A Unique Partnership: Czech Mausers for Ethiopia after WWII

After World War Two, the Czech economy was in serious need of money to recover from the ravages of war. The arms factory at Brno was not bound by the same restrictions as German manufacturers, and still had a production line for the Mauser K98k, which they had been making for the Wehrmacht. Eager to bring in some hard currency, Brno continued to produce rifles on that German tooling, and sold them internationally. One of the not well known buyers was Israel, but another was Ethiopia (which also acted as the transit point for the shipments bound for Israel).

These rifles used remaining inventory of receivers already marked with German arsenal codes, as well as other parts that had been manufactured during the war, so some will have waffenamt’d small parts. The trigger guards and magazine floor plates presented a problem, however, as these had been supplied by German factories during the war. So, Brno tooled up its own design, with a stamped floor plate reminiscent of the American 1903A3 and a large stamped trigger guard to allow for use with thick gloves. On this Ethiopian contract, a stock disc was added to each right stamped with an image of St George slaying the dragon, an Ethiopian national symbol.

Check out IO Inc’s web site for the Ethiopian arms they currently have for sale!


  1. Note the irony, that a widened triggerguard for gloves was exported to Ethipia and Israel. Countries known for their snowstorms. 😉 Okay, on the Golan and the mountain ranges of Ethiopia it can actually get cold.

    Any particlular reason, why the czechoslovaks patterened their bottom plate after the M1903 US rifle? And not for example german late war stamped sheet metal bottom plates?

    • i believe Ian said they had gotten some US aid, which may have included some 1903A3’s. And just think- This rifle may have been guarding the Ark of the Covenant! More like Indiana Jones stuff, than the history most of us were taught.

  2. “(…)arms factory at Brno was not bound by the same restrictions as German manufacturers(…)”
    Also was is important, it seems that Czechoslovak arms industry survived in good shape through WWII, judging from what was delivered via OPERATION BALAK:
    which in area of fire-arms was mix of German and Czechoslovak design, and in area of aeroplanes included Czechoslovak-build Avia S-199 fighters (25 examples).
    Interestingly in 1948 ordered plural(tancík) AH-IVb from Czechoslovakia, see chapter The Ethiopian AH-IVb https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/czech/CKD_AH-IV_tankette.php
    and were actively used for nearly half a century (see 1982 Ethiopian-Somali Border War)

    • Yes, but they (the industry) almost did not make it.
      What is also notable is that some references are vanishing from public domain. Guess why! (clue: do not tarnish brand new allies!)

      When comes to delivery of war materiel to brand new state in Middle East, it had some serious repercussions, not long time after. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sl%C3%A1nsk%C3%BD_trial
      Clue: upcoming break up of that new state with Soviet Union.

      Also, and there is little of awareness about it; it was not just material delivery, there was systematic training of crews as well.

    • Those planes had horrible handling owing to the mismatched engine and frame. Kit-bashing an engine from a series of medium bombers (guess which ones) onto a different airframe without finely tuning the new assembly made the pilots miserable, to say nothing of the improperly synchronized fuselage guns on a few batches. I could be wrong.

    • Or so he claims, but the monk does not show the ark and hides it. The burden of proof is on him, otherwise I consider him a liar until proven otherwise.

  3. If there were 1903 rifles, then in subtle quantities. Perhaps they were even rifles from the number abandoned by the British during the flight.
    And all Mauser rifles are still called the “Czech rifle” in Israel.
    The plane after the first batch from Czechoslovakia flew not once but two or three at night.
    And MG34 machine guns, at least a significant part of them, turned out to be defective. They refused to work normally until the local turner had turned out new muzzles for them…

    • I think these recent african rifles are not from an auction but recent imports by Inter Ordnance. So look at their website and these rifles are going to show up at other dealers as well afaik.

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