With the MP-57, Mauser Valiantly Tried to Best the Israeli Uzi
Today the failed weapon is a museum piece
In November 1955, West Germany stood up its new, postwar military — in the process, creating the Bundeswehr. Almost immediately, the new ground-combat branch began looking for new small arms. Between 1956 and 1959, the Bundeswehr organized trials of nine-by-19-millimeter submachine guns.
The trials spurred wide-ranging submachine-gun development in West Germany. Companies including Mauser and Erma designed dozens of new weapons. Testers also considered a number of foreign designs, including the Sterling submachine gun and the Israeli Uzi.
The Mauser MP-57’s first incarnation was actually a product of Mauser’s rival, Erma. The weapon’s French inventor, Louis Bonnet de Camille, received financing from Fenner Achenbach, who himself approached Erma with the resulting MP-56 design.
Cross-section diagram of the Mauser MP-57. Note what appears to be a grip safety in the pistol grip’s backstrap. Source
But Erma produced just 10 MP-56 prototypes before Achenbach took Camille’s design to Mauser, instead — possibly because Erma didn’t have the manufacturing capacity to match Mauser’s own capacity.
Mauser refined the design before offering it to the Bundeswehr as the MP-57. Mauser added a folding stock, a longer receiver and sight radius and also refined the weapon’s folding front grip so it sat flush with the receiver when folded.
The blowback MP-57 used a telescopic bolt and fed from readily available 32-round MP-40 magazines. Weighing 6.8 pounds unloaded, the Mauser was substantially lighter than the Uzi was.
The Bundeswehr eventually rejected the MP-57 and instead adopted the Uzi under the designation MP-2. Mauser built approximately 25 MP-57s. One example resides at the German army’s reference collection in Koblenz.