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FN Mauser Rifles: Arming Belgium and the World

By Dean Roxby

From Rifles to Bicycles: Well Researched Book Covers the History of the Belgian FN Mauser

Author Anthony Vanderlinden has spent more than 25 years collecting and researching FN history and products and has previously released several fine books through his own publishing company, Wet Dog Publications. The latest title (FN Mauser Rifles: Arming Belgium and the World) is the result of over seven years of research, including assistance from FN Herstal in Belgium and FN America. Also credited are many other advanced collectors. It is immediately apparent upon looking at this book that author Anthony Vanderlinden is passionate about the FN brand.

The book begins with a detailed study of the early origins of Fabrique Nationale and how a number of small companies got together in the mid-1800s to build rifles for the Belgian army. It then discusses the wide range of products produced. Besides the obvious firearms line, FN has made everything from typewriters, bicycles and early horseless carriages to license-built, Rolls-Royce jet engines. A full line of motorcycles and cars was once produced.

This section also looks at the rifle trials that preceded the adoption of the Mauser rifle. The other rifles also entered into the trials are briefly discussed too. Interestingly, the inventors behind these designs are also profiled in a three-page sidebar. These names include Francotte, Engh, Nagant, Pieper, Marga and, of course, Paul Mauser.

With the selection of the Mauser Model 1889 rifle came the need to build a factory capable of producing the 150,000 rifles required. This led to the formation of Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (National War Weapons Factory). An agreement between many small arms makers in the city of Liege, Belgium, to form a new corporation was reached in late 1888, with incorporation following in 1889. This section has many fantastic old photos of the factory, showing the rows of lathes used to produce rifles.

The book then covers the First World War and German occupation, followed by prosperity in the 1920s, the 1930s Great Depression and then WW II. The FN Herstal (Herstal...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N1 (January 2018)
and was posted online on November 17, 2017

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