Very cold, very old steel, via Solingen/Suhl, Brazil and the Keystone State

So I took advantage of some of the recent freak snowfall on the Gulf Coast to get some shots of two of my newest additions to my bayonet collection. Behold, I give you a pair of pre-WWI stickers for the M1908 Mauser rifle produced for Brazil by DWM in Imperial Germany:

As a bit of a backgrounder, the Brazilians loved them some Mauser bolt guns. They started with the M1904 Mauser-Vergueiro rifle then went all-in with the Model 1908 rifle, similar to the Gew.98 with a 29-inch barrel. After WWI, in the 1930s Brazil bought the unlicenced Czech 08/34, a K98k clone with a 22-inch barrel chambered in 7mm as well as genuine Oberndorf-built M1935s.

BRAZILIAN Model 1908 Mauser bolt-action long rifle # 9101o (7×57) mfg. by DWM in 1909. Photo by Empire Arms

Brazilian sailors on battleship Minas Gervias, the 1920s, dressed for landing party duty– complete with M1908 series bayonets

They continued their love affair well into the 1950s with the locally-built (Itajuba Arsenal) M1954, a .30-06 rifle made with parts of all of the aforementioned Mausers to complement M1903A3s and M1s picked up from the U.S. during WWII.

Brazilian Expeditionary Force soldiers in Italy, 1945. Note the U.S. equipment to include M1903A3 Springfields and M1 Garands. The Brazilian Army switched to the 30.06 for about 20 years following WWII

The 25,000-strong Brazilian Expeditionary Force fought like lions in Italy in late 1944 into 1945 and lost nearly 950 men to combat. They also bagged two German Generals including Generalleutnant Otto Fretter-Pico, shown here surrendering his 148. Infanterie-Division to Brazilian FEB General Euclides Zenóbio da Costa. Italy, 1945

The BEF’s logo was the cobra está fumando, which means “The snake is smoking” A snake smoking a pipe was akin to pigs flying. It is a known saying in Brazil i.e. “It is easier for a snake to smoke than __” Former President Getúlio Vargas claimed it was easier for a snake to smoke than Brazil entering the war against Germany.

With the exception of this group, however, the Brazilian Army kept using their Mausers for decades as their primary infantry arm.

Take this image of a Brazilian Army soldier talking with local children during the 1964 Military Coup in Rio de Janeiro, for instance.

Though the Brazilians adopted a homegrown variant of the FAL made by the Itajubá-based IMBEL in 1964, some of the older 7mm Mausers went up for grabs on the surplus market then while others were only recently released from “just in case” reserves after decades in arsenal storage. Further, in the 1950s a large number of M1908s were sold to the Dominican Republic under strongman Rafael Trujillo, where they were reconditioned by his San Cristobal Arsenal, ran oddly enough by Hungarian ex-pats, and continued to serve into the 1980s. (More details on this at the bottom of post)

Further, a number of Mausers still show up in images of the Brazilian military.

Brazilian officer cadets armed with what appears to be some well-used Mauser Kar 98k’s, likely Brazilian remade Model 1954s

Which brings us to these particular M1908 bayonets shown at the top.

Some 17-inches overall (18 when in the scabbard) with an 11.75-inch blade, M1908 Brazilian-contract export bayonets were made by three firms for DWM: Weyersberg-Kirschbaum & Cie (W.K. & Cie) and Alex Coppel (ALCOSO) of Solingen as well as Simson & Co. of Suhl, Germany.

The two examples I have are made by W.K. & Cie and Simson & Co., respectively with “β” (beta) inspection marks on both blade and pommel. Still looking for an ALCOSO!

The steel has a gentle patina overall with some light pitting on the spine, likely caused due to interaction with the scabbard interior in humid conditions– after all, they did serve for generations in the same country as the Amazon.

They were grimy with storage but cleaned up very nice with some Ballistol (what else?).  The leather body wood scabbard has brass fixtures and is serial numbered to the blade as per contract.

I picked them up for a song from Springfield Sporters of Penn Run, PA and they had “hundreds in stock” for $30 bucks each. As orders of $65 or more ship for free, I added a Canadian No. 4 Long Branch SMLE bayonet to the mix for $5 to finish it out and I am tickled pink.

Springfield Sporters has these for just $30 bucks. Gott in Himmel!

And finally, here is the footnote on the surplus Mausers bought by the Dominican Republic from Brazil in the 1950s, and liquidated as surplus sometime in the late 1980s/early 1990s after reconditioning them. Details on said reconditioning here from Ian McCollum with Forgotten Weapons:

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