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Rhodesian Cobra SMG/Carbine

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The Cobra was one of a variety of semiautomatic compact carbines designed and manufactured in Rhodesia in the latter half of the 1970s for sale as civilian self-defense weapons (primarily for rural farming families). Unlike most of these guns, the Cobra was designed as a hammer-fired, closed bolt action. It is chambered for 9x19mm Parabellum, and uses standard Uzi magazines. The action is blowback, with the hammer intended to provide additional delay to the bolt opening. In our experience with the example, however, the delay was insufficient, and empty cases showed signed of dangerously high pressure during extraction (bulges and pierced primers).

The Cobra was designed by two men, Tommy Steele and Bruce Whyte. They formed a company called Stellyte, which suffered from delays in getting production started and subsequently went bankrupt a month after the guns became available in the spring of 1977. Production was picked up by Bulawayo Armoury, and a total of about 2500 examples were ultimately produced. The vast majority have a horizontal front grip, while this very early example has a vertical front grip instead.

Many thanks to the anonymous collector who generously allowed me access to bring this one to you – and who risked his face shooting it!

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