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Original French Fusil Modèle 1866 Chassepot Needle Fire Rifle by St. Étienne dated 1867 - Serial F 29953

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 Franco-Prussian 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. During and after the conflict, about 665,000 Chassepot rifles had been captured by the German coalition that defeated France in 1871.

The Chassepot rifle of 1866 was a single shot bolt-action rifle and was among the best of its 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Martini-Henry, and was obsoleted in 1874 with the introduction of the metallic cartridge Gras Rifle that was in turn superseded in 1886 with the Lebel Rifle.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 a real treat, and definitely a very interesting example! The rifle is clearly dated S. 1867 on the nocks form, however there are no markings on the left side of the receiver. This may indicate that this rifle is one of the thousands of Chassepot rifles captured during the war, as it was made during only the second year of production, and was doubtless in service at that time. It was very common for the maker markings to be removed from captured rifles.

The "S" before the date indicates that the rifle was made at Manufacture Impériale de St. Étienne (also known as Manufacture d'Armes de St. Étienne), the Imperial Arsenal at St. Étienne, located in southern France. The rifle is serial numbered F 29953 on all major parts of the rifle, including all parts of the bolt, barrel, stock, and bayonet stand. Only the cleaning rod is an unmatched replacement, very common to see. That makes this a "MOSTLY MATCHING" example, which are rare among captured rifles.

The bore is in very good condition, showing clear lands and grooves with a partly bright finish. There is some wear, and the grooves definitely show some fouling and oxidation. It looks to have only seen light use during its life. The action cycles well, and has intact leather sealing washers on the bolt, as well as an intact needle that is only missing the last half inch or so. It's very rare to find these still in this intact condition!

The rifle bears French proofs along with French military and acceptance markings. These are present on most of the metal components of the rifle, which have a lovely aged gray patina, with wear throughout. The stock is in very good condition, showing no major damage and only a few dents and dings. It has been arsenal reconditioned, which has removed just about all of the markings except for the serial number. It has a lovely dark brown color, showing great grain and even some figuring in places.

This is a wonderful and unique example of a rare ignition system making it a rare and sought antique rifle. Ready to display! Ready to add to your collection and display!


Year of Manufacture: 1867
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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