The History and Rifles of Bulgaria from 1878 to 1990



 

by Dan Reynolds with the valued assistance of Mr. A. Giurovski
The history of Bulgaria, and the rifles it used from 1878 to 1948, is closely entwined with that of its Balkans neighbors.  Going back in history, two major empires emerged and absorbed it, and in our time yet a third, Soviet Russia did so to the Bulgarians .

The history of the Balkans is complex and over layered with conflicting claims, interpretations and aspirations.  Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians, Macedonians, Serbs, Croats, Slovenes and other groups have basic disagreements as to actual events, even as to what ethnic group given communities of people belong.  As long as the Balkans were subjugated to an alien empire such as the Ottoman or Soviet/Communist, these quarrels were submerged.  As the 19th Century dawned the Ottoman Empire was decaying and preparing to die.  Ethnic nationalism was rising among the subject people.  Many of the ethnic groups were Bulgarians inter mixed with others of the Balkans.  This is especially true of the area known as Macedonia.  As this article deals with Bulgarian rifles, its view point is from the Bulgarian perspective as most of the information is derived from their sources.

The Bulgarians are a Slavic people.  The Slavs moved into the Balkans fairly late in history. The Roman Empire had previously subjugated the earlier Balkan peoples, including the Greeks whom called themselves the "Hellenes".  It was the Romans who gave them the name "Greeks". After the Roman Empire split into the Western and Eastern Empires, the Eastern Emperor was based in Byzantium, later known as Constantinople, then Istanbul.  The Eastern or Byzantine Empire was a cosmopolitan mixture of ethnic groups speaking various languages, but the dominant culture was Greek.  By the Seventh Century, Greek was made the official state and religious language.

At this time the Empire was in decline and the Bulgarians moved into the areas they now occupy, establishing a Bulgarian state, on lands formerly under Byzantine control, in 681.  The Empire tried by various means to take back control of the areas and a struggle went on between them and the Bulgarians   until the Eleventh Century.  On October 6, 1014, the Byzantine Emperor Basil was given the title "Slayer of Bulgarians "  or Bulgaroctone, after he ordered the blinding of 15,000 Bulgarian troops, captured in battle.  In the year 1018, Basil annexed Bulgaria to the Eastern Roman Empire where it remained from 1018 to 1187. The Bulgarians fiercely resisted Byzantine domination.  A number of revolts finally led to a newly independent Bulgaria, in the area between the Balkan Range and the Danube River, by 1187.

Eventually, the Ottoman Turks conquered the Byzantine Empire and all of the Balkans.  Over the course of several centuries, the various ethnic groups became mixed in certain areas of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans.  Turks and converts to Islam were in a privileged position in the various provinces.  As the 19th Century dawned, a sense of nationalism began to reassert itself among the various ethnic groups under Turkish rule.  The Greeks and Serbs were able to win their own states, but many communities of these peoples were still in areas of mixed nationality under Turkish rule.  The Bulgarians increasingly began agitating for their own independent state. Resistance groups were organized and arms were purchased from corrupt Ottoman officials or smuggled in from Greece where obsolete rifles could readily be purchased.

An uprising in April of 1876 was brutally crushed by the Turkish regular army and by bashibazouk (Turkish militia).  Around 29,000 Bulgarians perished during the revolt. The Constantinople Conference, beginning in 1877 at the demand of Russia, was attended by Russia, Germany, England, France, Austria Hungary, Italy and Turkey.  It tried to work out a compromise, but failed. Russia declared war on Turkey on April 12, 1877.

The Russians underestimated the forces required to defeat the Ottomans.  At the first battle of Plevna, Turkish forces defeated the Russian steam roller in an episode that marked the first mass use of repeating rifles by one side.  The Turks, used large numbers of Winchester Model 1873 .44-40 muskets to break the Russian advance.  Eventually with, with heavy reinforcements and the help of Bulgarian volunteers both in the Russian Army, armed with the Chassepot M1870 needle rifle, 11mm, later during the conflict with the Snider M1866 of 14.5mm, but also as independent national units, and partisan rangers, the will of the Turks was smashed.  At San Stefano near Constantinople on 3 March 1878, The Treaty of San Stefano was imposed on the Ottomans.  An autonomous Bulgarian state was established including all Bulgarian lands in the geographical areas of Macedonia, Moesia and Thrace.  Large numbers of modern Turkish issue rifles were captured including the 11.43mm Peabody, Peabody-Martini M1872,11.43mm and M1873 .44-40 Winchesters along with stocks of ammunition.  Many of these rifles passed into the individual hands of Bulgarian peasants. Under the Ottomans, only Moslems had been permitted to have firearms.  This was to have a profound effect in later years.

Britain and Austro-Hungary objected to this settlement.  Since before the Crimean War England had regarded Russia as a rival in imperialism and had sought to limit Russian expansion.  An ally of the Ottomans for this reason, Britain objected to the expansion of Russian influence at the expense of Turkey and wanted to prevent Russia having a port with access to the Mediterranean Sea.  Austria had an agreement with Russia signed before the war in effect giving an OK for Russia to attack Turkey, which stated that no new large state would be created as a result of the war.  The European powers supported limiting the losses of Turkey and imposed the Treaty of Berlin on Bulgaria.

The Berlin treaty decreed that the Bulgarian people were to be divided into three parts.  The northern Bulgarian land (Moesia) was made the principality of Bulgaria, the Prince subject to the Sultan.  The other lands with Bulgarian populations were returned to the Ottomans. Eastern Rumelia, in Thrace, was made an autonomous province, with an Orthodox governor, under the rule of the Turkish Sultan.  Macedonia and part of Thrace were returned to direct Turkish rule. Britain was given the island of Cyprus as a payoff for its role.

As a result of the establishment of an autonomous principality of Bulgaria in Northern Rumelia, a "Czar" was selected.  A German prince was chosen, Alexander of Battenberg (a nephew of the CZAR of All the Russians).  General Casimir Erenroth, a Finn in the service of Russia, organized the Bulgarian army.  Russia supplied newly made Berdan 2 rifles of the latest pattern with the long range sights.  This combined with the excellent .42 or 10.67x58mmR cartridge was perhaps the finest infantry weapon of the time.  These rifles were marked with the crest of Alexander of Bulgaria which incorporated the letter "A". This was the M1880 Berdan carbine and rifle.  Russia had previously supplied the old Russian M1869 15.2mmR Krnka rifles to arm Bulgarian volunteers during the war, and later to arm the army before delivery of the Berdan rifles.  Some early Model 1870g Russian issue Berdans were also supplied with the Krnka's.  Additionally, captured Turk rifles were in held in inventory, from then until WW1 the Bulgarians followed the Russian army model except in the matter of rifles when after 1890 they opted for the Mannlicher.

An Artillery Arsenal was established at Rousse in 1878 to support the new Bulgarian Army. In 1891 the arsenal was moved to the nation's capitol and became the Sofia Artillery Arsenal. In 1924 the Arsenal was again moved to Kazanlak and was known as the State Military Factory.  This arsenal/factory was the center for small arms repair and rebuilding in Bulgaria.

On September 18, 1885 a coup d'etat in the disputed Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia led to war between Serbia and Bulgaria.  The Eastern Rumelian allies of Bulgaria's Liberal government, with the approval of Prince Alexander, staged a bloodless coup and declared the unification of the two entities.  Turkey accepted the fact, but Russia had not granted permission, so Czar Alexander III ordered the withdrawal of the Russian officers and advisers in the Bulgarian army.  The 1878 Treaty of Berlin was upset and Serbian Prince Milan demanded that areas of the province with ethnic Serbs be ceded to Serbia.  An international conference was called to mediate, but failed to resolve the matter and Serbia declared war.

On 17 November, the Serbian Army, with Russian support, invaded Bulgaria. On 19 November, the Bulgarians repulsed the Serbian invasion force and a week later the Bulgarian Army moved into Serbia. On March 3, 1886, The Treaty of Bucharest concluded the Serb-Bulgarian war, re-establishing the prewar Serbian-Bulgarian border but leaving Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia united. As a result of this action, Serbian Mauser Koka M78 rifles, as well as Turkish Snider, and more Peabody, and Martini rifles came in to inventory along with .44-40 Winchesters M1873. See "http://www2.arnes.si/~ljmuzejnz/winches.jpg"http://www2.arnes.si/~
ljmuzejnz/winches.jpg for a photo of the Winchester Musket described. In 1887 Prince Alexander was forced to abdicate by Russian opposition and replaced by Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, grandson of Louis-Philippe of France. In July 1887 Ferdinand was elected prince by the Grand National Assembly.

The Bulgarian Army recognized the need for a smokeless powder magazine type rifle in 1887. In 1890, the Austrian Mannlicher M1888 straight pull bolt action 5 shot repeater firing the 8x50mmR black powder version of Austrian Mannlicher 8mm cartridge was ordered. Deliveries were soon changed to the smokeless powder cartridge M88/90 rifle.  Both models used the same 5 round en bloc clip which was loaded into the Mannlicher magazine as a unit as with the later U.S. M1 Garand rifle.  The Model 1888 rifles were upgraded to Model 88/90 standard by affixing sight base plates with graduations for the smokeless 8x50mmR cartridge.  The new Austrian Mannlicher M1895 made at Steyr was contracted for in 8x50mmR smokeless about 1897.

Weapons appear to be M90 Mannlicher
 In the early years of the 20th century this Mannlicher design was modified and improved by Bulgarian experts.  This was the Model 1903 Mannlicher.  A contract was given to the FEG plant in Hungary for production of the improved BG Mannlicher, but it seems that many are found marked "Steyr" indicating that actual production for many of the rifles was at the Austrian arsenal, at that time the largest small arms factory in the world, or that Steyr supplied FEG with parts such as the receiver which were then made into rifles by FEG at Budapest.

Agitation for union with the Bulgarian state smoldered in parts of Macedonia peopled by Bulgarians still under Ottoman control.  A revolutionary organization was formed, the "IMRO", or Internal Macedonian Resistance Organization.  It organized resistance to Turkish rule, began forming a militia system, purchased and smuggled in arms, conducted agitation and propaganda and engaged in active measures to bring in money and bring the population under the control of its committees.  It assassinated police and Ottoman officials and committed acts of sabotage as it plotted an uprising.

At the 20th Century dawned, the Bulgarians decided that force was the only recourse. Bulgaria had developed one of the finest armies in Europe.  It was well trained and armed with excellent magazine rifles using the modern, smokeless 8x50mmR cartridge.  Its soldiers were well motivated with a patriotic zeal to liberate their Bulgarian brothers still under Ottoman rule. Bulgaria began a search for allies to take on the dying Ottoman Turk Empire.

In 1903 an uprising broke out in Macedonia against Ottoman rule.  The IMRO and other revolutionary groups were involved.  There are many different ethnic groups in Macedonia. Bulgarians and Macedonians (a group closely related to the Bulgarians and at one time virtually indistinguishable from them to many observers...this is a very loaded political issue today) constituted the major ethnic groups involved. Most Greeks, Serbs, and Vlachs (Romanian ethnics) did not join in the revolt, but some did.  The ethnic Greeks were armed mainly with the French designed, Steyr made 11x59mmR M1874 Gras rifles used by the Greek Army before the adoption of the 8x50mmR M1894 Mannlicher by Greece.

The shock force was said be called the "Death Squads".  According to Bulgarian sources these were armed with about 4,000 rifles.  A small number were modern Mannlichers, the rest were various black powder rifles of types mentioned in this article, and even included muzzle loaders from the Crimean War of 1856.  The revolt was put down with great severity.

In 1908, taking advantage of the "Young Turk Revolt" which deposed the Sultan in Istanbul, Bulgaria declared its full independence and became a kingdom.  From 1878, it had been an independent principality under the Ottoman Empire's suzerainty, although the throne was occupied by the "CZAR", an old Bulgarian term for King/Emperor.

Russia would seem to be Bulgaria's natural ally.  However, Russia did not want war with Turkey at this time.  It wanted an alliance with the Orthodox Balkan States directed against the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Additionally, Serbia and Greece had claims on large areas of Thrace and Macedonia which Bulgaria felt were hers.  The population of these disputed lands contained many ethnic groups and were united only in the desire to throw off Turkish control. Of course the Moslem residents and even other groups such as the Jews did not share this goal.

The First Balkan War: Despite this, an alliance was concluded with Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece.  A general mobilization of the Bulgarian army was decreed on the 30th of September 1912.  Some 30,000 men from Macedonia whom had served in the Bulgarian army went to their assigned military units.  Other Macedonia Bulgarians were formed into a volunteer corp. The Balkan League, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro went to war with the Ottoman Empire on 18 October of 1912.  In a grave strategic error, the Bulgarian army began a costly frontal attack toward Istanbul, the Ottaman capital.  The Serbs, Greeks and Montenegrans launched their campaign against weaker forces in areas which contained disputed lands and thus at the successful conclusion of the war would control on the ground the actual spoils.  On Feb. 7, 1913 the Turks lost 5,000 men in a battle with the Bulgarian army in Gallipoli.  By December the Turks were beaten.  At a peace conference in London the Balkan Allies demanded that Turkey withdraw from all lands in Europe, with the exception of a narrow strip along the Bosporus.  The Turks declined, but after the Bulgarian army seized the fortress of Edirne, the Turkish government sued for peace accepting the demands for most of its European lands.  The ORIM had provided valuable help during this conflict.

The Second Balkan War: The Serbs and Greeks held most of the lands that the Bulgars had wanted at wars end.  They announced that the spoils should be divided based on whom had captured what.  The Bulgarians asserted that the land should be divided on the basis of ethnic affinity. Macedonia was a focal point of conflict.  The Greeks and Serbs had their own quarrel over spoils, but stood united against Bulgaria.  The Serbs and Greeks hoped that Romania would side with them to satisfy her claims against Bulgaria on the northern border. On 16 June 1913 the Second Balkan War broke out.  The Czar of Bulgaria ordered an incident to provoke the erstwhile allies.  At first the Bulgarians did well, but then the Romanians attacked from the north and the Turks from the southeast, the Bulgarians were done.  By the treaty of August 1913, Dobrudja, to the northeast of Bulgaria was given to Romania and other land was lost.  Bulgaria was allowed to retain only small sections of Thrace and Macedonia which it had won as spoils in the previous war.  Two million Bulgarians would have to remain under foreign rule.

WW1: At the outbreak of war, Bulgaria maintained a neutral stance while it considered its options.  The"Entente", ("the Allies") England, France and Russia were allied to Serbia and would not promise any redress to Bulgarian losses in the Second Balkan War.  The "Central Powers, Germany and Austro-Hungary promised to award all Bulgarian claimed lands to her and some additional spoils as a bonus.  It was a difficult decision for a nation which had lost so much in men, arms and land as a result of the last war.  The wrong choice now would have awesome consequences.  Bulgaria was extremely short of serviceable rifles after the two Balkan wars.  The Central Powers provided large numbers of captured Mosin Nagant M91 Rifles in 7.62x54mmR.

In the fall of 1915 Bulgaria attacked Serbia, causing the collapse of Serbian resistance to Austro-Hungary.  The Serb Army retreated across the mountains southward to a haven offered by her Allies.  Marching on Thessaloniki, the Bulgarians swept away French and British divisions sent to help the Serbs. Thessaloniki, the major Allied base in the Balkans was facing collapse.  Invoking its desire to respect Greek neutrality, the German High Command ordered the Bulgarian advance halted.  Bulgarians have since pointed out that by halting the advance and possible destruction of the Allied foothold in the Balkans and the remnant Serbian Army, the Germans kept almost a 1,000,000 Allied troops tied up in southeast Europe and away from the critical Western Front and the Bulgarians holding the line from the Aegean Sea to Albania against them.

The initial successes in the war netted the Bulgarians large numbers of booty rifles and fair stocks of ammunition for them.  Included were British SMLE Mk.3 Enfield Rifles in .303 calibre, French M07 and M07/15 Mannlicher-Berthier Rifles in 8mm Lebel calibre, all types of Serbian rifles in 7x57mm such as the Mauser M99C, M99/8C, M10C, older Mauser Koka M78/7C, rifles Russia had supplied to the Serbs such as the Berdan 2 M70g in 10.66mm and Mosin Nagant M91 in 7.62x54mmR, various Turkish rifles, Mausers in 7.65mm captured by Serbia during the Balkan Wars such as the, the M90, M93, M03 and M05, the older Mauser M87 in 9.5x60mmR, Snider rifles and carbines in .577, Martini and Peabody rifles in .450, the Winchester M73 in .44-40, as well as former Bulgarian and Austro -Hungarian Empire Mannlichers which the Serbs had previously captured including the M88/90, M90, and M95 in 8x50mmR.

Now, however, the war bogged down into a positioned, trench style struggle.  The French rebuilt the Serbian Army and re-equipped it with French rifles, chiefly the M07/15 model. The Bulgarians held on despite the fact that the Allies were better armed and supplied. Romania entered the war against the Central Powers in the fall of 1916.  The Bulgarians, faced with a war on two fronts, had to move the crack Third Army to meet the threat from the northeast.  In addition to the Romanian troops armed with the Mannlicher turnbolt rifle M1893 in 6.5x53mmR, Russia committed several divisions armed with the M91 Mosin Nagant and captured M95 Austro-Hungarian Mannlichers in 8x50mmR.

Despite the odds, within two months the Bulgarians smashed the new opposition, once again gaining valuable booty in the form of rifles and ammunition.  Early in December, the Bulgarians, and several German units, took Bucharest, the Romanian capitol, and advanced to the line of the River Seret before digging in to face the Russians on the defensive.  The war would last almost two more years, but the Central Powers would decline more rapidly in strength due to the Allied blockade of vital imports, and food shortages due to the
mobilization of so many men for war service that farm production declined disastrously.

Over 900,000 men were mobilized for the Bulgarian forces during the war.  Arming them all was not an easy task and captured rifles had to be used whenever possible. On September 27, 1916 Greece declared war on Bulgaria. In 1917, Greece entered the war on the Allied side, and so Mannlicher Schonauer Model 1903 and M1903/14 rifles and carbines in 6.5x54mm Greek were captured by the Bulgarians.  Additionally, Greek Mannlicher M94 (M88/90) rifles were taken and re-issued.  During the course of the war, Mosin Nagant M91 rifles were the chief type acquired by Bulgaria.  In addition to rifles of this type captured from Russia and Serbia directly, both Austria and Germany supplied rifles and ammunition they had captured to their Bulgarian ally.  The French M07/15 Mannlicher Berthier was the next most numerous type.

By September 1918 Bulgaria was still holding out, but grave social unrest similar to that which caused revolution in Russia 11 months before was boiling.  Hunger was stalking the land. The Allies launched a major double envelopment attack against the Thessalonika front, but the Bulgarian Army smashed the wing composed of Greek and British troops.  A planned counter attack led to a mutiny of some Bulgarian troop units in Macedonia.  Whole division left the front and marched on Sofia, the Bulgarian capitol to overthrow the government and CZAR.

In the meantime, the government a sought truce with the Allies.  An armistice was concluded in Thessaloniki on On 29 September 1918 as the revolutionary troops were marching on the capitol, an armistice was arranged with the Allied powers.  The Bulgarian Army had to withdraw to its prewar positions.  The mutineers, poorly organized and disciplined, were defeated by loyal troops and German divisions on 2 October 1918.  The Czar Ferdinand was forced to abdicate in favor of his son Boris.  A peace treaty was imposed in November 1919 at Neuille, outside Paris.  Once again, Bulgaria lost land, was forced to deliver most of its livestock, pay huge reparations and limited to a volunteer army of 30,000 men.  An armed national police/ border guard force of 3,000 men was allowed. No more than 33,000 rifles were permitted.

Many rifles were hidden away, along with other small arms in the postwar period.  The Bulgarian Mannlichers remaining in serviceable condition were issued to the volunteer army.  A "Trudovaks" (Compulsory Labor Corp) was established as a form of national service to train manpower without arms and various other schemes initiated to enhance the defense potential.  As the 1920's and 30's advanced, the military strength was built up until, by 1936, the army was up to 10 divisions.  The "Balkan "Entente", that was those Balkan nations allied with France: Yugoslavia, Romania, and Czechoslovakia, agreed to this in 1938 in the Treaty of Salonika.  The Bulgarian Army followed the German pattern as a model, in so far as was possible given the limited resources available.  In 1939, 8 more divisions were formed. Arming all these new soldiers with small arms was a problem.

In 1927, the M27 Madsen LMG in 8x50mmR was purchased to provide a mobile platoon automatic weapon. In 1938 and 1939, Germany sold the Bulgarians ex-Austrian 8x56mmR Mannlicher rifles which had been reworked in the early '30's for the former Austrian Army ( now incorporated into the Wehrmact).  Apparently two patterns were purchased designated the M38 and the M39.  Bulgaria reworked many of its remaining M95 type Mannlichers to the new 8x56mmR cartridge and may have included these under the M38 and M39 designation.  I have no details on the exact configuration of each of these models, but these rifles are currently for sale on the U.S. surplus market.

The M1907 and M1909 DWM 8x50mmR Maxim Gun and the Schwarzlose M07/12 gun in 8x50mmR as well as captured .303 Vickers gun converted to 8x56mm around 1940 were issued as tripod machine guns.  The ZB M39 LMG in 8x56mmR, as well as some Steyr-Slothurn 8x56mmR LMG, were also purchased from Germany to give those troops with 8x56mmR Mannlichers automatic weapon support.  There was still a shortage of rifles, and captured French MO7/15 Mannlicher-Bertier 8mm Lebel rifles were widely issued.  Large stocks of Moisin Nagant were also available.

Bulgaria did not want to enter the Second World War, but had to choose a side. Reluctantly, she sided with Germany, but tried to limit her role.  She refused to go to war with Russia. Her troops occupied Macedonia and part of Yugoslavia where they engaged in anti-partisan warfare.  Technically at war with the western Allies, there was no ground conflict with them, but she suffered major damage from bombing raids on her cities.  Booty rifles captured in the course of the war include all previously mentioned in this article.  By 1944, it was clear that Germany was losing and a Bulgarian division in Yugoslavia defected to the Communist Partizans.  The Red Army invaded Bulgaria and a left wing coup overthrew the government. The Bulgarian Army was compelled to attack German and Axis forces in the Balkans.  In the course of which they acquired many tens of thousands of German and Yugoslav small arms, including many Mausers in 7.92mm as well as MG34 and MG42 as well as 7.92mm ZB-26 and ZB-30 LMG.  The Russians supplied some small arms, the PPSh41 in 7.62x25mm being the most significant.

At the close of the war, information from reliable Bulgarian sources indicates that M1903 Mannlicher remained the rifle most widely used by Bulgarian forces.  Huge stocks of 7.92mm Mausers of various models were held in reserve stock along with other types of rifles.

In the post-war period, "Russification" of the Bulgarian Army was undertaken by Soviet advisers and by 1948, Bulgaria was reported to have the best army of all the new "Peoples Democracies".  The switch over began with Soviet style uniforms and equipment, although it would be a long time before standardization of small arms on the Soviet pattern was achieved.

In the period 1956 to 1958 the Soviet Union set up a plant to manufacture the Kalashnikov AK47 in 7.62x39mm at the Arsenal at Kazanlak.  The SKS rifle was not issued to Bulgarian forces on the scale of neighboring Communist Roumania and Yugoslavia.  The Bulgarian Army made the transition from bolt action rifles and carbines over a period of time directly to AK selective fire rifles, bypassing the use of a semi auto rifle or carbine.  In the late 1950's and 1960's Moisin Nagant carbines converted from various models of Moisin Nagant rifles such as the M91 and M91/30 were issued to some troops.  Details differed, but general appearance was similar to a M44 Soviet carbine without the bayonet assembly.

The Bulgarian Air Force used the SKS to supplement bolt action rifles and carbines at platoon and company level in order to increase fire power.  Early in WW2, the RED Army of the Soviet Union had used the SVT rifle in a similar manner when squad automatic weapons were in short supply.

During the Communist era, the Labour Forces were conscripted from members of the minorities and those considered disloyal to the regime, serving here instead of the Armed Forces.  They had a 45 day military training course of limited scope.  Minimal military skills such as drilling, running with gas masks on, and rifle familiarization were taught before recruits were sent to join construction units.  The M95 Mannlicher rifle was used by these recruits.  They were in use there till the early nineties when these forces were abolished.

Dummy rounds with wooden bullets were issued for practice.  During the training recruits were given clips of 5 dummy cartridges to load, dry fire, extract and reload.  At the end of the training regimen, the men were taken to the shooting range and allowed to fire three rounds.  The long Mannlicher rifle was used not the carbines.  The live ammo available was of both the round nosed and the pointed bullet type.  Each clip of 5 was wrapped in oil paper, 20 of them packed in gray-green carton boxes, the boxes went in soldered tin cans, 2 cans were put in a wooden box.

Bayonets were issued with the rifles, one side sharpened, with longitudinal blood grooves, a muzzle ring on top of the cross guard, fitted in a steel scabbard, with coarse leather frog attachment which hooked on the belts.  The rifles had leather slings.

Large quantities of the M95 were sold off in the 1980's and went to Canada where they remained for several years while Century Arms attempted to get them classified as antiques so that they could be sold direct to the American public.  Unfortunately this was not possible and they were eventually imported as curio and relics and sold through dealers for the past several years.  Large quantities of Mannlichers are still available in Bulgaria.

A sporterized version of the Moisin Nagant called the Mazalat is made in Bulgaria.  It is available to licensed members of the population.  The license is quite hard to obtain, first one must go through the procedure for obtaining a hunting license, and only after that can one apply for the weapon's permit.

Today the AK-47 and its various improved forms remains the main rifle of issue to the Bulgarian Armed Forces.  It is widely exported and is renowned for its quality.  The Bulgarian made AK-47 and further modifications are considered much better than the original Russian manufactured models; for instance they are guaranteed for 15000 shots, the Russian ones for 10000.  In the visitor's book of the factory in Kazanlak Mr. M. Kalashnikov wrote personally, "My dream is to see the Soviet Forces, armed with Bulgarian made AK's".