One of the great things about collecting old guns is that there is such a huge variety out there – there’s always something new around the corner that you didn’t know about before. Scores of countries have been making and using and modifying small arms for hundreds of years, and the result is such a variety of configurations and stories that we will never know or see them all.
The most recent example for me was that of the Turkish “Orman” Forestry carbine. I know many of you folks will be familiar with these, but I’m sure they will new new to some people like they were for me. I stumbled across one while looking at various models of the French Berthier rifle, and immediately fell for both the looks and the history.
During WWII, the Turkish government wound up in possession of several thousand (between 5k and 10k) French Berthier rifles, mostly 1907/15 models, but also some Mle 1916s. There is some question as to exactly how, but the most likely explanation appears to be a shipment of arms from Syria to Iraq sent by the Vichy French at the request of Germany. After the war, Turkey found itself having problems with illegal logging of its rather valuable Circassian walnut forests, and decided that it was necessary to arm its forest ranger service. Again, details are a bit sketchy, but it appears that a decision was made to deliberately use a non-standard caliber of ammunition for these rangers, so that if their rifles were stolen they would be of limited value (like the British Enfields converted to riot police shotguns in India). Since a big pile of Berthier rifles in 8x50R Lebel were available, they were chosen for the purpose.
The rifles were cut down to a medium length, and the front band and nosecap were replaced with leftover spares from 1905 Mauser carbines (with no provision for bayonets). They were restamped with new 4-digit serial numbers, and the receivers marked “TC Orman” (“Turkish Republic Forestry”) with a 1948 date. Somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 guns were converted this way. They are still pretty inexpensive ($250-$300), because there is not much demand for Turkish arms in general. I found a nice one on GunBroker, and it should be here in a week or so, and I’m very much looking forward to shooting it. I think the length looks ideal for a rifle with good balance but not too long to conveniently carry around.
Have you had an experience finding a neat gun with a cool story? Tell us about it in the comments! (I take no responsibility for people spending too much money of neat guns they didn’t know existed before.)
Turk guns are under appreciated, in part I’m sure because of their condition, as well as the fact that most of them were something like $40-50 not all that long ago.
Ever come across one of those “En-Mauser-Fields”? that came in sometime in the 90s? Madness…..
We actually have two. One is a long Enfield and the other is a No1 Mk3. They are both converted to 8×57. You just jumped the gun on us as they are on the list to chat about.
Is the rifle still chambered for 8x50R Lebel?
I picked up a Carcano cavalry carbine that had been used by North African nomads. I picked it up for $200 (a tad steep for the bad condition) but it had some very interesting inlaid brass artwork in the stock, including an Egyptian coin under a piece of glass. I also got a Dutch M1895 cavalry carbine for $250 which is beautifully made.
Cool! Can you send a photo of the Carcano?
I’ve had a pregnant Berthier on my short list for quite some time.
Dean from Idaho
Call me weird, but I think they are very elegant rifles.
Somewhere I have a French SACM 1935A pistol that came with a story. It is not import marked and it was a Vietnam bringback. However, its markings indicate manufacture under German occupation (WaA, Nazi proofs). Its finish is so-so (gloss paint over park) and it came in a well worn Tokarev holster.
Very well made, a little jewel of a gun, but of course the ammo’s near mythical. It will actually cycle with .32ACPs with the rims turned down, but of course it’s headspacing only on the extractor which is textbook unsafe, so after one experiment I never did it again.
Given the gun’s known time/location points, there are several possible routes that got it from a factory in Alsace to a GI’s duffle bag 20+ years later to my gun room today. Basically, was it reclaimed by the French and taken by them to Vietnam (probable) or captured by the Russians and included in early dumps of captured weapons to the VC (less probable, still possible). Not the only time I’ve wondered what one of these things could say if we could get it to talk.
Nice – that is quite a trip for that pistol. The ammo does show up on GunBroker from time to time – I picked up a box worth a little while back to do a shooting video with a 1935A (and maybe someday a MAT38).
Wasn’t there an Indian conversion of the Enfield that utilized a odd gauge like 14, and had a unique priring pin system so that I could not be used if it go out of government hands?
I’ve got one of the Enfausers, a Johnson, a Winchester ’95 Russian Contract, and a .455 Colt 1917 off the top of my head. I would like a 1907 Mosin Carbine, but so far the closest I’ve gotten was finding a complete rear sight assembly in a box of misc gunparts at an auction.
My real grail is a Werder rifle. I once missed out on a Werder cavalry pistol…
Hi I just got the same rifle there, mine does have “N” mark and I having one hell of a time try to locate some ammo. Is there alternative ammo that I could use, beside reloading or pay an arm and leg to get it. Keep in mind I live in Canada, thanks.
I just bought a really nice Turkish Forestry carbine, 1907/15 Ste. Etienne, ser. 24xx. Good article above on that model variant. It has the styled “N” on the receiver. It would appear that this one didn’t fall among the rocks.
Great site Forgotten Weapons ! very net and inspiring !
French born and educated, now retired downunder, I am collecting French Service rifles Chassepot, Gras, Lebel, Berthier, MAS36, writing (time permitting) papers on them and participating in sate and national Combined Service competitions.
These days I am working on a paper on the Turkish Berthier Forestry Carbine “TC Orman 1948” …. got two of them SN 42xx and 46xx. A few things been written (not always accurate !) and many more times repeated / cut-and-paste about this Turkish Berthier carbine …..
Over the past 2 years, I have been in touch with Turkish friends, scientists and foresters (I worked many years on agricultural and forestry projects in Turkey, Syria and the region and still have many (some surviving) contacts there). They provided me with some useful info on this Turkish forestry Berthier in service in their Forestry Dept., but as the country is now facing a firm (!) grip, most Turkish friends keep a very – very low profile and now do not respond anymore.
I have been surfing the net for info, photos, to find out JUST Serial numbers. I got a total of 26 Turkish verified SN with 2, 3 or 4 digits from various sources (net, friends, etc).
Would anyone on your site have one or several of this Turkish Berthier Forestry Carbine?
– If the case, would it be possible to send me their full Turkish serial number with a photo of the serial number?The Turkish serial number appears on a) on the left side of the chamber below the “TC ORMAN 1948” and b) on the mobile bolt head (clearly visible when bolt closed)
– Any info on when, where, importer(s) were they imported in the USA (… by the mid 90ties they were advertized by Springfield Sporters at $60…)?
Thanks a lot
No News about the Turkish TC Orman 1948 Berthier ? You will find more on this unusual French Service Berthier modified by the Turkish Arsenal for their forestry guards in my book.
For collectors and shooters, I just published (September 2019) a book entitled : “A chronicle of the French Service Bolt action rifles (1866-1978) – see book review in SSAA Australian Shooters Mag – Nov 2019 – page 88 – https://ssaa.org.au/assets/australian-shooter/November_Shooter_2019.pdf
If interested to buy a copy (AUD $85) + handling and postage , contact me at MAS361945@gmail.com with your location (for postage quote)