Mysterious Iranian .50 Cals, Part 3

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

A keen-eyed reader identified the .50 Cal rifle in my previous post, I believe correctly, as the old version of the Heinrich Fortmeier single-shot rifle.

Old model Heinrich Fortmeier .50 BMG. Photo from Truth About Guns (click through for a review of the gun).

Heinrich Fortmeier designed the Steyr HS-50, which is basically Fortmeier’s single shot with a number of minor improvements: bigger muzzle brake, Steyr-style bolt handle and a fluted barrel with a distinct taper.

Steyr HS-50
Steyr HS-50
.50 Cal said to be found in Iraq in 2008.
Iranian Steyr HS-50
Iranian Steyr HS-50

I was told that a number of “Iraqi HS-50″ were recovered from Sadr City in 2008 (I have no way to verify this, I am taking the information that was passed to me at face value). It clearly has the Iranian HS-50 pistol grip but a Fortmeier barrel and muzzle brake.

My theory is this: Fortmeier sold Iran a number of their rifles. They later licensed the design to Steyr. Steyr then got Fortmeier to produce a large number of their original rifles for Iran, but with the Steyr-brand bolt handle and their 3-baffle muzzle brake. I believe Steyr’s original claim they sold 800 HS-50 rifles to Iran was a load of BS. They sold 800 Fortmeier rifles. The Fortmeier has a number of distinct differences to the HS-50 and cannot be considered the same rifle (in the same way that a M16A3 cannot be called a M16A1 or a M4).

That still does not explain why a Fortmeier was found in Iraq. Given its dilapidated state (rusted bolt handle), I think it dates back a number of years before the Steyr-Iran sale. Possibly Iran troops wore out or mistreated some of their Fortmeiers and they ended up in the junk pile to be shipped off overseas to their militant allies. I struggle to believe that the Iranian government intended easily traceable weapons to be shipped to Iraq. Iran has one of the most convoluted governments in the world where even the Iranian’s are not sure who is in charge, so SNAFUs like are surely not uncommon.

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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  • 15yroldgunman 15yroldgunman on Jul 16, 2012

    http://uskowioniran.blogspo.... this is pretty neat according to this they copy the mark 19 grenade launcher

  • Lance Lance on Jul 16, 2012

    Not surprised if they took features on multiple rifles and molded them into there own design. This is a nation to do that they did the same on there Type-56 AK copy featuring some Russian features like a ribbed dust cover on a mostly Chinese AK rifle so not surprised.