The Iranian-built “Berno” was originally designed by Czechoslovakia’s Zbrojovka Brno Company, which was a weapons and vehicle manufacturing firm. The Czechoslovak rifle was actually based on the German Gew 98b design. Technically, this was the Mauser 1898, featuring a total length of 1250 mm, originally as the G98 (meaning Gewehr 98, meaning the 1898 rifle 1898 model for the Imperial German Army). This design was so reliable and it influenced the production of some models of the US Springfield and British Lee-Enfield rifles.
The original Mauser G98 from which the Czechoslovak Brno was based on (Picture Source: Aliparsa.com). Several industrialized nations have built the Mauser rifle and clones have been made in virtually every through license agreements with the Mauser firm in Orberndorf, Germany. One of the most prominent of these licensing arrangements was made with Czechoslovakia which led to the production (also via licensing) of high-quality models in Iran as well. Several other nations have also produced the Mauser-based rifle, including, Turkey, Peru, Venezuela, Spain, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Sweden, Belgium, Argentina, and Yugoslavia.
It did not take long for this venerable weapon with its excellent bolt-action technology to find its way into Iran by the early 1900s. Iranian Constitutional fighters used this weapon in their battles to promote what was Western Asia’s first Democracy movement.
An excellent photo of Iranian Constitutional Fighters armed with the Mauser (Picture Source: Aliparsa.com). This weapon was to be later introduced on a much larger scale as the Iranian army manufactured it under license from the Czechoslovak Zbrojovka Brno Company.
By the mid-1920s, two other types of rifles were being used in Iran: the Russian Mosin-Nagant (Noghaan, or Naaghaan, نوغان- ناغان in the popular slang of the time)and the British Lee-Enfield. Explanations vary as to why the administration of Reza Shah chose to adopt the Mauser-based Brno. One strong possibility is that Reza Shah wanted to distance the Iranian army’s reliance on Britain and Russia as sources of military supplies. Whatever the true reason, the Iranian Army opted to adopt the Berno (Brno) as its primary infantry rifle. In addition, the Berno (Brno) was considered to be he best rifle of its type at the time.