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Turkish Orman/Berthier Carbine at the Range

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 around 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 like the story behind them, and I think the rifle handles very well (although it does kick fairly hard).

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