|Rifle||Serbian Mauser Model 1924||Manufacturer||FN and Art.Teh.Zavod|
|Action||Rotation Bolt||Barrel Length||23″|
|Magazine||5 rounds staggered||Weight||8.4 lbs|
What is popularly known as the Serbian Mauser Model 1924 is a seemingly common Mauser with a unique history.
Yugoslavia was a country born in the aftermath of WWI. On December 1st, 1918 the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was merged with the Kingdom of Serbia to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (SHS) under King Peter I. In 1929 the state was officially renamed Yugoslavia. Early on the new nation faced threats from Hungary and Bulgaria, wanting to regain lost territory, and Italy, upset over broken Allied promises to gift them Dalmatia. SHS moved into alliance with Czechoslovakia and Romania and maintained a close relationship with France as a defensive measure.
In 1941 Germany pressured Yugoslavia into the Tripartite Act. The population was furious and a military coup ousted then Prince Paul and the nation declared neutrality. German, Italian, and Hungarian forces were immediately mobilized and the country was seized in only eleven days of fighting. What followed was a brutal war of occupation and then a civil war over top. Royalist and Communist rebels within the country attacked Germans and each other. Eventually the royalists (Chetniks) began working with the Axis powers, especially Italy, and lost international support. Led by Josip Broz Tito, the Communist Partisans took the country with US/British arms and later Russian manpower and armor.
The Model 1924 Mauser Rifle was created to unify a military in disarray. Following WWI the new nation had a dizzying mix of small arms and ammunition. Previous stocks of former Turkish Mausers were sitting beside gifts of French, Austrian, Russian, and German rifles in at least six different calibers. There was even a failed deal to purchase Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk.III rifles from Britain.
After a few years with internal factions arguing over whether to adopt French or Czech arms something of a compromise was made. The SHS military decided to standardize on a single round for rifles and machine guns and were impressed by the German 7.92x57mm round. They turned to Belgium in 1925 and the Model 1924 Mauser. 100,000 rifles were purchased directly and the machinery to create more was brought into Kragujevac. By 1927 production had begun and by the beginning of WWII near one million had been produced! It’s also worth noting that the factory producing the rifle changed names after 1931 from Artillery Technical Institute (ATZ) to Military Technical Institute (VTZ). Production continued until the invasion and to some degree even after. Partisan forces managed to capture an arms plant in Uzice with full assembly equipment. The Germans were even using the plant as a cache of captured rifle components. Partisans began by assembling whatever parts were at hand, including WWI vintage German Gew.98 rifles and eventually moved to small scale production. Partisan Mausers show a pretty wide spread of different components and may well represent an entire area of study unto themselves.
Model 1924 Mausers are intermediate action Mausers with a large receiver ring and a short action. Otherwise they are mechanically identical to nearly any other Model 1898 Mauser derivative. All of them will bear the national crest on the top of the receiver. The left side of the receiver will bear either Краљевина СХС (Kingdome of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes) if the rifle was produced before 1929 or Краљевина Југославија (Kingdom of Yugoslavia) after. The left side wall will be marked by the manufacturer:
АРТ. ТЕX. ЗАВОД – Крагујевцу
(Artillery Technical Institute 1928-1931)
BOJHOTEX.ЗАВОД – Крагујевцу
(Military Technical Institute 1932-1941)
The standard gun was produced in three variations: One rifle and two carbines. All three were the same length and weight and the differences are minor. Both carbines have two sling swivels on their lower barrel band (like a vz.24). Type 1 carbines have a turned down bolt handle for cavalry. Type 2 shares the rifle’s straight bolt and were intended for artillery or engineering units. All appear to have been equipped with a copy of the Belgian M1924 long export bayonet. The Yugoslavian produced copies use a unique grip screw, feature a slightly different taper to the blade, and will bear the mark BT3. Many have been found post-war with the muzzle rings removed and some found shortened. After the war a short model 44 appeared as part of communist Yugoslavia’s exports.
Two additional models may be spotted. The first will have the standard 1924 marking on the receiver followed by ЦК “CK” and is commonly known as the Chetnik Carbine. This is completely unrelated to the “Chetnik” rebels of WWII. It was developed for special assault troops and featured an overall length of 37.6 inches. The other model is marked 1924Б or “B.” These rifles are converted Mexican Model 1912 Mausers rebarrelled and conformed to the Model 1924 pattern. 1924Б rifles were issued with converted WWI era German Gew.98 bayonets of multiple origins.
If you already own a Yugoslavian M1924 you may estimate its assembly date using a combination of the manufacturer, serial, and cypher. Rifles made in Belgium were assembled between 1926 and 1928. They are numbered 1 to 100,000 with Cyrillic letter prefixes. Confusion may arise as each prefix does not represent another restart of the serial like most other production runs we’re accustomed to. Just ignore the prefix if you want to know which of the 100,000 Belgian rifles is yours; the numbers just keep counting up. Yugoslavian domestic production is charted below. When Alexander the I was shot in 1934 Peter II rose to the throne and it appears the serial numbers started over on the rifles. To make certain of your rifle date you’ll need to find the royal cypher on the butt stock. A crown over A over I is for Alexander I. The crown over II over II is for Peter II. If you lack the cypher you may have a shot at finding the date by using the manufacturer’s marking listed several paragraphs above.
In honest truth you can get a fair feel for a Model 1924 by just firing a vz.24 or Kar98k as they are similar in weight and chamber the same round. The sights are patterned after the same German fashion as the rest. These are, however, very well built rifles that bear beautiful markings and attractive wood stocks. They often go unnoticed or under priced due to their association with the cheap and plentiful Yugoslavian Mausers M24/47 and M48 but are fine Interwar and WWII collectibles.