Rhodesia’s First Production: Northwood Developments R76 & M77

In the mid to late 1970s, several different Rhodesian arms designers were basically racing to be the first to come to market with a domestically produced civilian carbine type weapon. Northwood Developments would be the first, designed by former RAF engineer Roger Mansfield and manufactured in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe). The weapon was intended to be a whole modular system, with a basic receiver unit which could accept any of four different barrels and either a collapsing wire stock or a fixed wood stock (or not stock at all). The barrels ranged from short pistol types to longer carbine barrels, either with or without a bayonet lug and clamp-on bipod.

The pistol configuration was introduced first as the R76, followed shortly thereafter by the M77 carbine. With the exception of prototypes made for military consideration, they were all semiauto-only guns, as required by Rhodesian law. The were chambered for the 9x19mm pistol cartridge, feeding from standard Browning High Power magazines, which Northwood manufactured in 13-, 20-, and 30-round sizes. The magazine catch is interchangeable with the Browning pistol.

In total, about 2,000 of these carbines were produced before the Rhodesian wars ended around 1980. Most remained in Rhodesian/Zimbabwe, with a few filtering into South Africa. Many thanks to the anonymous collector who generously allowed me access to these two to bring to you!

14 Comments

  1. “Improvised” SMGs on this pattern are very common with criminals who can’t afford AKs in the Far East and South America today. Either examples of this one, or at least the design specifications, apparently got a bit farther from “home” than Pretoria.

    cheers

    eon

    • The usage of such is generally “spray and pray” in the hopes of reducing cops to hamburger. Given that this tends to attract more attention (and potentially the “Cerberus” armored police in fiction), why bother shooting? And guess what I paraphrased back there…

      • Keep in mind that the “users” are low-rent criminals and gangers who get most of their ideas from bad action movies and TV shows.

        (If you think American and Western European ones stink, you should see the ones made in the Far East and Russia today. I have.)

        As such, they like homemade SMGs because

        (1) They’re cheap;

        (2) They can’t be traced;

        (3) Ammunition is easily and cheaply available, mainly from bent cops, bribable military supply officers, and of course crooked politicians and bureaucrats;

        and

        (4) They make a lot of noise and spray a lot of bullets as long as they work. Allowing them to emulate their on-screen “heroes” in real life. Including “jihadi shooting”, i.e. emptying the magazine, from the hip, in one long burst while screaming pithy things- again, just like in the movies and on TV.

        Ultimately, to them, it’s more about “cool” than “practical”. As one expert once commented, if they were more interested in the latter, they’d use shotguns.

        cheers

        eon

        • “Ultimately, to them, it’s more about “cool” than “practical”. ”
          Well, it is nothing now, for example according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_J._Guiteau
          Guiteau [assassin of 20th president of USA] went out to purchase a revolver. He knew little about firearms, but did know that he would need a large-caliber gun. While shopping at O’Meara’s store in Washington, he had to choose between a .442 Webley caliber British Bulldog revolver with wooden grips or one with ivory grips. He chose the one with the ivory handle because he wanted it to look good as a museum exhibit after the assassination.
          However in this case it was “cool” and “practical”, as showed by history, although it did not result in immediate death and then used medical practices might play role.

  2. My first though after looking at thumbnail of today movie: MAT-49, but wait what this is not French flag.

    “clamp-on bipod.”
    Interesting. Did exist other automatic pistols which could be used with bi-pod?

  3. i suppose i’ll have to ask this here as i don’t appear to be able to comment on your videos anymore, i believe you mentioned in the comments that the grip panels on the m77 were the same as the ones on the r76. was this a standard feature, or a result of end user modification?

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