At the close of American
Civil War in 1865, civil war was raging in Mexico between the forces of
the Emperor Maximillano and the insurgents of Benito Jaurez. The
U.S. Government put pressure on the French to withdraw their troops which
were supporting Maximillano. Concurrently with their withdrawal,
surplus American Civil War rifles began flowing south of the Rio Grande.
Many of the types of rifles and carbines used in the American Civil War
of 1861-65 were sold to the Liberals to aid their cause against Maximillano
and the Conservatives.
Rifles and Carbines, Sharps, Burnside and many other types were sold to
forces in Mexico. Among the first breech loaders in Mexico were Spencer
and Henry types. In the 1870's, the new Republican Government of
Mexico purchased surplus .50-70 U.S. Springfields as well as Winchester
M1873 Muskets and carbines in .44-40. About a 1000 Remington Rolling
Block carbines were purchased which used a modified breech block permitting
use of the .50-70 or .56-50 rimfire Spencer round, both of which were in
issue. The Spanish Model 11mm (.43) Remington model Rolling Block
was adopted as a standard type. Many other types were acquired
in small numbers. Surplus U.S. Navy .50-70 Rolling Blocks were purchased
in the 1880's.
Juarez was followed
by Porfilio Diaz as Presidente and he ruled until the end of the
first decade of the 20th Century. Policing the country and maintaining
order was a constant struggle. In the 1890's the need for modern smokeless
repeaters was pressing. Bandits and insurgents could readily obtain
modern weapons smuggled from the U.S.A., if they had cash.
Sometime in the
1890's, the newer U.S. Army Springfield "Trapdoor" .45-70 rifles and carbines
Model 1873, 1879, and 1884 began showing up in the hands of State Military
Police and various other police units as they became surplus to the requirements
of the American Army as it adopted the new smokeless powder .30-40 Krag
Rifle and Carbines Models 1892, 1896, and 1898. These Springfields were
single shot, black powder breech loaders and would later form the main
armament of the Cuencame rebels during the 1911 Maderista Revolt.
It was in early
1890's that the Mexican inventor and engineer Manuel Mondragon, an officer
in the Mexican Army and a graduate of both the Mexican Military Academy
at Chapultpec and the French Academy at Sr. Cyr and later the O.C. of the
Department of Artillery, began designing a very advanced infantry rifle
at the behest of Presidente Porfilio Diaz. The initial design was completed
in late 1891, prototypes tested on 18 October 1892 and 50 Swiss made rifles
of an improved type issued to the 25th Infantry Bn. on 27 September 1894
for field trials. This Model 1894 had a switch plate with three settings:"A"
for automatic, "L"for safe, and "R" for use in the manual straight pull
bolt action mode.The rifles were ordinarily intended to be used in aimed
fire manual mode but could be switched to automatic volley fire in the
The rifles had a
fixed 8 round magazine using an enbloc Garand type clip of special 6.5x52mm
Mondragon cartridges made by SFM in Paris. The rifles were made in Switzerland
due to the lack of native production facilities, but the design was overly
complex, somewhat lacking in sturdiness and too expensive in price to consider
arming all the Mexican Army with it.
adopted the Mauser Model 1895 in 7x57mm both in carbine and long rifle
form. The very early deliveries in 1896 were marked "Ludwig Loewe"
and after December of that year they were stamped "DWM". The Mexican
Eagle Crest is on the receiver ring. Many specimens today have
none of these markings due to wear and various rebuilding over a period
of 70 years.
Money was in short
supply and so as an economy measure Remington Model 1897 rifles and carbines
in 7x57mm were purchased in fairly large numbers to supplement the Mausers.
Three carbines could be bought for the price of one Mauser carbine. About
1896-97 a Nagant type revolver carbine was purchased in Belgium for use
by mounted police, the "Rurales". It was made by Pieper in 8mm Nagant.
As the Mexican Army
slowly rearmed with the Mauser, the older Remington 11mm and newer Model
1897 7x57mm "Rolling Block" rifles and carbines were handed off to police
and other security forces.
The Federal "Rurales"
were armed with the smokeless powder lever action .30-30 Modelo 1894 Winchester
carbine in 1900. The northern states of Durango and Coahuila purchased
Winchester Modelo 1894 carbines in the period between 1903 and 1909 for
issue to their "Rurales".
In 1902, what many
consider the finest Mauser action ever designed was adopted when DWM completed
the deliveries on the contract for the Modelo 1895. This used a small
receiver ring short action of the pattern 98 type. The Modelo 1902
was made by DWM and about 38,000 were delivered by 1904 when the contract
was completed. Still short of rifles, a new contract was let for
additional Mausers and assigned to Steyr by the Mauser Rifle Cartel in
1906 and 40,000 more M1902 were delivered. All M1902 were in 7x57mm.
To save money, in
1907 Mexico ordered the Model 1907 Mauser, a long barreled standard action
7x57mm rifle that was being supplied to various Latin American armies at
this time, including Brazil, in 7x57mm which Mexico specified. Previous
Mausers in Mexico used the M1895 bayonet which was similar to the Spanish
Model 1893 model,but this rifle had a typical 98 type bayonet as well as
a pistol grip stock. The basic price of this rifle with bayonet was
reported to be $18.00 in 1910 American Dollars.
The next year, Colonel
Mondragon designed a 7x57mm semi-automatic rifle which was to be made under
contract in Switzerland and called the Modelo
1908. Mondragon had continued development of his earlier rifles after
the 1894 field tests and produced this definitive design in the standard
Mexican Army calibre. A small delivery was made in 1911 just before Diaz
was overthrown and no more rifles were delivered to Mexico.
War Minister under General Huerta following the overthrow of the Madera
government which had replaced the regime of Porfilio Diaz. He died in Spain
in the early 1920's. He was a great firearms pioneer, having designed
the finest 75mm Gun in the world at the time of its introduction, surpassing
even the famed "French 75" which was the mainstay of France and US artillery
during WW1 as well as the first "Assault Rifle".
After WW1 began,
the Germans bought many of the manufactured but undelivered rifles from
SIG. These were issued as aircraft weapons with a special 30 round drum
magazine, M1915 Self Loading Carbine,in the early part of the war before
being replaced by machine guns.
In 1910, the Mexican
army of Porfirio Díaz consisted of some 18,000 men. In addition,
various police organizations required modern arms. President Diaz wanted
to make Mexico independent of foreign suppliers for its rifle needs and
arranged for the delivery of a rifle production plant along with foreign
technicians to set it up and train Mexicans in its operation. Various
problems delayed setting up series production of the M1910 as the Mexican
made copy of the M1902 was to be called. Diaz was forced from office
and the long period of civil war began in 1911 before any could be
made. Some production was made about 1913-14, but real production did not
get under way until the 1920's. A Modelo 1910 carbine was made, perhaps
less than 5000 before production shifted to the Modelo
1936 short rifle.
A critical problem
for Mexico, the Diaz government and subsequent governments, was lack of
hard currency and a very, very bad credit rating. As the internal
pressure mounted on Diaz, he sought a way to acquire more rifles as soon
as possible and at the lowest price. The best deal was for Japanese
Arisaka Type 38 rifles and carbines to be made at Koishikowa Arsenal.
These rifles were made with the Mexican Crest on the ring and about 5000
were delivered before Mexico defaulted on payment after Diaz was forced
out. The rest of the contract was stored in Japan until WW1 broke
out and the British arranged for the purchase of many of these rifles.
U.S. banking interests provided the loans to finance the purchase and most
were probably sent to Russia by the British circa 1915. Some of these
undelivered contract rifles were brought home by GI's in 1945 as war booty
having been found in Japanese armories.
Due to the on going
revolution, the Mexican Government ordered Steyr Modelo 1912 long rifles
and carbines in 1913. The U.S. Navy blockaded the coast and landed
Bluejackets in Vera Cruz in 1914 to prevent delivery of these Mausers,
but some got through. The rest were issued to Imperial Austro Hungarian
troops as a substitute standard rifle 1914-18. Postwar they were
modified and supplied to Yugoslavia as 7.92mm short rifles M24B with new
Royal Crest of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes on the receiver
During the years
of revolutionary turmoil 1911-18, many weapons were smuggled in to Mexico
by various insurgent Armies and bands as well as American gun runners.
Most came from the U.S.
It has often been
said that Spain supplied Spanish Modelo 1893 Mauser rifles and Modelo 1895
Mauser carbines to Mexico, including some marked "Oviedo". This is
not correct. Such Mausers were and are found in Mexico, but they
came from stocks captured by the U.S.A. from Spain during the Spanish American
War and were sold off to Bannerman after being reworked by Springfield
Armory. Bannerman had first tried to sell them to Serbia, failed,
and then sold them off in various ways and eventually some lots were smuggled
into Mexico through brokers and agents in El Paso.
Large numbers of
Winchester Model 1894 carbines in .30-30 were sold by gun runners to various
revolutionary groups. At one point Pancho Villa’’s forces were at
least 50% armed with this weapon. Other rifles were also supplied
in a similar manner.
The production of
the M1910 rifle stopped after about 40,000 had been produced, when the
Mauser Modelo 1936 went into production using receivers made for the M1910.
It had a U.S. M1903 type cocking piece knob at the end of the striker.
The reason for this was to allow re-cocking without opening the action
in the event of a hang fire as Mexican 7x57mm ammo of the period was not
of the highest quality and this was a prudent safety measure.
In 1925, before
domestic production could begin supplying adequate numbers of domestic
Mausers, an order was placed with "FN" in Hesrstal Belgium for Mauser short
rifles and carbines. These, as all Mausers made for Mexico, had a
form of the National Crest. About 25,000 Mausers, mostly short rifles,
were delivered by 1927.
In 1933-34, the
"ZB" BRNO factory in Moravia, Czechoslovakia supplied several thousand
Mauser standard action carbines in 7x57mm to the Federal Police.
These were the same as the M08/34 carbines supplied to Brazilian State
Military Police in the same general time frame except for crest and lack
of front sight with built in guard.
In 1947, the Mexican
Army began looking for a new rifle. About 50,000 M1936 rifles had
been produced for the Army and Federal Police at this time. In 1954 a much
modified M1936type Mauser with receiver mounted aperture rear sight was
adopted in .30-06., known as the Modelo 1954. These were marked
"Cal.7.62mm MOD. 54". This rifle was made in limited numbers as late
as 1959. Rifles of this type issued to the Mexican Navy are marked"Armada".
U.S. supplied M1903A3 and M1 Garand rifles in .30-06 were also used in
the 1950's and sixties.
Mexico later produced
the F.N. FAL rifle from Belgium made parts, and later the H.K G3A3rifle
from German parts, both in 7.62mm NATO. Mexico in the present period has
acquired 5.56mm calibre weapons for police and military use.