Original Antique French Lebel Modèle 1886 R35 Converted Carbine by Tulle with Sling - Serial Number G 67472

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The Lebel Model 1886 rifle (French: Fusil Modèle 1886 dit "Fusil Lebel") is also known as the "Fusil Mle 1886 M93", after a bolt modification was added in 1893. It is an 8 mm bolt action infantry rifle that entered service in the French Army in 1887. The Lebel rifle has the distinction of being the first military firearm to use smokeless powder ammunition. The new propellant powder, "Poudre B," was nitrocellulose-based and had been invented in 1884 by French chemist Paul Vieille. Lieutenant Colonel Nicolas Lebel contributed a flat nosed 8 mm full metal jacket bullet ("Balle M," or "Balle Lebel").

Twelve years later, in 1898, a solid brass pointed (spitzer) and boat-tail bullet called "Balle D" was retained for all 8mm Lebel ammunition. Featuring an oversized bolt with front locking lugs and a massive receiver, the Lebel rifle was a durable design capable of long range performance. In spite of early obsolete features, such as its tube magazine and the shape of 8mm Lebel rimmed ammunition, the Lebel rifle remained the basic weapon of French line infantry during World War I (1914–1918). Altogether, 3.45 million Lebel rifles were produced by the three French state factories between 1887 and 1916.

Between 1935 and 1940, a carbine-length (17.7 inch barrel) version of the Lebel was issued to mounted colonial troops in North Africa. This short carbine version of the Lebel, called the Mle 1886 M93-R35, was assembled in large numbers (about 50,000) at Manufacture d'Armes de Tulle (MAT), beginning in 1935. It used all of the Lebel's parts except for a newly manufactured shorter barrel of carbine length. Since the new carbine's tube magazine had to be shortened as well, its magazine capacity was only three rounds.

This is a very nice example of one of these Lebel colonial carbines, complete with an original period sling. The left side of the receiver marked with MANUFACTURE D'ARMES / Tulle, and to the right MLE 1886 R 35, indicating manufacture at the government arsenal at Tulle. This example is interesting, as there is no "M93" marking from the bolt modification it should have received. It is possible that the marking was missed, or that the rifle missed the modification. It may have also been stored as a receiver, and not put back into service until conversion. The barrel is stamped MF 1939, indicating the year that it was converted to a carbine. Under this is it stamped 8.M.M. LEBEL, possibly from after importation.

The carbine has arsenal proofs on most parts, and has serial number G 67472 on the receiver floor plate, barrel, and on the bolt. The barrel and bolt numbers were were definitely added to match the receiver, but the floor plate number is original, and records indicate it was produced in 1889 or 1890. These were added during conversion, as the barrel and other parts were completely replaced.

Condition of the rifle is good, though it definitely has seen long service. The barrel and receiver have been painted black, which is the standard finish used for colonial issue in the Pre-WWII years. The bolt and interior have a worn phosphate finish, also typical of being refurbished and converted in the Pre-WWII years for colonial mounted service in North Africa. The bore is in excellent shape, with crisp lands and grooves and a bright finish, showing very little use. The rifle cycles well, with a crisp dry fire, and the magazine cutoff works correctly. The arsenal reconditioned stock looks great, and does not look to have seen much use since conversion. The original sling is in good shape, though it is partly torn through around the front ring, caused by rust staining from the metal.

Made famous by the GARY COOPER Movie of BEAU GESTE, all about
the French Foreign Legion, this was the rifle of the time in the later 1880's. A nice Mle 1886 R35 Lebel carbine, with bayonet and sling, fully cleaned and ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1889-1890 - updated later
Caliber:   8×50mmR Lebel
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 17.7 Inches
Overall Length: 37 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: 3 round tube magazine

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