The Original CETME Mars Importation

RIA’s catalog page for this rifle

The CETME Model C would be the basis for the wildly successful H&K 91 / G3 rifle, and a small batch of CETME rifles was brought into the United States as early as 1966. They were imported by the Mars Equipment Corporation of Chicago, and are completely Spanish-made examples of the original CETME. A few changes were made to the military pattern to made them semiautomatic only, and a total of 1254 were brought into the US between 1966 and 1971. They were imported in two models; the first batch had metal handguards and integral folding bipods, and the second batch had wooden handguards and no bipods. To increase their civilian appeal, they also came with a pair of scope mounting blocks on the receiver, which were not standard to Spanish military rifles.


  1. I had been said before but I hope it does not hurt to repeat. It is Ian’s ability and patience to reiterate and re-explain things said before in very effective way. I am amazed with this ability; wish to have part of it.

    Yeah, this Cetme looks quite good; high quality Germanic sheet metal work is evident. Also, the wood furniture really stands out.

    • Good wooden furniture and well done stamping on a rifle like this sounds almost like a dream nowadays. I wonder how the wood was finished… Come to think of it, does any gun maker use Urushi finish on gun stocks anymore? Or does it have to be done after-market?

      • “well done stamping on a rifle like this sounds almost like a dream nowadays”
        Whole point of stamping is to have to fast (using limiting number of production steps) repeat given shape. It could be opposed to machining given elements through high number of steps. How does looks is secondary in most military application, as long as it work as intended. Taking in account German influence it should be no surprise that highly effective method of production was used.
        Though this CETME design was sound, as proved by Spanish Armed Forces, but U.S. of 1960s proved to be not especially enthusiastic about that weapon, taking in account
        “1254 were brought into the US between 1966 and 1971”
        Give average of 209 examples imported per year, notice imported not sold (as they could be stockpiled and sold later).

        • Another reason for stamping rather than engraving etc is that stamped markings are harder to completely erase by grinding etc. Stamping causes compression changes deep in the steel, so ground-off serial numbers can often be made legible again by etching with a suitable acid.

  2. Small correction: The CETME hammer spring is similar to the AK and the AR (torsion spring), whilst the G3 hammer spring is similar to the Garand (compression spring)

  3. Ian, you mention your suspicion that one or more of the approval samples now reside in the ATF collection. Can you get access to the ATF collection like you have with government collections in several other countries? I imagine the ATF has a butt-load of very interesting weapons in its collection.

  4. I saw the Youtube video, my gun came with a 20 rd mag and this mag look like a military mag but its considerably smoother and nicer with no welds visible like the surplus mags. This gun was bought in New Jersey decades ago before they had the draconian gun laws of today and before the massive import of surplus magazines. The Ser# range is 22** range with the flash hider being a cleaner cut than the one shown in the video. It was given to me from the original buy that lived in NJ, not planning on selling it but this video sure informed me about it’s history. Thank you Ian

  5. I bought one of these from mars in 1968….with scope mounts….paid $250.00 for it…
    it was the first firearm I ever purchased…It now sets in my gunroom having fired only 5 shots thru it before putting it away…I was a young man then…am 81 now…who new they would be a collectors item..

  6. I bought one from a guy at a gun show a few years ago. Paid $700 for it. Came with three original CETME 20 round mags. Wanted one as a precursor to the H&K G3. Had no idea it would become such a collectors item. Sometimes one is just lucky.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.