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Mamba Pistol

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Mamba Pistol

The origins of the Mamba Pistol are to be dated back to what was then Rhodesia, in the mid-to-late 1970s. Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe). Both of those Countries were plagued with terrorism, but the Rhodesian situation was the worse. Both Countries were also under arms embargo, but while in fact both were secretly supported by USA and Israel, and while South Africa had in fact developed, before the embargo, a national armaments industry that helped it to get over the sanctions untouched, Rhodesia struggled for years in desperate attempt to procure war materials smuggling them from illegal traffickers and from "friendly Countries", and exploiting its small domestic industry as far as it could; and even if their engineers came out with many interesting designs that were latter developed into functional, commercially viable weapons in the neighbour South Africa, the Apartheid regime had eventually to succumb. The MAMBA pistol makes no exception to this.

Developed in Rhodesia and later produced in the Republic of South Africa, the MAMBA pistol (a MAMBA is an African snake which is particularly known for its very very deadly poison that leaves poor or no survival possibilities even to a human being in case of a bite) is a semi-automatic pistol intended for military & police duty and combat purposes. It is entirely made in stainless steel (a material which became somewhat rare in the late 1970s Rhodesia, and this is probably what killed it from the manufacture in its primary homeland), with polymer grips and high-capacity magazine. Two manufacturing firms are to be related to the first offspring of this weapon: RELAY PRODUCTS (Pty) LTD. and VIPER ENGINEERING (Pty) LTD. It's unknown which one of them (IF) was the primary source of the project (and thus based in Rhodesia) and which was, instead, the South African manufacturer. The MAMBA works in semi-automatic, recoil-operated, locked-breech single/double action based on the Browning principle. Its only safety seems to be a Browning-style frame mounted safety that locks the hammer and the slide, so, like the M1911 and FN GP-35 pistols, the hammer could be locked either in cocked or in lowered position, allowing the gun to be carried in "cocked and locked" state, with safety on, hammer cocked and round chambered. Interesting enough, the MAMBA doesn't sports any decocking system, which is unusual for a SA/DA pistol, at least today. All in all, the similarities that this pistol bears, at a quick glance, with the SMITH&WESSON series of full-size semi-automatic pistols are definitely only coincidental and in any way regard only the external look of the weapon. The grip-mounted magazine and the slide stop are placed only on the left side of the pistol, but the frame-mounted safety is placed ambidextrously.

All in all, the MAMBA handgun had a lot going for it. It was a high-capacity pistol (15 rounds with possibility of 1 additional rounds in chamber), robustly made in stainless steel and with some features that were just appearing at the time (the curved trigger guard and the highly "gripping" grip, to say a few). It was not pointed out to have some major technical failures to mess the project up or to suffer for poor worksmanship. What is known is that the South African version was not exactly a top-seller, and that shortly after the "original" manufacturers, seeing the writing on the wall that announced that shortly the arms embargo would have struck South Africa stopping them from exporting firearms, gave away the manufacturing arms to NAVY ARMS COMPANY, INC. of USA. The American production of MAMBA pistols didn't last more than a handful of years, and the overall production roll of this handgun, either in South Africa and the USA, can be accounted to some hundreds of pieces. NAVY ARMS obtained the manufacturing license in the early 1980s, and manufactured the Mamba Pistol in both, 9x19mm and .7'65x21'5mm "Parabellum" (a.k.a. the .30-Luger) for the Countries whose laws didn't allowed such ammunition to be used for civilian purposes (mainly Europe) because the very few samples of the MAMBA pistols imported to Italy were authorized as far as from 01/29/1981, and were made by NAVY ARMS. Even if NAVY ARMS is known to have launched it with a vigorous marketing campaign in the early 1980s, the MAMBA pistol was probably killed by a few eventualities: while the rumors of poor workmanship of the NAVY ARMS samples can not be confirmed, the pistol was not bound to be a major seller anyway; the calibers it was chambered in, the .9x19mm and .30-Luger, were not the "Top" either in the USA and Europe, practical shooters had much better to go for (even in Italy the prohibition of the .9x19mm was about to be made useless by the launch of the "Italian Nine", the .9x21mm-IMI cartridge, which is just a .9x19mm cartridge with a longer case which holds more load, allowing the bullet a higher range and accuracy, and more safety since it has much better bullet retention); not to mention that in the USA, the caliber of choice for the sports shooters was the .45-ACP, and the .9x19mm would have gone "popular" only with the adoption of a 9mm handgun by the US Armed Forces, about 8 years later; and even the collectors that wanted a 9mm handgun had much better to go for, from the then very modern BERETTA and HECKLER & KOCH designs to the WW2 "antiques". And, last but not least, the MAMBA, being about 23 centimetres long, was way too big for concealed carry.

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