By Dan Shea
While in Serbia recently, I had a couple of interesting meetings, one of which was with the Yugoslav small arms author, Branko Bogdanovic. He has just finished a definitive work on the Yugoslav Mausers, and it is being translated into English and published in the US very soon. Considering the prominence of these military rifles in the surplus collector/shooter community, I thought we should give a “head’s up” to the readers. Branko told me a couple of things; first, they are having “Mauser Day” on June 15 in Belgrade, and second, he debunked a new urban myth that is being told to the US market. It seems that some unmarked Mauser rifles were referred to as “BO” and this was taken to mean “Bosnia” for manufacture. In fact, the “BO” stands for Bez Oznake, meaning “Without Markings” in Serbian. These were actually made at Zastava Arms in Serbia during Tito’s rule, and were made unmarked for various clandestine foreign contracts. This is something that no one could know unless they did factory interviews. I just wanted to pass this on to SAR’s readers, to keep the record straight.
The April EXA show in Brescia, Italy was a bit of a blow-out regarding small arms. Manufacturers were not displaying their newer military products aside from a few SIG rifles and a couple of sniper rifles. I did see some unusual items in the surplus and deactivated firearms sections of the show. The usual items were there, but there were some amazing selections of 19th Century military firearms and it appeared as if every U.S. model was represented to the collectors. There was one MP44 in nice shape (€5000, about $6,500 USD), a Beretta Model 18/30 semi-automatic rifle - the bastard child of the Villar Perosa (€5,500, about $6,750 USD), some SIG 551 Sniper rifles (not priced) and a very nice 1954 Soviet era Stetchkin Machine Pistol (APS) with the red bakelite stock (not priced). This is the first show I have attended in the last few years that I would not recommend to the small arms community. If you are a hunter or sport shooter, this was a great show, but for our interests, just an interesting walk-through. Brescia is the traditional home of the Italian Arms industry, dating back to the Fifteen Hundreds, and there were certainly a lot of impressive shotguns and rifles there; just not enough of the modern military items to make it worth the trip or a full article in SAR. It was not a bad show, and after all, it was advertised as a sporting show.
In this issue we have an introductory article on the NFA TCA, the new Trade and Collectors group that has been started to protect our interests as a community. It is critically important that everyone from the large defense contractors to the private collector support this group. We all have a vested interest in the health and productivity of the National Firearms Act Branch, ATF. The better they are able to be, the better service we will all get. We also need to have an NFA Procedures Manual so that we are all on the same page, all the time. Please give this more than a cursory glance, and consider joining this activist Trade and Collectors association.
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