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Infantry Model 1889 (Belgian Mauser) Bolt-Action Service Rifle (1889)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 7/14/2015

The Model 1889 was nothing more than the proven German Mauser modified to suit Belgian Army needs.

The Belgian Model 1889 "Mauser" became the first bolt-action service rifle of the Belgian Army. It was based on the proven Mauser design originally brought about by brothers Paul and Wilhelm Mauser of Germany. The design went on to become one of the most famous family of bolt-action service rifles of its time (perhaps even of all time) and formed the basis of many forthcoming bolt-action-based long guns to follow. Many foreign national long guns simply borrowed (or illegally copied) the proven "Mauser" action and were often times designated with the Mauser name as an additional identifier despite their true country of origin. The first German Mauser became the Model 1871 "Infanterie Gewehr" while the more popular Mauser Model 1898 (or "Gewehr 98") became the primary service rifle of the German Army in World War 1. The Model 1898 formed the basis of the World War 2-era Karabiner 98K (or "Kar 98K") carbine series - the last major Mauser rifle adopted by the German Army.

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.

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Specifications for the
Infantry Model 1889 (Belgian Mauser)
Bolt-Action Service Rifle

Country of Origin: Belgium
Manufacturer: Fabrique National / State Arsenals - Belgium
Initial Year of Service: 1889

Overall Length: 1295 mm (50.98 in)
Barrel Length: 780.00 mm (30.71 in)
Weight (Empty): 8.82 lb (4.00 kg)

Caliber*: 7.65x53R Belgian Mauser
Action: Manually-actuated straight-pull bolt; repeating
Feed: 5-round integral box magazine
Muzzle Velocity: 2,000 ft/sec (610 m/sec)
Rate-of-Fire: 8 rounds per minute
Sights: Iron front and rear

* Listed caliber(s) for firearms may be model dependent if more than one model type/chambering was produced. Always consult official manufacturer's information or a licensed dealer.

Infantry Rifle Model 1889 - Base Service Rifle

Civil Guard Rifle Model 1889 - Turn-down bolt handle; revised bayonet mountings (for different bayonet).

Gendarmerie, Foot Artillery & Fortress Troops Carbine Model 1889 - Shortened/lightened carbine model for mounted specialist troops; turn-down bolt handle; standard infantry bayonet.

Garde Civique Rifle Model 1889 - Turn-down bolt handle; issued to bicycle Civic Guard units.

Cavalry Carbine Model 1889 - Lightened short carbine model for mounted troops; sans bayonet mountings.

Mounted Gendarmerie Carbine Model 1899 - Based on Cavalry Carbine Model 1889 for mounted police; bayonet mountings; revised stock.

Infantry Model 1936 - Modernized Model 1889 rifles; limited production.