Israeli 7.62mm Conversion

I was looking at a particularly nice FN Israeli Mauser the other day; one of their rifles converted to 7.62mm NATO:

Israeli FN Mauser in 7.62mm NATO
Israeli FN Mauser in 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:

Israeli FN Mauser converted to 7.62mm NATO in June 1958
June 1958, stamped right there 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:

German K98k converted to 7.62mm by Israel in 1956
German K98k converted to 7.62mm by Israel in 1956 (photo from 8x57mauser on GunBoards.com)

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…

23 Comments

  1. It might have had to do something with their supply situation on 8 mm Mauser rounds. While those were still produces in the eastern block, the Soviets switched from supporting Israel to supporting Egypt. So their choice was either to start their own manufacture of an obsolete caliber or go for the up-and-coming new NATO cartridge. Plus the rework gave them the opportunity to scrub all the German markings of the rifles.
    I used to have a “factory new” rework that never made it to the US, still regretting not having it imported. Best looking surplus rifle I’d ever seen.

  2. Today is 27th of Tishrei, 5774 in the Hebcal Jewish calendar, which is used for all official Israeli dating. The 6-58 marked Israeli Mauser was probably converted in 1997 AD. Here is a link to a date converter:

    http://www.hebcal.com/

  3. I’ve got a nice Izzy Mauser (a .dou receiver)…good condition, most likely a bring back – not import marked and NOT one of the Central American pieces of junk with a sewer pipe bore…nice rifle and a wonderful piece of history!!! 7.62 deeply engraved/burned into the toe of the stock.

    CB in FL

  4. I’ve read somewhere that at that time the Israeli’s were importing lipsticks with brass casings to convert to cartridges too, necessity being the mother of invention ;P

      • Much much earlier in Israeli terms. The lipstic casings thing(which i think were not actually lipstic casings just marked that way) were used by the clandestine arms manufacturing facility near Rehovot. Specifically, the underground factory produced 9mm rounds for Sten sub machine guns. Stens were also made in secret workshops(you can imagine the sten being essentially a pipe with a spring is much easier to produce than other firearms). here are some pictures of the museum at the site:
        http://www.shimur.org/Ayalon-institute/Galleries/429

        If you ever come to Israel and want to visit it just ask your tour guide to go to Machon Ayalon near Rehovot.

    • I don’t remember if the lipstick casing was part of the book or not, but if you run across a 1971 paperback called “Forged in Fury” by a CBS/ Newsweek/ BBC journalist named Michael Elkins (he was also with the OSS and was involved with running guns to the Haganah in 1947) it’s a fascinating read about the soon-to-be Jewish state’s simultaneous hunt for Nazi war criminals (in 1946 several hundred SS/ Gestapo types in a POW camp in Germany died from extra-arsenic bread) and arms for the war everyone knew was coming as soon as independence was declared. Because of an international embargo, it was quite a smuggling operation. And a surprising amount of Nazi weapons wound in Israeli hands, since Europe was knee-deep in them. Not just Mausers and MG-34s; the Me-109 was a mainstay of the Israeli air force in the early days. But there were incredible amounts of no-longer-needed weapons all over the place; I remember a bit from “Forged” about a Jewish-American “scrap dealer” (i.e., Israeli procurement agent) finding a literal mountain of air-cooled .30 and .50 Browning machine guns rusting in the rain in Hawaii that he picked up for scrap prices and smuggled into the Med.

      • These were not Me-109s for the simple reason of there never being an aircraft of that designation. There used to be only Messerchmitt Bf-109s, as these were manufactured by the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke, hence the acronym. It was only later into the war that Bf designs were re-named to “Me”, to honor Willi Messerchmitt, the designer: but these were likes of Me-210, Me-410, Me-163 or Me-262, and not 109s – and 110s for that matter. Now to the Izzy 109s – these were not ex-Nazi planes, but in fact Czechoslovak Avia S-199s, aka Mezek (Czech for mule, but in this case an obvious wordplay at Messerchmitt; NB, the official Hebrew name was Sakeen, meaning knife – which is another wordplay, as knife is “Messer” in both German and Yiddish, and the designer’s name means “knifemaker” – literally “knifesmith” – in English). These were fuselages of the Bf-109G built at Avia plant in Czechoslovakia from German plans and with left-over jigs and tools, then re-fitted with Junkers Jumo-211F motors and He-111 propellers, which were a lot less effective than the DB-605 powerplant and fighter propellers used on initial Avias S-99s, which were full genuine Bf-109Gs assembled for Czechoslovak Air Force in 1946. When Israel contacted Czechs for military assistance (100s of Haganah instructors were trained in Czechoslovakia, which also delivered most of the ex-Nazi weapons used in 1948), only the Jumo motors were still available and Mezeks were bought to equip the IAF. Read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avia_S-199

  5. I remember a large amount of these being sold in New Zealand in the early 80s. Similar condition as pictured above. Really wish I got brought one looking back.

  6. I’ve got a really nice one of these with a DOT 1945 receiver, which I believe indicates it was early postwar Czech manufacture. It definitely came straight from Israel to the United States, without getting rusted out in Central America first like so many did. Even still has a little yellow sticker with Hebrew text on the stock.

  7. I picked one of these up in the late 1970s. It had a German byf code dated 1944. The unusual aspect was that a German waffenampt was still present and a star of david was stamped just under it. Usually when Israeli armorers encountered these swastikas markings they were ground off. Israeli mothers didnt want their kids carrying “chekies” with Nazi markings. I guess they missed this one.

  8. I have a Israeli Mauser with the 7.62 caliber burned into the but. All serial numbers match with original cleaning kit with matching serial number as well. Can anyone tell me what it may be worth.

  9. I have some variant of an Israeli K98k. It’s a 9-58 date and British Nitro Proof’d on the bolt, receiver, and barrel. What’s curious is it is a Colombian recce, and bolt is bent like a M48, not a k98k. Overall it was in exceptional condition when I got it.

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