Kohout & Spol 7.65mm Mars Pistol

The “MARS” pistols made in Czechoslovakia began with the “Slavia” line, designed by one Antonin Vilímec in 1920 or 1921. Those were basically simple copies of the vest-pocket Browning pistols, and were made until 1935. At that point the factory (shop?) was acquired by the Kohout & Spol company, which renamed them “Mars” and added a 7.65mm gun to the lineup. The 7.65mm was more a copy of the FN 1910, with its mainspring wrapped around the barrel. It is much like a Ruby in handling; heavy and inelegant, but functional. Production appears to have been about 3,800 between their introduction in 1937 and the end of production in 1947, with a gap from October 1942 until the end of World War Two. The company made pistol for the commercial market through 1942, but was shut down when it refused to produce guns for the German military.

Thanks to Ozark Machine Gun for loaning me this pistol! Check out his cool machine gun rental range in Missouri, and his sales on GunBroker.

17 Comments

  1. A brave factory owner there. I wonder how much of his machinery was stolen and how many of his workers were drafted by the Nazis, as well as how he fared after the Communist takeover. Compare his backbone to the leaders of FN, Radom, or any number of other European manufacturers @ the time.

    • You know that the nazi used forced labor and could use anything to force industries that seemed important for them to work ? We are speaking about a small workshop vs. a big factory- Or that the FN german occupation production was notoriously extremely ”defective” thanks to lots of sabotage acts in the FN production line like in many other nazi occuped industries

    • Mr backbencher, would you PLEASE acquire some knowledge PRIOR to going public with such remarks. The Radom factory was occupied and taken over by the Germans (appropriated by the German Reich on 4 December 1939), administered as part of the Steyr-Daimler-Puch company, and no one has any say on supplying to the Wehrmacht – the workforce was not hired, but assigned by the local German Arbeitsamt (all Poles older than 17 yo were obliged to be registered as workforce, and were assigned to work as befitted the Germans, while not reporting for work was a criminal offence and a sure way to Auschwitz). Radom pistol barrels were made in Austria, not Poland, to deny the underground a source of weaponry – but to no avail. In 1942, 150 Radom workers and their families were publicly hanged for smuggling pistols out to Polish underground, but still more pistols were stolen, so much so, that the Home Army was obliged to set up its own barrel shop to complete the pistols – how’s that for backbone, Mr backbencher?

  2. As the Ruby was a simplification of the Browning 1903 so this seems to be a simplification of the Browning 1910 — starting with no grip or magazine safety. I don’t remember if the 1910 had a separate ejector. Machining of the sights (at least the rear sight) out of the top of the slide looks to have been tricky but efficient. Beats the Ruby in simplicity as the trigger bar is one piece with the disconnector. Checkering of the slide’s nose-cap must have taken significant machine time. Better longevity than the Ruby as the sear won’t bend, leaving the internal hammer to interfere with removal of the slide. The strange narrowing of the grip toward the bottom makes me wonder if it points any near as well as a 1910. I look forward to comments or additional information from viewers with Czech expertise.

    • May be allready known but as a rememberance, FN models from 1906 to 1922 have no separate ejector… Spring forced firing pin tip works for İt, instead… Single piece trigger bar with disconnector lug, by the fact of moving back and forth, could not catch the disconnecting point as fast as separate samples giving more unsupported play for cartridge case for battery off loading situations…

      IMHO… Hammer pistols, having both strike and searage connections in the same plane, should be more favorable for makers with simplier machining and control units, than the striker versions with strike and searage parts at separate partitions ( slide and frame)… Through that fact, this striker pistol, should be started to manufacture to produce more bigger amount than this realized small quantity…

      • Just to clarify — I have heard of any number of both .25 and .32 internal-hammer Rubys, of a certain age, whose slides could not be taken down without strenuous removal of the mainspring pin. This condition results from the sear bending over time so that the hammer does not cock below the level of the frame. Result: Light strikes from insufficient cocking, and the hammer prevents the slide from being taken forward off the frame. Very hard to maintain such guns, especially with corrosive ammunition. When the Nazis took over the Unique factory in WWII, they redesigned that French Ruby equivalent with an external hammer, and the French wisely retained this feature when they recovered the factory. The model became known as the Rr51. Don’t know if this problem affected the 1903 Brownings and Colts, presumably made of better steel. All I am saying is that in this case, a striker was a better proposition for durability.

        • Very informative… Thanks… What I would like to mention, striker firing was cost saving and practical for the manufacturers having machines giving optimum tolerances under optimum control… They can make hammer pistols with same capability but with more cost… Little manufacturers would have poor tolerance machines and can not retain the needed control to obtain the optimum connections between striker which located in the slide and sear which located in the frame… lf Rubies were of striker fired, they would not even be cocked and if cocked would give auto firing or firing without pulling the trigger… IMHO…

  3. Hello, fine community of Forgotten Weapons.
    I have a question unrelated to The pistol in the video, but I figured this is the best place to ask it. The question is: can anyone recommend me a good source (preferably an Internet one) on markings of Mle 1886 bayonets. I found myself a really nice one, in good condition for a fair price, but I want to know more before I buy it.
    Thanks in advance.

  4. “(…)appears to have been about 3,800(…)”
    http://www.vhu.cz/exhibit/cs-pistole-mars-765-mm/ gives if I understand correctly enough, following value:
    YEAR – QUANTITY
    1938 – 86
    1939 – no less than 458
    1940…1942 – 1975
    1945…1947 – 1246 inside that 1114 in 1946 years
    It also states that there were minor differences between pre-1945 and post-1945 guns.

  5. Greetings fellow McCollomites, I’ve been an avid follower for years, love the content. Must say I was rather gobsmacked when Ian did this video (Kohout & Spol) on such an obscure and truly forgotten weapon – because I have one in 25 ACP! Very little info on them, so it was great to hear. Cheers from South Africa

  6. BTW, the mysterious “Mr Spol” from the “Kohout & Spol” inscription is actually an abbreviation from Spolka, meaning Company. So the manufacturer of this pistol is Kohout & Co. And futher by the way, Kohout in Czech means a Rooster, but also a Hammer (not a mallot, but a firearm hammer). A fitting name for a weaponsmith.

  7. Now, as to the Kohout vs Vilimec etc.
    The Slavia pistol mentioned by Ian was actually designed by Karel Novak of the Skoda Works in Plzen, and was manufactured by his brother-in-law, August Vilimec (read: Vilimets), a glass manufacturer of Kdyne (read: Kdeeneh), who had branched out into .25ACP pistol manufacturing in 1921. As neither August, nor his younger brother Karl, who were owners of the “A. Vilimec & Spol.” were gunsmiths, and Novak already was more profitably employed by Skoda, they hired Vaclav Kabelka to run the gun side of their business. The company was sold in 1930 to Antonin Kohout – a grain milling equipment manufacturer, of all possible professions. Kohout had inherited Kabelka with the Vilimec works, and for some time only the owner has changed, but the company went on as usual. With time, the cordial relation between Kohout and Kabelka soured, to the point of the latter moving in 1937 to another provincial pocket pistol manufacturer, Frantisek Duśek in Opoćno (DUO), and unsuccessfully trying to sue Kohout for manufacturing Mars pistol, which he claimed to have designed, along with Slavia and PZK pistols. In 1938, when after Munich partition Kdyne became a border town, Kohout tried to change the registration of the company to mirror the reality of his now 9-years old ownership, but met with a series of legal bumps, and then the Germans came. Finally he had his company registered to his name only on 5 October, 1939, and started using the name ‘Kohout & Spol.’ in 1940. In 1942 Mr Kohout has been given a ‘proposal that he could not refuse’ of entering the HWA manufacturing system, which he nevertheless has refused, claiming that as a graduate of a school of economics he is not a professional gunsmith, as was required to keep the firearms manufacturing license. So, as of 31 October, 1942, his license was revoked, and the works were ordered shut, machinery given out to more pliable partners. Of his 48 employees most were drafted as technical personnel and spent the rest of the war in Narvik, Norway, crewing the military weapons repair facility there. Augustin Kohout was not persecuted in any way for his refusal, later on he joined the Bata footwear manufacturer and supplied boots to the Wehrmacht, at the same time working for the underground Niva network (after the war, he was awarded Czechoslovak War Cross 1939 for his work, and when he resumed his pistol manufacturing, he named a model – the Kohout Niva – after that organization).
    As early as June 1945 the Kohout company applied to the Ministry of Industry for long-term lease of 25 machines from ex-German stock to recompense for the same number taken in 1942, and resumed production as Pośumavska Zbrojovka ve Kdyni (PZK) – under the same name as used by Vilimec since 1920s. The machines delivered by the Ministry, taken from German plants in Sudetenland, proved to be in much better shape than the original pre-WW1 equipment, so no one further bothered to search for them. Kohout never made much pistols, see Daweo’s post above, most were exported anyway, and in 1947 they decided to stop pistol production and branch out into Irka-brand electric washing machines production, started at a separate location. A year later the company was nationalized, with Kohout temporarily as manager, and the machines supplied by the Govt for pistol production were taken over with the pistol production plant by the CZ in Strakonice as a filial. The final batch of 1200 Mars pistols in .25 ACP was supplied for proofing in Prague on 8 May 1950, after which the machines were removed to Strakonice and the history of the Kdyne pistol plant was over.

  8. I am amazed to learn that the Germans allowed private production and sale of pistols to continue in occupied Czechoslovakia until 1942. It is a sombre thought that the Nazis trusted the Czechs more than the British government trusts its own people.

    My guess for this state of affairs would be that the Nazis thought that the Czechs could be “Aryanized” and turned into good citizens of the Reich, given time. Bohemia and Moravia were incorporated into the German Reich as protectorates, rather being straightforwardly occupied. I would imagine that the reason this state of affairs changed in 1942 would have been the assassination of Heydrich, after which the Germans decided the Czechs were Slav subhumans after all, and treated them accordingly.

    I still find it amazing that for the first three years of occupation the Germans allowed the private production and ownership of pistols to continue in the occupied Czech lands. History is endlessly fascinating.

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