Tag Archives: FAL

The Priceless Warehouses of Addis Ababa

By nature of the past 130 years frequented by conflict in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia has tons of vintage military arms up for sale.

One European importer, based in the Czech Republic, has been detailing their shopping trips to the African country where surplus firearms are stacked deep and priced cheap. Zelený Sport Defence’s mononymous globetrotting buyer, Schuster, has been sending snaps back from his trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s ancient capital, filled with historic firearms.

The old Ethiopian Empire fought several wars against Italy (in 1887–1889, 1895-1896, 1935-37), a cycle that was only broken after liberation in World War II. This left the country with not only stacks of guns both bought to fight off the Italians– M1874 Gras rifles, Gewehr 71s and 88s, Remington Rolling Blocks, FN-made Mausers, British Lee-Enfields, Russian Berdan and Model 91/30 Mosin-Nagants– but also those captured from the Italians including Vetterlis, and Carcanos of every stripe.

And that’s not even scraping the surface…

More in my column at Guns.com.

Braço Forte, Mão Amiga

While in Florida last month I ran across a member of the Exército Brasileiro on vaca. Dating to 1822, the Brazilian Army is a very professional force with a rich heritage that includes fighting the Germans in Italy in WWII. I have a few Brazilian contract Mausers and an IMBEL-made FAL alongside a couple of commercial “Brasil”-marked handguns in the safe so myself and Romalo had lots to talk about.

Also, his shirt, from the mountain infantry, was the best.

The Van Doo Cyprus shuffle, 54 years on

Members of the Canadian contingent serving with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), are seen at an observation post in Trakhomas. 27 March 1964.

UN Photo Archives # 86335

Note the unit patch of the famous Royal 22e Régiment (The Van Doos), as well as the Canadian-made, inch-pattern semi-auto FN FAL dubbed the C1A1 (C1) in Canuck service and a U.S.-supplied M1919 light machine gun. Interestingly enough, the Canadians were the first large military to adopt the FAL, in 1954, to replace the Enfield .303, and only phased it out in the late 1980s with the Diemaco (Colt Canada) C7 (M16A2).

According to the UN: “Canada has a long tradition of supporting peacekeeping missions starting with its contribution in the United Nations Military Observer group in Indian and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in 1949 and currently have contributes 113 military and police personnel to our peacekeeping missions in Haiti (MINUSTAH) Darfur (UNAMID) Cyprus (UNFICYP) South Sudan (United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the Middle East (UN Truce Supervision Organisation).”

And it looks like the Canucks are headed to increasingly unstable Mali.

The L1A1 still serves, in Montego Bay at least

Governor-General of Jamaica His Excellency the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen, ON, GCMG, CD, KSt.J inspects the Guard of Honour platoon furnished by the First Battalion, the Jamaica Regiment.

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) is a descendant of the old British West India Regiment which dates to 1795 and the Jamaica Regiment consists of two light infantry battalions (1JR and 2JR) with a 3rd battalion made up of reservists.

While the force is constituted on a British Army model, their standard infantry arm is the M16A2 (and wear a MARPAT field uniform) though there are some second line units with the 1980s SA80 (L85) Enfield rifles.

Guard of Honour, furnished by The First Battalion The Jamaica Regiment (1 JR), — note the L1A1s

You will note, however, that the honor guard (and 3JR as a whole) still uses the old L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle (SLR), the standard semi-auto inch pattern FAL adopted by the Brits in 1954. When the British replaced theirs in frontline use in the mid-1980s, they were forwarded over to Kingston– where they replaced even older WWII-era No. 4 SMLE .303s.

Jamaican soldiers training to fire the FN FAL in 2002.

1 Engineer Regiment (Jamaica Defence Force) recently deployed on Ceremonial Guard Duty at the National Heroes Park, note they have M16s

The SMLE’s did not go to waste, however, as they were passed on to the constabulary.

Jamaica Constabulary Force armed with No.4 SMLEs

175 million self-loading military rifles made since 1896– and most are likely still around

AK-47 style rifles accounted for almost half of the global production of self-loading rifles over the past century according to the study. (Graphics: Small Arms Survey)

AK-47 style rifles accounted for almost half of the global production of self-loading rifles over the past century according to the study. (Graphics: Small Arms Survey)

A new study released by the Small Arms Survey found that over half of all autoloading rifles ever made for military use are either AK-type or AR-10/15 type designs.

The 60-page study was authored for the Geneva, Switzerland-based SAS by N.R. Jenzen-Jones, director of Armament Research Services, an international policy-neutral technical intelligence consulting group.

The effort concentrates primarily on military arms issued as a primary combat weapon and not those built or marketed to the civilian or law enforcement user. As such it includes select-fire and automatic magazine-fed rifles such as the AKM and semi-auto battle rifles such as the M1 Garand made after the advent of smokeless powder. Excluded were crew-served weapons.

Starting with the Danish Navy’s order of 60 Rekylkarabin carbines in 1896 and moving forward, the study concluded some 175 million self-loading rifles have been produced for military use since then, noting this figure was “conservative.”

More in my column at Guns.com.

An ‘assault weapon’ by any other name…

In 1989 California lawmakers puked up one of the first assault weapons bans in U.S. history and in subsequent years added tweaked it and added such blanket restrictions as prohibitions on .50BMG (because there are so many crimes done with these…). While the California Department of Justice has tried really hard to ban anything that is AR-15ish or AK-47like, all enterprising gun owners have had to do is use devices such as ‘bullet buttons’ and low-capacity magazines to be able to own one today.

Still, between 1989 and 2001, the state allowed the registration by civilians of grandfathered guns. Well through Guns.com I did a public records request to CA DOJ and obtained their list of registered guns, all 145,253 of them. A detailed analysis found some really interesting things.

Here’s a snapshot of the top 25 manufacturers for example:


  •     28,259 Colt Mfg, almost all Sporters and AR-15 type rifles
  •     16,665 Chinese Norinco/Polytech/Clayco rifles, primarily AK and SKS pattern guns in 7.62mm
  •     14,797 Bushmasters, almost exclusively XM-15 series rifles
  •     9,158 Heckler & Koch firearms, with Model HK 91, 93 and 94 rifles accounting for the majority
  •     4,529 Springfield Armory rifles, primarily M1/M1A 7.62mm guns
  •     4,528 IMI guns including 179 Galil rifles and 4301 UZIs of multiple types in 9mm and .45
  •     4,199 Armalites including 291 AR-10s and 1046 AR-180s
  •     3,124 Eagle AR-pattern firearms
  •     2,924 Intratec branded guns, all variants of the TEC-9/AB-10 and TEC-22 pistol
  •     2,732 Ruger firearms, mostly Mini-14 and Mini-30 rifles
  •     2,199 FN/Browning/FNH with mainly FAL and FNC type rifles listed
  •     2,189 SWD guns mostly Cobray and M10/11/12 MAC-style pistols
  •     1,876 Arsenal made AK-pattern rifles in 7.62mm
  •     1,461 DPMs, all AR-15 variants
  •     1,457 Austrian Steyrs, almost all AUG-series 5.56mm rifles
  •     1,303 Korean Daewoo firearms in several variants, almost all 5.56mm rifles but also 16 DR300s in 7.62 and 5 DP51 pistols
  •     1,170 Franchi shotguns in the uber-scary SPAS 12 and LAW12 varieties
  •     1,132 CAI/Century guns, primarily 7.62mm rifles
  •     1,082 Hungarian FEG guns, mostly SA85 AK-style rifles
  •     914 Auto Ordnance, typically all Thompson 1927 style carbines
  •     770 Imbel L1A1 type rifles in 7.62mm
  •     693 DSA rifles, all SA58 models
  •     526 Enterprise Arms 7.62mm rifles
  •     496 Berettas including some 122 AR-70s and 60 rare BM-59s
  •     445 SIGs, including 122 P-series pistols and 139 SG550 5.56mm rifles
  •     392 Benellis, split roughly between their M1 and M3 tactical shotguns

The rest of the 3,000~ word report over at Guns.com along with a photo gallery of some of the more interesting guns here.

weaver arms nighthawk


FN FAL: ‘The right arm of the free world’

In the late 1940s, the Western allied countries in the NATO military pact were shopping for a new, modern battle rifle. With the Soviets and their Eastern bloc pals armed with the SKS and the select-fire AK-47, the bolt-action Enfields, Mausers, and MAS rifles of NATO were totally outclassed.

The Americans and British were rapidly testing new rifles at the time but Belgian arms giant FN—just recovering from the war and Nazi occupation of their factories themselves—turned to their master gun wonk, Dieudonne Saive to see what he could come up with.

Dieudonne Joseph Saive had been FN’s Chef de Service (chief weapons designer) for nearly two decades. When firearms genius John Moses Browning died, leaving his double-stack 9mm pistol incomplete, Saive finished it, creating the famous Browning Hi-Power. Besides that accomplishment, he had a hand in the Baby Browning pistol and the FN-49 rifle. It was this last gun, a gas-operated semi-automatic rifle that Saive used as a basis for FN’s new select-fire battle rifle.

Read the rest in my column at Guns.com

fn fal

Nostalgia Trip: 5 Classic 50s Battle Rifles

In the 1950s cars were made out of steel, cigarettes were a food group, and men scraped the hair from their face with a straight razor. That decade where Elvis was thin and everybody liked Ike was also the golden age of the battle rifle.

In 1953, the infant NATO military alliance adopted the US-developed 7.62×51mm T65E3 cartridge as its standard rifle round. This round was destined to replace the US .30-06 fired by the M1 Garand, the British .303 of the Commonwealth Armies, the 8mm Mauser of the West German Army and others. It brought to the table a shorter length round that still had the power of the cartridges it replaced—but with less recoil. This led to a number of so-called battle rifle designs, ending the 70-year reign of the bolt-action rifle in military service. and Guns.com is looking at five classics, many of which are still around today:

Read the rest at GUNs.com

m14 ebr seeing hard service afghanistan 2013

(The m14 in the hands of the soldier above in Afghanistan is likely as old as his father, but is still trucking. Classics are like that)