Rifleman Q&A: Curious Semi-Automatic Mauser?

posted on May 28, 2021
Q. I was at a gun show last weekend and saw a large semi-automatic rifle chambered in 8 mm Mauser. It had a 10-round box magazine that appeared to be loaded by stripper clips. It seemed somewhat similar to an M1 Garand as it was quite well-made. I asked the seller about it, and he stated it was Belgian and manufactured by Fabrique Nationale. Could you tell me something more about this rifle?

left side line drawing rifle x-ray view parts mechanical relationship semi-automatic FN-49

A. What you saw was the FN Model 49 semi-automatic rifle. It was originally developed in the 1930s by Fabrique Nationale, shelved during the German occupation, and reintroduced after World War II. It is a gas-operated rifle that utilizes a tilting bolt-locking system quite similar to that of Soviet Tokarev rifles. The rifles are quite robust and well-made and were offered in several chamberings and variations. Although modestly successful, these rifles were obsolete by the post-World War II era, being superseded by more modern designs such as the FN FAL and the U.S. M14 rifle.

A particularly interesting and rare variant of the Model 49 is now being imported by Southern Ohio Gun [(800) 944-4867, www.southernohiogun.com]. It is an Argentine Navy Model 49 (shown above), chambered in .308 Win. and featuring a detachable 20-round magazine.

—Michael O. Humphries

This “Questions & Answers” was featured in the May 2004 issue of American Rifleman. At time of publication, "Questions & Answers" was compiled by Staff, Ballistics Editor William C. Davis, Jr., and Contributing Editors: David Andrews, Hugh C. Birnbaum, Bruce N. Canfield, O. Reid Coffield, Charles Q. Cutshaw, Charles M. Fagg, Angus Laidlaw, Evan P. Marshall, Charles E. Petty, Robert B. Pomeranz, O.D., Jon R. Sundra, Jim Supica, A.W.F. Taylerson, John M. Taylor and John Treakle.

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