Original French Lebel Fusil Modèle 1886 M93 Infantry Rifle by St. Étienne Serial M 30119 - dated 1889
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 1889 indicating that it was produced in 1889, and later updated with the bolt modification after 1893. The rifle has serial number M 30119 on the barrel, while the bolt is marked with K 58278, and other markings are too worn to read. This rifle saw long service, having parts swapped out at arsenal.
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 fore stock under the rear sight, which we have seen on many other examples. The metalwork is in very good condition, with little sign of rust or other damage. Overall it shows a nice oxidized patina, with some traces of black paint, often added to rifles destined for colonial service.
The bore is in good condition, showing clear lands and grooves, with a partly bright finish. There is definitely wear and oxidation on the interior, so this is a rifle that saw long service and did not have the barrel properly cleaned. 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: 1889 - 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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