Book Review: Firearms Developed and Manufactured in Southern Africa 1949-2000

FIREARMS: Developed and Manufactured in Southern Africa 1949-2000

Until recently, there has been very little published information on South African and Rhodesian firearms outside of a few sporadic magazine articles – but that is no longer the case! The Pretoria Arms and Ammunition Association has recently published the epic results of a 17-person, 8.5 year long research project documenting the development and manufacture of guns in South Africa and Rhodesia from 1949 until 2000 (or just after, in a few cases). This 530+ page tome covers both the major and minor manufacturers; basically everything short of underground hand-made criminal guns. The major chapters include Musgrave, Lyttelton (now Denel), Republic Arms, Truvelo, and Milkor (and their respective brand names).

Unlike many firearms reference books, this one covers everything made in the area, from civilian hunting rifles to compact pistols to military arms to crude half-baked submachine guns and the assortment of unorthodox shotguns that thrived in South Africa. There are many well-recognized but little-understood guns for which this book finally sheds a light on the development of, including the Vektor CP1 and CR21, the Neostead and Striker-12/Protecta shotguns, and the details of South African and Rhodesia FAL rifles.

Basically, the book is a treasure trove for anyone interested in safari rifles, the South African brush wars, or the dynamics of an isolated country developing a modern arms industry. The Pretoria Arms and Ammunition Association has really outdone themselves on this work!

Cost at the time of this writing is 1150 Rand, which equates to about $85 US – a steal for the work that went into it.


  1. The Lyttleton Z-88 solved the slide-breakage problem that gave the early Beretta M9 pistol a bad reputation by the same method that the FN-made Browning trademark variant of the Beretta M84 solved its excessive slide-velocity problem. They simply “filled in” the Beretta slide opening, changing the slide to a Browning-type profile with an ejector port.

    The extra steel added strengthened the slide on the Z-88, thus getting rid of the slide cracking/breakage problem with hot SMG-type “carbine” loads.

    I’ve often thought that, even allowing for getting dirt etc. out of the action in a hurry, the Beretta “open-top” slide was more a matter of aesthetics than practicality.

    I believe that in the very early Beretta blowbacks such as the M1915 the reason for it was to reduce slide mass enough to ensure reliable functioning with the 9 x 19mm Glisenti load- ?

    If so, it was something they probably should have retired with the M951 in 9 x 19mm Parabellum in the fifties.



    • “they probably should have retired with the M951 in 9 x 19mm Parabellum in the fifties”
      But at that time it was tradition, or more important – way of clear informing “it is Beretta”, even for somebody having only shallow automatic pistol knowledge.

    • “M1915”
      Some though about Beretta Modello 1915:
      -it might be inspired by early STAR automatic pistol,
      which also have open-top, but without front “bridge”
      -choice of such slide shape might be caused by Beretta factory machines – so far I know it was first automatic pistol made by Beretta (they produced earlier hunting guns – cf. German JAGER automatic pistol)

    • Maybe there were some patents made for Beretta Modello 1915? Sadly, I don’t know Italiano, but if it was patented it might explain intention behind choice of such slide form.

      • the reason for slide cut-out on early Berettas, which became later a signature feature, was ability to tilt barrel to load additional round. Btw, couple of days ago I was able to fire M92F; not a bad gun, but if I had a choice I’d take CZ75 three times faster.

        • “ability to tilt barrel to load additional round”
          Beretta Modello 1915 has such possibility?
 states that
          1915 Type-7.65 mm. (Brng.) This was a blowback with internal hammer, Mauser pocket pistol type of barrel mounting, and a firing pin which acted as ejector. It had straight grip frame, wood grips, magazine capacity of 7 cartridges, and 6-R rifling. It was made for Italian army and police use only and was marked PS (Pubblica Sicurezza, public security) for police use or RE (Regio Esercito) for army use. It was covered by 1915 patents and discontinued in 1919.
          Sadly, without giving patents numbers.

    • “9 x 19mm Glisenti load- ?” states that:
      In realtà, il problema è che di “Beretta 15” (nome generico e improprio, come vedremo) ne esistono due, una in calibro 9 Glisenti ed una in 7,65 Browning, e non si sa con chiarezza quale sia stata progettata per prima. Neppure la stessa ditta produttrice dispone di dati precisi in grado di fugare questa incertezza.
      I am not sure about correctness of translator, but it seems that it is unclear whatever this Beretta automatic was originally designed for 9 mm Glisenti or 7,65 mm Browning.
      If 7,65 mm Browning was first, it might explain such form. It might be inspired by German Mauser 1914 automatic pistol.

    • Here is MAC testing ‘virtues’ of M9A1 open slide. Well, ….it did not make it thru his homegrown test but frankly, other guns would have similar problems.

      What is the ultimate test for any firearm in my mind is combination of low temperature and snow; melting and freezing up again. That would tell how good it really is. Also, from what I can see his “mud” does not contain enough clay.

    • Actually, the Z88 was a copy of the Beretta 92. The SP1 and SP2 were essentially 92’s with conventional slides. The was a very favourable review of the Z88 and SP1 by Peter Kokalis in the Dec. 1992 issue of Soldier of Fortune. The author stated that the Z88 had superior heat treatment which solved the slide failure and other metallurgical problems.

    • You’re fast. I was about to ask the same thing. Would love to read a detailed account on the SS-77 development.

    • If you can find it, there was an excellent review of the SS-77 by Peter Kokalis in the Sept. 1988 issue of Soldier of Fortune.

  2. J,
    “And, lastly, we can all thank the PAAA chairman, John Welch, who insisted (even before we knew our final costs) that the pre-publication price be as low as possible so as to enable as many people as possible to get a copy. Now we do know our final costs. This is why, after the launch on 03rd March, our price per copy accelerates from the present R490 per copy to a more market related R720. ”
    Now at market related + R400 + ridiculous shipping…..
    Happy to pay for a good book, unhappy to be screwed….
    Anyone find it for a reasonable price + shipping?

  3. Thanks for this review. I ordered the book, took a while to get to western Canada, but arrived with signatures of the contributors and the editor. Very nice surprise! Fantastic resource and worth the price and wait time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.