Original French Fusil Mle 1866 Chassepot Needle Fire Rifle by Rare Maker with Bayonet - Dated 1870/71

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Item Description

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.

No sooner had the defeat occurred the French started fighting among themselves, specifically with the forming of the "Paris Commune" in 1871. It was a disaster for France with Frenchman fighting Frenchman and is the basis tale of the theme for the Broadway play "Les Miserables". The fighting was basically all done in 1871 culminating in "Bloody Week" when as many as 17,000 Communites were slaughtered. The rebellion spread to many cities in France and everywhere was ruthlessly put down over the next year or so.

This Chassepot Rifle is actually dated 1870/71 and was most likely produced directly as a result of the uprising. It has some very interesting markings on the receiver, a rare contractor who produced these rifles, Commission d'Armement Commerce 1870-1871, as well as with MLE 1866.  This was one private firm that the French government contracted to meet the increased demand while the new factory at St-Etienne was being completed. To the Left of the markings are additional script markings: Epreuve des Manufres. d'armes Châtellerault 1872, which indicates that the rifle was tested at the French Arsenal in Châtellerault in 1872. 

The rifle is in good condition with a bare steel finish, un-blued, as it was originally issued, though it has acquired a lovely light gray patina over the decades, with some areas of light corrosion. The rifle comes complete with cleaning rod and a fully intact needle, though it is missing the leather sealing washers. The rifle is serial numbered X 3511 on the barrel, receiver, bayonet stand, stock, and both parts of the bolt, making this an "all-matching" example.

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 is in good condition, with clear lands and grooves, but some wear and definitely a bit of light oxidation in places. the stock has been refinished several times, so the markings are faint, and it has a few cracks and repairs in places. Still it has a very nice color, with a great look of age.

Included with this rifle a correct issue Yataghan-Bladed Model M1866 Chassepot sword bayonet. This bayonet is in good condition, with a nice blade with a peppery patina of age. The spine of the bayonet is marked Saint-Étienne Mai 1871, indicating manufacture at the arsenal in Saint-Étienne, during May 1871. There are also numerous proof marks on the blade and cross guard.

This is a wonderful and unique example of a rare ignition system by an even rarer government contractor, with lots of interesting history and markings. This would be a great research opportunity. Ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1870-71
Caliber: 11 mm (.433 inches)
Ammunition Type: Pin-Fire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 32 Inches

Overall Length: 51.6 Inches
Action: Bolt-Action
Feed System: Single Shot

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