead). A hold-open device was added at the magazine to indicate "last-round" feeding and a call for a cut-off device was issued, this added to the right side of the receiver near the operator's thumb for easy access. Despite the changes, the rifle was still, more or less, the German Mauser at its core. Indeed, many bolt-action rifles of the period owe their action to the excellent Mauser pedigree.
A full-length wooden stock was used that incorporated the forend, grip handle and shoulder stock. The barrel and important metal working components were all inlaid in the wood body that featured a single barrel band at the midway point of the barrel and forend. The bolt handle featured the usual ball-knob for easy gripping. The trigger was integrated along the rear face of the protruding box magazine seated just under the action. Adjustable sights were located ahead of the action and this coupled to a fixed forward post for ranged fire. Sling loops, one at the barrel band and the other at the stock, allowed for a sling to be used for ease-of-transport.
Turkish military regiments carried this service rifle into World War 1 (1914-1918) under the flag of the Ottoman Empire. During the Mesopotamia and Gallipoli campaigns, they saw extensive action against the Allies and large stocks were eventually captured by the enemy. This allowed the weapons to be reconstituted back into service by the Allies for they conveniently utilized the same 7.65mm cartridge as their Belgian Mauser counterparts. Some other modifications were made to the Turkish design to bring them more in line with European army service standards though, rather interestingly, some of the Turkish markings were left on these now-modified rifles.
Despite the fall of the Ottoman Empire following World War 1, the rifle remained in quantitative circulation throughout Turkish ranks into the inter-war years. In the 1930s, a program was launched to bring some of the Model 1890 rifles to support the 8x57mm cartridge though these eventually numbered few. Availability of Model 1890 rifles, as a whole, ensured their use in World War 2 (1939-1945). However, as more and more American-made equipment permeated Europe and Allied nations, the Rifle Model 1890 seems to have faded into firearms history only to become a rather rare collector's item today - particularly in its original Turkish form.