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Gewehr 71/84: Germany's Transitional Repeating Rifle

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In the ongoing arms race between France and Germany, the Mauser 71/84 was the first German repeating rifle. Paul Mauser began work on it in the late 1870s, patented the design in 1881, and it was adopted formally in 1884. Production began in 1885, with a total of 1,161,148 rifles being delivered by the four major state arsenals (Spandau, Amberg, Erfurt, and Danzig) by 1888 - when it was replaced by the Gewehr 88. With an 8-round tube magazine under the barrel, the 71/84 represented a substantial increase in firepower over the single-shot Mauser 71 and the French 1874 single shot Gras - but it was put into production just in time to be rendered obsolete by the Lebel and its smokeless powder cartridge in 1886.

The 71/84 was perhaps the German rifle with the shortest service life, at barely 5 years. It would come back out as a reserve rifle during World War One, of course, and it also was responsible for a change in Germans arm that would last all the way to the present day - the pull-through cleaning kit. The tubular magazine made it impossible to leave a cleaning rod under the barrel as on the Gew71, and rather than put it on the side like the French and Portuguese, Germany oped to remove it entirely in favor of the then-new pull-through cleaning kit.