Arming the Lion of Judah: Ethiopian FN Mauser Rifles & Carbines

In 1930, Haile Selassie I became Emperor of Ethiopia (aka Abysinia), and would rule for almost 45 years, with a brief exception when the country was occupied by fascist Italy. During that time, he paid particular attention to Ethiopia’s military strength. As part of his coronation celebration he toured Europe, including the factory works at FN in Belgium. Selassie developed a good relationship with the Belgians, and in the mid 1930s he would place several orders for arms and equipment from FN (and also hired Belgian military advisors to help train his army). In particular, Ethiopia purchased 17,500 FN Model 1930 rifles and 7,500 Model 1930 carbines, which we are looking at here.

The Ethiopian guns are basically identical mechanically to standard 1898 Mausers. The Ethiopian carbines are unusual in not having side mounted sling attachments, and they have a unique serial number placement. In order that the numbers could be read while the guns were in racks, the serial numbers are in very large numerals on the receiver bridge, not alongside the chamber as typical. Both rifle and carbine also have a distinctive Ethiopian crest on the receivers. Because Ethiopia did not have the technical expertise to proof the guns themselves, they hired the Belgian military to do so on their behalf; a service that FN and Belgium offered at the time.

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


  1. Rather than a “shield” I think that is another form of the crown on the “Lion of Judah.” There used to be legends about the Queen of Sheba in Yemen/ straits of Bab al Mandab proximate to the Horn of Africa and King Solomon as being the origin of the Abyssinian/ Ethiopian coptic Christian dynasts…

    Incidentally, the millenarian Rastafarian movement in Jamaica, and now everyplace thanks to the influence of Anglophone Caribbean music took its name from Haile Selassie’s earlier “Duke” title “Ras Tafari Makonnen” by way of Marcus Garvey and his “African Redemption” movement. Much was made of Ethiopia’s status as being an imperial power in East Africa in its own right rather than a colony or proxy kingdom or chieftaincy like post-“Scramble” Africa divided up into European colonies. While Marcus Garvey hewed to the black nationalist colors of black, red, and green, the flag of Ethiopia produced the red, gold, green that became not only the colors of Rastafarianism, but the so-called “Pan-African colors” that figure so prominently in very many post-independence African flags.

    I’d sure like to find one of the Belgian army’s FN-Herstal produced military bicycles in restorable condition, personally.

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

    And yet they still have NO Ethiopian arms for sale. 🙁


  3. The truncated cylinder that is superimposed over the lion represents the crown of David, the miter of the high priest, and the veil that shrouds the Holy Ark.

  4. I thoroughly enjoy Ian’s videos about ethiopia as I have a coworker from there. He has a lot of national pride and will fervently argue that ethiopia had never been colonized by the Europeans, he does not consider the Italian occupation of Ethiopia that Ian mentioned as colonization, which is fair. He had a profile picture on Facebook a few years ago which depicted what he said is a home guard armed with bolt action rifles. The only one I can clearly make out is an SMLE but I’d bet my bottom dollar theres a few of these FN Mausers in the mix and possible some of the 1888 Mausers from Ian’s video earlier

  5. During the Italian occupation, a duo of Eritreans lobbed hand grenades at the various fascist leaders including Graziani himself. The retaliation, reprisal fully assumed the proportions of killing 1 in every 5 residents of Addis Ababa, a great number of priests, monks, lay clergy, etc. and all of the foreign university-educated youth. See Ian Campbell’s books, esp. _The Addis Ababa Massacre: Italy’s National Shame_. Recall that the use of mustard gas by the Italians provoked a real international outcry, and that the League of Nations basically started to come apart over its inability to do anything about Italian aggression.

  6. Economist, Ludwig von Mises, claimed in his autobiography that the international outrage at the Mussolini regime’s conduct in Ethiopia,

    was probably the key turning point from Austria remaining independent, to it being Annexed by the German national socialist regime.

    Up until the Ethiopian [mis]adventure, both Mussolini and his regimes policies were widely fawned upon by lefties and statists all around the world, including Hollywood, where Mussolini starred in cameo as himself in a bio pic, in big budget popular music, and in the speeches of leading Gambian socialist.

    Prior to Ethiopia, Mussolini disdained Hitler, and provided a counter to the German national socialist regime’s Grosse Deutsch ambitions.

    Due to Ethiopia, The Mussolini regime found itself short of friends, and with new and strange bedfellows

    And those in Austria who resisted German annexation, apparently found themselves without any worthwhile friends.

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