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GUNS Magazine June 2010 - Page 28

™ • HOLT BODINSON • A smooth blending of pre-WWI technology. PORTUGAL’S ELEGANT VERGUEIRO hile Portugal was once a major empire with colonies W stretching from Brazil to Mozambique, it never developed a notable domestic arms industry, choosing instead to buy Theadditionofasquare-bladefrontsightduring theconversiongreatlyimprovedtherifle’ssight picture. what it considered the best available arms at the time on the international market. What is notable is the Portuguese have consistently exhibited excellent taste with those choices, doing business mainly with the firms of Deutsche Waffen-und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) of Berlin and the Mauser Works at Oberndorf, Germany. With rifle choices like the 1904 Mauser-Vergueiro, the 1933 Standard-Modell Mauser and what I consider the finest 98k Mauser of WWII: the Mauser 1941 Portuguese contract, Portuguese small arms constitute a very collectible family of milsurps. Entering the 20th Century and armed largely with the single-shot Model 1885 Guedes and the tubular magazinestyled, Model 1886 Kropatschek rifles, Portugal initiated what most major powers were doing, a “trials” period to select a modern replacement for their obsolete designs. the Mannlicher. It was less expensive to build than the Mannlicher-Schoenauer and being a home-grown design, it probably had a bit of nationalistic appeal to the Portuguese monarchy which had to finance it. Espingarda Portugueza The new rifle was designated the “Espingarda Portugueza 6.5 Mod. 1904.” In collecting circles, it is often more commonly referred to as the Model 1904 Mauser-Vergueiro. Like the Mannlicher, it featured a split bridge through which the bolt cycled and locked down in front of the rear bridge. In essence, the rear bridge functioned as a safety lug should the primary lugs fail. PORTUGUESE MODEL 904/M39 (REBUILT FROM THE MODEL 1904 MAUSER-VERGUEIRO) MAKER: DwM GERMANY ACTION TYPE: Bolt action CALIBER: 7.92x57 (Originally, 6.5x58) CAPACITY: 5+1 BARREL LENGTH: 23.62" (Originally 29") OVERALL LENGTH: 42.8" (Originally 48.2") wEIGHT: 8.1 pounds FINISH: Blue SIGHTS: Square blade front. Tangent rear adjustable from 200-2,000 meters STOCK: Walnut VALUE: $200-$400 Theboltiscomposedofadetachable,nonrotatingboltheadanddualopposedlockinglugs. The Trials Among the models tested were the Gew. 1898 Mauser, Steyr Model 95 Mannlicher and the Model 1893 Rumanian Mannlicher and MannlicherSchoenauer. Exhibiting good taste, the officers in charge selected the Mannlicher-Schoenauer, but the royal exchequer said, “Nao!” The MannlicherSchoenauer was simply too expensive. What happened next is where our story begins. A Portuguese officer by the name of Jose A. Vergueiro, working with DWM, developed a rifle design combining elements of the Mauser and Lackingaboltsleeve,thesafetyismounted directlyonthecockingpiece. 28 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • JUNE 2010

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