Original French Lebel Fusil Modèle 1886 M93 Infantry Rifle by St. Étienne Serial 53392 - dated 1891
Original Item: Only One Available. The Lebel Model 1886 rifle (French: Fusil Modèle 1886 dit "Fusil Lebel") is also known as the "Fusil Mle 1886 M93", after a bolt modification was added in 1893. It is an 8 mm bolt action infantry rifle that entered service in the French Army in 1887. It is a repeating rifle that can hold eight rounds in its forestock tube magazine, one round in the transporter plus one round in the chamber.
The Lebel rifle has the distinction of being the first military firearm to use smokeless powder ammunition. The new propellant powder, "Poudre B," was nitrocellulose-based and had been invented in 1884 by French chemist Paul Vieille. Lieutenant Colonel Nicolas Lebel contributed a flat nosed 8 mm full metal jacket bullet ("Balle M," or "Balle Lebel"). Twelve years later, in 1898, a solid brass pointed (spitzer) and boat-tail bullet called "Balle D" was retained for all 8mm Lebel ammunition. Each case was protected against accidental percussion inside the tube magazine by a primer cover and by a circular groove around the primer cup which caught the tip of the following pointed bullet.
Featuring an oversized bolt with front locking lugs and a massive receiver, the Lebel rifle was a durable design capable of long range performance. In spite of early obsolete features, such as its tube magazine and the shape of 8mm Lebel rimmed ammunition, the Lebel rifle remained the basic weapon of French line infantry during World War I (1914–1918). Altogether, 3.45 million Lebel rifles were produced by the three French state factories between 1887 and 1916.
The left side of the receiver on this fine example is marked with MANUFACTURE D'ARMES / St.-Étienne, and to the right MLE 1886 M93, indicating manufacture at the government arsenal at Saint-Étienne. The rifle has arsenal proofs on most parts, and also is marked MA S 1891 indicating that it was produced in 1891, and later updated with the bolt modification after 1893. The rifle has matching serial number 53392 on the barrel, fore stock, butt stock, bolt and receiver floor plate. This is a rare "All Matching" example, which does not look to have had any parts swapped out.
Condition of the rifle is good, though it definitely has seen long service, indicated by the numerous dents, dings, scratches, and other wear on the stock. There is a dowel repair through the forestock under the rear sight, and the butt stock has had some more extensive repair work, with splines of wood grafted onto both sides of the butt stock, which looks to repair a crack near the stock bolt. We do not detect any movement in this arsenal level repair.
The metalwork is in very good condition, with little sign of rust or other damage. As with many that we see, the barrel, receiver, and other components have been painted with sturdy black paint, which is the standard finish used for colonial issue in the Pre-WWII years.
The bore is in very good condition, with clear lands and grooves and a mostly bright finish. There is some wear to the lands and oxidation in the grooves, expected of a rifle that saw relatively long service. The rifle cycles correctly and dry fires, and the magazine cutoff functions correctly.
Made famous by the GARY COOPER Movie of BEAU GESTE, all about the French Foreign Legion, this was the rifle of the time in the later 1880's. A nice Mle 1886 M93 Lebel rifle, fully cleaned and ready to display!
Year of Manufacture: 1891 - updated later
Caliber: 8×50mmR Lebel
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 31.5 Inches
Overall Length: 51.2 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: 8 round tube magazine
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