The Fišeklije (loosely translated as Cartrigde carriers, in Serbian) were rifle clip pouches of Yugoslavian origin. They were firstly produced and issued to the Yugoslavian People's Army (YPA) just a few years after World War II (in 1948), when recently renamed Zavodi Crvena Zastava (Red Flag Factories) from town of Kragujevac in then Serbian Socialist Republic started producing their first post-war firearm - the CZ M-48 (Crvena Zastava Model 1948) colloquially known as Tandžara (Tandzhara), a popular nickname given back during WWII and used extensively by both Partisans and Chetniks as well as Ustaše units. It was a clone of the well known German Mauser K-98k (Karabiner 1898 Kurz) bolt action rifle, what was actually just a restarted production of earlier Yugoslavian copy originally designated as M-24 (Model 1924), whose production was suspended after Invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941 and was not again initiated until 1948.
Despite being a Yugoslavian term, the origins of unique and somewhat odd name Fišeklije (pronounced; Fishekliye) are not traced into Slavic languages at all, but actually comes from Turkish, where the word Fişek (pronounced Fishek) simply means - Cartridge. This does not surprise at all, since Serbian kingdom was under Ottoman occupation for almost five hundrer years (from 14th until 19th century), in which period the native Serbian language was severely contaminated with many Turkish loanwords which were never later erased but remained to this day, and the term Fišeklije, among many others, is a prime example of that. This also serves as an evidence that the Serbian language was the only official and recognized one in the entire YPA.
There were two types of Fišeklije altogether; apart from first and previously mentioned version intended for CZ M-48 (known simply as Fišeklije M-48), eleven years later from their first appearance, in 1959, another version appeared when SFRY started production of CZ M-59 (Crvena Zastava Model 1959) a Yugoslavian licensed copy of then recently discontinued Soviet SKS (Samozarjadnij Karabin Simonova, meaning Self loading Carbine of Semenov) semi automatic rifle, which was, after only very brief usage, phased out from both serial production and military service in Soviet army in favor to the world famous AK (Avtomat Kalašnjikova), which appeared only few years behind it. That newer and second type is known as Fišeklije M-59.
Today, they are simply known as Yugoslav ammo pouches or Yugo rifle pouches and, despite the fact that they are not more than thirty years in production, are still popular and plentiful (inside, as well as outside former Yugoslavia) due to the fact that they are often being used by various hunters or for extra ammo while training at shooting grounds.
As some other pieces of early YPA equipment (like their combat harness, as an example), the Fišeklije were actually also based on and heavily dervied from WWII German version, known as Patronentasche K-98 (literally; Cartrigde bag). However, they are still not a pure clone of those, since the original German version always came in tripe configuration (three pouches in one), in contrast to Yugoslavian which came either as a single, or much more often, as double. Moreover, the German variant was always covered with black leather protective coating, while the Yugoslavian were never coated, but only made from pure/bare calfskin leather, which explains their somewhat odd yellowish appearance.
They were truly simple in design, apart from being made from pure genuine leather (up to three milimeters thick) as already mentioned, they featured a wide belt loop on the back side together with a standard D-ring above it, which served to be linked onto the strap (as alternative to being just pulled through the belt) of their standard-issue and also previusly mentioned combat harness. Although, the Yugoslavian version of the popular Y straps (officially known as uprtači; suspenders, in Serbian), in contrast to German ones (from which they were directly dervied, after all), absolutely never actually featured any kind of clips for that matter, so it is not really clear why the Yugoslavian version of these pouches literally always came with a D-ring on the back side. (it could be that this was simply a blind-copy or eventually an alternative if the belt loop was tear out).
Roughly same as in German version, the buckling was simply done by pressing a leather piece with its drilled hole over the brass made button, which was located under, that is, on the bottom of the each pouch and which is secured in place from the inside.
The Fišeklije M-48 were practically intended for any long sized (rifle), standard five round clip cartridges, in which three of those could be stored (three five round clips of 7,92x57mm caliber in this specific case). This means that, if using standard issue double pouches (the most often version), an infantryman armed with a bolt-action rifle had thirty rounds in reserve altogether, that is, six full clips (a standard YPA CZ M-48 armed infantryman had as much as sixty rounds or twelve clips, since they were always issued with two sets of these double pouches to be carried on the frontal part of their belt, right in front of the both strap endings.)
Despite the fact that some other leather-made YPA equipment featured much darker appearace due to being standardly coated with brownish protective coating (like their officer's harness, as the finest example), the Fišeklije were deliberately never manufactured as such, simply due to the fact that they were always and only intended exclusively for common soldiers (the ones equipped with yellowish belt featuring double straps) while YPA officers were never issued with any kind of rifles in general back in that period, but rather used sub-machine guns, like their CZ M-49 or later, M-56.
Regardless of the fact that YPA finally introduced automatic rifles in their arsenal back in 1970, (their CZ M-70, a Yugoslavian licensed copy of famous Soviet AKM) which were distrubuted to both officers and regular soldiers, the Fišeklije were continued to be officially used and even produced as far as early 1990s (even the M-48 was phased out from production back in 1965), that is, until the very end of SFRY and dissolvment of the YPA. However, that was due to the fact that new conscripts were being firstly trained exactly with CZ M-48, which served as their starting weapon during their service in the army. Moreover, the CZ M-48 rifle was a standard firearm of the Yugoslavian territorial defense (Teritorijalna Odbrana - TO), which, as a second-grade armed force (a sort of people's militia), often received old and outdated weaponry from the Army. Despite that however, the YPA still ended as probably the last European army which used those obsolete bolt action rifles along with these rifle-clip pouches as the standard conscript's firearm during the entire Cold war era, in other words - until its very end of existence.
Furthermore, these pouches were often practically used for carrying hand grenades (their standard-issue M-52 metallic, or newer, M-75 plastic one, often popularly nicknamed Kašikara, meaning spoon - another Turkish loanword in Serbian), if not almost as often as for their original role, since the usual D-rings issued on the belts (which were originally intended exactly for carrying hand grenades) were sometimes unpopular by some YPA personnel due to grenades having tendency to flee and constantly hit the body while running since they were not being reliably fixed to anything but just linked to the D-ring via its own ring. This also explains why many individuals were seen with either double or single M-48 pouches on their belts (especially during the war od 1990s) even if not using the CZ M-48 or any other bolt action rifle featuring standard five-round clips.
As all other pieces of YPA leather clothing, these pouches were produced mostly in three biggest Yugoslavian leather clothing industries, Sloboda (Freedom) from town of Čačak in SRS (Socialist Republic of Serbia), Sloga (Unity) from town of Tešanj in SRBIH (Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and in Zvezda (Star) from Yugoslavian captial of Belgrade.
Although the YPA was the only official user of both the rifle and these pouches, the Fišeklije were neverthless used by all conflicting sides during approximately ten year long Yugoslavian wars of 1990s, that is, by literally any individual armed with CZ M-48 bolt action rifle - which was even then extensively used (mainly due to lack of more modern firearms, especially in opposing forces such as Croatian and Bosnian).
As mentioned back in introduction, there was another version of the pouches, designated as Fišeklije M-59 to be used for those infantrymen armed with CZ M-59 semi automatic rifle (in 1966 renamed to M-59/66, due to having a rifle grenade attachement installed on the barrel end). M-59/SKS was truly unique among all other firearms of its class (semi automatic/self loading rifles) due to using an intermediate cartridge instead of the usual long one, as found in almost all other rifles of such type - with exception of American M1 Carbine, the first and the only semi automatic rifle along with Soviet SKS to use the intermediate round and the only one to use it with a rounded bullet (like pistol/sub-machine gun) instead of a sharp one, as found anywhere else. Exactly due to that, the Fišeklije M-59 were sensibly longer but in the same time, also much narrower than the standard M-48 ones (being 20x17cm in size, compared to 15x20cm in M-48 version), in order to accomodate longer - ten round clips of shorter, 7,62x39mm M43/67 rounds, compared to shorter, five round clips of longer, 7,92x57mm round, as found in M-48 pouches.
This meant that, in contrast to M-48 pouches (which can be freely used for any standard five round long cartridge clip, as mentioned), the M-59 pouches could be exclusively used only for carachteristic intermediate ten-round clips of SKS/M-59. Moreover, again due to their narowness, the M-59 pouches could not be used even for carrying of hand grenades like the ones for M-48, (which were actually very popular for that matter), exactly due to which the M-48 pouhes were far more popular and common than these M-59 ones.
Also, exactly due to being longer, the M-59 pouches also featured a slightly redesigned buckling compared to the standard M-48 ones, as their buckling knob was located in the middle of on the forefront, instead of it being located under (on the bottom of the pouch) as found in M-48 version. Moreover, their buckling piece was not just sewn onto the sole pouch like on M-48 version, but also secured with a visible nail, due to which it is very easily to immediately tell apart the M-48 pouches from the M-59 ones.
In contrast to the M-48 pouches, which existed in solo configuration (single pouch) apart from standard double, the M-59 ones never existed as a single, but exclusively as double pouches. This was due to the logical fact that CZ M-59, as an semi-automatic/self loading rifle, consumed its ammunition much quicker and faster than the classic bolt-action CZ M-48 rifle. Moreover, as mentioned already, the M-59 featured severely weaker cartridge (7,62x39mm) with much inferior range, accuracy as well as penetration than the long sized cartridge of M-48 (7,92x57mm), exactly due to which the M-59 usually required more ammunition (spare clips) than M-48, even despite the fact that it featured ten-round clips compared to only five round of M-48.
To be expanded.