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The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

MKE Industry and Technology Museum

We try to balance this section of RECOIL by bringing you up to speed with places to visit in the USA, but also look beyond our own borders to places that are just a little off the beaten path. The rewards of doing so are many fold — we gain a perspective on history from different sides that allows a more complete understanding, particularly valuable when studying armed conflicts. We also get to see how weapons development is carried out in cultures that differ from our own, learning the good and bad points of both.

This German naval turret and gun breech still shows deep rifling despite being cut up with a gas ax and left outside for almost a century. The barrel shows evidence of having been constructed in layers, like rings in a tree stump.

This German naval turret and gun breech still shows deep rifling despite being cut up with a gas ax and left outside for almost a century. The barrel shows evidence of having been constructed in layers, like rings in a tree stump.

If we were to consider a chunk of real estate where recorded history stretches back to the 6th century B.C., then there's a good chance we might be able to learn more from its place in the chronicles of humanity than, say, Des Moines. With one foot in Asia and the other in Europe, the land now known as Turkey has, for millennia, stood at the crossroads of empires, civilizations, religions, and ethnicities. To say that not all of them have coexisted peaceably with each other is an understatement of epic proportions, so as you might expect, a thriving arms industry has been part of the fabric of society since Alexander the Great was a pup.

WWII-era towed anti-aircraft gun made by General Electric

WWII-era towed anti-aircraft gun made by General Electric

Pak 38 50mm anti-tank gun front, 37mm Pak L/45 rear. Note spoked wooden wheels on both, indicating horse-drawn pieces.

Pak 38 50mm anti-tank gun front, 37mm Pak L/45 rear. Note spoked wooden wheels on both, indicating horse-drawn pieces.

Makina ve Kimya Endustris, or MKE for short, was formed in 1950 in order to supply the Turkish military with arms and ammunition. Its history reaches way beyond that though, as the various elements that went to make up the new company had their roots in the Royal Arsenal formed in the latter part of the 15th century. While its lineage is not as clear-cut as that of Beretta, the two companies are of a similar age and have been making firearms since their inception. Because of their long pedigree, the collection at the MKE Industry and Technology Museum is both wide and deep, covering everything from medieval swords to the latest rifle to enter service with the Turkish infantry, the MPT 76.

1870 Gasser Pattern revolver in 11.25?36mm. The king of Montenegro ordered that every male had a duty to own one.

1870 Gasser Pattern revolver in 11.25?36mm. The king of Montenegro ordered that every male had a duty to own one.

C96 Broomhandle Mauser in 7.63x25

C96 Broomhandle Mauser in 7.63×25

Located in a building that started out as a cavalry barracks in the 19th century and was subsequently converted to a munitions factory, the museum's 48,000 square feet of indoor exhibition space is open, airy, and well laid out. Another 10,000 square feet of exterior exhibits are used to represent the machinery used in weapons production, as well as chunks of iron just too big and heavy to fit through the doors, such as a section of a WWI German battleship turret. Turkey's longstanding relationship with the German state is evident in the origins of many of the machine tools displayed in the museum's grounds, with Krupp, Werner, and Steyr being represented. Flying the flag for the USA is a General Electric-towed artillery piece, displayed next to a collection of explosive ordnance ranging from free-fall aerial bombs to anti-ship mines.

Hotchkiss Portative machine gun in .303 British, as used by the Australian Light Horse regiments at Gallipoli

Hotchkiss Portative machine gun in .303 British, as used by the Australian Light Horse regiments at Gallipoli

Inside, the visitor is greeted by another artillery display, this one of WWI to WWII vintage, and consisting of domestically produced copies of German designs, such as the early 37mm Rheinmetall Pak L/45 shown here. Other artifacts of First World War combat are given the floor space they deserve (Galipoli, after all, is just a couple of hours away up the coast), such as a Hotchkiss Portative machinegun, which saw service with the British, Australian, and New Zealand forces, as well as the U.S. during the Pancho Villa raid. German arms are also covered in detail, as are the Turkish versions of them such as the 1938 Mauser, millions of which were produced under license and many of which made their way to these shores after 1945. Edged weapons from various historical periods are not neglected, and there's an interesting collection of early cartridge handguns for the student of 19th century pistols.

WWI gun limber, along with high explosive and Illum shells

WWI gun limber, along with high explosive and Illum shells

Turkey joined NATO in 1952 and currently fields around 600,000 troops, second in numbers only to the United States amongst the Alliance. Arms from the Cold War era are showcased, such as the Type 3 AK-47 (right) and M14, along with the SVT 40 and MG3. HK designs such as the G3, MP5, and HK33 are represented, and it's interesting to see full-auto guns on display without so much as a velvet rope separating them from the visitor. Brief descriptions in English next to each exhibit mean that you won't be reaching for your phrase book every time you come across a new item.

Cold War-era small arms are on display, with the Type 3 AK-47 leading the way.

Cold War-era small arms are on display, with the Type 3 AK-47 leading the way.

Because MKE's products span the entire spectrum of ordnance, there are anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles standing next to gas masks and mortars, as well as high-explosive and illumination rounds jockeying for space with tungsten penetrators and typewriters. Yes, in addition to producing all manner of death-dealing weaponry, the company also made office equipment as well as mess kits and cutlery.

MKE's long relationship with HK is evident in their product line. Turkish-produced roller-locked guns are currently imported to the United States by Zenith Firearms.

MKE's long relationship with HK is evident in their product line. Turkish-produced roller-locked guns are currently imported to the United States by Zenith Firearms.

We found the Turkish people to be welcoming and friendly during our time in Ankara, and the staff of MKE, in particular, to be knowledgeable and passionate about their country and company. If you're in the area, the industry and technology museum is well worth visiting, and you should plan on spending at least three hours there in order to soak in not only the finished products, but also the industrial processes behind them.

In addition to small arms, the company produces indirect fire assets and the ammunition to feed them.

In addition to small arms, the company produces indirect fire assets and the ammunition to feed them.

MKE Industry and Technology Museum

Address
General Directorate of Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation, Tandogan, Ankara

Hours
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission
Free

Telephone
0-312-296-16-57

URL
[email protected]


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