Original French Fusil Mle 1866 Chassepot Needle Fire Rifle by Rare Maker Cahen-Lyon et Cie - Dated 1868
Original Item: Only One Available. Despite the fact that the French needle fire Chassepot rifle was far superior to the needle fire Prussian Dreyse rifle, the French took a swift and decisive beating in the war of 1870-71. In fairness to the French, the defeat was due to Napoleon III's foolhardiness in allowing himself to get captured at the Battle of Sedan and the show was then over.
The Chassepot rifle of 1866 was a single shot bolt-action rifle and was among the best of it's kind in 1866. It was quickly surpassed, principally by the British Martini-Henry, and was obsoleted in 1874 with the introduction of the metallic cartridge Gras Rifle that was in turn superseded in 1886 with the Lebel Rifle.
Our example here is marked 1868 on the barrel knoxform, indicating 1868 manufacture. The receiver is marked with the name of a very rare contractor who produce these rifles, CAHEN - LYON et Cie., as well as with MLE 1866. Cahen-Lyon was a private firm that the French government contracted to meet the increased demand while the new factory at St-Etienne was being completed. Cahen-Lyon, in turn, subcontracted to various European manufacturers, which were noted in script on the receiver. Unfortunately the writing on this receiver cannot be read anymore, so we do not know where it was built.
The rifle is in fine condition with a bare steel finish, un-blued, as it was originally issued, though it has acquired a gray patina over the decades, with some areas of light corrosion. The rifle comes complete with cleaning rod and a partly intact needle, along with the leather sealing washers for the breech. The rifle is serial numbered U 8192 on the barrel and bayonet stand, though the rest of the serial numbers are not matching, indicating long service. It comes with a French-style sling, though it definitely appears to be later production, with a New Old stock look to it.
The rifle bears French proofs along with French military and acceptance markings. These are present on most of the metal components of the rifle. The bore has clear lands and grooves, with some bright areas, though it definitely was not cleaned properly, and has corrosion and fouling. Stock has been fully cleaned and has a wonderful chestnut color, though unfortunately it has been sanded down at some point in its life, so the original cartouche on the right face of the butt stock has been removed, and the wooden plug has fallen out.
This is a wonderful and unique example of a rare ignition system by an even rarer government contractor. Ready to display.
Year of Manufacture: 1868
Caliber: 11 mm (.433 inches)
Ammunition Type: Pin-Fire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 32 Inches
Overall Length: 51.6 Inches
Feed System: Single Shot
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