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The Armed Librarian by Charles Priore
  Charles F. Priore, Jr. is an academic science librarian at two very elite liberal arts colleges in southern Minnesota. He has been in academia for over 35 years and previously worked at the State University of New York at Buffalo, the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of California–Davis.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Masters degree in Information and Library Science. Raised in Buffalo, NY, he credits his uncles (all deceased and sorely missed) for steering him towards a passion for firearms, hunting and reloading.

Charlie has traveled to Europe for pleasure, but has also hunted in South Africa and Argentina. He has published 17 articles in both academic journals and in the popular literature.

For 35 years he has battled political correctness in academia and continues to do so; converting many students along the way. He lives in Minnesota with his wife and two teenage daughters. He can be reached at:
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Swept Away—By a Broomhandle Mauser

There can be little doubt in the role that television and film play in the profiling of certain firearms. From the Winchester 73 to the Colt Peacemaker ad infinitum, the cinema has played a pivotal part in sometimes giving new life to an old firearm.

And this blogger pleads no lo contendere as I have done my best to collect those firearms that truly impress me, and were often first glimpsed in a theatrical production. From the .30-40 Krag, to the Winchester 1894 and 1895, to the Colt Peacemaker, the British Enfield, the M-1 Garand and the Colt 1911—I’m just scratching the surface here!

But one particular firearm has always eluded my grasp, and that is, the “Broomhandle” Mauser C-96. There are two reasons why I don’t own one. The first, is that they are pretty darn pricey, and the second, is that I do not see them very often in gun shops, or gun shows for that matter. Coupled with the fact that I’ve never even shot one, I figured it might be an impossible acquisition.

The Mauser C-96 has been portrayed in so many movies that there is now a website where you can type in your firearm and it will tell you the films in which it has appeared (try the Internet Firearm Movie Database at: )

The “sucker punch” hit me like a ton of bricks when I saw the film, The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World (1965), with actor Tom Adams. If ever there is an ultra cool scene with a Broomhandle, it is when Agent Charles Vine (Adams) is forced into a roadblock and told to surrender his gun. Try this scene:


Charles Vine in Action


My days of self-pity came to an end this summer when my old friend and fellow shooter, George Rhinehart, (an alias) called to inform me that a C-96 had somehow landed in his lap—yeah right. He would be happy to bring it out and let me put it through its paces.

The “Broomhandle” was one of the earliest semi-auto pistols ever designed, and of course the Mauser genius was at work here. This gun was produced by Germany from 1896-1937. It had a 10 shot magazine, and was chambered in 7.63x25mm. It came with a 5.5 inch barrel; however there were soon to be many different barrel lengths and configurations. Eventually the design would prove to be so popular that Spain, China and several other countries got into the act as well. The handle/grip is what gave it this oddball moniker of “Broomhandle.”


The C96 Mauser with two 10 rnd. Stripper clips.


It was late August when the C-96 showed up on my shooting range. It had traces of the original finish, but the rest of it had taken on a brown patina. The wooden case/holster was not original to the pistol, as its three digit serial number does not "match" the pistol's serial number; but who cares really when all you want to do is shoot it.


So, at twenty-five feet, and with the cameras rolling I squeezed off 10 shots. All of my hits were to the right, but they did all strike the target. [C 96 In Action]


But here’s the rub. The C-96 truly is a clunky and poorly balanced firearm. Top heavy is the phrase that first comes to mind. And, if you have large to extra-large hands, it is really easy for the slide to tear off a piece of your hand.

The holster that comes with it, is a wooden contraption that also does double duty as a shoulder stock, turning it into a mini-carbine.


  Shoulder stock and holster combined into one!


My curiosity has been satisfied, and I’m glad I never bought one. To use it as your “carry piece” is out of the question—unless of course, your name is Charles Vine.


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