The Mann 7.65mm Pistol
by Robert Adair
The Fritz Mann Werkseugfabrik Company was organized in 1923 but its origin dates back to 1896 when the company later known as Firma Fritz Mann Feinmaschinen- und Waffenfabrik (Fritz Mann Fine Machines and Weapons
Factory) was operated by a family of inventors with a small factory in Suhl. Brothers Fritz and Otto and a son of Fritz, Willi, worked together on a wide variety of manufactured
goods such as small engines, saws, ski-bindings, and safety helmets. Around 1919 they became interested in manufacturing pistols and created a very unique 6.35 mm pistol design. After selling it for a few
years, production on that pistol ended and the company was reorganized as the Fritz Mann Werkseugfabrik, focusing their offerings on more conventional and larger caliber pistols.
Eventually attention shifted completely away from firearms and the company closed in 1938.
Fritz Mann designed another pistol after his unusual 6.35 mm design went out of production. The new pistol, in 7.65 mm and 9 mm, was more conventional in appearance but still had some
innovative features. The pistols are some of the smallest ever made in their respective calibers, and were striker fired. The design is simple, with only 24 parts and no screws. Like his first
design, Mann used an annular groove cut into the barrel chamber that allows the cartridge to swell slightly and dampen recoil. This was a key to keeping the pistol small. A slide nearly half the
weight of the pistol, and a stout recoil spring, completes the recoil design. The fixed barrel mounts in the frame via a helical screw, which helps with accuracy.
A loaded cartridge indicator is located on the slide; a small spring-loaded transverse pin extrudes when a cartridge is chambered and also serves as the extractor. Interestingly, the
ejection port has a spring-compressed cover over it. When the slide is pulled back the ejection cover is held in its forward position, so that the chamber opens
and the spent casing is ejected. This mechanism appears to be easily broken, as at least 7 of the 30 pistols reported are either missing it or have a broken cover.
The striker is large and shaped like a thimble with a channel guide. The striker spring is a fairly large coil spring and the recoil spring is similar but much larger.
The sight groove is a well machined affair with front and rear sights set inside the groove. The magazine is small and holds five shots, this is true for both the 7
.65 and 9 mm versions. The magazine shape is unique, with four witness holes on each side and double holes on the spine. The base plate is stamped:
*Mann-Pistole 7,65* (the * is actually a very small circle containing the Mann logo, “M” over “W”.)
The safety lever is found on the left side near the grip and doubles as a magazine release. When the lever is placed to safety the sear is blocked, the
middle position is “fire,” and continued movement to the “mag” position releases the magazine.
This also effectively serves as a magazine safety. In the magazine position, the slide can be held
back to expose the barrel tip for disassembly. The grips are hard rubber with “Mann” at the top
and have brass medallions with the Mann logo; a “M” with an interposed “W” for “Mann Werks.” The medallions have levers on the inside that rotate to hold the grips in place. Some pistols
appear to have plastic medallions. Early slides are inscribed with a two line legend:
CAL 7,65 MANN-WERKE A.G. SUHL
After 4,500 pistols or so, the legend changed to a single line:
CAL. 7,65 MANN-WERKE A.G. SUHL MANN’S PATENT
Production started in the fall of 1923 and lasted only two or three years. Serial numbers for the
earlier 6.35mm model went up to 26xxx. The 7.65 mm and 9mm serials are observed from 401xx to nearly 53000. Numbers were marked on the front grip strap. Based on observed serials, the
total for both calibers couldn’t be much higher than 13,000, with the 9 mm being much more scarce, as they make up less than 7% of the pistols I have observed.
German retailer Gustav Genshow (GECO) sold these pistols in both 7.65 mm and 9 mm for a few
years. They were listed in Pricelist #33a and in Catalog #35, both dating to around 1924. No spare parts were offered but extra 7.65 mm magazines were available in the early 1930’s catalogs.
A large advertisement for the 7.65mm and 9mm Mann Pistol, with a brief article, appeared in the German Gun Industry magazine Der Waffenschmied on 25 March, 1925. The article described the
gun and design in detail and offered any reader who wrote to the company a free four- color poster. Ads like the one below appeared throughout 1924 and 1925 but were gone by 1926.
An Unusual Little Mann Pistol
The little pistol pictured here is an example of the 7.65 mm model. It is “in the white,” as the original finish was removed
a few years ago. Slight traces of bluing are visible on the sight groove and vertical serrations as well as the internal sections of the slide and frame. The slide is stamped “CAL. 7.65
MANN” and there is a very small “T” near the slide serrations on the left side. The rear of the slide has 11 vertical serrations
on each side. The loaded chamber indicator pin, observed on every other pistol, is missing from this one.
The frame, when disassembled, has a small ring on top that holds the threads for the barrel. The
frame is marked “S.” at the top of the safety lever, “Mag.” is stamped at bottom, with a “F.” in the
middle. This pistol’s “F” is struck so light it is hard to see, as was that on another observed pistol
. Also, other examples have the Mann logo on the left tang, whereas this one is missing the logo. Most frames are marked with a serial number on the front grip strap but this example has no such
serial number. The serial number, and missing logo stamp mentioned above may have been removed when the bluing was removed but I doubt it as some stamps remain. It is important to
note that the pistol has no German proofs, which is very unusual. Usually the Crown N is located
on the right side of the pistol, the stamps lying on its left side, one at the top of the frame behind the
trigger, and a second immediately above it on the slide. The magazine currently paired with this gun is not original but it is correct. The magazine that was paired with the gun since WWII is
actually stamped 9mm, which in this case would be
.380 ACP. It too has a bare metal finish. How it became mismatched is a mystery.
Mann 7.65mm Specifications:
Length: 121 mm
Height: 78 mm
Width (w/ grips): 26 mm
Weight (w/ magazine): 377 g
Magazine Capacity: 5 rounds
The grip medallions on this pistol are worn smooth. Only the faintest trace of the” M and W” logo can be seen on one side. Both
grips are stamped with “947” but the “4” looks more like a Christmas tree than a “4.” Each grip plate also has small pieces of
wood glued to it, acting as shims to keep the grips tight. The shims look very old.
This little Mann was brought back to the United States in December of 1945 by Technician 4th Grade (T/4) Mack B. Stone. He was originally from the St. Louis, MO
area and served in the 308th Field Artillery as part of the 78th Infantry, Lightning Division, which saw action in the European Theater, particularly later in the war during the drive into Germany, in
places like the Siegfried Line, the Roer and Rhine Rivers, the Cologne plain, the bridge at Remagen, and the Ruhr pocket. After the surrender of Germany, the unit was stationed in
Czechoslovakia. Stone doesn’t remember the exact details of how he acquired the pistol but he
stated that he found it somewhere on the ground; it was not taken off a combatant. Stone carried an
M-1 Carbine and only shot it in anger a few times. This pistol he kept in his footlocker for a souvenir; he never carried it in combat. T/4 Stone’s bring-back certificate and a tag accompanied the pistol, as did a little brown holster.
The certificate is signed by his Battery Commander, Captain Tester. The holster is a simple and small leather one with a large half flap that secures via a stud
on the flap and a small body-mounted strap. There is a wide belt loop in the back and no markings are found on the holster. Before it was captured by Stone the stud
was removed or lost and a buckle type strap was added. It was recently converted back to the original configuration.
The two different caliber magazines for the Mann are very much alike. The only difference I can
note between the two, aside from the stamp on the base plate, must be the spring. The .380 magazine will hold five rounds of .380 or .32, but the 7.65 marked magazine will only hold either
four .380 rounds or five .32 rounds.
Considering how the 9mm short magazine (.380) freely interchanges with the 7.65mm frame, it is
very likely that the only differences between the two calibers of the Mann pistols are the magazine and barrel.
The Mann pistol is a very solid and well-built little firearm; the high quality of manufacture is
apparent when you hold it. The simple but large striker and recoil springs make it a very reliable
pistol. The safety lever, which also acts as a magazine safety and breakdown lever, is ingenious
but never caught on with other designers. That may be due to the one flaw I see in the pistol. In
order to insert the magazine, either the lever must be held down before the magazine will fully insert and lock into place or the slide must be locked back and released after the mag is inserted.
Other than that, it is a neat little pistol and a great addition to my collection. Thanks goes to my friend Tom Knox for parting with it and sending it my way.
Field Stripping the Mann Pistol:
- Remove magazine by placing safety lever to the magazine position.
- Pull slide back while holding safety lever down to lock slide back.
- Rotate barrel two full turns counter-clockwise.
- Pull slide back to release lock then push it forward.
- Lift the muzzle end up off frame.