by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Air rifle
  • A lead sled
  • Sights
  • We’ll get dirty!

Today we start looking at the famous Egyptian Hakim underlever spring-piston air rifle trainer. It is a pellet rifle trainer for the 8mm Hakim battle rifle the Egyptians used for several years in the ’50 and into the ’60s. Some Egyptian law enforcement units are reportedly still using them today.

History

At the end of WW II Egypt found themselves awash in German 8mm rifle ammo left behind when the Afrika Corps left the continent. There was so much ammo that it prompted Egyptian military planners to create a new rifle to use it. Of course they could have just snatched up several hundred thousand Mauser K98s that were already chambered for the round, but they wanted something better — something of their own. Their recent exposure to the U.S. Garand gave them a taste for a semiautomatic rifle, but the U.S. wasn’t turning loose of any of them at the time. That would probably have made an ideal rifle to convert, as the American 30-06 and German 7.92X57mm (8mm Mauser) cartridges are quite similar.

Instead, the Egyptians went to Sweden and bought the rights to the 6.5X55mm Ljungman semiautomatic rifle, complete with the tooling to build it. This was transported to Egypt, along with Swedish technical assistance, and set up to make a modified rifle — the Hakim. The Hakim is chambered for the 8mm Mauser, a larger and more powerful round than the Swedish 6.5X55. So the rifle has a muzzle brake machined into the barrel to control recoil.

Hakim firearm
The 8mm Egyptian Hakim ia a large semiautomatic battle rifle that’s based on the Swedish Ljungman.

Hakim muzzle brake
The muzzle brake is machined into the barrel. Only the end cap can be removed.

The Hakim operates on the direct impingement process, where the expanding gas from the fired cartridge travels back to operate the bolt. Because the 8mm Mauser cartridge is loaded to widely different specifications, depending on who made it, a gas adjustment valve is placed inline with the gas flow so the operator can control the amount of gas that hits the bolt.

My Hakim battle rifle weighs 10 pounds 15 oz. with a sling attached but no bayonet. That’s a half-pound more than the air rifle trainer. It’s a real load! It’s almost a pound heavier than a Garand that was already considered too heavy, and it’s a couple pounds more than most battle rifles of that era. Maybe all that free ammo came at a price that was too dear?

The Hakim has been called the “Egyptian Garand,” and I’d like to speak to whoever dreamed up that moniker. Because a Hakim is nothing like a Garand — at least mine isn’t. Its parts are so closely fitted that the rifle jams when dirty — not a good quality for a middle-eastern battle rifle. Its felt recoil is like a punch from a prizefrighter — I don’t care what the armchair ninjas say. Most of them have not shot one — I have!,

Also, it either doesn’t cycle the bolt or else it throws the spent cartridge 35 feet or more to the right front — depending on how the gas valve is adjusted. There are tree settings and none of them work very well from my perspective. Oh, and the accuracy is sub-par — at least my example is, and mine has a like-new barrel with a shiny bore and pristine rifling.

dented cases
The cases are uniformly dented at the mouth and on the side. The cartridge deflector is responsible for the side. The mouth is no problem, but the case body is. I wouldn’t try to reload them.

The final insult is the fact that all brass is deeply dented by a stout wire cartridge deflector during ejection and rendered unreloadable after the first firing. After shooting half a box of factory commercial cartridges through my rifle I can see why the Egyptians wanted a trainer! I find the Egyptian Hakim to be the most vile battle rifle ever conceived, though I’m told that the original Ljungman is even worse! Egypt produced up to 70,000 Hakims.

Hakim action
That slanted wire cartridge deflector is what dents the cases. It throws them to the front — away from the shooter.

Air rifle

I don’t know who approached who first, but somehow the Egyptian military got together with the German company, Anschütz, around 1953 and contracted for them to convert a single shot underlever air rifle already in production into a pellet rifle that resembled their Hakim. All it took was different wood and a few other minor parts.

They also approached Beretta, who made a 10-shot semiautomatic .22 rimfire trainer, but that isn’t part of this story. At any rate, Anschütz produced up to 2,800 pellet rifles for Egypt in 1954 and ’55.

Hakim
You’ll never see an original Hakim trainer that looks this good. This one sports a custom stock that was made by a great craftsman.

The Hakim air rifle was as good as the firearm was bad. It is .22 caliber and loads through a rotating tap that opens upon cocking. It’s not a powerful rifle, so the cocking effort is relatively easy and the recoil is almost non-existent, if the rifle is tuned correctly. All those things add up to a wonderful air rifle that’s both accurate and pleasant to shoot.

tap open
When the underlever is pulled down it automatically opens the loading tap. Drop a pellet in nose-fire and rotate closed to fire.

A lead sled

My Hakim air rifle weighs 10 lbs. 7 oz, which is pretty much what they all weigh. Mine has custom wood that somebody spent a lot of time on, and it looks wonderful. The average Hakim trainer has a dark oil-soaked walnut stock that looks like it was used in a lumberjack pole-climbing competition. Edith used to say they looked like they had been set on fire and put out with an ice pick! This is what normally happens to any military equipment that isn’t assigned to a specific soldier. These trainers rested in some arms room until they were needed, then they were brought out, used and put away. In the Army we used to say, “Run hard and hung up wet.” I have cleaned many of them that came directly from the Egyptian army and they were always loaded with sand and had the lead remnants of pellets and finishing nails embedded in their piston seals. Yes — finishing nails. Americans aren’t the only cheap airgunners, it seems.

Sights

The sights are fully adjustable, yet they retain the military look. At the rear of the rifle the end cap has short 11mm dovetails that will accept a short scope or dot sight base. When I cover performance in Part 2 I’ll show you just how accurate they can be!

Hakims come with a sling attached to swivels located at the bottom of the stock. The sling looks cool, but gets in the way of the underlever when shooting, so I leave mine off. There is no bayonet lug. I guess the Egyptians were reasonable with how close the resemblance had to be.

The trigger is 2-stage and finely adjustable. When it is adjusted, the primary adjustment affects the amount of sear contact , so this isn’t a good rifle to set the release super-light. Something in the 3-pound range is probably as low as you should go. The sear and trigger parts are finely finished and should be reasonably free from creep. If you want to know more about adjusting the trigger pr stripping and tuning a Hakim, read this 7-part blog.

We’ll get dirty!

Next time we will learn the velocity of all Hakims, and mine in particular. We will also punch some paper. And I will finish by telling you whether you should get a Hakim air rifle.