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The Portuguese Mauser By Pedro Mateus


Vergueiro’s left side view


Minister, General Luis Augusto Pimentel Pinto, for a total of 100,000 units (one of the largest Army contracts ever and more then double the quantity of the previous Kropatschek rifles bought in the 1880s). As planned within the contract, delivery started in 1905 and continued up until late 1907.


Conversion to new standards In 1937, just prior to World War II, Portugal adopted the 7.92x57mm Mauser (also known as 8 mm Mauser) as the standard issue military rifle and decided to convert the existing Vergueiros from 6.5x58mm to the new caliber – the converted model would receive the formal military model designation of ‘Espingarda 8 mm m/904/939’.


In 1939, the Portuguese Factory at Braço de Prata (FBP) started the conversion process of the Vergueiro rifles to the new caliber – including shortening both barrel and stock. The resulting converted units of around 40,000 would remain in service as late as 1960 – especially at the Portuguese African and Asian colonies.


The Bugalho 1912 semi-automatic action – ahead of its time?


In 1912, a couple of years before World War I, the director of the Lisboa Shooting Range, Captain Vicente Bugalho, developed a semi-automatic action


to be used with the Vergueiro rifle and had an article published in Revista de Infantaria (Infantry Magazine) describing and promoting it. However, it never made it into production despite support from the Ministry of War, Lieutenant-Colonel Alberto Carlos da Silveira who, in 1912, ordered an initial modification of the Vergueiro rifle at the Portuguese factories, to receive the semi-auto action. This modification never happened – according to A. José Telo and M. Álvares in their 2004 book Armamento do Exército Português, Vol I. Armamento Ligeiro (ISBN 972-8816-43-X) due possibly to production difficulties, lack of funding or a conservative resistance within the army ‘old school’ officers to the use of a semi-automatic rifle.


Ammunition


The 8x57mm IS (7.92mm Mauser) ammunition was made in Portugal by FNM (Fábrica Nacional de Munições or National Ammunition Factory) full metal jacket (FMJ) 198 grains, with a manufacturer’s declared velocity (at 15 meters) of 735 m/sec (approximately 2411 fps) and is an accurate performer, not only for this specific rifle but with all the Mauser 98 range of rifles. However, FNM ceased trading ten years ago.


Established in 1947, with the formal designation of ‘Fábrica Nacional de Munições de Armas Ligeiras’


Vergueiro’s right side view


15


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