Collector Highlight: Belgium Edition

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Deep in the thicket of civilian gun free Europe, there lies an unconquered patch of ground that fiercely withstands the onslaught of the socialist powers that be, the reigning dark lords of the various EU governments. It is the personal collection of a gentleman by the name of Jacky Comhair and it is maintained to this day. He is located in Werm, and is quote well known throughout the gun community, even bringing the American ambassador on a tour of his collection. Although the small arms section of it (and they are mostly all working, no replicas or dewats here) is very extensive, the collection is also fabulous for its war memorabilia and vehicles but those are beyond the scope of this article. These photos were kindly forwarded to TFB by a very generous reader who is currently working for the DOD and was kind enough to arrange for this collector highlight. This is an excerpt of his experiences moving to Europe and dealing with the firearms laws there.

When I first moved to Belgium, I shipped my guns (at the time, I brought an EA Witness .45, Anschutz 1913 comp rifle, Anschutz Super Air 2002 Air Rifle, an HK USC .45, and a Kel-Tec .32) via hold baggage and not with my household goods after consulting with the State Department.  As it turns out, the State Department was wrong and my guns were initially confiscated by the Gendarmerie at SHAPE, Mons, Belgium.  Apparently, because my guns arrived by air and not by sea (like my household goods), the Gendarmerie said it violated some sort of importation rule.  However, all I had to do was file registration paperwork and include a letter from a US shooting club of my lawful participation in a shooting sport.  USA Shooting’s Dave Johnson helped me out in this regard by writing a letter detailing my involvement with competitive rifle shooting in America.  Three months later, I received a call that my guns were ready to be picked up and all was ok.  I proceeded to join a local shooting club in Tongeren, Belgium and I quickly got connected with numerous matches across the country.  I applied for a European Union firearms pass (the major prerequisite being a Belgian firearms permit) shortly thereafter and was soon shooting with a club in Aachen, Germany as well.  Gun transport inBelgium just involved keeping your gun in a locked case and separate from ammunition while traveling.  Around 2007, the laws in Belgium became more restrictive and I had to start carrying around a memorandum from my local Security Forces unit stating that I did not have a criminal background and was in good standing with the US military.

As an afterthought, he adds that-

Belgian, German, and EU law compliance were irrespective of my DoD status.  All EU countries assume someone applying for a gun permit has “never” fired a gun before, even if you can provide countless evidence to the contrary.  Essentially, I was given no breaks for a being an American military member and had to go through the same process as any EU citizen.

With that coming from the American perspective of moving to Belgium, here is a little explaining of Belgian firearms laws from Theo T, a Belgian enthusiast (I will not try and explain them, much less understand them!) –

Although some politicians want it otherwise, there hasn’t been much change in the firearms law. A Full Auto is Belgium an illegal and forbidden weapon . The only possibility to own one is indeed to have a collectors licence . But that is not always as simple as it seems. You have to make a request of the Governor of your province mentioning in which category you want to start a collection ( pe: ww2, brand, type …) If the FA fits in your category it’s possible to get you one . But you are not allowed to fire it, only if needed for maintenance or for testing ( by buy or sell )
For a FA post 1945 you may have only 10 rounds accept if you also have a collectors licence for this kind of ammo ( every licence cost you 300 euro/5 years). Weird ? This is Belgium! For the stocking of your guns you have to have an approved room, well secured with enforced doors and windows . You also need to install an approved alarm. Another way to keep the FA, you earned legally before, was to let it rebuild to a SA with official approval of course and authorization model 4 ( same as for SA rifles, revolvers and large caliber pistols ) , or to let it officially demilitarize, no authorization required.
Now the things that have changed.
There was until May 2013 a category of weapons that doesn’t need any kind of registration : the so-called HFD list .
H: Historical ( like my Schmidt-Rubin, but mine was registered so I could take it to the range )
F: Folkloristic ( like the arms used to shoot “de UM” , a traditional yearly competition between the Dutch and the Flemish Limburgs. )
D: Decorative ( In use for parades)

You could only have these in your possession without ammo .
Until some lunatic in 2012 started shooting one at the market place in Liége.
Reaction of our minister of law : Every firearm must be registered !! Ever since then there haven’t been any assaults in Belgium!
Our national gun association is still discussing this in court. The verdict is expected in late 2015.

Shades of gray ?
You can be damned sure there is a lot of gray, dark gray and black in Belgium ! But not at my place ! For a valorous citizen as myself it would be a very bad investment . We have more to loose than to gain .

In the ensuing photographs, I’ve done my best job at captioning the various small arms displayed. However, a lot of the particular models and variants have eluded me, so if I’ve mistaken something or forgot a firearm that is truly significant, feel free to add it in with the comments.

 

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A Luger that somehow found its way to modern day Iran and then back to Belgium, the inscription on the toggle lock is in Farsi, or Persian.

 

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An MG42 and Panzerfaust lay in a corner, never facing the battlefield again. The machine gun on the left appears to be two MG13s mounted next to each other for anti aircraft use.

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An array of German uniforms and armaments, Most interesting of which is the STG 44 on the right. It’s alright MP40, we care about you too.

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Various American designs ranging from early Colt Browning designs up to Smith & Wesson model 59s. Most of the collection is organized in themes, this one being American handguns.

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Various memorabilia associated with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions of World War Two. The carbine is a fully automatic M2.

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In this case, various British handguns are on display, from Enfields to signal pistols, Webley’s and the automatic Webley- Fosbery. most interesting in this collection is the Welrod suppressed pistol on the lower left.

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An M2 heavy machine gun, M1919 light machine gun, an M37 tank light machine gun, and a 2.36 inch recoilless rifle walk into a Bar, what happens? Well the BAR blows them all to bits because it’s loaded and the others aren’t. Regardless, this is a pretty interesting collection, but does anyone know what that tool is on the lower left?

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A German handgun display, most interesting is the “Artillery” Luger in the center with the longer barrel. Also notice the 98k marksman scope on the lower right.

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Various rifles in the background but more interesting are the light machine guns on the floor and an M1917 medium machine gun in the rear. The two rifles on the left are FN Model Ds, Belgian variants of the BAR. This seems to be the FN Herstal section as evidenced by the company logo on the wall. Although there is an AR rifle back there in the background.

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Another shot from the same area, this time showing the muzzle ends of the light machine guns. If any readers are familiar with the Versapod series of bipods, the Bren’s bipod bares an uncanny resemblance.

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A varied assortment of firearms from Carcanos, a milled AK47, an M16A1 and a large assortment of various handguns too numerous to mention. But notice the Uzi, PM12, and FN CAL in the upper left. And what appears to be a CZ 75 with stock and magazine/grip in the center as well.

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Back to the German section of firearms, the Artillery Luger is in it’s full configuration complete with snail drum magazine and lanyard. Once again, we count two STG 44s!

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Some more German small arms, top left appears to be a Panzerschreck, top right looks to be some sort of competition small caliber pistol or even air pistol. Middle of the picture is an MG15, an early development that lead to the MG34 and 42 light machine guns.

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An array of German submachine guns, mostly MP18s and MP28s, but what is most interesting here is the Japanese Type 100 on the far right, a rare find indeed. Notice also there is another shot of the pistol seen in the previous photo, with the oddly shaped pistol grip

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A very early, possibly an experimental prototype MG34? Or a standard MG34 without the standard barrel protector. It’s interesting to note that a citizen of Belgium, a country that suffered so much under Nazi control during World War Two, would have such a passion and place in his collection for memorabilia and small arms from that regime.

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A selection of German rifles, mostly Mauser 98Ks but of note is the G41 self loading rifle in the center. Notice the designated marksman rifle second from bottom with the forward mounted scope.

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Commemorative 1911A1s. The one on the lower left might be a personal officers pistol as evidenced by the Lt. Col and Col rank on the grips, the 1911 one over to the right looks like a commemorative D-Day 1911 for the 50th Anniversary. But top left is a Liberator, probably the most increased value of all these handguns from when they were built.

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And of course, the Belgium edition of handguns, mostly Browning Hi Powers and earlier FN handgun designs, pocket pistols, and “Baby” Brownings.

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An American section is shown proudly with everything from Garands to BARs, and other small arms. Except for that No.1 Lee Enfield in the upper left corner…

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This is a JoLoAr semi automatic handgun that was made in Spain for mounted troops, so they could load their pistols one handed while on a horse. Needless to say, it didn’t do too well at all. There’s a good section about it over at Forgotten Weapons.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • micmac80

    ”Civilian gun free Europe …..,…. onslaught of socialist powers that be” Someone watches to much Fox news BS

    Interestingly some of the most ‘socialist’ EU members also have most gun friendly legislation while ‘supply side ecconomics’ UK has very restrictive gun law

    • G0rdon_Fr33man

      This. My country, Norway, has fairly liberal gun laws. We make 10th in top 10 in worldwide gun ownership.

      • micmac80

        Must be from that ”onslaught of socialist powers that be” LOL

    • Vitsaus

      Which socialist EU members are your referring to that have such lax laws?

      • G0rdon_Fr33man

        You can start with Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Czech-republic… But off course, no country in Europe are “socialist”, more like social-democracies which all have a free-market, of more accurately, a mixed economy. Just like the USA.

      • iksnilol

        Actually, all EU countries have legal firearms ownership. Sure, some have more hoops than others but it is there. + if you live in more rural/”paranoid” areas people don’t care about the illegal stuff.

    • I took it as a joke, playing on the fact that most people deeply involved in the American gun community see Europe as a vast bastion of socialism. We know there are pockets where gun culture flourishes in Europe.

      • Esh325

        I hope the TFB does stay out of politics. Not everybody into guns is necessarily interested or agrees with American gun ideals.

        • I acknowledge and agree with you 100%.

          We do our best to try and appeal to our international readers as best as possible, and also correct common misconceptions including ideas many Americans have about things pertaining to firearms abroad.

          • Reader

            I think most of us got the joke here 😉

      • Mrrattamahatta

        Yup, in fact there are US states with comparable guns-per-persons levels to many European countries. NY, MA, NJ and similar are closer to European gun culture than to the rest of US. The big difference is that Europe is more oriented towards sports shooting and hunting. Self defense is generally not a legal reason to apply for a gun permit.

        • micmac80

          You got that right self defense licenses are not issued a lot ,that is the main difference . European firearms are mostly sporting and hunting , in some cases like Finnland gun ownership rates put most US states to shame.

          On the other hand collectors licences enable collecting full auto firearms that with relative ease that makes many full auto guns also very cheap compared to US

        • Bungameng

          You need to forget the idea of “one European gun culture”. Where CC is shall issue, pistols for self defense are most common (Czech Republic, Estonia). In countries with permissive may issue it is also quite similar (Slovakia, Austria).

  • Scotch

    The gun “with the oddly shaped pistol grip”…”looks to be some sort of competition small caliber pistol or even air pistol” is in fact the SANDER – Leinenpistole (Friedrich Wilhelm Sander marine rope thrower).

    • MR

      The inspiration for Glock’s grip angle? 😉

  • Herr Wolf

    How does getting rid of Belgium’s j-bags count as “suffering”?

    • UCSPanther

      We don’t welcome Stormfront trash here.

      • Herr Wolf

        shut it, j#w, take your little Hasabara act back to Tel Aviv. also- your favorite German’s b-day is on 4-20. 88.

        • UCSPanther

          Hey mods: Kick this insignificant little worm to the trash heap.

          Thanks.

          • Herr Wolf

            i told you to shut it j#w boy Hasabara troll. 88

          • USS Liberty

            you mad, j#w?

          • UCSPanther

            To the garbage heap, you illiterate pile of trash…

          • USS Liberty

            how long will your lies hold up?

          • He’s been banned. Racist need to go elsewhere.

          • SS Totenkopf

            sure Phil. also- j#ws aren’t a race but being a cop you wouldn’t know that

        • Dan

          Such an angry little boy, there there mommy will make you a sandwich and koolaid and you can run around in your little inbred hitler onesy and make a fort like his bunker and hopefully like your socially inept hero you never come out. Really was a shame hitler liked penis.

          • Herr Wolf

            your j#w mind f##k won’t work on me j#w boy. 88

          • USS Liberty

            just because all of you vile j#ws like sucking c#ck doesn’t mean you should project on others. 88

          • Dan

            Oh you changed your name just cute. Still too bad you idol an inbred closet homosexual who was too cowardly to face the consequences of his actions. Such a glorious death, underground hiding in fear. Not unlike you hiding behind a computer screen. Do you have the same mustace as he? You know so it tickles your boyfriend in just the right way.

  • Godverdomme

    As a Belgian:
    1) Europe is really not gun-free. There are a few freak states where it’s impossible to own a gun, but most EU countries allow ownership of guns for sport, hunting & recreation if you apply for the right permits & jump through a few hoops. Self-defense is stickier (usually legal to do, but not premedidated). Carry is the biggest issue, only countries like the Czech Republic are “shall issue”. Suppressors are even weirder, where strict countries like the UK allow suppressor use, while moderately decent countries like Belgium ban them (and subsequently close a few open air gun ranges for being “too loud near living areas”).
    2) The lunatic that shot up Liège used re-activated & home made grenades as well as a full auto FAL. None of these things are legal or on the HFD list which was abolished. But still politicians used it as a reason to get rid of the HFD list.

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      As a Brit who lived in the US for a period I always found the American approach to suppressors a bit strange.

      Getting one here in the UK is fairly easy (usually saying it reduces noise pollution and risk of hearing damage is all you need to get one) yet when I lived across the pond (in Texas) I had friends who had waited almost a year to have everything approved and even then they were not allowed to use them when hunting for some strange reason (although I believe it is legal in Texas now).

      I think a lot of Americans would be surprised at how many gun owners there are in the UK.

      • Read the article I have here on TFB about international gun ownership, I think you’d appreciate. I would have certainly appreciated adding that bit about suppressors in.

        • Adam

          Got a link to the article? As for suppressors, I love New Zealands laws,,,,,cant be beat…. Even the cops and rangers prefer you use them so they dont get noise complaints…

      • avconsumer2

        “As a Brit who lived in the US for a period I always found the American approach to suppressors a bit strange.”

        I think I speak for all of us (Americans) who frequent TFB… as Americans, we also find the ATF’s approach to suppressors a bit strange.

  • Diver6106

    … Unarmed, until run over by a war – Belgium twice in the 20th century. Then, as with the UK, it is ARMS!!! America come and arm us!!! I think a well armed populace is a free populace – and prepared to keep it that way.

    • The Truth

      Europe will be Screaming for the arsenal of Democracy ,If the Russian Federation were to declare war on the
      EU,There screwed they have downsized there militaries. Meanwhile russia
      has rebuilt there military and beefed up it’s military spending and is
      testing out there newly rebuilt military in Ukraine as a clear precursor
      to a future war in Europe very much like the ussr and nazi germany did
      in spain during it’s civil war experimenting and seeing what tactics
      and technology work,need upgrades, or replacement and rethinking.

      • Diver6106

        Europe, even our close allies, made a conscious decision after the collapse of the USSR, to down size and not spend as much modernizing their forces. They just could not or would not keep up with the high technology of weapons as the U.S. Forces procured. Essentially letting the U.S. taxpayer pay for advanced weapons, as the U.S. would have to come to the aid of Europe in a crisis. And most of Europe is not interested in fighting regional contingencies, even if it is a genocide or radicals at their southern border. So their defense is at their borders with some small forces for global contingencies IF the U.S. is willing to commit massive forces, technology, air power, transport, navy, etc. to the effort. And in such contingencies, they would NOT be the last out or seek a high visibility role, let the U.S. do that and the taxpayer take the bulk of what it cost. So we are still the arsenal and last bastion of democracy – because of the U.S. Taxpayer!

  • USS Liberty

    How does Belgium getting rid of its j#ws qualify as “suffering”?

  • SS Totenkopf

    how does a country getting rid of its j#ws count as suffering?

    • sometrend

      so,you condone murdering folks simply because of a name? I am a fervent pro gun rights individual but even I can come up with instances where some people should not have,or have access to a firearm;)

  • I’ll make a mental note to take out all and any sort of humor from my future articles, because apparently being sarcastic isn’t appreciated anymore.

    • wetcorps

      I admit I missed the joke. As often with sarcasm over the internet, some people won’t get it straight away.
      Don’t let that stop you 🙂

  • Rock Island Auction

    What a collection! Fantastic!

  • petru sova

    Several years ago I briefly corresponded with a fellow from Bulgaria who stated that in his country you can own full auto recently manufactured weapons unlike the Slave State of the U.S.A. which banned the civilian ownership of newly manufactured full auto weapons.