Interview: Uli Wiegand of InterOrdnance on Importing Guns from Africa

Uli Wiegand is the President of InterOrdnance, and recently invited me to his facility to take a look at the first shipment from a huge batch of collectible firearms he spent 8 years working to import from central Africa. The cache includes all manner of models, including Enfields, Mausers, Carcanos, Gras, Lebel, vz52s, and much more. Amongst the bulk of standard models are a fascinating smattering of very rare and sometimes unique patterns. While the bulk of the guns will be sold through distributors, InterOrdnance will be directly selling the best and most interesting pieces themselves through their own website, InterOrdnance.com.

 

22 Comments

  1. I don’t think the country that sold them was mentioned. I assume I It has to be a country that hasn’t had a war, civil or otherwise, that was so bad anything better than a rock would have been used. The mix of guns suggests Ethiopia, but that’s not had a recent history of peace (but is so big that wiggly tin sheds full of old guns might have survived all the onslaughts until profit arrived0. My other guesses would be Kenya or Cameroon.

    • I wouldn’t necessarily assume it’s a country that isn’t threatened by war. Selling off the obsolete stuff gives cash for new stuff and clears warehouses of guns so you no longer have to guard them (remember all those STG44s in the middle east that showed up after a warehouse of obsolete arms was captured?). With the possible exceptions of VZ52 (if it was converted to 7.62×39, which is unlikely) and Mauser (which is still uncommon) everything there is in some caliber that’s a special order to get a small quantity of in the US, let alone enough to arm soldiers with in a land that likely has a few arms embargoes against it.

      • The Vz52 WAS converted to 7.62×39…I owned one (but sadly never shot it and lost it post my ’02 stroke) that version was the Vz52/57…I’d bought all the 7.62×45 that Navy arms had at the time – ca. ’93 or so – but didn’t want to shoot the rifle because I didn’t knows how to field strip it for cleaning – and I KNEW that ammo was corrosive so it stayed in my closet for about 7 years until my stroke forced me to sell it along with practically my entire collection – after I sold it to a dealer in C&R he told me it was a 52/57 and I couldda kicked my own arse…I bought the rifle from a dealer who really didn’t know what he had (IIRC for $139)…it was in almost pristine condition…the underside of the bolt had no discernible wear – nor the the magazine follower…I can’t prove it, but I think it may have been a ‘sneak’ from the ’83 Grenada operation…quite a number were captured from the Cuban ‘advisors’ and laborers caught on the island…when I was Prague in ’94 I visited Prague Castle and watched the changing of the guard…everyone was carrying a Vz52 – the mag well had been covered with sheet metal…I took pictures but the developer in Berlin buggered the film…

  2. PS. Sorry, Tanzania. Mauser’s from pre WWI, Italian as captures shipped there by the Brit’s. Warsaw Pact from it’s vague leanings towards the East/ Still doesn’t explain the French stuff though.

  3. This is going to be fun to watch what they found and the condition that it is in.
    I’d like to know where in Africa these guns were stored.

  4. Looking at the outside photo of the storage barns it’s clearly a fairly arid location. With the mixture of French, British, German, and Italian firearms my best guess is that they came out of northwest Africa (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco) and are battlefield pick-ups from WWII with a bunch of French and Italian colonial stuff mixed in.

  5. This supply of obsolete military weapons will make the United Nations small arms people squeal:
    http://unrcpd.org/conventional-weapons/poa/

    All those guns will make imposition of a One World government much more difficult. And that’s without ammunition!

    That was the good news. The better news is that if these guns are shoot-able, that will drive a market demand for ammunition to feed these rare and old guns. New Carcano clips, perhaps. A cottage industry of new spare parts.

    Who knows?

    • Forget about making a one-world government! People are too busy killing each other to submit to such an idea! Just kidding…

  6. Beware, Ian. Is this not the same Uli Wiegand whose company InterOrdnance for years sold the worst US made AK clone ever offered? I note that InterOrdnance website no longer lists AK variants among its offered products. The same Uli Wiegand who was indicted for importing machine guns and money laundering(albeit the “machine guns” were improperly demilled parts kits). Sketchy character whose company put out a lot of horrible AKs

  7. Ooooh, I’m in the market for a Carcano or five!

    Early and later extractors plus gain twist in 6.5 and hopefully a good bore 7.35 as well…

    Back in the mid 1990s I chanced onto the (shitty) tail end of a whole lot of second Siffrican war guns

    Martinis (including the Westley Richards contract Martinis), Rolling blocks, a 6.5 Norwegian model Krag from Steyr, an octagonal barrel 7mm mauser sporter…

    They’d been stored in Kenya, but they weren’t there when I saw them.

    I couldn’t manage to negotiate with the chief wog of the clan. I passed the info on to a (now sadly late) friend, who was a professional negotiator, and he couldn’t make any progress either.

    Shame.

    I think the local Scottish constabulary would get them to destroy in the end.

    My Afrikaans friends would give their eye teeth for them now.

    Kudos to anyone who can pull deals like that off!

  8. I have one of those post war Czech Mausers, (for the record, with late war stamped bands/front metal). I have no idea where it came from, and neither did the guy I bought it from. It didn’t have East German or Israeli markings, so a genuine mystery.

    Hoping some of these come to Canada via MARSTAR or one of the other distributors, as importing into Canada privately adds considerably to the cost. I missed out on a previous batch of MAS 49/56, and would love to get one, among other things.

    Based on the variety of types and countries, I suspect the source (assuming there is only one), is Kenya or Tanzania. Semi arid, so matches the pictures, and geographically located near a place where all of the various nations were represented. Djibouti and Italian Somali-land for the French and Italian, stuff, and ex-British colony for the British stuff, and just as likely a place to put captured German and Italian stuff as well.

  9. Not sure its very advisable to let prospective customers know that you’ll keep all the best guns for yourself.
    Kind of a turn off for me, not that I’m buying any. But if i knew a retailer was keeping the best examples of a particular item for himself I guess my lizard brain would say “So,I’m getting the crap?”
    I’m Sure you folks will argue the other side.

  10. Ethiopian .30-06 and 8x57mm Mauser have been on the market for some time in the U.S.A., and there was a batch of Shah-era Iranian .30-06 for all those M1 Garands and whatnot he received, which may have come from one or another Red Sea or Indian Ocean port…

    Looking at the Ethiopian FN Mausers and the early Czechoslovak Mausers “East German Border Guard contract!”—uh… yeah. As well as the Italian Carcanos and so on, I would think it was leftovers from the Haile Selassie, Derg, Eritrean vs. Ethiopian conflicts… Not exactly “Central Africa.” Then again, perhaps Niger? Or maybe even Chad? Cameroon is still another possibility.Interesting to see arms coming out of there into the surplus market. Lord knows there are rather a lot of them still there, eh?

  11. Leaning much, much more heavily to Ethiopia. Once knew an “employee of the U.S. embassy” in Addis Ababa who told me about some of the older rifles he’d encountered in that ancient land…

    Of course, Italian stuff could have emanated from Somalia and Eritrea–both ex-Italian colonies–as much as from Ethiopia’s occupation and massacre at Italian hands between 1935 and 1941. French stuff would have been Djibouti, once upon a time the French-controlled Territory of the “Afars and Issas” actually Somali clans. There was “British Somaliland” that might have contributed British pattern arms, and then again Aden is just across the Bab al Mandab straits of the Red Sea… Maybe “Central Africa” means a central part of Ethiopia, hmmm?

    The German WWI-era stuff with the Abyssinian Lion of Judah marking makes me remember the story of the Emperor of Ethiopia’s visit to Berlin where exotics like camels and so on were butchered for the feast for the huge entourage.

  12. Classic Arms has some up for sale now and this is what they said about sourcing:

    “About the Rifles. – This particular lot of rifles came to us from a surplus military arms arsenal in Ethiopia where they had been stored for decades. They are in original turn in condition which for Enfields means that that they are well used as most surplus Enfields are. That means dents, dings, scrapes, gouges, discoloration and possible small cracks in the stocks. It will also mean bluing wear ranging frm a little to a lot depending on the rifle, and we have even seen some minor surface rust on a few. Overall they are not beauty queens but virtually no original turn in condition is Enfield is. They have simply been carried all over the world and will show use and character.”

    So Ethiopia wins.

    PS $500 for a Mk4 in the above condition.

  13. I was recently watching a news programme about the Algerian war of independence.

    The French decided to arm a loyal Algerian militia, and the footage showed them being issued with rifles, which consisted of Lebels and Carcanos, neither of them exactly new even in the late 1950s.

    It seems that with European powers colonising Africa and then fighting wars and capturing each other’s weapons, it is no wonder that such stashes of arms exist. One can only hope that more turn up.

  14. Well….. I have one of these rifles. I picked it up because I spent some time in that region and have a nostalgia for the equipment used there. Here is what my impression is. The rifle I have is matching and in what I would consider good surplus condition. The rifling is in good shape but this rifle has been used and handled. It simply has a about 50 years of grime that is very easily cleaned up. The metal and wood have nice patinas and the rifle functions well. For me it is exactly what I wanted and is accurately pictured on the vendor web page. I did pay for the had select and it did include a grimy leather sling. I plan to shoot this item in about a week. Yes the price is a bit high compared to some other but value is the perception of the buyer. I wanted a FN that saw use in Africa with a cool (to me) set of markings that I can enjoy that is perfectly serviceable. Ian, if you read these comments you are more than welcome to have a going over of this one if you didn’t already during your interview or have one of your own. Cheers.

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