A little-known Czech-made carbine, the Brno Vz. 33, was only produced in small numbers just before World War II and led to a specialized model that saw more extensive service. 

The new republic of Czechoslovakia rose from the ashes of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 as part of the aftermath of the Great War. While the Kaiser's military had used Steyr-Mannlicher rifles of various marks, the Czechs didn't have the machinery to produce them moving forward.

They did, however, manage to acquire surplus production equipment from the sidelined Mauser works in Oberndorf, Germany, and by 1919 were making Mauser-style rifles in Brno, with the Mauser-Jelen being the first of that line. Then followed the Model 98/22 and the Vz.24-- the latter of which went on to a long life and widespread service. 

However, the Republic's provincial gendarmes (Cetnických Velitelství) and border guards (Finanční Stráž) desired a lighter and more compact rifle than the Vz.24 as they already typically had to carry a saber on their daily patrols as well. To meet this requirement, Brno borrowed from the plans in the old Austrian Steyr armory in Graz, where the Model 1912 Mauser was made under license before WWI for military contracts in Mexico, Colombia, and Chile. To this, they blended the modifications used on the Vz.24. 

The result was the Vz. 33. 

Using a 19.4-inch barrel, the overall length of the Vz.33 was just 39.4-inches long. By comparison, this is about the same length as the Ruger Mini-14. This yielded a handy carbine that tipped the scales at just over 7-pounds while keeping the same 7.92mm Mauser round, internals, nomenclature, and manual of arms as the Czech military's standard infantry rifles. 

First ordered in May 1934, just 25,311 Vz.33s were produced by 1939, according to the Czech Military History Institute in Prague, with most of those going to the country's police forces. Just an estimated 5,300 were delivered to the border guard. 

Czech Finanční Stráž (Photo: Muzeu Rumburk)

Essentially stabbed in the back by Britain and France in the interest of appeasement to Hitler, Czechoslovakia disappeared from the map of Europe by March 1939, absorbed by its neighbors.

This led to...

The Model 33/40

When the Germans moved into Brno, the Czechoslovakian arms factory became part of the Teutonic war machine, dubbed Waffenwerke Brunn. For the rest of the war, the factory produced modified Vz.24 rifles and Vz.33 carbines for the Germans with the latter dubbed the Gewehr 33/40.

The changes to the Vz.33 included German-style sling hardware, a large steel buttplate, different sights, and a different bayonet lug. Likewise, Waffenampt codes "945" then later "dot" replaced the Czech lion crest on the receiver.  

The 33/40 was used by German military police units and Gebirgsjäger mountain troops and some, equipped with short  ZF-41 optics, were used as sniper rifles. 

German Gebirgsjägers were used in alpine and arctic environments as well as in a light infantry role, such as in the airborne invasion of Crete where they were flown in after German paratroopers secured landing fields. For such tasks, a more compact rifle like the 33/40 was ideal. 

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