first modern rifle in issue in Chile in 1890's was the Steyr built Mannlicher
of 1888 in 8x50mm using a heavy round nose bullet. The rifles were
used in the Civil War of 1891-92. These were held in limited quantity and
most forces were armed with obsolete black powder firing large bore rifles.
Winchester M1873 rifles in .44-40 were imported by the insurgents and fell
into the government inventory. Over the next few years it became
necessary to rearm with many new rifles to replace the obsolete weapons.
was necessary because arch rival Argentina was adopting the new Mauser
Modelo 1891 in 7.65mm as standard for her armed forces and so large numbers
of the best and latest design had to be adopted to counter this potential
threat. The Chilean Army tested various available models and were
very impressed with the new Spanish Modelo 1893. This rifle introduced
the excellent new 7x57mm Mauser cartridge.
1894 the FN rifle plant in Herstal Belgium began producing a modified Modelo
1893 in 7x57mm for Brazil as the Modelo 1894. Uruguay and Costa Rica
also bought this weapon from FN and it is rumored that Guatemala may also
have purchased some. Chile decided to buy this model.
problem developed. FN was licensed by Ludwig Loewe & Co., the owners
of the Mauser patents, to produce the M1889 Mauser for the Belgians.
Ludwig Loewe & Co. was a German Banking House that had financed the
Mauser Brothers and eventually bought them out. It had established
a machine tool company which produced copies of the Smith & Wesson
Russian Model revolver for the Czarist Government and held a large contract
to produce the German M1888 rifle and was producing the Modelo 1893 for
the Spanish Government while the Mauser factory at Oberndorf was busy making
a modified M1893 in 7.65mm for Turkey.
strongly objected to FN making M1893 type rifles for export, claiming that
the license it granted to FN was limited to making and selling M1889 rifles
to the Belgian Army. Eventually A deal was struck. Although Loewe
had a 50% interest in the firm, Loewe wanted FN to accept an quota allocation
from what was to become the Mauser Rifle Cartel. The cartel consisted
of Mauser Waffenfabrik owned by Loewe, Ludwig Loewe & CO. ( later merged
with various Loewe ammunition and powder companies into DWM late in 1896
), FN, in which DWM held a share, and the great Austrian rifle works at
result was that Ludwig Loewe & Co. took over supply of subsequent deliveries
of M1894 7x57mm rifles to Brazil, and M1895 marked rifles to Uruguay, and
Costa Rica. Rifles delivered after late 1896 were marked DWM instead of
Loewe. The Chilean contracts went to Loewe and later DWM. The
only known FN M1894 marked rifles bought by Chile were initial test specimens
with FN logo on the ring.
first Loewe rifles delivered to Chile were identical to the FN rifles except
for the maker marks, proofs and crest of Chile on the ring. These
rifles were marked Modelo 1895. Long rifles, short rifles and carbines
were purchased and variations will be noted in markings and features. The
most important improvement was the so called "super strength" action with
a locking shoulder on the tang behind the bolt handle. This is found on
most but not all later production Mausers delivered to Chile. An
exception is the group of Mausers order by the Boer Orange Free State,
identified by the "OVS" stamping on the receiver. These failed to
penetrate the British blockade and were restamped with the Chilean Crest
and sold to Chile at a later date. Deliveries of M1895 Mausers continued
into 1901. There are long rifles with turned down bolts, however
all these seem to lack the "SS" feature and they may have been diverted
to Chile from another contract that defaulted for some reason.
next Mauser to be purchased was the Model 1904 from Waffenfabrik Mauser.
This was similar to the Tukish Model 1903, but in 7x57mm and featuring
a very narrow upper band. Only a small number were acquired. Some
sources list this rifle as being supplied by DWM which later as the M1907
supplied it to several South American nations.
next Mauser adopted was the Steyr Modelo 1912 in 7x57mm. It was made in
long rifle and carbine models. It is the same type adopted by Columbia
and Mexico as the Modelo 1912. When WW1 broke out in August 1914, the Austro-Hungarian
Government recquisitioned all M1912 rifles, carbines and parts on hand
at the Steyr factory and issued them to its own forces. This chiefly
affected Mexican contract Mausers as the United States was enforcing an
arms embargo on Mexico and the U.S. Navy had seized Vera Cruz and was blocading
the coast, preventing delivery of most of these fine rifles.
Information e-mailed in by A V Ballistics)
after WW I, the British Government sold a pre -WW I cruiser to Chile, and
its on-board small arms were new M1910.Mk III Ross rifles,
in cal. 303 british.
have a serial Number "DA xxx" (Directorado de Armada?). This
serial is added to the receiver. Normal British and Canadian Ross
Rifles have no receiver stamped Serials.
service DP rifles have a number in the 5066xxxx range. Stand numbers
and year of adoption/acceptance were stamped into the right side of the
butt, in the WW I issues.
think the cruiser was the HMS Canada.
Information e-mailed by Tony Edwards- England)
1914 Britain was building two battleships for Chile and these were seized
in August 1914 for the Royal Navy. Almirante Lattore became HMS Canada
and Almirante Cochrane eventually beacme the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle.
When these vessels were seized we also got the small arms, about 820 Model
1912 Mausers in 7 x 57 and these went into service
the Royal Navy. We made ammo for them and the rifles were used to
arm second line vessels, minesweepers and armed merchantmen.
1918, HMS Canada was sold back to Chile and by then the rifles on board
had been replaced by the Ross rifles mentioned above. The ship was
re-named back to Almirante Lattore and served as the Chilean flagship until
she was scrapped in 1958.
WW1 in the mid 1920's, some FN Modelo 1924 carbines similar to the Mexican
pattern of that year were purchased in 7x57mm. These are believed
to have been for police use.
1934-35 Steyr Model 1929 Mauser short rifles were purchased in small numbers
in 7x57mm. It is believed these were called Modelo 1935, but this
is not a certainty. Chilean Crest on Ring.
1935, large numbers of Mauser Standard Modell short rifles and carbines
were purchased from Mauser Werke. The only difference was carbines
had turned down bolt handles and the short rifles had horizontal bolts.
These were in 7x57mm and were issued to the Army, Navy and National Police
( "Carbineros" ). Army rifles had Chilean Crest, Navy rifles had
"Rope & Anchor" Crest, Police had "Crossed Cannon" crest. At
least some long rifles were
1941 1,000 M1941 Johnson Rifles in 7x57mm were purchased by the Carbineros.
These still bore markings for .30-06 cartridge as they were part of the
undelivered Dutch East Indies order with new 7mm barrels. In the
Johnsom design you could switch the caliber/cartridge type in seconds by
changing out the barrel.
next rifles acquired were several hundred Caliber .30 M1903 Springfield
rifles which were acquired as part of the armament of the U.S.S. Brooklyn
circa 1948 when that heavy cruiser was sold to Chile and became the "Bernardo
O'Higgins"of the Chilean Navy. It appears that Chilean Mausers at
some point replaced the Springfields on the O'Higgins for a period of time.
the early 1950's the U.S. supplied some Calibre .30 M1 Garand rifles and
it is rumored that some Mausers were bored out and converted to .30-06.
1959-60 some FN FAL rifles in 7.62mm NATO were purchased. In 1961 a program
of converting some of the Mausers to 7.62mm
next rifle purchase was for SIG 510-4 rifles in 7.62mm NATO around 1967.
Licensed production was begun some years later of this weapon, but production
was switched to the 5.56mm SG540 in 1986.
1990 at least some of all the rifles mentioned except the Mannlichers and
Winchesters were still in inventory and the M1935 rifles were regularly
seen in the hands of ceremonial troops in Santiago during parades and when
Honor Guards were mounted.
2001-2003 Dan Reynolds