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Military rifle cartridges of Egypt from Khartoum to the Sinai.

Modern Egyptian history began in 1801 when an Albanian army officer in Ottoman service, Mohammed Ali, was appointed Pasha (governor) of the region. While part of the Ottoman empire under Ali's rule, Egyptian nationalism was born, and by 1822 the region was in fact a semi-independent state. One of All's successors, Ismail, attempted to modernize the nation, and in doing so Egypt became indebted to European powers, especially Britain and France.

Ismail hired European and--after the American Civil War--former Union and Confederate officers to train his troops, but a series of disastrous wars in the Sudan and against Abyssinia led to defeat, bankruptcy and mutinies in the army. During these conflicts, the Egyptians began purchasing modern, breechloading rifles from foreign sources.

Between 1868 and 1876, the Egyptian government ordered in excess of 60,000 Model 1868 Rolling Block rifles and carbines from the Remington Arms Company while numbers of Snider-Enfield breechloaders were ordered from English dealers. Some of these arms would remain in service with the Egyptian police well into the early 20th century.

* 11x5OR Egyptian Remington--the Rolling Blocks fired the .43 Egyptian cartridge with a rimmed, bottlenecked case 50mm in length topped with a 400-grain lead bullet that 75 grains of blackpowder pushed to 1330 fps. Additional Rolling Blocks were obtained from E&L Nagant of Liege, Belgium.

* 577 Snider--this cartridge consisted of a coiled brass foil body inside of a cardboard tube attached to an iron base. Its 480-grain lead bullet was backed by a 73-grain charge of blackpowder that propelled it to approximately 1250 fps.

By the late 1870s, France controlled the Suez Canal, while the British were in control of Egypt's ports, railroads, customs and finances. In 1882, a revolt led by Ahmed Urabi attempted to throw out foreigners. This resulted in British forces occupying Alexandria, defeating the mutineers and setting up a series of British-backed rulers, known as khedives, who governed the country until 1914.

In 1885 the Egyptian Sudan was conquered by radical Islamic forces led by the Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad. To reconquer the region, a cadre of British officers was hired to begin the long-term process of creating a new Egyptian army

* 450 Martini-Henry--some units of the new army were armed with the Martini-Henry rifle. The Martini's cartridge utilized a Boxer-style coiled brass, bottlenecked case attached to a brass base cup with an iron rim. Its 480-grain paper-patched lead bullet was driven to 1350 fps by 85 grains of blackpowder.

In 1892 General Horatio Kitchener was appointed sirdar (commander in chief) of the Egyptian army. Six years later a British/Egyptian force under his command invaded the Sudan and crushed the Mandist forces at the Battle of Omdurman.


Over the next decade, the British continued to modernize the Egyptian army, and by 1914, most front-line units were equipped with various models of the Lee-Enfield rifle, while reserves and police used the Martini-Enfield.

* 303 Mark VI--adopted by the British army in 1904, this cartridge consisted of a rimmed, bottlenecked case 56mm long topped with a 215-gain round-nosed, full metal-jacketed bullet backed by a 30-grain charge of Cordite. Munk velocity was 2050 fps.

* .303 Mark VII--this round was approved for service in 1910. It was loaded with a 174-grain FMJ, flat-based spitzer bullet that 37 grains of Improved Cordite drove to a velocity of 2440 fps.

Fearing that the Turks might capture the Suez Canal, in 1914 Britain declared a "protectorate" over Egypt and tens of thousand of British, Australian and New Zealand troops poured into the country'. Operating from the Sinai, they eventually drove the Ottoman forces back into Syria and Iraq and defeated them.

In the postwar period the British granted "independence" to Egypt, but continued to exert strong political and economic control over the country. In 1922, the Egyptian parliament declared the khedive Faud king. He was succeeded in 1936 by his son King Farouk.

During World War II, British troops were stationed in Egypt to prevent Rommel's Afrika Korps from capturing the Suez Canal. While Egypt was officially allied with Great Britain, few Egyptian troops took an active part in the North African campaign.

In the postwar period, to free themselves from British influence, the Egyptian army began purchasing weapons from other European sources. These consisted primarily of surplus German Karabiner 98k Mausers obtained from Czechoslovakia and Yugoslav Puska M.48 Mausers. In 1951, SAFN Mle. 1949 semiautomatic rifles were purchased from FN in Belgium.

* 7.9mm Patrone sS--the Mauser and SAFN rifles thus obtained were chambered for the 7.9mm Patrone sS. Developed in Germany during World War I for use in machine guns, the sS (schweres Spitzgeschoss--"heavy pointed bullet") used a 57mm rimless, bottlenecked case loaded with a 198-grain FMJ, boattail spitzer bullet moving at 2575 fps.

Egypt became a leader of the Arab League and in 1948 took part in the unsuccessful attempt to crush the new state of Israel. This defeat led to discontent among the army's officers that resulted in the 1952 overthrow of King Farouk.

To reequip the army with more modern weapons, a deal was negotiated with Sweden to buy the tooling to produce a 79mm version of the m/42B Ljungman rifle, known as the "Hakim."

In 1954 Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser took control of the government. When his attempts to obtain military aid from the USA failed, Egypt approached the USSR. The Soviets arranged for the Egyptians to purchase large quantities of small arms from Czechoslovakia, including additional Mausers and Samonabiject Puska vz. 52/55 semi auto carbines.

* 7.62mm patron obr. 1943g--the vz. 52/57 was converted to fire the more common Soviet intermediate cartridge with a 39mm rimless, bottlenecked case whose 122-grain FMJ spitzer bullet traveled at 2330 fps.

* 7.62mm patron PS some Egyptian irregulars and reserve troops used the Soviet Karabin obr. 1944g Mosin-Nagant carbine. These fired the long serving "7.62mm Russian" round with a 54mm rimmed, bottlenecked case, loaded with a steel core 147-gain FMJ boattail, spitzer bullet traveling at 2800 fps.

The Egyptians produced a modification of the Hakim rifle, the "Rasheed," chambered for the 7.62mm Patron obr. 1943g. Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956 led to an invasion by British, French and Israeli forces. These forces eventually withdrew, giving Nasser control of this vital international waterway.

As the Cold War heated up, the Russians poured military aid into Egypt including the ubiquitous SKS carbine, AK-47/AKM assault rifles and the Dragunov SVD sniper rifle. Local production of an AKM copy, known as the "Misr," began at Maadi Military & Civil Industries and it remains the standard issue rifle of the Egyptian armed forces to the present day.


* 7.62mm Patron 7N1--developed specifically for used in the SVD, this round is based upon the venerable 7.62x54R and uses a rimmed, bottlenecked case 54mm in length loaded with a 152-grain FMJ boattail bullet with a muzzle velocity of approximately 2725 fps.

Egypt provided safe haven for Palestinian Fedayin guerillas, which led to border clashes with Israel. In 1967 the Israelis launched the preemptive Six Day War against their Arab neighbors and captured the Gaza strip and the Sinai Peninsula, savaging the Egyptian army in the process. In 1973 Egypt launched a surprise attack on Israel---the Yom Kippur War--but except for minor Egyptian territorial gains, the Israelis were victorious.

Beginning in the late 1970s, under President Anwar Sadat, Egypt became more closely aligned with the United States. Diplomatic pressure convinced Sadat to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, ending a 31-year state of war between the two nations.

Sadat was assassinated by Muslim fanatics from the army in October 1981. He was succeeded by Hosni Mubarak, who served as president until he was forced from office by a popular uprising in 2011.

Since the 1980s, the U.S. army has worked closely with the Egyptian army and in recent years Egyptian Special Forces (Unit 777) have been supplied with M4A4 carbines.

* 5.56mm M855--the M4A4's cartridge consists of a rimless, bottlenecked case 45mm topped with a 62-grain FMJ boattail bullet, moving at 3000 fps. The bullet has a steel insert in its tip for improved penetration of body armor and light vehicles. It is also known as the 5.56mm SS109 and 5.56mm NATO.

By: Paul Scarlata * Photos by: Lou Behling, Nathan Reynolds & James Walters
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Author:Scarlata, Paul
Publication:Shotgun News
Geographic Code:6SUDA
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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