Thursday, September 23, 2010
Type 24 "Chiang Kai-shek" Mauser
A Chinese-made copy, shortened and lightened, of the German Mauser Gewehr 98. The rifle served as one of the main battle rifles for the Chinese Revolutionary Army. The quality of the weapon varied from arsenal to arsenal. Some were of superior quality while others were crudely made. Although it entered service in 1935, China's limited industrial capacity meant that it was built in low numbers. By the 1950s, the Type Zhongzheng rifle was phased out in favour of American aid equipment, such as the M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, and the Thompson machine gun. Used against the Japanese during their invasion of China, the Type Zhongzheng rifle had advantages over the Arisaka used by the Armies of Japan. It had better stopping power with the use of 8mm Mauser rounds, the rifle had a better rate of fire, and a greater range than the Arisaka.
The example in my collection was manufactured in 1936 and was purchased from a Pawn shop that litterally pulled it from a barrel of similar rifles they had purchased from a U.S. Customs warehouse auction. The rifle was a mess. Caked in 80 year old preservative grease, it took weeks to get clean enough to identify. The bolt is not the one made for this rifle. Many of these rifles were captured by Japan, who, wanting to prevent them being used against them, would pull the bolts and store them separately. Later, Japan needed training rifles and would put any bolt that fit back in. Since they were not fired, this was a quick expedient to train troops in the motions of firing a rifle without using a bullet. My rifle may have been one of these mismatched examples.
The serial number and other markings are in English. Chinese characters are also present that identify the year it was made. The stock has a cartouche burned into it. It has been translated as an older symbol for "Dragon" and may have been a luck symbol. Since this would not have been allowed in the regular army, this may mean the rifle was issued to one of the militias fighting within the Chinese forces.