I was looking at a particularly nice FN Israeli Mauser the other day; one of their rifles converted to 7.62mm NATO:
I was admiring the condition (much better than the one of these I have in my own collection), when the owner suggested that I take a closer look at the date stamped on the barrel:
Yeah, it’s stamped 6-58…June of 1958. That means the Israelis were really on the cutting edge deciding to make these conversions! The 7.62x51mm cartridge was only formally adopted by NATO in 1954, and by June of ’58, the US still didn’t have any production rifles chambered for it. The M14 was adopted in late 1957, and deliveries of the first production batch didn’t begin until July of 1959.
Here’s another Israeli Mauser (this one a German-made K98k) with an even earlier conversion date, March of 1956:
The speedy action on making these conversions says a lot about the agility of a small and young military force like the IDF, when compared to the bureaucratic inertia of a force like the US Army…