The Mauser C96 is a pretty iconic German pistol that used stripper clips to load from the top like contemporary rifles of the time instead of using a detachable magazine. It was designed in the early days of semi automatic pistols when they didn’t really know what’d work great and what was a bad idea. The M712 “Schnellfeuer” version came with a detachable magazine and also came with a switch than enabled fully automatic fire. In Canada, the fully automatic one is prohibited, while the semi automatic versions are very expensive and difficult to find. If you want to own a gun that looks just like a C96, but you can shoot it in your backyard, you may want to look at the Gletcher M712. **Note: I’m not a historical firearms guy or a BB gun guy, so treat this as a review by an uneducated user.**
The M712 is a CO2 powered BB gun. The “removable magazine” holds BBs as well as the CO2 cartridge. The CO2 powers both the firing of the BBs as well as the blowback action to cycle the gun. Cycling the action in addition to shooting the rounds takes a toll on the CO2 cartridges so they only last a magazine or two.
Video Review of Gletcher M712
Most of the pellet and BB guns I’ve owned have been utilitarian focused, but this one is very different in that it’s trying to be a faithful copy of a historical gun. It’s heavy and uses a lot of steel and wood in the right places to better approximate the Mauser C96/M712. Most of the controls feel heavy duty: there are no small plastic switches or nobs anywhere visible.
Loading the magazine is aided by a spring lock back that keeps tension off the follower. This lets you load BBs in quickly and easily. Note: you can squeeze in 1 last BB, but if you load that magazine without the slide to the rear, it pushes the BB down and can trip up the spring lock at the bottom. Either load it one down or hold the slide back as you insert the magazine.
The CO2 cartridge fits into the side of the magazine and is primed by turning a knob to tighten it into position and pierce the top of the cartridge.
The rear sight notch is faithful to the original, and the original was pretty bad for sight picture. It’s difficult to make accurate shots with the sights as they’re presented, but this is a BB gun: it’s not really built for accuracy anyways. The rear sight notch is adjustable for distance and will adjust way out there, just like the original.
The safety is very close to the hammer and allows you to leave the hammer back safely.
The Full auto selector uses authentic R and N markings.
The magazine release is just in front of the trigger guard. This is interestingly in the same spot as you’d find in an AR-15, and is very ergonomic and easy to get to. As a guy who competes with an AR15 often, I loved the magazine release use and location.
Shooting the 712
Shooting the Broomhandle 712 makes it crystal clear how unergonomic and poorly controlled shooting an original would be. The round pistol grip doesn’t give much to hang on to and there’s not much for your left hand to do either. On an original C96, it’d be exceptionally hard, but at least on the 712 you’ve got a magazine to hang on to like a vertical foregrip. The detachable shoulder stock would solve these problems and really change the dynamics of shooting it. With the stock effectively soaking up the recoil, your left hand could stabilize from the front or stabilize by grabbing midway on the stock. Note: the 712 comes with a slot in the rear of the pistol grip that’ll work with C96 style shoulder stocks.
It’s a full auto BB gun that looks just like an M712. If that’s your jam, check this one out.
Interested in the Real 712? Check out Forgotten Weapons’ post on it.