Original French Fusil Modèle 1866 Chassepot Needle Fire Rifle by St-Étienne dated 1873 - Serial P 91837

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.

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Martini-Henry, and was obsoleted in 1874 with the introduction of the metallic cartridge Gras Rifle that was in turn superseded in 1886 with the Lebel Rifle.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 very faintly dated S.1873 on the nocks form, and is marked on the receiver: St-Étienne MLE 1866, indicating manufacture at the government arsenal at St. Etienne. The Chassepot was the first rifle to be produced at their "modern" steam-powered factory built there in 1864. The rifle is serial numbered P 91837 on all major parts of the rifle, including all parts of the bolt, barrel, stock, and bayonet stand. Even the cleaning rod is matched! The bore is excellent, looking just about like new. The action cycles well, though the leather chamber sealing washers are missing, and the needle is definitely broken off or missing entirely. The rifle bears French proofs along with French military and acceptance markings. These are present on most of the metal components of the rifle.

This rifle appears to have had an interesting history. From what we can see, wherever it was stored for quite some time apparently exposed the exposed metalwork to extensive surface rusting, which has now been cleaned off, leaving a lightly pitted patina. However this stops at the woodline, and bolt components that were not exposed show little to no corrosion. The bore is also nearly new, and the stock is also one of the better ones we have seen, except around the butt plate.  It has not been sanded version much, so the original stock cartouches is fully legible, indicating inspection in JULLET 1873. There are a few dents and other wear from service, but this really is a lovely stock.

We do not know what type of condition it was kept in, but it must have taken a century for this type of wear to occur.

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


Year of Manufacture: 1873
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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