When one thinks of ‘Mauser,’ bolt-action rifles are likely what comes to mind. That’s easily understandable, because Mauser’s line of highly influential and widely copied bolt-action rifles are what the company is most well-known for.
But it’s a lesser-known fact that Mauser has also put their name to a number of handguns that have hit the market over the years as well. One of these is the beautiful and yet little-known Mauser Model 90DA.
With its deep blued finish and wood grips, the Mauser 90DA is an elegant looking weapon from another era. They just don’t make guns like this anymore.
Let’s talk about this offering from Mauser, which as we’ll soon see, is really just a rebranded FEG P9R. But don’t let that
FEG’s Hi-Power Clones
There are several guns that have been widely copied by many manufacturers over the years. The Colt Single Action Army, 1911, and the AR-15 platforms all come to mind. All of these guns were well-made and battle-proven, which is why they have been so widely copied and duplicated.
The Browning Hi-Power is another one of those guns that has been widely copied, and one of the primary manufacturers of High Power clones in the 1980s and 1990s was the FEGARMY Arms Factory of Hungary, otherwise known as FEG.
When the Hi-Power came out in 1935, it was revolutionary for having 13-rounds in the magazine. For comparison, the revolvers of the day only held 5 or 6 and competing semi-automatics like the 1911 held in the vicinity of 7.
Furthermore, the Hi-Power was reliable, ergonomic, easy-to-shoot, and inexpensive to manufacture. It became the most widely copied and distributed military service pistol of all time, with countless companies producing variants of the pistol. The Hi-Power is still present in the holsters of soldiers in militaries globally today.
FEG’s take on the Hi-Power, designated as the P9M, was well-regarded as a faithful and reliable reproduction of this venerable weapon.
In 1980, FEG decided to expand on the Hi-Power concept, producing a new pistol that essentially mated the Hi-Power to the Smith & Wesson Model 59 pistol.
The result was the FEG P9R.
Enter the FEG P9R
The FEG P9R is essentially a double action/single action (DA/SA) Browning Hi-Power, where the DA/SA mechanism is closely borrowed from the successful Smith & Wesson 59 pistol. This is why the internals between the P9R and the S&W 59 are very similar, and both feature the same oversized safety/decocker lever on the slide as well. However, parts between the P9R and the S&W 59 are not interchangeable.
The P9R was produced from 1980 to 2000, and included several other variants, including a compact 9mm model called the P9RK and a .45 ACP version called the ACK.
The P9R proved to be successful and was imported along with the P9M into the United States in great numbers. People who wanted to buy a Browning Hi-Power but were put off by the Hi-Power’s high price tag found their solution in FEG’s cheaper and reputable P9M or P9R pistols.
Another company had taken note of the success of the FEG Hi-Power clones as well: Mauser.
So How Does Mauser Fit Into This?
Mauser was in a downhill state in the 1980s. For the last hundred years, the company had been one of the most successful arms manufacturers in the entire world. Their line of bolt-action rifles had equipped militaries all over the globe and been copied by innumerable other rifle manufacturers as well.
The company had also produced a number of successful semi-automatic pistols as well, including the distinguished C96 ‘Broomhandle,’ the often overlooked Model 1910/14/34 series, and the sleek HSc.
But by the time the 1970s had come around, the company was in a state of flux. Mauser was one of the biggest names in the firearms industry with a phenomenal global reputation, but many of the people who had helped lead the company in the years prior had either passed away or moved on. The company’s new leadership wasn’t exactly sure what to do and sought partnerships with other gun manufacturers to help stay afloat.
In 1990, Mauser entered into a partnership with FEG. The Mauser name was licensed to three FEG-made pistols in total: the P9M was rebranded as the Mauser Model 80SA, the P9R was rebranded as the Model 90DA, and the P9RK was rebranded as the Model 90DA Compact.
The Mauser 90DA is essentially a rebranded FEG P9R. The guns were made at FEG’s factory in Hungary before being sent to the Mauser factory in Germany where they were marked and then sent to distributors in Europe and the USA.
The guns were produced at the FEG factory in Hungary before being transported to the Mauser factory in Germany where the guns were marked. From the Mauser factory, the guns were then shipped out to distributors in Europe and the United States.
Close to 20,000 units of the 90DA model in particular were produced in total, with a far lesser number of the compact model being produced.
The production of the Mauser-branded FEGs lasted from 1990 to 1999, when Mauser was bought out by SIG Sauer. Mauser continues to produce bolt-action hunting rifles to this day, but as of now, their handguns are a thing of the past.
How I Ended Up with the Mauser 90DA
I discovered the Mauser 90DA almost by accident.
The very first 9mm pistol I had ever shot was an FEG P9R when I was eleven years old. It left a solid impression on me as I had an amazing experience shooting that gun, finding it even then to be very soft shooting with a nice grip. I was also drawn to the lines of the pistol, as well as the deep blued finish and the nice-looking wooden grips.
I was out searching for a used P9R in good condition to potentially purchase, and it was in my research that I found out about the existence of the Mauser 90DA. Long story short, I thought it would be cool to have a Mauser-branded pistol (even if it wasn’t really Mauser manufactured) and when the opportunity arose to purchase a used 90DA that was in near excellent condition I jumped at the chance.
The Mauser Model 90DA is classy, reliable, and fun to shoot.
Shooting the 90DA was just like reliving my memory of shooting the P9R all over again. After all, the two guns are identical except for the marketing.
Features of the Mauser 90DA
The Mauser 90DA is essentially a standard DA/SA semi-automatic pistol. It fires from a 14-shot magazine, which is not interchangeable with the Browning Hi-Power magazines. Magazines admittedly are a bit hard to come by, and when you do find them, they’re expensive.
But then again, I don’t use the 90DA as a tactical or self-defense pistol either (even though it could easily be used for those purposes) so needing lots of spare magazines for it isn’t high on the agenda for me. Instead, this is a pistol that I keep in my safe and take out to admire and shoot at the range from time to time.
The 90DA is a very pleasant shooter. The recoil is very manageable, and the shape and size of the grip is a natural fit for me as well. The double action pull is a bit heavy but also smooth, while the single action pull is crisp and light.
The safety/decocker lever on the slide is also easy to engage. It functions exactly like a Beretta 92, where engaging the safety by pressing it downward also safely decocks the pistol.
The 90DA has also proven to be reliable. I’ve shot over two hundred rounds out of it across two range sessions thus far without a single hiccup.
Key Takeaways: Mauser 90DA Review
If you’re looking for a well-made Hi-Power DA/SA clone, the 90DA is a solid choice.
The Mauser 90DA gets two thumbs up from me.
Beyond the fact that it brings back good memories from shooting in my younger years, it’s also a very well-made and classy looking gun.
FEG did a solid job producing this weapon, and like I mentioned before, it’s fun having a pistol that carries the Mauser name. This is a pistol that I’ll keep forever.
If you’re looking to buy a Hi-Power clone and would prefer a DA/SA variant, I’d give the Mauser 90DA (or its FEG P9R counterpart) a close look.