Staff Writer (Updated: 7/14/2015):
When the modernizing Belgian Army required a new service rifle all their own, they turned to the existing and proven German design, bypassing any lengthy, and ultimately costly, indigenous initiative in the process. The German design served as the basic framework for the Belgian offering which was slightly modified to suit Belgian Army requirements. It was this very rifle that the storied Belgian firearms concern of Fabrique-National (otherwise abbreviated as "FN" - FN Herstal) was set up to manufacture in number. FN eventually survived two world wars and continues today as one of the top firearms designers and producers in the world.
One of the principle defining features of the Belgian version of the Mauser rifle was its thin sheet steel jacket fitted over the barrel - a very unique element not common to any other Mauser mark of note. The jacket was instituted as a feature intended to maintain the effectiveness of the barrel and the wooden body over time, otherwise lengthening its service life and long-term accuracy when exposed to excessive firing and battlefield abuse. Despite this approach, the jacketed barrel proved susceptible to moisture build-up and, therefore, introduced the problem of rust forming on the barrel itself - unbeknownst to the owner. Additionally, the jacket was not perforated in such a way as to relieve the barrel of any heat build-up and proved prone to denting. As such, barrel quality was affected over time regardless of the protective measure. One last item of note concerning this design initiative was the extra steel that was required to complete these rifles - an expensive resource particularly when the rifle was expected to reach tens of thousands of Belgian troops. By many accounts, the barrel jacket was not appreciated by its operators who depended on a perfect rifle in wartime.