The Mauser Model 1878, more commonly named the "Zig-Zag", was a single action revolver designed by the German Mauser Company. The Zig-Zag acquired its name due to the zig-zag pattern on the side of the cylinder.
The Zig-Zag was originally designed with a solid frame, with the cylinder being released from the frame to be reloaded. The cylinder itself featured the distinctive zig-zag pattern which was instrumental in the single action operating mechanism, with the cylinder rotating when the hammer was cocked, a pin within the frame causing it to rotate as the pin traced the zig-zag pattern of the cylinder.
Later the Zig-Zag was redesigned with a hinged frame, meaning that the cylinder did not have to be removed to reload hence reducing reload time. At this time (around 1886) the Zig-Zag was fitted with a modified version of the Webley Self-extraction mechanism (developed with the Webley Revolver ) to allow the cartridges to be extracted from the cylinder.
The Zig-Zag was fitted with several other features to better suit it to various applications. Saddle rings were added to the underside of the grip, with a safety lever located on the left side of the frame (which on hinged Zig-Zags would also unlock the cylinder). Zig-Zags were most commonly finished in blued steel.
The Zig-Zag was originally designed to be chambered for Mauser's own 10.6mm Auto cartridge, becoming Mauser's (and Germany's) first sidearm to use metallic cartridges. Later Mauser released a 9mm version, using the forerunner to the 9mm Parabellum.
The Zig-Zag was the first German military sidearm to use metallic cartridges. It was also the first Mauser design to use a more typical (although still rather unusual) single action mechanism. The Zig-Zag would last for around 18 years in Mauser catalogues before being replaced by the famed Mauser C96 "Broomhandle". In reality, however, several Zig-Zags were recorded as being used during the First World War by German officers.
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