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Arming the Lion of Judah: Ethiopian FN Mauser Rifles & Carbines

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In 1930, Haile Selassie I became Emperor of Ethiopia (aka Abysinia), and would rule for almost 45 years, with a brief exception when the country was occupied by fascist Italy. During that time, he paid particular attention to Ethiopia’s military strength. As part of his coronation celebration he toured Europe, including the factory works at FN in Belgium. Selassie developed a good relationship with the Belgians, and in the mid 1930s he would place several orders for arms and equipment from FN (and also hired Belgian military advisors to help train his army). In particular, Ethiopia purchased 17,500 FN Model 1930 rifles and 7,500 Model 1930 carbines, which we are looking at here.

The Ethiopian guns are basically identical mechanically to standard 1898 Mausers. The Ethiopian carbines are unusual in not having side mounted sling attachments, and they have a unique serial number placement. In order that the numbers could be read while the guns were in racks, the serial numbers are in very large numerals on the receiver bridge, not alongside the chamber as typical. Both rifle and carbine also have a distinctive Ethiopian crest on the receivers. Because Ethiopia did not have the technical expertise to proof the guns themselves, they hired the Belgian military to do so on their behalf; a service that FN and Belgium offered at the time.

Thanks to InterOrdnance for giving me access to these rifles to bring to you!

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