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The Mauser Model 1871 adopted as the Gewehr 71 or Infanterie-Gewehr 71 ("I.G.Mod.71" was stamped on the rifles themselves) was the first of millions of rifles manufactured to the designs of Paul Mauser and Wilhelm Mauser of the Mauser company.
During 1870-71 trials with many different rifles took place, with the "M1869 Bavarian Werder" being the Mausers' chief competitor. The Mauser was provisionally adopted at the end of 1871, pending the development of an appropriate safety. It was adopted by the German Empire excluding Bavaria. The action was not based on its predecessor, the Dreyse needle gun which had seen service during the Franco-Prussian War.
The now well recognized Mauser "wing" type safety lever was developed for the Gewehr 71. The Gewehr 71 is a conventional looking bolt action chambered in 11 mm using black powder cartridges. The action included only a bolt guide rib as its single locking lug, locking forward of the receiving bridge. The original design single-shot, but in 1884, the design was updated with an 8-round tubular magazine designed by Alfred von Kropatschek, making this Germany's first repeating rifle. This version was designated the Gewehr 71/84. A version of this repeater was adopted by Turkey. Designated the M1887, it differentiated from the M71/84 in that it had a side mounted cleaning rod, a second locking lug on the rear of the bolt, and it was in caliber 9.5x60R. In the early 20th century a few were converted to 7.65x53 by the arsenal in Ankara.
In 1880, a shorter version was issued to the border guards, M1879 Grenzaufsehergewehr. It shot a proprietary cartridge, 11.15x37.5R which was a trimmed down version of the military cartridge.
Serbia adopted a more up to date version of the rifle in 1881, the M1878/80. It was unique in that it had a bolt guide ( much like the M1870 Italian Vetterli) and the ""progressive rifling" developed by the Serbian Major Kola Milanovic. The grooves reduced in diameter from breech to muzzle. In 1907, many of the rifles were converted to shoot 7x57 with a 5-shot magazine. These were designated M80/07 and are often called "Djurich Mausers"
This rifle was used by the Korean Empire Army (especially Guard units—this rifle replaced the Russian Berdan rifle). The number of rifles used is uncertain but the Korean Empire manufactured ammunition for them, which means that the Korean Empire used a respectable number of them.
In 1894, Uruguay had their stockpile of M71 rifles converted to 6.5x53.5R by Société Française d'Armes Portatives Saint Denis in France. They were given new stocks, barrels, sights, bands, and side mounted cleaning rods. These were supposedly unsatisfactory and allegedly many were thrown into the rivers.
Irish Republicans imported some 900 single-shot 1871 Mausers in the Howth gun-running for the nationalist militia called the Irish Volunteers in 1914. They were used in action by the Volunteers in the Easter Rising of 1916, an insurrection aimed at ending British rule in Ireland. The 1871 Mauser became known in Ireland as the "Howth Mauser".