Original French Fusil Gras Modèle 1874 M80 with Brass Mounts - Dated 1883
Original item: Only One Available. The Fusil Gras Modèle 1874 M80 was a French service rifle of the 19th century. The Gras used by the French Army was an adaptation to metallic cartridge of the Chassepot breech-loading rifle by Colonel Basile Gras.
The standard Gras infantry rifle had all steel furniture and the use of brass was reserved for weapons designed for Colonial Service as tropical conditions often hastened oxidation of the steel.
This is a 7" barrel short rifle or fusel has a short rear-sight and almost certainly produced for colonial service in North Africa. It is complete with sling swivels and is dated "1883" it may have been intended for Camel mounted troops in Algeria. It is missing the extractor from the bolt head but this in no way detracts from the display appearance.
This example is well marked and was made at the French arsenal in St.Etienne. As far as Gras rifles go brass mounted examples are by far the rarest.
This rifle had a caliber of 11mm and used black powder centerfire cartridges that weighed 25 grams. It was a robust and hard-hitting weapon, but it had no magazine and so could only fire one shot after loading. It also had a triangular-shaped sword bayonet, known as the Model 1874 "Gras" sword bayonet. It was replaced by the Lebel rifle in 1886, the first rifle to use smokeless gunpowder. In the meantime, about 400,000 Gras rifles had been manufactured.
The metallic-cartridge Gras was manufactured in response to the development of the metallic cartridge designed by Colonel Boxer in 1866 (Boxer cartridge), and the British 1870 Martini-Henry rifle. Those were soon emulated by the Germans with the 1871 Mauser.
The Hellenic Army adopted the Gras in 1877, and it was used in all conflicts up until the Second World War. It became the favourite weapon of Greek guerrilla fighters, from the various revolts against the Ottoman Empire to the resistance against the Axis, acquiring legendary status. The name entered the Greek language, and grades (????de?) was a term colloquially applied to all rifles during the first half of the 20th century. It was manufactured by Manufacture d'armes de Saint-Étienne, one of several government-owned arms factories in France.
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