Israeli .303 Dror LMG

The Israeli Dror is most definitely a Forgotten Weapon, and one we are particularly interested in because of its interesting development history. The gun was adapted clandestinely from the US Johnson light machine gun, and the technical package was smuggled into the nascent Israeli state along with manufacturing tools bought for pennies on the US scrap market as arms manufacturing came to a relative standstill at the end of the war.

The first batch of Drors made in Israel were built around the .303 British cartridge, because the Haganah possessed a significant quantity of this ammunition from British occupation. However, the rimmed nature oft he cartridge did not agree with the Johnson/Dror design, and the guns were a near-complete failure. A second model was built in 8mm Mauser, which worked better (although it still fell well short of the Bren and MG34).

First pattern Dror in .303 British
First pattern Dror in .303 British (clock to enlarge)

Our interest today, though, is in that first model in .303 caliber. These guns show more of the Johnson lineage than the second pattern, with details like the side-mounted magazine and distinctive front sight. The barrel release, like the Johnson, required a cartridge or other small tool to operate, while the later pattern would have a button for use by hand alone. The bipod was also different, although the trigger mechanism and upper receivers are nearly identical. The first Drors show a lot of fairly crude welding, not surprising for an early production gun made in clandestine circumstances.

303 Dror markings
303 Dror markings

We found one of the very few existing .303 Drors in the Pattern Room collection oft he UK National Firearms Centre, and took a number of photos of it:

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(download the whole gallery in high resolution)


  1. The best book I’ve found on this topic is “The Pledge” by Leonard Slater. In it, they cover the development and masking of the Dror, as well as its designer, Carl Ekdahl. However, they never call it a Dror in the text, referring to it even in the index as “The Gun.”

    The main focus of the book is the clandestine arming of Israel in the immediate postwar years..

  2. Lots of copies of this book are available at abebooks for seriously cheap $ and even free shipping. Hope to receive my copy in a few days. Thanks for the suggestion!

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