With Germany looking to replace their antiquated service revolver, the firm of Mauser developed the Model 1896 pistol, which for a time was the leading candidate to be the official sidearm of the German military. That was not to be however, as they lost out to Georg Luger with his Parabellum pistol design, which was adopted by the German Navy in 1904 and the Army in 1908. With the German military’s decision on the 9mm Parabellum cartridge, Mauser focused their efforts to design a gun for this cartridge. For this purpose they hired an Austrian engineer by the name of Josef Nickl in 1904 who was responsible for virtually all the pocket pistol research and production done at Mauser during the early years. There also still seem to be a discussion on what a 9mm Nickl actually is and if it is a separate caliber at all. There are sources that argue that this cartridge is nothing more than a standard 380 Auto cartridge with a rebated rim.
Whether or not that is the case, the story is an interesting one. As with a lot of research, there is much more information available on the guns than the cartridges, as in the case with the 9mm Nickl, as it is mentioned only in passing in almost every source. Nickl designed a locked-breech pistol mechanism that utilized a rotating barrel quite similar to the 1912 Steyr-Hahn pistol and was built on the frame of the 1914 Mauser pocket pistol in 1915, with prototypes of this design produced in .45 ACP, 9mm Parabellum, 7.65mm Browning, and the experimental 9mm Nickl cartridge. Below is such a Nickl designed M1916/22 that was chambered for the 9mm Nickl and was featured on Morphy Auctions in 2018. The selling price realised was an eye-watering $34,500. Czechoslovakia declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 and the following year began to establish an arms factory in Brno. An agreement was reached with Mauser to produce rifles at the Brno factory with machinery purchased from Mauser and a team of engineers from Mauser under the leadership of Josef Nickl were sent to oversee installation and training. Czech Ministry of National Defence was anxious to develop a self-loading pistol for their armed forces and with the help of Nickl a new handgun was developed, namely the vz22 (Erlmeier, Brandt Ref. 136A).
The Unblinking Eye – The development of the vz22
The Unblinking Eye – Mauser Pocket Pistol developments
Youtube – Presentation by Marc R Erickson, Editor, Skilled Shot LLC, Raleigh, NC. April 21 2018 although there are some errors in the presentation, it is still worth watching