But for a while, the factory flailed about with a blizzard of minor variations and strange stylistic experiments.Six-shot and twenty-shot magazines, the "flatside" frame, the cone hammers, the large ring hammers, and the early Bolos all date to the first eight years or so of production.
One of the books describes and pictures some seventy distinct variations. It's as bad as collecting PEZ dispensers, but more expensive. In a very real sense, the common ones are the important ones.
On the other hand, a historian of firearms production would note that not all variants are equal. And they are the ones which approach the Platonic ideal of the Mauser - the one you'd show them when the kids ask, "What's a C-96? For the purposes of this site, I am going to make a break with the books, ignore the rarer variants, and concentrate on the "ordinary" guns which anyone, dedicated collector or casual shooter, is most likely to encounter.
The vast majority of oddball pistol variations date from the early years of production.
Higher serial numbers are unique, though, as the highest serial contract gun would be about 139000, from the 1916 Prussian Contract, and the highest serial Schnellfeuer was somewhere around 95000.
So a high number like 881837, as seen on one of my M-30s, is a number unique among C-96s.