1. These were issued to my ceremonial bodyguard. I never trusted them enough to issue ammunition, and if I’d given them bayonets they’d have stabbed each other to death in one of those drunken moods they’d get into when I didn’t pay them. The money I saved was put to good use helping the poor though. Namely, enlarging my harem.

  2. I am not criticizing.
    It’s just IMHO.
    I can understand the Chinese trash that Ian is not so indifferent to. It, at least, was produced in some, funny, but quantities, and this is some kind of history.
    But who might be interested in this rusty piece of shit? Made, not even in the garage, but on the knee by some illiterate village blacksmith…

    In one thing I fully agree with Ian, there is only one single thing that I want to do with it even less than spend my money on it.
    This is to shoot it. 😉

    • Who might be interested in this kind of history? Ian for one. And the rest of us apparently. How many rifles have you made on your knee?

    • I am interested in it. The average American could not build this rifle, not even if they had a blacksmith shop to hand. It is interesting as an example of the expedients of necessity in places where a rifle is a valuable heirloom and you make do with what you can get, not what you want. It is also interesting as a personal, individual piece of history. Not all history is armies and nations and important events. I am more interested in a single foundation hole in the woods, and the history of the rusted piece of equipment I found buried nearby, and of the person who actual used it and lived and breathed, than I am in the history of the company that built it and the nation the man lived in. This rifle obviously served many people through very hard service over more than 100 years, and apparently did so without blowing up and killing them. That makes it interesting and valuable, to me and to many others. Even if they are ‘just’ Africans.

      • “…I am interested in it. The average American could not build this rifle, not even if they had a blacksmith shop to hand…”(C)

        I absolutely agree with you.
        Judging by the products of modern American machine gun building, one can say “even if they had a CNC machine tools.” LOL

        This is definitely a hyperbole.
        But nevertheless, it is so.
        (What’s with Serbu Arms?)

        In this case, I can only regret these crooked cripples.

        • PS In general, this is an alarming symptom. When when buyers are ready to call any piece of shit into which you can shove a cartridge and fire as a “weapon”.
          From a forensic ballistics point of view, this is certainly the case.
          But Browning is sobbing turned over on his face in a coffin…

  3. Very interesting, Ian. I love seeing how the non-industrialized parts of the world sometimes cope with machine maintenance and repair.

  4. I know they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I love these videos. It takes quite a bit of sweat and ingenuity to turn out something like this, especially given the time and place in which it was made. There’s also a certain Indiana Jones like thrill imagining a dusty pile of weapons, each with its own story to tell. I love it!

    • With a 0.30in bore, more like 7.35mm.

      I’m almost inclined to class this with the “Chinese warlord” type pistols, or the “guns” made in Kenya by the Mau Mau during the Emergency. Something made for a tribal headman more as a prestige item.

      As to the amount of prestige, not everybody there was sophisticated, especially in the back country. It could be very prestigious to be the only tribal leader in a given area with a “modern rifle”, when everybody else has spears at best.



      • Why would you bother going through the work of rechambering it if it is just going to be a symbolic rifle? This was obviously done by someone who wanted to use it, by altering it to take ammo that was available. Also, a ceremonial rifle isnt going to end up beat up like that. I would be curious to see the bore and what condition it is in.

        • Maybe the gunsmith who built this rifle only had an action wihtout barrel to start with? The stock and all the other small parts look handmade on a bench. Barrel coming from who kows where.

  5. If you reloaded, say, 8 mm Mauser cases with chopped movie film, improvised primers (match heads might work), and cast lead bullets swaged to fit by driving them down the bore, you might be able to fire this old iron safely — well, safely enough for warlord purposes.

    Or a very poor man might need to protect his goats from jackals, and maybe, if he was lucky, occasionally bag a gazelle.

  6. I could very easily see this rifle as a result of a Ethiopian gunsmith being handed a box or possibly bag of “Mauser Actions” and new 7.xx barrels and ’98-style stock blanks and being told to put together x number of ‘modernized rifles’ from what he was given.
    Actually it reminds me a bit of some photos of a .303 Snider bubbajob that I once seen in that it *probably* would survive the 1-3 rounds it would need to fire annually but under no circumstances could be trusted for a lifetime round count of 100+

  7. There’s something of the south Pacific cargo cults with their home made airstrip and guys sitting with home made headsets… about it

    It sort of looks like, but isn’t really the real thing.

    There are examples of mock up AKs from the Angolan independence movement, that are made from pipe, bits of scrap timber and sheet metal.

    (independence actually came with the Portuguese revolution, not because of MPLA or UNITA activities)

    I wonder whether some of the Ethiopian oddities are like those Angolan mock ups?

    To superficially look to a foreign adversary, like something more modern and effective than they really are?

    An to fool a naive conscript (and the girls too) into thinking that they’re more effective than they actually are?

  8. Modern Western ideas of ‘dangerous’ are exagerated. Just because a rifle is dangerous doesnt mean it is going to explode inevitably if you try to fire a box of ammo through it. It just means the margin of safety has been reduced to a point that modern Western society deems it unacceptable. That does not mean it is sure suicide. A person with a rifle like this is certainly not likely to use ammo extravagantly, but I bet this has fired many rounds in its life, and it obviously hasnt blown up yet. The bolt handle may be the only lug, but it is a pretty solid one, and old Mauser barrels were pretty overbuilt. I would not personally fire it, but if I was living in the bush in Ethiopia and had only this rifle to feed or defend my family, damn right I would use it.

  9. front band looks original….loop home made. rear Sight is just missing parts. the ramp was supposed to be attached at rear. Base is original. It also had another extractor added on the right. They also ground the bolt stop in a strange V shape. Definitely dangerous to shoot unless you reload for whatever it is chambered for. By no means it is an early example. E suffix is about the last 10000 made unless i find an F suffix made gun. All said… id like to see what the calibre actually they made it in.

    • To be fair, the 8x50mm Chassepots are Gras rifles (Chassepots modified for metallic cartridges), and 8mm Lebel’s rim is identical to 11mm Gras since that’s what they based it off, so converting a Gras to an M74/80/14 pattern isn’t *that* hard, nor is it dangerous.

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